2013 marked the 20 year anniversary for MBHO. "Mikronfonbau Haun Obrigheim" (MBHO) was founded by Herbert Haun and Manfreid Schneider in Herbert's home in 1992. Herbert Haun started his career in the 1950's at Beyerdynamic and Manfreid Schneider gained considerable knowledge and expertise on condenser microphones after working at Schoeps in the 1960's.
Today Herbert and Manfreid are directly involved in the production of hand-made microphones in their factory in Obrigheim, Germany. Click here to view a short video that shows MBHO's factory and staff (spoiler alert - the announcer is speaking German). MBHO employs a unique staffing approach as most of their team consists of 50+ year veterans of the German microphone industry that Herbert met and worked alongside since he began working at Beyerdynamic in 1958.
MBHO features an extensive line of high quality microphones and engages in OEM work. What is surprising is that given its small size (there are only 14 MBHO employees) almost all parts are made and developed in house, from the injection molded mic clips to the gold sputtering of large diaphragm capsules. This allows MBHO to uniquely offer microphones that carry a "lifelong warranty".
Dale Pro Audio's Dan Ross has been a champion of MBHO microphones for years, and in early 2013 interviewed Herbert about MBHO and his time in the Pro Audio industry.
(DR) Please tell us about your interest in audio and specifically microphones. What led to this?
(HH) I was a huge fan of Elvis Presley and later on the Beatles. Growing up I listened constantly to their music (according to my parents back then). Since I had to keep "the noise down" in my parent's house, I listened to music mostly over headphones. I grew interested in the headphones themselves, as well as microphones, and the technology to make them.
This interest led to my decision to apply for an apprenticeship with Beyerdynamic in 1958. This 4-year apprenticeship intensified my interest in fine mechanics and acoustics, and I wanted to learn more about how microphones are built and how design criteria lead to the distinctive sound of a particular microphone. Because I learned something new everyday, going to work was as thrilling in 1958 as it is today in 2013.
(DR) I understand that "MB" (Mikrofonbau) was founded in 1962 and eventually you obtained the exclusive rights and assets for MB microphones (known today as MBHO) in the early 90's. What were some of your favorite experiences from your early years at MB?
(HH) I joined "MB-Quart" as its very first employee shortly after I finished my apprenticeship at Beyerdynamic. MB's product development manager, Mr. Siegbert Kanz, co-founded the company and worked previously at Beyerdynamic.
I joined the development and prototype department, which I eventually led. It was a great department to work in because we developed new microphones and headphones, all the way from the initial idea to the finished product which ended up in the stores and on people's heads so they could listen to the Beatles and Elvis Presley just as I did.
This development and the work on the prototypes was extremely satisfying and is still today the most satisfying part of my work at MBHO.
(DR) How did Manfred Schneider joining MB in the 1960s affect the company?
(HH) Manfred Schneider (pictured at left) joined MB in 1968/69 after working with Dr. Schoeps in nearby Karlsruhe. Manfred led the construction department and we worked closely until the end of the 80s. Manfred's main responsibility was to develop and introduce a new line of condenser microphones for MB. His vast knowledge of fine mechanics and their application to microphones, as well as his drive and enthusiasm was as much present then as it is today.
Manfred has never stopped searching for solutions, however minute they might be. He's never completely satisfied with a particular design or solution. This drive is as evident today as it was 45 years ago when we met the first time. Today that drive manifests itself in the re-design and overhaul of our MBNM-440 microphone line, as well as in our new MBP-649 microphone body.
(DR) Could you tell us about your time working at Beyerdynamic?
(HH) My principal responsibilities at Beyerdynamic were to work within the product development department and to machine the parts for the prototypes. I was also tasked with learning how the different elements of a microphone work and rely upon one another. The advantage of this type of work was that you learned a lot by experimenting - you also learned what didn't work. My principal responsibility at MB was to develop ribbon mics, and later I led that department.
(DR) After all of these years, what drives you to continue to work in this industry?
(HH) I am very interested in the development of new microphones, as well as the work, ideas and challenges involved with it. The new MBP-649 is a departure from our current microphones because we did not just re-design one or several parts of a current microphone, we redesigned all of the components. The 649 features a new small diaphragm capsule design, a new mylar based gold-sputtered membrane ( a first for us, and completely produced in-house), a new impedance converter, and a completely new mechanical structure.
We've been working on this microphone on and off for the last 10 years, producing many prototypes along the way so we could ask clients to test it and share their results and experiences with us. Just as 45 years ago, both the technical work and the design prototypes are shared between Manfred and I.
Dan Ross joined Dale Pro Audio in 2000 and is an expert at helping clients find solutions for Telephone Audio, Field Recording, Music / Post Production, and Voice-over applications.
Dan brings a wealth of expertise to Dale from many years of experience doing field and multi-track recording.
You can reach Dan by email at email@example.com and by phone (212.475.1124 ext 7126)
Dale is proud to be the exclusive retailer and distributor of MBHO in the US.
Click here to view MBHO's microphones on our website.