Friday, September 14, 2007

Oliver and Klaus to Explain Sex Appeal of Old Mics

I just spotted this in the AES program. I'm pleased to predict they won't be including us in the following:

AES New York 2007
Master Class M5

Sunday, October 7, 11:00 am — 12:30 pm

Oliver Archut, TAB-Funkenwerk - Gaylord, KS, USA
Klaus Heyne, German Masterworks - Portland, OR, USA

Vintage Microphone Mystique—How Sex Appeal Trumps Specs

The current phenomenon of frequently using fifty-year old microphones in critical recording applications, from pop vocals to classical symphony orchestras, is unprecedented and seemingly illogical in a world of rapidly evolving recording technologies. Oliver and Klaus will examine why, subjectively and objectively, recording microphones seem to occupy this uniquely antiquarian role. They will also discuss how and why many of today's manufacturers yield to the demand and desire of the recording community for microphones from yesteryear by issuing products that emulate the past.

I'll be there. I have to say in advance, however, that the preference to old instruments isn't unprecedented: Plenty of vintage Fenders and Gibsons are preferred over newer guitars, for example. Part of the phenomenon is of course the name, and part is that humans tend to recall very specific, very particular tones, usually the ones they heard when they were teenagers. Of course many of the mid and late-career engineers grew up listening to the Beatles, when those vintage mics weren't quite vintage yet.

So it is not surprising to me that the music gear biz tends to turn back on itself, as it is run mostly by those of us "from the 1900s". It is encouraging to read this abstract (link here) which apparently confirms the discrepency between style and performance in the proliferation of so-called "pro" mics, recreations, and the illogic behind reissues.


Anonymous said...

I think you should stay away from classics and keep doing what youre doing. Moving ahead of everyone.

Anonymous said...

Bob have you ever considered making a condenser mic?