Sunday, September 09, 2007

Stalin's Microphone

The ML-52 has a distinct mid century soviet look with a grille pattern that resembles a Western Electric 639b.(or Altec)

Here it is in front of Firesign Theatre's "How can you be two places at once when you're not anywhere at all", also from the mid `1900s.

The ML-52 has a very rugged case, a well shielded, efficient and high output transformer, coupled to an efficient, unusual dual ribbon motor unit. The designers of this motor, which appears unchanged in many Chinese ribbon mics, wanted to get high output with fewer magnets it seems. Having two sensors in parallel side-by-side does introduce some phase cancellation at various angles, but the major problem with the ML-52 turned out to the the dramatic grille design itself, which was prone to resonance that added a telephonic tone to an otherwise acceptable mic. Later the grille was replaced with a better sounding one and the mic renamed the ML-53. Less drama but better tone. I have been told this same mic has been made in China as well as Russia. I believe the Oktava factory is located in Tula, near Moscow. Several years ago they contacted us pleading for a source of traditional aluminum ribbon. We helped them out with a supply and some information in return for some kind of acknowledgment that we had helped them, but I never spotted it.

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