Saturday, March 10, 2007

Astatic D-104 Microphonium

The venerable and ubiquitous D-104 is an example of one of most emblematic and prototypical microphone designs of all time. Its origins date back the 1920s as a Brush Manufacturing Company spring-suspended housing style for many carbon and later crystal microphone types, and even in its last iterations retains the four peripheral screw positions where hooks once were. The D-104, also shown by Astatic as the D104, was first sold as that model in 1933, according to the manufacturer. Here is a link to the Astatic literature discussing the history of this mic and their company.

And it is not a lo-fi device. Not at all, which is remarkable for a crystal mic. The curve, which aggressively rises up to about 8K, is relatively smooth and supports excellent vocal bass response when properly terminated into a high impedance load.

The D-104 would seem to get its designation from "10" signals which were in use by certain communications groups and later the CB types who chattered "that's a big 10-4 good buddy" until that 1970-era craze's merciful death. Broderick Crawford, from Highway Patrol, a 50s TV show, would say "ten-four" at least once in every episode.

D-104s show up at antique shows and are always way overpriced. Perhaps this can be excused, given the vintage, early style of this famous mic.

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