Wednesday, July 25, 2007

On Suspension Mounts

The suspension mount, AKA "the shock mount" is sometimes a wobbly gadget.

Suspension mounts do work to attenuate conducted acoustic energy that might travel up a mic stand or from a boom or other attachment, and into the body of the mic. The principle is simple: Make the inner portion of the mount have a resonant frequency, with microphone attached, below the lowest recorded sound.

Now that can be pretty low. I see all kinds of mic figures that seem to say that mics have significant output well below 10 cycles per second (Chladnis). Ours certainly do. So that would mean that the mount ought to resonate at that fequency, or lower. Of course this is where the low cut switch comes in.

How do you lower the resonant frequency of mount + mic? Adding mass to the mic will do it. In fact, the heavier the mic, the lower the resonant frequency. It's called mass loading. So, a heavier mic has some advantages.

Suspension mounts have some other problems with heavy mics: those rubbery things you see are usually made of what I call ponytail bands. They are apparently the same rubber string with braided covers you find in Rite Aid. The Shure KSM44 avoids this, partly, by having an elastomeric, form fitting sling type mount. Perhaps it could be extened out to the stanchions, eliminating the strings entirely, but that might not look as nice.

But you could also theorize that a heavier mic would benefit from a firmer mount and have fewer conducted sound pollution problems in the low range in any case. This might indeed be true, as some devotees of the rigid ring type mounts assert. You might be interested in reading other opinions regarding solid mounts, and in particular, about the Enhanced Audio M600 Mount, which fits our largest microphones well, on this thread in

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Recommended Reading

S o u n d F X
Unlocking the Creative Potential of Recording Studio Effects

By UMass Lowell's Alex U Case, deconvolution expert, professor of sound recording, and all around interesting guy with a lot to say. Here are more thoughts, available here and from the Focal Press, now part of Elsevier, which generally put out only well considered, informative books that provide essential and timely information in specialty areas such as videography, film, photography, sound recording, and many other areas under the Focal Press name, and academic publications, books and journals in the sciences and other fields under Elsevier.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Crowley and Tripp to Introduce Roswellite tm Advanced Material into Ribbon Microphone Production

July 20, 2007: Crowley and Tripp to Introduce Roswellite tm Advanced Material into Ribbon Microphone Production.

The new nanotechnology-based materials provide properties that have previously not been possible with conventional composites and alloys. Roswellite
tm is a unique acoustic nanomaterial that has numerous applications in medical ultrasound and sound recording equipment, such as ribbon microphones, which the company currently manufactures in its US facility. Crowley and Tripp Microphones, along with Soundwave Research Laboratories, Inc., will be commercializing certain products containing the technology beginning in 2007 and will be offering licenses to the technology, supply agreements, and other rights to qualified manufacturers.

For further information, go to

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Commentator's Mic Link

Not sure how much longer this two year old story from ABC Australia will be up about the STC/Cole's commentators mic, but here it is, for now.

Look at Larry's Commentator's Mic here.

Clever quip I heard yesterday:

"It made the 47 sound like a 57"

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Crowley and Tripp and TRUE Systems offering a Package Deal

Now here's a decent shot of me standing next to Tim Spencer, the man behind TRUE Systems, conveniently located in Tucson Arizona, the site of the recent, very successful Tape Op Con 2006 and 2007 conferences at the luxurious Hilton el Conquistador resort in N Tucson.

Tim and I have been chatting about mics and preamps for well over a year now, and when we got in his new P-SOLO Ribbon preamp, a very low-noise, compact, well designed, and good sounding preamp, we were eager to try it with the Crowley and Tripp Naked Eye Ribbon Microphone. Our curiosity about all things electrical and audio led us to reason that the combination of a low noise, high output ribbon microphone with a low noise, high gain ribbon mic pre would result in "even more".

It does indeed.

I was pleased that the clean sound of the P-SOLO Ribbon added even more dynamic range while maintaining an excellent low level sensitivity and transparency on quiet sources, with gain to spare, and excellent headroom. Naked Eye and the P-SOLO Ribbon are already reasonably priced and selling well, so in the spirit of more being more, we thought it would be appropriate for us to recommend this package and take a little off the package price too. This, we thought, (correctly) would get some of the ribbon doubters off the fence for good. The P-SOLO will work well with other ribbon mics, even the vintage ones, and the Naked Eye is known for having a high enough output for just about any preamp, so you can have it all, not be locked in, and save some of that Summer money for, say, a trip to The Cape, which will cost you.

Check out the deal here at Crowley and Tripp
and here at TRUE Systems

Or ask your dealer.

ps: Check out the color of the P-SOLO and the Naked Eye together. An interesting, somehow appropriate color scheme.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Telefunken Spaceball Orbiting Microphone II

I forgot that I took a different shot of the Telefunken MD 418-4 Orbiting Illuminated dynamic microphone. This odd sphere shaped mic would be perfect for your planetarium, or perhaps at the UN building, staffed by uniformed Swedish to German translators. A cool talkback mic for the control room.

Inside is an ordinary dynamic element of the European variety, with very thin, fragile wires, held with some tape that is now turning to dust. The crumblies have also hit the internal foam. This unit seems to have the original grain of wheat incandescent bulb mounted in glaring position to the user, possibly a stage-frightened speaker who might have to ad lib because he cannot read his notes. Here, and in the earlier picture here, I masked off the bulb with a little square of red electrical tape to get a nicer effect, but enough light went through to still cause a glare. If you click on the image to zoom in, you can spot it. The Telefunken name brand is still a bit of a conundrum: Telefunken used to be a bit like the GE of Europe and they made all kinds of equipment, mostly electrical. There is a Telefunken USA, no connection to the old Telefunken of yore, and there are still toasters and other appliances being sold in Europe and other parts of the globe under the Telefunken brand.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Dan Richards - The Listening Sessions

I would bet that nearly all microphonium blog visitors already know about The Listening Sessions, Dan Richards' fascinating ongoing project in which he classifies mics on a two axis chart of brightness and coloration, among other things.

A lot of people don't quite understand how coloration can be distinct from brightness/darkness, so I will give it a try: Brightness and darkness refer to the relative balance of low vs high frequencies overall, where coloration is the even more complex tonal variations and timbre imparted by the microphone. The brightness/darkness is general, and coloration is more specific. "No" coloration may be thought of as "clinically accurate" which may look good on a graph but not sound all so pleasant. A highly colored mic might be thought of as an effect, where an uncolored one might be used to measure something like the sound level of a loud machine.

In any case here is one of the charts (reversed B&W so you can see it) seen in various discussion groups. Dan Richards Listening Sessions link here. Well worth a visit.

Frankly I think that too much emphasis is put on these attributes in the field, and not enough on other sounds, such as the distortion known as tizz, that affects many microphones and results in what I think are very artificial, exceptionally breathy, hissy female vocals. I've been warned not to point out any specific examples though, so you can listen for yourself. The typical female tizz vocal sounds like a zzzzzzz sound behind the upper registers, and it is quite fatiguing. Perhaps I should find a way to quantify tizz.

Hacker Attempt

someone trying to hack their way in today through this. Here is a link to others
having this problem.
Record Type:
IP Address

OrgName:    Internet Assigned Numbers Authority
Address: 4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330
City: Marina del Rey
StateProv: CA
PostalCode: 90292-6695
Country: US

NetRange: -
NetName: RESERVED-10
NetHandle: NET-10-0-0-0-1
NetType: IANA Special Use
Comment: This block is reserved for special purposes.
Comment: Please see RFC 1918 for additional information.
Updated: 2002-09-12

OrgAbuseHandle: IANA-IP-ARIN
OrgAbuseName: Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number
OrgAbusePhone: +1-310-301-5820

OrgTechHandle: IANA-IP-ARIN
OrgTechName: Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number
OrgTechPhone: +1-310-301-5820

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Shure 330 Supercardioid Ribbon Microphone

Isn't this interesting! A Shure model 330 Ribbon mic, (here is a link to a pdf of the data sheet) same as the SM33 used on Johnny Carson's desk that eventually sold for about $30,000 at auction, but in a cool jazz blue color scheme. The 330 uses a very small ribbon, comes with a concussion (or percussion) filter which is conically shaped, and has switchable impedance and selectable bass roll off, plus, one of those neat knuckles made of die-cast potmetal that houses the reactor and the XLR connector.

Hmmm. Intriguing. What's up with this thing? From our Custom Shop. Supercardioid!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More Like the Actual Color

This is closer to the color of the Naked Eye in bright studio lighting, maybe just a little bluer than the somewhat greenish tone it has under incandescent lighting.

Click on the image to get a hi resolution view. You can also see the texture and the slightly speckled surface which gives it a tactile feel, and the glassy looking logo, with a sharp highlight.

Here's how it looks next to a P SOLO Ribbon Microphone preamp. Quite a colorful and handsome duo.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Original Naked Eye Image - with Hemlock Branch

This is the full size Naked Eye on a naked branch picture that started the whole Naked Eye ribbon microphone color adventure that has led to the several custom color varieties used on that body style. We continue to use this image even though we replaced the printed, taped on logo with a real one that looks much nicer, and you might know that this is actually an image of an early grey Naked Eye that took on the color cast of the blue bench it was on when I shot the photo. Notice the blue on the branches that also got picked up - very eerie, very Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas looking. Cool.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Behringer Fined One Million Dollars for failing to test and report on product RF emissions

A fine of $1,000,000 US has been levied against Behringer, the well known discount gear manufacturer, for failing to comply with FCC Part 15 regulations. Link here.

The FCC found that Behringer intentionally placed products into distribution in the US without first complying with FCC rules. The suspect gear, which includes, preamps, microphones, and other recording equipment, even carried the FCC symbol in some cases.

The FCC said in its recently reported ruling, "Based on the facts and circumstances before us, including the egregious nature of Behringer's continued non-compliance, we conclude that Behringer is apparently liable for a forfeiture in the amount of one million dollars($1,000,000)." For further information, visit

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Elevtrovoice 926 "Slim" Crystal Microphone - War of the Worlds Style

Also fitted with a dynamic element and called the 623, this cool die-cast EV mic has several remarkable components including a wonderfully made knuckle that fits well and is smooth, and a drawn plated brass end cap with the three "War of the Worlds" eyes.

The crystal element is the typical aluminum plate attached to some rochelle salt in the center.

A lot of hand work went into the deflashing and smoothing of this mic prior to plating, and then perhaps after to make everything fit well. Stated response is 60-8000 Hz. I haven't tried it but it is a handsome addition to the microphonium museum of Ashland. This EV 926 probably has a telephonic sound, if it still works. Rochelle salts are prone to damage from heat, and moisture, and this mic has been around for a long time.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Ribbon Microphone Transformers

The transformer in a ribbon microphone must be designed and built to be efficient, sound good, have low noise pickup, and produce a healthy output voltage. And it must be matched to the mechanical, electrical and acoustic properties of the ribbon mic.

These qualities sometimes fight each other. For instance, if the transformer is to have high output, then it probably needs to have a high turns ratio, but that can raise the noise floor.

People have asked us to sell these to them separately, but we would have to charge about $250- to $300 each to make it worthwhile, and they wouldn't necessarily be right as a retrofit for any other ribbon microphone. Mixing and swapping out ribbon mic transformers is interesting and many people do it. As far as we know, our ribbon mic transformer is unique among ribbon mics since it isn't a traditional audio transformer design.

Post Number 300

Wow that's a lot of blogging, there must be something worth reading by now. If you are new here, do check out the archives. Scroll down and look on the right. See if you can find the most controversial post, which was in 2006.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Brass Corrosion Inside a Mechanism

"Brass" is an interesting material and may be comprised of copper, zinc, tin, lead and other metals in what we refer to as an alloy. Various alloys of brass have different properties and amounts of strength, plasticity, density, reactivity, etc. Brass and its more heavily tin-laden cousin Bronze are often thought of as relatively corrosion resistant and rust free. But brass can and does corrode under certain conditions, perfectly illustrated here in the shutter mechanism of a Graflex Series D camera. The blue material is oxidized and chloride (salt) reacted copper, and it got that way from long exposure to small amounts of moisture and the salts in the contacting surfaces, in other words, in a fairly dry environment. Microphones are subjected to some moisture, and sometimes saliva, which is salty.

I am suspicious of the various brasses used in microphones today. The so-called free machining brass can be heavily loaded with lead, and other unspecified materials. Brass has little magnetic shielding value when compared with steel or stainless steels. Brass varies and although there are grades of brass the brass you get in a product is usually not graded or specified. We never use brass in a contact area for obvious reasons and in just about any area where small amounts of corrosion can affect things it might be best to avoid it. Brass tastes bad which may explain why there are so few brass forks being made, though in the long past, in Roman times, there were plenty of brass and bronze-based eating utensils, which, despite the flavor, probably seemed fine and tasty with a good layer of hardened pudding and mutton juice.

Note that the mouthpieces on trumpets and the like are usually plated, to avoid the aforementioned undesired flavor which can get even worse during an hour-long performance. Bugles, on the other hand, often have plain brass-to-lip contact, but thankfully brief songs, and stoic players.

We do use some brass hardware which should be protected from corrosion for a long time. Brass does have the advantage of being nonmagnetic, which comes in handy when you need a metal that won't be attracted to a strong, nearby magnet.

Do you like bronze sculpture? Carol Feuerman is an artist who works in various materials including bronze, and her work is very entertaining. Go here to see it.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Naked Eye Update

Naked Eye Ribbon Microphones are now in stock after filling all outstanding backorders and dealer allocations.

Recordist Ensemble kits are available one week from order date.

The Zarks

I'm not sure what a Zark is, but that's our ubiquitous pal Larry Killip on the left. The plaid pants give away the era of this historical artifact. Click on the image for more 1960s Garage Band photos from NZ.