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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Watch: Keith Urban Rocks Out in New “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” Video
Radio.com Music and Entertainment News, August 28th

Keith Urban released his video for “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16,” and it's a trip down memory lane. The clip shows off Keith playing his bass guitar between snippets of nostalgic scenes that include old stores, young loves, family, cars...Read more

Vintage radio play of Sherlock Holmes at Kearny Public Library
NJ.com, August 25th

The vintage radio play of Arthur Conan Doyle's 1902 crime novel will feature a functioning antique microphone, costumes, theatrical lights and live sound effects. The Raconteur Radio troupe previously visited the Kearny Public Library in October 2013, ...Read more

Interview: Bath singer Gabrielle Aplin on new album Light Up The Dark ...
Bath Chronicle, August 21st

Then there's Heavy Heart, currently Gabrielle's personal favourite, a bluesy groove that showcases the new depth and range to her voice, and which was recorded on a vintage microphone. "I didn't think mics mattered before, but they really do," she says...Read more

John Mellencamp's No Better Than This was a darkly inspiring triumph
Something Else! Reviews, August 18th

Burnett and John Mellencamp carried around a half-century old monophonic tape recorder and a single, vintage microphone – recording without overdubs or other studio add-ons at places like Memphis' Sun Studios, where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and ...Read more

Review: The Missing Hancocks - Live In Edinburgh! (Show B)
Edinburgh Evening News, August 14th

The staging is simple. A row of five seats upstage and two vintage microphones down stage. The first adventure finds Hancock standing for Parliament. You need to be of a certain age or have a good grasp of history to appreciate all the nuances of the...Read more

Aim is to show Coast is 'complete holiday playground'
The Sunshine Coast Daily, August 13th

The latest billboard depicts Australia Zoo's zebras singing into a vintage microphone - a clever depiction of the fun visitors can expect to have at the Gympie Music Muster. A string of 13 co-branded and innovative billboards promoting events and...Read more

Mood relaxed as Diana Krall plays Fort Wayne's Embassy Theatre
News Sentinel, August 5th

Several strategically placed vintage radios of different shapes and sizes onstage as well as lighting above the stage that looked like vintage microphones added to that nostalgic feeling along with silent-era film footage that was projected behind the...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