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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Radio comes to TV in KTWU's 'Theatre of the Mind'
Topeka Capital Journal, September 26th

“Theatre of the Mind” are television productions that re-create the style of 1940s radio plays, complete with actors wearing period costumes and using vintage microphones and technicians creating on-the-spot sound effects. The series won a regional...Read more

Concert review: Wilco honours its past and present at Metropolis
Montreal Gazette, September 22nd

The evening's enduring revelations came in that final act, as the sextet gathered around vintage microphones at the lip of the stage. Misunderstood was boiled down from rage to contemplation (although there was still room for Kotche to assault his mini...Read more

Sligo band handpicked to work with Tom Jones, September 16th

For Honey Honey - the first single from the album- the men of Rackhouse Pilfer stood in a circle with Tom and Imelda and a few vintage microphones. “The whole point of it was like a rustic,old-fashioned recording – we sang it about five or six times...Read more

No Forks Needed! Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen Goof Off at the I Saw the ...
People Magazine, September 12th

The cake comes complete with a cowboy hat and vintage microphone, along with some vintage cowboy and cowgirl silhouettes – the perfect decorations for a movie based on the life of an iconic country singer. Hiddleston is earning rave reviews for his ...Read more

Wayne Bledsoe: The Milk Carton Kids aren't tied to the past as much as fans think
Knoxville News Sentinel, September 11th

But Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale aren't quite as tied to old times as some fans think. "People write that we only use vintage microphones and wear vintage clothes," says Ryan in a call from his home in Los Angeles. "The microphones are new. We have ...Read more

Radio play tomorrow, September 11th

A theatrical presentation of "Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of Baskervilles," complete with Raconteur Radio actors, will be performed tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave. The vintage radio play of Arthur Conan Doyle's 1902 ...Read more

Bath chart-topper ​​Gabrielle Aplin to perform at HMV Bath
Bath Chronicle, September 10th

by The Temperance Movement's Luke Potashnick, the former City of Bath College student releases her eagerly anticipated sophomore album Light Up The Dark. Album highlights includes Heavy Heart which was recorded on a vintage microphone and has ...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