Microphones have undergone a lot of changes over the years. Some designs stayed and others became a part of vintage microphones. Microphone, popularly known as mike or mic, is one of the primary elements in an audio or music system.
The main job of the mic is to convert sound into an electrical signal. It has a large number of applications as in music production system, telephone, hearing aid, motion picture production, etc.
Earlier, microphones were known as transmitters. In 1978, Thomas Alva Edison made the first commercial microphone. It was a type of carbon microphone. Later, in Bell Laboratories in 1962, a new type of capacitor microphone was invented.
There were a number of microphones which have made their marks over the last few decades. Some of the names went on to create history but now they are a part of the vintage microphones.
-Altec model 647
-American model D76
-RCA KB-1A, MI-11000
-RCA KN-3A, MI-3045
-RCA carbon type 1
-RCA model BK-7, MI-11016
-Amperite model R80L
-Bruno labs RV-3
-General Electric or Westinghouse carbon or condenser microphones
-Remler, Turner, or Jenkins-Adair condenser microphones
-Western Electric carbon transmitter model 369
-Western Electric condenser housing model 9-A
-Turner model 51D
-Western Electric carbon transmitter model 273
The History & Development of Vintage Microphones
The early 1930s saw the movie industry trying out new technology to record musical scores. However, the range of microphones offered was low. In came the MGM Studios, in Culver City, CA, to try out the newly invented cardioid mic made by the Siemens Co, Germany. It was used to make “Naughty Marietta” with the likes of Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy.
Dynamic or condenser microphones were much smaller in size than the Siemens’ version of the cardioid mic. There was a constant effort made to reduce the size of the microphones to facilitate its use.
James Cannon of Cannon Electric Co. in Los Angeles, CA, was told to build up a connector for the mic. His creation was a 6 pin connector which later on became the prototype of P-type connector, which turned out to be an instantaneous success. 3 conductor connector for camera cable was made then which put Cannon plug to history from 1929 onwards.
Mason and Marshall of the Bell Laboratories made a blueprint of a tubular microphone in 1939. The design was such that it utilized a single element and acoustical tubes of different sizes. It helped in the pickup of directional music. The tubular design was the forerunner of the modern day mics.
Electret condenser microphone is a part of the vintage microphones as it has a history dating back to 1928. It used polarized wax plates. Bogen offered this type commercially under the name Voltage Velotron. The WWII saw the development of wax electret mikes. The Japanese used it in their field devices. However, they did not become very popular due to their instability.
In 1962-1965 the electret mics got their diaphragm made of a metalized thin foil of mylar or teflon. Sony, in 1968, created the then finest electret condenser microphone. That too has now moved into vintage microphones.