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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Conan O'Brien does Cuba, March 4th

Bienvenidos a Cuba. Yo soy Conan O'Brien y lo siento pero that's all the Spanish I can really memorize” is the way he began his show from a cafe table fitted out with a vintage microphone, two cigars and a mojito. “As many of you know, this is a very...Read more

Get Intimate With San Francisco's New La Perla Boutique
Haute Living, March 4th

The fitting rooms are lined with gold metal grates that recall ancient confessionals but what we really think is haute are the vintage microphones in each room that allow shoppers to call a member of the sales staff. VIP customers will especially...Read more

on air by noaa eshel protects a toothbrush, but not your ears
Designboom, March 3rd

'on air' was conceived by frequent toothbrush-carrier noaa eshel for israeli company, monkey business. during conceptualization, various versions of iconic vintage microphones were examined. a rectangular streamline microphone was chosen, aside from ...Read more

'The Voice': Meet Sawyer Fredericks
Niagara Frontier Publications, March 2nd

"It was almost as if you were singing into an old, vintage microphone, because it had that distorted, bad-@ss awesome sound," Blake added. "I just want to tell you that I think you're awesome," he said. "As soon as you started singing, that actually...Read more

Watch Anderson East Perform Forgotten Soul Song at Fame Studios, March 2nd

East mines that history on his upcoming debut, Delilah, where he hollers and howls over horns, upright piano, Wurlitzer organ and plenty of electric guitar. Producer Dave Cobb, whose vintage microphones lend a warm, analog-friendly glow to the sessions...Read more

Plenty of collectible microphones; plenty of collectors, too
Orillia Packet & Times, February 27th

Microphone collectors --- and there are legions of them -- tend to focus on the 1930s to 1960s as the prime period. Some collect vintage microphones because of their historical significance, and they look so good, but for most, the sound quality is...Read more

'The Voice' Season 8 Premiere Recap: C'mon, Get 'Happy'
Yahoo Music (blog), February 23rd

The Voice Season 8's premiere Monday night featured several stellar auditions, including a couple that inspired four-chair turnarounds. But the standout performance of the night actually came from a contestant who turned no chairs, after she got a...Read more

Samson Meteor M2 speakers review
AndroidGuys, February 16th

The pair of speakers are completely surrounded by an aluminum shell, and provide the look of vintage microphones to be honest. Not that this is a bad thing, I actually really like the look of these speakers, as they are very unique. The M2's are...Read more