The phrase “vintage microphone” usually prompts images of a beveled, rectangular device with a radio or TV station's call letters emblazoned on its top or side. These are the big mics Bing Crosby sang into, or that Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre on the Air used to scare the bejeezus out of millions of people with their broadcast of "The War of the Worlds" on October 30, 1938. Microphones, good ones anyway, make things real.

In fact, realism is exactly what a German electrical engineer named Georg Neumann was striving for when he came out with his bottle-shaped CMV3 condenser microphone in 1928. In 1932 he upgraded the mic by releasing the CMV3a, which allowed users to swap out the mic’s heads to pick up sounds from a single-direction (as in a cardioid microphone), two-directions (sometimes called figure-8s) and all directions (omni). After World War II, Neumann rebuilt his Berlin factory and by 1949 he’d released the U47, which was distributed internationally by Telefunken and favored by recording engineers throughout the 1950s and ’60s. Artists as varied as Frank Sinatra and The Beatles used the U47 in the recording studio.

While Neumann was pushing microphone technology in Europe, RCA was doing the same in the United States, especially during the 1930s, the golden era of radio, when it released a number of bi-directional ribbon microphones, including the Photophone and Velocity models. These ribbon microphones take their name from the .0001-inch thick piece of corrugated aluminum (the ribbon) that’s placed between the ends of a horseshoe-shaped magnet. Another iconic ribbon microphone of the prewar period was the BBC-Marconi Type A, which was designed by a BBC technician named Dr. Alexander and manufactured by Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Co. of London.

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Recent News: Microphones

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The Jazz Age - Live at New York's Iguana, July 29th

Surrounded by all that gear, Vince keeps up an entertaining line of patter and jokes all spoken into a vintage microphone. Humor and history are laced with anecdotes about the music: who wrote it, the original performers, notable uses of the song, and ...Read more

Robbie Nicol: The Kiwi John Oliver, July 18th

If ever there was an era when the news needed explaining it's today and Robbie Nicol reckons he is the man for the job. Journalism 2015 is snackable and shareable. Cellphones battle newspapers and info-tainment is a word. On television, in place of ...Read more

Add vocal richness at no cost with our Mic Room and iRig Mic Studio giveaway
AppAdvice, July 14th

Tucked behind a sliding menu are further, less frequently adjusted, configuration options as well as a store to expand your microphone collection. Conveniently, Mic Room is compatible with a variety of input options, e.g., integrated iDevice microphone...Read more

Behind the Music of 'Minions': Watch
Billboard, July 13th

Much of Minions takes place in the '60s, so, when appropriate, Pereira recorded using vintage microphones from 50 years ago previously used by acts like The Beach Boys and Frank Sinatra. “It was an opportunity, in my own humble way, to pay homage to ...Read more

Mix Regional News: Bay Area
MIX, July 6th

According to Jeremy Goody, Megasonic Sound owner/engineer, Cogan brings “a wealth of knowledge—and some amazing vintage microphones—from his extensive time running the Bay Records facility in Berkeley.” Cogan has been busy on recent sessions ...Read more

Watch Tyrese And Jennifer Hudson Take Us Back To The 60's In "Shame" Video
Vibe, June 30th

Hudson, dressed from head to toe in 60's garb channeled somewhat The Supremes with a big gray vintage microphones to match. While the Motown era inspired performance went on we also see brief interludes of Tyrese caught red-handed in the act...Read more

Stephen Bartlett on the pros and cons of vintage microphones
Audio Media International, March 24th

Producer and engineer steps into the classic vs modern debate and explains what to look out for when making a mic purchase. Producer and engineer Stephen Bartlett steps into the vintage versus modern debate and looks at how the choice of microphone ...Read more

SpinArt Co-Founder Dealing Ecstatic Electric, Vintage Microphones
SonicScoop, June 17th

“I happened to know the guy who owned the domain name, so I got it from him and started the site. Ecstatic Electric is still going strong, and now Vintage Microphones is open to the public for boutique microphone and pro audio ...Read more