I made some phone calls and got a crash course on this mic basics last night (I think). Boz, tell me if this is consistent with what you understand about how these things are built:
The difference between higher and lower end mics can come down to the design and the quality of filament material that the plates in the diaphragm are made out of. Neither or both of which never justify a $10k price point like in the case of a U67 or C800G.
I posed this question to a few others late last night, wanting to specifically know what materials resonate in different ways, specifically which metals resonate better than others, and if the premium price hike is more a function of design or materials. If so, what are the differences in the designs, which ones produce an measurable sonic result, and in exactly what way?
The way this was explained to me is surface area and agility/mobility of the diaphragm and its specific relation to the plate is similar to comparing a tweeter in a high tech reference monitor vs a tweeter in a Yamaha NS10. Even if we grant that Genelec or ATC make super clean monitors, they aren't necessarily right for individual ears and specific rooms. Though the material is rare and a design is proprietary (as is the case with Blue mics), that alone says almost nothing about measurable difference an highly expensive mic vs a high quality yet more affordable mic.
However, it was brought to my attention that with a limited amount of known materials you can potentially make a capsule out of. In the same way there are limited options for what you can use to build a guitar pickup out of. The true variable in the guitar pickup (if i understand correctly) is the voicing. There are almost an infinite number of exact specs here. Same with mics. But a different pickup voicing does not make a pickup inherently more valuable, as most quality pickups range from $150-$250 pr set.
One thing they have a low end mic doesn't is a sales margin handicap called diseconomy of sale, due to lack of buyer base. Mass manufacturing also plays a roll in this. As the manufacturing process for a high end Telefunken, Blue, and Bock mic are is significantly more intensive than for a C414.
Another thing the high end mics have working against them is technology obsolesce. Both on the design and manufacturing end. A U87 was cutting edge for its time, but with Neumann/Telefunken only being able to patent the shape of grill, everyone has gone in and cannibalized the design just as we have the Urei 1176. So what elite back in the 60's is quite run of the mill today.
Some of these high end mics like the Brauner and Blue, have saturation sag controls which are used to ramp up harmonics. And its a very expensive feature to try and integrate because you have to change the way the mic is built in order to accommodate controlled fluctuations in the voltage. Think of this sort of like sagging a guitar pedal. Some can tolerate it, others don't.
So Slate attempted it, and he talks about the process in the other video I just posted. He started with mic that speced super flat, tweaked it to make it flatter, A/B'd against a classic mic, then attempted to model the differences.