Archive for May, 2010

THE FAMILY WAY: Dr. Fritz Sennheiser, 1912-2010

Filed under: — George Petersen @ 1:57 pm

By George Petersen
FEW MAJOR COMPANIES IN PRO AUDIO are family owned—among these, examples such as Meyer Sound, Peavey and Sennheiser come to mind. Yet in such cases, each of these companies has managed to retain a close-knit family atmosphere among those who work at the company. So it is with great sadness that I heard the news about Sennheiser founder Dr. Fritz Sennheiser, who passed away just a few days after his 98th birthday.
Dr. Fritz Sennheiser
Dr. Fritz Sennheiser
Born in Berlin on May 9, 1912, Fritz Sennheiser’s father wanted him to study landscape architecture, but with the 1929 stock market crash, the 17-year-old saw little future in landscaping during those perilous times and instead entered the electrical engineering/telecommunications program at Berlin’s Technical University. After attaining his PhD, World War II broke out and Dr. Sennheiser continued his research, heading the Institute for Radio Frequency Engineering and Electroacoustics in Hannover.
In 1945, post-war Germany was in shambles. In June of that year, Sennheiser founded Laboratorium Wennebostel (“Labor W�?) with a staff of seven employees in an abandoned laboratory of Hanover’s Technical University. German scientists were then prohibited from doing radio technology research, so Sennheiser used his savings to create a business making millivoltmeters for Siemens.
Soon after, Labor W was contracted to build microphones for Siemens. Later, the team designed its own mic, debuting the MD2 dynamic in 1947. The company expanded into other products, such as amps, intercoms, transformers, and headphone capsules. Based on a lab model developed in 1949, the 1956 MD 82 was the first shotgun mic. A move into wireless mics followed a year later.
By 1958, the company had 450 employees and changed its name to Sennheiser Electronic. Sales grew tenfold, but Sennheiser always returned to the community, splitting his time between running the company and teaching at Hannover Technical University—a tradition continued by his son, current company chairman, Prof. Dr. Jörg Sennheiser.
In 1982 on Dr. Fritz Sennheiser’s 70th birthday, the management of the company was transferred from father to son, but this did not change Sennheiser Electronic’s role as a technology leader. The company has received numerous accolades in this regard, including a 1987 award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for the industry-standard MKH 816 shotgun mic, and a 1996 Emmy for developments in RF wireless.
Sennheiser Electronics is successful, but the business integrity instilled by Dr. Fritz Sennheiser remains a priority. Son Jörg Sennheiser once refused a lucrative deal to produce 200,000 weatherproof mic capsules when he realized they were to be used as land mine triggers. Yet this concern for others has always been the company way, a policy dating back to the early days of Labor W, when Dr. Fritz Sennheiser invested his savings to create jobs for his co-workers.
Dr. Fritz Sennheiser’s years of innovation, combined with a sense of caring and creating a family atmosphere at work live on in the company he started 65 years ago. He will not be forgotten.

George Petersen is an independent journalist/author/producer. Visit him on Facebook or at www.audioinfosource.com.
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READY FOR NEUMANN STUDIO MONITORS?

By George Petersen
photo of Neumann studio monitor
WORLD RENOWNED FOR ITS PRO MICROPHONES, Neumann has announced it is adding Neumann-branded studio monitors to its portfolio. The new line will be based on products from Klein + Hummel—another company iin the Sennhsiser family of products. K+H monitors earned an excellent reputation in European marklet, but are less well known in other countries, particularly in North America.
“This will certainly change in the near future, because the Neumann brand is well-established in the international studio world,? says Wolfgang Fraissinet, president of marketing/sales at Neumann Berlin. “We anticipate a strong synergy effect here.?

historical georg neumann photo
Neumann is no stranger to non-microphone technologies, such as record lathes and studio consoles. In this rare photo, company founder Georg Neumann (left) experiments with an optical film sound recorder.
“In the history of the company, Neumann stands for far more than microphone technology, “ Fraissinet continues, “and over the decades we have also produced record-cutting equipment and studio consoles, for example. Our expertise in transformer design for the microphone—as well as in signal processing and digital audio technology, has already been demonstrated. In addition Neumann has a leading role in the area of high technology, which is successfully implemented, for instance, in the digital microphones of Neumann’s Solution-D series.?
Existing K+H studio monitors are being incorporated into the Neumann product portfolio as the “KH Line.? Over time, new products will be developed to fullfil the needs of high-end studio professionals. The first new studio monitors carrying the Neumann label will be launched later this year.
Neumann Synergie logo
The new Neumann Synergie logo
So far, Neumann has been secretive about the new products, other than unveiling a new logo for this symbiosis of the two technologies, known as Neumann Synergie. The circular logo shows a microphone grill on the left, a speaker cone on the right, with a gentle sine wave shape separation between the two. So the rest of us will have to wait until later in the year for more details on Neumann’s first studio monitors. Stay tuned. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything.
Go here for more information about Neumann’s existing K+H monitor line .
When not working on Mix stuff, George Petersen records and performs with the SF Bay Area-based rock band ARIEL. Check ‘em out at www.jenpet.com.
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