Monday, September 18, 2006

Hand Made Crowley and Tripp Ribbon Microphones

Attention to detail, careful, artistic crafstmanship and finishing, and focused, individual evaluation go into every Crowley and Tripp Ribbon Microphone.

Hugh Tripp, shown above, deftly finishes an edge to a jewel-like appearance that marks the precision nature of the all stainless steel bodies of the Studio Vocalist, Soundstage Image and Proscenium ribbon microphones. Why stainless steel? Well, because it's hard to find a more durable, strong and good looking material, one that has the added advantage of great RF and magnetic shielding, and that can be designed to easily last a lifetime. That's good because these mics carry a lifetime warranty and have a design lifetime of 50 to 100 years.

You might have noticed that good microphones don't become obsolete very quickly. Plenty of old RCA microphones made 60 years ago are still around and operating. The key to such longevity is in material selection. Materials must be stable and not change over time. Certain plastics and rubber, and any electronic component such as resistors and capacitors, especially, change relatively quickly with age, sometimes over the course of just a couple of years. The reason for this varies but is mainly due to the hardening effects that occur as volatile materials slowly evaporate out of the material. Corrosion can play a role, and many plastics also can craze, bloom, delaminate and just plain crumble from exposure to oxygen and moisture. Heat can greatly accelerate the degradation of materials and electrical components.

Oily plasticizers are used in vinyl, which is a common wire jacket material. If you feel a mic cable and it's sticky, blame the plasticizers. Good cables use advanced polymers without the need for lots of silicone and mineral oils to keep them soft and pliable, but all of the cheap cables and wires ooze oil, some while still in the package. Naturally you cannot use anything that oozes in the screen or the housing of a microphone designed to last at least 50 years.

We don't like to worry, so we eliminate all materials that are likely to degrade over time.

You won't find gaffer's tape, foam or anything rubber in these mics, and even internal things as benign as solid steel are thickly plated with nickel and chromium. All of the Crowley and Tripp ribbon mics use solid silver contact blocks. This is done for two reasons: first, silver is a great conductor, and second, it plates easily with solid gold, which completely prevents tarnish and also has the advantage of making excellent, long lasting contacts with the ribbon materials, without corrosion and increases in resistance, which can lower output.

So when you see a Soundstage Image online or in a studio, imagine that mic at work in the year 2056. Minimum.

No comments: