Monday, October 29, 2007

Notice via UPS

We get a UPS bill nearly every day. No other company on earth bills as frequently as UPS. Obviously we are not going to write a check every day for each UPS bill and prefer to pay it once per month, which is customary. This does not deter UPS from sending their many bills which we pile up among other less frequent bills such as insurance, machining, plating, materials and other supplies.

Here, Chris Regan seems to turn the tables with a mass UPS mailing of offers of licenses to virtually every microphone maker on earth. Good to our promise, and just like we said, we would offer Roswellite around the time of its commercialization. This was a lot of work! Not only that, each letter had to be individually addressed and signed, which gave me a mild case of writer's cramp, something I haven't suffered since my last college finals, way way back.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

El Diablo - nuevo micrófono de cinta

El Diablo - nuevo micrófono de cinta
Publicado 6/10/07 actualidad , hi fi , investigación , marketing , micrófono , tecnología 0 Comentarios
Tags: Crowley and Tripp, Mercenary Edition el Diablo Ribbon Microphone, micrófonos de cinta, Roswellite, Supermatter

eldiablo-mic.pngBob Crowley y Hugh Tripp están presentando un nuevo micrófono de cinta, fabricado a partir del desarrollo de un nuevo material, Roswellite, producido a partir de la manipulación a nanoescala.

El Diablo se presenta como el primer micrófono de cinta que puede ser metido dentro de un bombo, aplastado contra el amplificador de una guitarra o usado por un cantante en vivo. El Rosswelite revoluciona el campo de los micrófonos de cinta, deja de lado las preocupaciones, y puede ser usado en cualquier parte del estudio, en interiores o al aire libre.

Algunas características de este micrófono:

* Soporta grandes cantidades de presión (SPL), y se puede usar para grandes masas sonoras (como un bombo), o para sonidos más tenues, como una voz o un instrumento de cuerda.
* Color característico de los micrófonos de cinta. Este tipo de micrófonos presentan un sonido muy parejo, sin distorsiones.
* Respuesta en frecuencia simétrica.

Recordemos que los micrófonos de cinta son un tipo de micrófono electrodinámico de gradiente de presión, cuya membrana es una cinta corrugada tensada por dos abrazaderas. Son micrófonos muy utilizados en los estudios de grabación, porque ofrecen gran calidad, no obstante, presentan grandes inconvenientes porque son muy sensibles a las vibraciones producidas por su manipulación. Además, es muy común el romperlos al enchufarlos a una consola con phntom power.

Todo esto parece haber quedado atrás, gracias a los desarrollos de Crowley & Tripp, quienes devolvieron los microfonos de cinta al campo profesional.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Aiwa Rochelle Salt Crystal Microphone

The crystal microphone is an orphan. I cannot think of any air coupled crystal mics in production today, though there are many piezoelectric transducers, mainly contact or water coupled, or ultrasonic, out there for sale.

The crystal mic as you see it here was a typical Japanese style lapel mic, sometimes called a "spy" mic, because it could be concealed, and was supplied with numerous inexpensive 3" reel to reel tape recorders. The assembly is simple and consists of a two piece steel can with the element within. A conical perforated disc protects an aluminum foil diaphragm with a center pin attached internally to a piece of Rochelle salt, which is a piezoelectric substance. Rochelle salt generates a lot of voltage when deformed, and this type of mic has quite a good output. Its tinny sound is more a product of the packaging and the diaphragm than the inherencies of Rochelle's matter. In fact there are many Rochelle salt crystal earphones of the Japanese type still out there and working today, and if you have a chance to listen to one you might be surprised and how smooth and deep the bass from one of these gadgets can be. You can make your own Rochelle Salt! Here is the recipe!

But Rochelle salt has a problem or two: It is heat sensitive, and past some temp near boiling it is ruined. Even more important, the material is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs water easily, rendering it inoperative. Despite these limitations, the cheap crystal elements produced in the millions by Japan inc in the 60s keep transducing away. Perhaps it is time to revisit the Rochelle salt design, and see if it has any advantages over the conventional microphone of today.

BFI - The Dragons

I must admit that when I first heard Dragons BFI, shown above, that I thought it had to be some neo Pizzicato Five 60s reincarnation, or maybe the soundtrack to an Austin Powers genre film. I certainly had never heard it before, yet I already knew it well: The lush melodies of the Age of Aquarius, blended with acid moods and groovy beats, sort of like the album Spirit - an old fave - and also Something, Anything, in its eight track sensibilities and innovative tone.

It turns out that BFI was an old tape that was shelved after the band members failed to find a label to release it. 1970 was a transitional time, with the hippies already fading and the Vietnam war cynicism rising, which was out of phase with BFI's optimistic and upbeat idioms, psychedelic cliches, and nicely flanged drum solos. This was not guitar rock: The Hammond and the Leslie, the bass and harmonized vocals more reminiscent of R&B taken with a dose of Hair and The Fifth Dimension, hopefully embraced in '67, hopelessly out of date and square by 1970.

But now it barely matters. Three years of fast change in music are put in trivial time perspective now, among the many innovative and radical introductions to music an art that made the 60s such a Renaissance, a trove for culture historians.

Dragons were the Dragon brothers, one of them became "The Captain" of "The Captain and Tennile" who still play disco in Vegas for baby boomers on a gambling vacation. They did session work along the way, and all were, or are, excellent, competent, albeit slightly square, musicians and engineers, which is the way we want them - they summarized a Warhol-surfaced period in time when the moon rose among the flower children and they danced the dance of lives to come, except nobody knew it then, or cared particularly.

Until now: Get BFI the Dragons, only if you are old enough! Like MOBA, the cheesy and the trite are taken as equal elements of art. Its luxurious hole-in-the-middle stereophonic multitrack presentation with glorious analog tone will bring you there, or bring you back, or maybe somewhere else!

Read this review on Amazon, too.

Starrett Steel used in Ribbon Microphones

Just any old steel won't do. We use Starrett tool steel for several components in Crowley and Tripp mics.

If you do not see "Made in USA" on a product, you can assume it isn't made here. Some manufacturers go to great lengths to maintain the Made in USA mark, since in Europe, Japan and Oceana, the country of origin adds value to the product. Just like Fender guitars, the ones made in the US sell for a much higher price than one made in the Far East, reflecting the differences in quality that are very apparent in side-by-side comparisons.

XLR Mothership

If you want to make absolutely sure that you have a firm, solid mount for your XLR fitted mic, this is what you need.

Actually, you probably don't need a microphone cup like this one, built by Hugh Tripp, but we do. There are a number of tests and experiments that call for a precise and perfectly shielded connection as there are many external factors such as noise and the powerful AM radio station nearby that can get into the signal and interfere with our careful measurements of noise floor and self noise.

We are pleased to report that the self noise of all of our mics is near or at the theoretical level determined by the output impedance. Since our maximum output Z is no more than 200 Ohms at any frequency, we can safely say the self noise is in the 9dB range, which is indeed very, very low!

That orange button is a genuine Catalin plastic knob machined by Hugh out of old plastic stock we found at an antique radio show. Catalin is sometimes erroneously called "Bakelite", but is a different species of thermoset polymer resin. Bakelite the material is a thermoset powder.

Ribbon Mics, and how things have changed

You might go back and read this article and decide about its validity yourself. I won't comment anymore except to say that the ribbon mic proponents and makers share a common interest in the acceptance of ribbon mics, so we may not want people to think they should shy away from them for technical reasons.

Here it is.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dangerous Microphones sold at Crazy Clark's

A dangerous microphone was being sold at retailer Crazy Clark's that could interfere with air navigation systems that operate on the same frequency as the microphone. The illegal devices, which have been pulled from the shelves, operated on the 108-132 MHz band, which is allocated exclusively for air-to-ground and air-to-air communications worldwide.

"Why a company would put air travelers in jeapordy this way is hard to believe" said an official from the agency that regulates the airwaves in Australia, and is similar to the FCC.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

El Diablo Chime Charm a Bit of Voodoo at AES

A couple of weeks ago I showed some cut up chimes and asked you to speculate on their probable use. One reader told me he thought they were memorial chimes for a deceased ham radio guy W2VJZ who used to drive everyone crazy with his wind chimes while he talked endlessly. Nope. Another reader suggested that they were to be acoustic reference objects for lab testing. Close.

We made them to give away. A total of 88 little el Diablo dolls equipped with harmonically tuned high frequency chimes, and a tinkly bell, were given out by us at this year's AES exhibit. They were so popular that we are going to have to make another bunch to give to those who wanted them.

Chimes like these resonate at 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, etc. kHz and can challenge the ability of many microphones, especially any microphone with the dreaded tizz, shzzz thing happening, which not so coincidentally includes many low and high cost large diaphragm condenser mics. But not ribbons! The beauty of the simple, mode-restricted ribbon element, so elegantly predicted by Ernst Chladni, comes though loud and clear on high toned chimes, which we demonstrated live to people who visited our booth.

Then we sent them over to listen to the chimes on some very famously named microphones. Our customers and others went over and shook this little devil at the competition for us! Naturally, we knew what the outcome would be before we did this stunt - We've got el Diablo in us!!

Friday, October 19, 2007


A visitor to the Crowley and Tripp booth at AES, Nick Balsamo, KG2IR, of NBC, is one of the many hams who inhabit the pro audio space. Here Nick and I have a short QSO about ribbon microphones. W1XYZ is a real callsign, issued to me by the FCC in 2001. It had been "reserved" since the FCC was formed, and had never been issued.

el Diablo Ribbon Microphone with Roswellite Gets PAR Award - Third Consecutive PAR for Crowley and Tripp

This year at AES, the people at Pro Audio Review were kind to us again. In our first year, we got a PAR for the Studio Vocalist, and we were quite pleased. The second year resulted in another PAR for Naked Eye. Great! we said. So we weren't really expecting a 3peat.

This year's award motif, in various brown and russet tones, seems to go well with the el Diablo in its missile silo-like case.

CD Launch Friday the 26th at the Aucklander Bar - No Cover! See you there.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Too Weird to be true: China regulates Reincarnation

From VOA News:

"The Dalai Lama says his successor could be chosen among a group of senior monks, rather than through the centuries-old tradition of reincarnation.

In an interview with VOA, the Tibetan spiritual leader said his successor could be chosen like the Pope, or he may decide to declare his own successor while he is still alive.

Chinese authorities issued a new regulation in July 2007 that requires all reincarnations - including the Dalai Lama - to be approved by the government."

The Dalai Lama's microphone of choice appears to be a Shure wireless mic, though I'm not certain.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Big Mic Nuts for Big Mic Nuts

"In our efforts to rethink every aspect of mic stand design, we felt that microphone jam nuts have been shortchanged by every stand manufacturer in the world."

Those poor ordinary nuts!

Jam Nuts, made by LatchLake Music from Minnesota eh, are our kind of thing. Big, strong, plenty of meat, and made to last a long time. Knowing this, people like Jeff Roberts tend toward the humorous, their legacies assured by the fact that their excellent product will be around well into the next century. (I mean 2100) But it takes serious thinking to look at what is out there and say "hey, that old way is a piece of crap, and I know how to do it better" and then actually make it and sell it.

Jeff Roberts does that.

You want to see a mic stand made to last? Go here.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Halloween Tendril Suspension Mount for Naked Eye Pumpkin Ribbon Microphone

Here's an interesting color and design exercise with a black Naked Eye, a pumpkin orange grille, and a pumpkin vine tendril shock mount. This fantasy microphone does not actually exist as it looks here, but instead is partly the result of some image manipulation. A few of these mics around some cobwebs and and tombstones would have a nice look, I think. Who knows what sounds they might pick up in the moonlight?

Fall is definitely in the air here in Massachusetts today. The Red Sox dominated Cleveland last night and I am afraid that the ALCS is going to be a bit of a snooze.

Barking Pumpkin Records was Frank Zappa's label during his later years, long after the Verve era, Bizarre and DiscReet labels. Frank has been gone for over a decade, a victim of prostate cancer. His influence is still felt and the spirit of Zappa's music, which has a lot of angles to it, even showed up recently in Sean Eldon's "El Diablo" theme song. Pumpkin seeds were once thought to contain a substance that promoted prostate health.

"Call any Vegetable" is a favorite of mine, and a fairly paradigmatic Zappa composition.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Would you buy a microphone from this guy?

Late in the day after the 120th mic demo looking a bit ragged, I appear to be plotting something - perhaps a coup of the microphone industry, or just peering at one of the well-dressed trade show ladies who were in attendance - hard to tell which.

Marco Granados - Music of Venezuela CD now on YouTube and CDBaby

"Un Mundo Ensemble" is formed by a group young, virtuoso Latin American musicians banded together to bring forth the excitement, passion and energy of the beautiful music of Venezuela. This music is filled with happy, joyous and fun filled rhythms that always leave audiences wanting for more. Venezuelan music is characterized by the use of fast melodies, complex rhythms and well as jazzy harmonies, giving it a flavor that is truly a blend of tradition with sophistication. A lot of the arrangements are virtuosic in nature, giving the performers ample opportunity to display mastery on their instruments and the styles performed represent the typically forms most commonly enjoyed by the Venezuelan listener.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

el Diablo in the Wires

This is not a real test setup - just a quick shot of an el Diablo mockup sitting atop a low resistance tester that appears to have been made sometime around WW2. A mockup is the term for a thing that looks like a product, but isn't, and in this case is just a black shell with stick on lettering. Not much at all like the finished mic in detail, but accurate in form. This picture was taken quite a while ago.

I am wiped out from AES. It was a very successful show for us. All of the mics had high interest and the Recordist, el Diablo, Naked Eye and Studio Vocalist owners and owners-to-be told me a lot about applications. We had one person come to the booth who owns three Prosceniums, and he proceeded to rattle off the serial numbers of each one!

Monday, October 08, 2007

AES Monday

Today is expected to have high attendance. Yesterday was another busy day doing demos over and over, with a lot of interest from many visitors.

One more day to go, pack up, and head out on the Acela Express back to Boston.

We got another PAR Award - this time for el Diablo. It is next to the PAR Awards for the Studio Vocalist and for Naked Eye.

My feet hurt.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


More of the same except even more people telling us we are the only ones with something new to be seen at the show. Lots of little el Diablo dolls went around. More dealers looking to carry the line. Chris seemed to do a hundred demos nonstop.

But I think the most interesting thing I am hearing is from Studio Vocalist users.

"makes the 47 sound like the 57" (again)
"none of that harsh top is a relief"
"I thought it was going to be a once in a while mic, but now I use it all the time"
"60 billable hours" (what, is this guy a lawyer?)
"you guys have a something happening here"
it's about time that someone invented something new" (in ribbon mics)

Also, it seems we moved a lot of el Diablos .The Mercenary guys including Mercenary's new CEO James Callahan were quite pleased with the customer response too.

Friday at AES

Wow what a busy day, tons of people at the booth looking at el Diablo, shaking little el Diablo dolls, telling us how neat the mic looks once they have it in hand, and giving us the look like "hmmm, maybe I'm gonna buy one of these" that we've learned to recognize.

Over at the Mercenary booth they are playing "The el Diablo Video" which includes a song about el Diablo and it is truly well done and very appropriate, and people are loving it. Great shot of Hugh Tripp in it, and the over the top song, well, you gotta hear and watch the video. They also have the video of us abusing some Roswellite that has implications for those caught unprepared.It is surprising and I will post an even better one when we get back.

The video should be up on YouTube, either now or eventually, so if you go there and search for el diablo mercenary tripp crowley some such terms you might find it. Here it is! Sean Eldon is terrific, and a really nice guy.

Yesterday went by in a flash. I looked at my watch thinking it was about lunchtime, and it was actually 3:30. AES was very well attended and there was steady booth traffic. Chris and I are both hoarse already from giving demos, and the demo setup, which now looks like a candelabra on steroids, is working perfectly, all the mics lined up with el Diablo contrasting nicely.

Friday, October 05, 2007

More from AES

Chris Regan and I took Amtrak from Boston to Penn Station and got in around 3pm, found the hotel, checked in, and headed over to the Javitz Center to set up.

AES hadn't registered us, so we waited while they figured out who we were to get us some badges, though in the show office they already had a roving pass for Crowley and Tripp printed and ready to go. That's so either of us can attend the sessions on whatever it is that is on the AES "scientific" program.

The boxes we shipped on Friday and the booth were where they were supposed to be, in a heap on a pallet, dinged and dented, but intact, at booth 772. We got all set up and realized that booth didn't have power, which we ordered in advance. A trip to the AES office yielded little consolation, but the Javitz electrical foreman has promised to get us our "500 Watt Drop" by 7:30 this morning.

We have been getting a ton of traffic on our website - way more than ever, and last week we shipped more than ever, too.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

AES NY October 5-8

OK, off to New York to stay at some fabulous luxury hotel probably with a view of a brick wall or some alley. (actually I got a good room on the 37th that looks out on 34th) Good thing we'll be busy showing off el Diablo in addition to our ever expanding line up of quality ribbon microphones. This year we will have a separate listening station for the Recordists in Blumlein fashion, a startlingly realistic demo of what kind of sound panorama that kind of simple yet effective setup can produce. You have to hear it to appreciate the realism, depth and accuracy. We love it.

Also there will be some prototypes to show, as usual, as there even more new things to come. If you want to see it, take the train in on the weekend and visit us at booth 772.