Monday, January 28, 2008

Jean Shepherd MP3s

Jean Shepherd's America is available for free here

No other person has so dominated a microphone for so long, and to such great effect, as Shepherd did in his PBS broadcasts, or WOR radio, and other late-night radio.

If Americana is of interest to you, Ollie Hopnoodle, Wanda Hickey, and Yoohoo chocolate soft drinks all thank you.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Naked Eye Polar Plot

All versions of Naked Eye have this same pattern. Click on it to zoom in. The larger lobe at a given frequency is an indication of higher amplitude at that frequency. One of the nice things about ribbon microphones is that the pattern shape is much the same regardless of the frequency, which means that the useful nulls extend down to the bass region and up to the highest response.

The front of the mic is at the top of the chart. Imagine you are looking down over the top of the Naked Eye. The badge is at zero degrees. People sometimes put on the phones and just turn the mic and speak intit to hear the difference. Don't do that unless you have a phase switch on your preamp, as you will be inverting the phase as you listen, and that will product constructive and destructive interference in your head, which is very confusing. Here is a more thorough discussion of mic phase effects.

Did you know that Naked Eye is available in custom colors? We did up a special green one for Larry Killip in the past. Darron Burke has a specially colored Naked Eye at Makeshift Studio. We also try out wacky virtual color schemes in photoshop.

And here is a real one - in all black! Nice.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Naked Eye Roswellite Released

Naked Eye Roswellite

The versatile tone of Naked Eye, plus the durability of Roswellite.


Click here for more about Naked Eye Roswellite

namm dated January 17 2008

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Burger After Church

A great CD is "Burger After Church" which I bought right after reading a Washington Post review excerped below:

"The fury began at the outset, with the Waybacks leaping into the instrumental 'Turkish Stalemate' at full gallop, a tune that combines Greek bouzouki tones -- played on dueling mandolins -- with Celtic melodies. Another instrumental, 'Brundlefly,' exploded into a bluesy jam that smashed rock improvisations into a bluegrass setting. A cover of Riders in the Sky's 'Compadres in the Old Sierra Madre,' sung only partly in the traditional 'high lonesome' pitch, morphed into an outrageous take on Texas swing and was highlighted by blistering solos by each player."

How could I resist? Here is the link to The Waybacks, who you should definitely give a listen.

Naked Eye Ball on a Suspension Mount Ring

We did some more fiddling around with suspension mount designs the other day. Most of you know that we do not, nor do we want to make, suspension mounts. But, when asked by customers to do something new and better, we cannot resist. Here is one such "improvement" if you can call it that. The idea is to get rid of that finger busting wing-shaped thing that most of the mounts come with these days and replace it with a more thumb-friendly sphere, preferably one with some grip, so that users can lock down the up/down angle of the mic with more positive assurance.

The human hand and the wide range of strengths that have to be accommodated make this a more difficult design challenge than one would at first imagine. There are plenty of ham-fisted types who can break the screw right off, and they will, while others cannot seem to muster enough force to get a good clamping action.

Friday, January 11, 2008

How is in charge of buying your toner?

If you work in an office or business like we do, you are bound to get cold callers trying to sell cleaning services, wall to wall carpet, financial advice, local magazine advertising, and, our "favorite", toner for copiers.

Every call center in Mumbai seems to have our number and wants to sell us toner, which we use little of. We pay very little attention to it and try to get off the phone and back to mic making as soon as we can. It has been busy! But we did take a time out to look at two imported Chinese ribbon microphones a company wants to sell to us: One is the ubiquitous lollipop style you see everywhere with that "head" shape like a D-104. That one is under $30 in quantity and the quality reminds us of the Argonne mics that the Japanese used to make. They were very inexpensive and looked pretty neat, and they did put out sound.

The mic you see here being tested in front of the Hofner is one of those very familiar pill shaped ribbon mics you see all over ebay, except this one has a 12AX7 in it, and an outboard power supply. The design is simple, and uses a small transformer into the grid of one half of the tube (the 12AX7 is a dual triode), then another transformer out. Pretty cool for only $100 in quantities, we thought. But the sound is, well, like a very boomy, hard room, though the noise isn't bad. I think this explains why this particular model isn't being seen much these days. You get a lot to play around with though: A nice case, a power supply with filament, bias and enough B+ to give you a shock, a suspension mount, two cables, and of course the mic, which is delightfully easy to take apart by unscrewing the bottom. I think I could make a ham radio transmitter out of it!

It would be easy to get sidetracked into fiddling around with these mics and they do seem to call for significant mods. We also get asked by others to modify these mics and put in "the good stuff", but we have to explain that it isn't worth putting a hemi in a Yugo. My sister-in-law once had a Yugo. I was quited amused when she and her mother pulled up the drive in this minimalistic conveyance, which she said "won't do over 60, but it seems fast". As I recall, it was a light yellow color, which was somehow appropriate.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

LAUREN PASSARELLI LIVE in HUDSON, Near Sudbury, Maynard Live Music

Doings in Hudson MA


February 8, 2008 Harvest Cafe' in Hudson, MA 8-10pm

Lauren Passarelli performs original songs from her new itunes singles
& full length recordings, Shadow Language, Back to the Bone & Among
The Ruins. A studio wizard who writes the songs & performs most of
the instruments, engineers & then mixes the songs too, Lauren has
been focusing on new digital only releases released worldwide on
Itunes & CD Baby. Be sure to catch this unique artist live as this
performance will focus on the song in it̢۪s created, written state:
just guitar & vocal. For sound samples & videos visit CD &

"Control the wavicles"- L Pass
for my music, articles & videos:
cdbaby, itunes, youtube & google

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Improvements to Suspension Mounts

You would think that a simple item like a clamp to adjust the angle of a microphone in a mount would be an easy thing to make and have work well.

But it's not. Here is the typical compression type clamp that works by pressing the side of the tang against the inside of the circular plate. Friction is supposed to hold this into position, sort of like a disc brake. But there are several problems: Finger tightening is hard for some people and easy for others, so the amount of force needed to clamp must accommodate the various pressures and still work well. Another is the effect of unscrewing the tightening bolt, which is easy to do as soon as you rotate any part of the clamp. At that point, the clamp loosens suddenly, and the microphone, in our case a heavy microphone, droops. We don't want that.

Label from an ElectroVoice V-1A

An interesting close-up shot of the diecast base of a V-1A Electrovoice ribbon microphone. This type of aluminum label with screened printing, and with variable information windows, used to be much more common. It definitely has a vintage look.

A variable information window allows manufacturers to show certain model designations within a larger group of products. Crowley and Tripp uses one such variable info label at the bottom of the Naked Eye Ribbon Microphone, in this case to show the serial number. In our case, the numbers are arranged in blocks and with letter designations that tell us something about the date, style and model number of a particular microphone.

more about this mic

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Hail to the Chief!: NIB (New in Bag) Turner Crystal Microphone, Cedar Rapids Iowa

I forgot about this one I had stashed away in the back of the closet: A mint, New in Bag, Turner Model 808 Crystal Microphone, with perfect cloth-covered cord, early Ferrari radiator grille rendered in battleship grey, and attached caution:

Do not remove the screws in this instrument nor open it in any way as the
response will be seriously affected and the Guarantee Voided.
The Turner Company
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Click on the image of this photogenic mini-tombstone - here seemingly photographed on the same mid-century red backdrop used in the famous Marilyn Monroe calendars - for a very close up view.