Friday, February 22, 2008

77dx on ebay

I put one of the 77DXs up on ebay. This is the one shown with the cat in previous posts. It is a virgin mic, original and perfect ribbon, and very excellent conditions with just a few little marks on it. Before it gets dinged or dented, I want to sell it. We have others and so many olde time ribbon mics here that they are cluttering up the place, and we don't use them. I used to love the 77DX and of course it has a look that is easy to recognize, but the design is dated, and modern ribbons, magnetics and transformers have exceeded the performance if not the adjustability of the 77D and DX. All those shutters and switches are part of the fun and "the paraphernalia of it all", to quote Frank. Time to move on though. The 77DX has a gravelly sound, aggressive and biting at times. It can also sound like a BK5 when in the cardioid position, as it has the same transformer, reactor and some other characteristics. I like it in figure 8, others like it in the so-called "Omni" position.

The omni position on a 77D and Dx gives an amplitude pattern that is omni but a phase pattern that is still 180 degrees apart front to back. Very unlike a small condenser omni.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

RF Barrier - Hum Killer!

A package of RF Barrier material that is the most formable, conformal, hand shapable and versatile RF and hum shielding material I know of.

RF Barrier is a multilayer conductive material that looks like aluminum foil but won't rip or tear, and can be formed to fit around pickups, into cavities in electric guitars such as this Fender Stratocaster, put inside the cases of vintage keyboards, in amps and in any plastic enclosure that needs some extra protection from RF, AC, noises and cellphones.

I'm so happy with this stuff that I put it up in big 48" square sheets, so there is plenty for several projects. It is more conductive than any paint, and easier to apply than copper foil. Both sides conduct, unlike foil with glue already on it. Adhesives prevent good electrical contact. I use RF Barrier with Automotive GOOP. It can also be applied to a surface sprayed with adhesive, and allowing some overlap and completely covering the back of the pickguard seals the pickups and reduces hum.

It's on ebay. Also, we have it here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Kyle Harris - PlayR Studio Phoenix, Naked Eye User

Here's some press we got about a customer who is making good use of the Crowley and Tripp Naked Eye ribbon microphone.

Here is the link to the story.

Kyle is a well-known musician, producer and engineer, with a long track record of successes.

Kyle Harris can be contacted by e-mail at and on the Web at

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Alien Microphones and SETI

Looking like a row of pop filters and mics, these dish antennas are listening for extraterrestrial signals. I have a hunch that we will hear about the discovery of distant intelligent radio signals before too long. They could be communications and signaling systems that we don't recognize, or, they could be amplitude modulated signals of alien voices through alien microphones and alien solid state or even tube technology, or something else.

SETI is the group of believers, and they have an interesting website worth looking at.

Of course, it might take a lot longer for SETI to get the first signal. After all, here on Planet Earth, we've only been sending out "intelligent" RF signals for about 100 years, which is only long enough to propagate to but a couple of other star/planet systems.

The press tells you we are in "The Information Age". Ha! People a couple of hundred years ago will call today "The Combustion Age", when virtually all of mankind's efforts were fueled by the burning of something already lying around.

I hope we got out of The Combustion Age ASAP. Nuclear fusion is still a long way off, but considerable effort and money is still being put into it, as it holds the promise of cheap, limitless energy with zero pollutants. The world economy may have to pass through the Mad Max era first, but if we survive it, then the shift in global economic power will be profound, solve a lot of problems, and certainly produce some new ones. Inexorable change naturally forces obsolescent
technologies out. Either they expire on their own, or some new thing comes in to replace them. How many computer CRTs are being sold today? Reel-to-Reel tape recorders? The telephone as we knew it is a certain goner. How about cars, oil burners, MP3s and iPods? What about others making music for you to listen to? Are the days of Lovewhip numbered? See here. Click on Ramona!, and have a conversation with her.

Anyway, apparently, SETI thinks that an RCA44 ribbon microphone, or something like it, is a good symbol for their organization.

Lovewhip and the Whipettes

While we're on the subject, here's one of our friend Darron Burke's/Makeshift Studio clients, Lovewhip.


Eye Catching

Very film noir

Free "downloads"

How can you lose?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"Why don't you do right?"

That's the title of a famous piece sung by Peggy Lee and performed by the Benny Goodman Orchestra.

Sultry, suggestive, smoky and smokin!

And Benny could really play that horn.

Also, take a look at the microphone. Is it the same as this one?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

New Suspension Mount for Naked Eye Classic, Naked Eye Roswellite

Why mess around with a generic mic mount when you can have this cool, monocle style rotary suspension mount for your Naked Eye Classic, Naked Eye Roswellite, and even your Recordist Ribbon Microphone.

Notice the upright rigid compression elements work in a very
R. Buckminster Fulleresque tensegrity arrangement. Designed by Des and coated in a hard smooth black finish!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Editorial:Bob Crowley talks about the making of Crowley and Tripp mics, and Roswellite

."Nanotech’ is a buzzword like ‘dot-com’ used to be. But where dot-com had its roots in business, nanotech refers to science – specifically, the control and application of materials on a scale that deals with atoms and molecules. And where dot-com’s hype ultimately ended in a fiasco, nanotechnology is poised to change our lives. The term ‘nano’ has already been tossed around enough to virtually erase its meaning but today we are seeing real evidence of a true nanotech revolution in our chosen fields of music and medical acoustics, with real products – not just buzzwords

Corporate "Escapees"

Hugh Tripp and I linked up with Chris Regan not long after we became ‘corporate escapees’ from a giant, bureaucratic medical device company. I had been director of R&D of the Imaging and Sensing Laboratory, where we invented all kinds of ultrasound devices, and Hugh had been knocking out dozens of precision medical products. We both enjoyed very successful careers. We had music, recording, audio and acoustics backgrounds, and we knew from our experience at Boston Scientific how to make very small things - like the tiny audio transducers used in heart imaging - operate like full-sized surgical tools. It was good, but after a while we got bored with the slowness of a big company. So we looked around and saw the big changes that had happened in audio recording and realised that in all types of microphones, and in particular, ribbon microphones, progress had virtually stopped.
Where's the analog?
Once magnetic recording tape had all but vanished from use, the condenser microphone designs of the past sounded too harsh, too bright and too hard under the dispassionate eye of digital recording. Lower-cost reissues of the classic condensers were delivering a familiar and reliable sound palette, but actual improvements have been few and the condenser technology itself, which is very old indeed, has been so worked over that few fundamental differences exist from brand to brand.
Back to the basics - back to the sound!
A few engineers, musicians and others started exploring the overlooked ribbon microphone as a way to put back ‘a pinch of analogue’ into their digital recordings, and were having success with the current availability of ribbon mics, which are centred on older designs. This availability was put to good use by pioneering recording engineers, and this created a small niche market for new ribbon microphones built by boutique companies. We saw that big improvements could be made to the relatively neglected ribbon microphone world almost immediately.
What a concept! Let the customer tell you what they want.
Users were very up-front with what they liked and disliked about ribbons. In short, they wanted less of a dark sound, which virtually all older ribbons produce, and demanded higher signal output – not just another preamp, but a ‘hot’ transducer. And, last but not least, they said that a much more durable microphone – one that they never had to worry about blowing – was the ultimate goal. The old ‘foil’ ribbons failed on all three counts. If we could correct all of them - we supposed - we would have the answer to ‘ribbon stigma’. The solution, we thought, was in the use of nanomaterials and the application of some of the things we learned in medical research.
"Sounds good" in context
All microphones have timbre. No matter how ‘flat’ or ‘uncoloured’ a microphone is claimed to be, or how straight the curves look, the pickup and delivery of sound is subjected to the transformation process (of acoustic energy into electrical energy) inside every microphone. Curves, traces and charts cannot tell you the whole story of how a microphone will sound in any particular application. The timbre, or tone, of the ribbon mic category has always been dark, so we intentionally designed the acoustics of new ribbon mics to have a brighter sound. For example, using a rising response with vocals would allow them to stand out in a mix. Other voicings include those that give drums a sharp presentation, and also a thick, dense tone that can be optimal for guitar cabinets. Ribbon microphones did not previously cover all of these applications, only some of them.
Hot enough!
Users clearly wanted more output, and by that I mean a strong, high-output, low-noise, hot signal under any recording situation - even quiet sources like soft finger-picking and light vocals. We had to develop our own transformers and other magnetics to do it, but now we enjoy output levels that exceed that of the typical stage dynamic - hot enough for virtually any preamp, IO device, PA system, or even high-end field recorder.
The human sound, presented au naturel
Vocals are a special category - smooth, flattering vocals are actually quite easy to achieve with properly configured ribbon microphones. The ribbon mics we need for vocals should have plenty of air and the rising curve of classic condensers, but without the top end tizz, fizz or hash that is inherent in tympanic membranes used in all condensers. Ribbons are pure and linear, and the human ear can tell the difference. Nobody made a close-range vocal ribbon microphone with a brighter rising response before, but it seemed important to us to produce it.
Nervous Condition? Your Fears Wiped Away With Roswellite
With a firm understanding of how to get certain tone choices, we were left with a final request: ‘Make it so that it will never break’, users said. The ribbons of old were terrible in this regard; some were so delicate that opening a door the wrong way could end a session. Nervous engineers dared not put the ribbon microphone near the source, where it was most needed. An all-new solution was needed to replace the infamous ‘foil’ ribbon. That weakness alone had been keeping the ribbon mic in the locker and away from music making. A better, stronger, great-sounding material, one that wouldn’t break under extreme SPLs, close to a kick drum, wind, or by the accidental application of a 48V phantom power was definitely required.
Ghost of Olsen
The ideal ribbon was imagined by Harry Olson, RCA’s resident audio genius during the late 1920s and early 1930s, as having almost no mass, to be perfectly conductive and yet be as tough as a trampoline. All Olson had to work with was thin aluminium foil, which was, and still is, weaker than any commercial product ought to be. But we had some experience in making the very thin medical devices very strong, and in allied fields such as carbon nanotube arrays, polymeric composites, conductive polymers, and the forming of nanoscaled magnetic and paramagnetic assemblies used in medical implants. If we could combine the strength of these nanocomposites with the conductivity of paramagnetic materials such as gold and copper, then we could obsolete that too-fussy ‘foil’ ribbon, forever.
"With a little help..."
We brought in an extra scientist and engineer, did trial after trial of new process steps, numerous measurements, including accelerated ageing studies, and then put all of that into test microphones and did a lot of listening. Finally, we had what we called ‘Acoustic Nanofilm’. It was light, it was strong, it was superelastic, and it worked. If anything, the sound of this new material was as good or perhaps better than that of foils and it was amazingly tough and resistant to abuse, misapplication of phantom power, plosives and wind blasts – certainly as tough as, or tougher than, a condenser mic. But it was also rather expensive to produce.
Roswellite: Wacky, weird and perfect.
Prior to the release of the first Crowley & Tripp el Diablo and then Naked Eye Roswellite microphones, we started thinking of what we were going to call this material. ‘Acoustic Nanofilm’ sounded too serious, to me. I liked the term ‘Roswellite’ but was afraid it was a little wacky, referring to the supposed UFO crash in New Mexico. My wife works in aerospace and knows about sun-angle-sensors for satellites, but not as much about earth-based microphones. ‘If I told you something was made of Roswellite, what would you imagine it is?’ I asked. ‘Something that is super light, tough and metallic,’ she responded.
It's here...
Roswellite is the trademarked name of our nano-enabled ribbon material invented, by Soundwave Research Laboratories, Inc and that we use in certain Crowley & Tripp microphones, and first introduced as el Diablo Mercenary Edition. It is an extremely strong, low mass, superelastic, paramagnetic composite with high inherent conductivity and shape memory properties. At this moment, we are scaling up production of this material - which is expensive and time-consuming to make - in readiness for the introduction of new microphone models with this and other nanomaterials in the future.

Naked Eye Vocals

Just when everyone starts telling us about the tone and thickness they are getting on guitar, up comes another vocalist in addition to number one charting Larry, below. This is Japan's
Junko Iwao, a singer/songwiter/composer and also noted anime voice actor, shown recording in Tokyo with a Naked Eye Classic.

Click on the photo for Junko's website.

As an aside, and since people are searching for them, here are some sound samples of Naked Eye mics by Crowley and Tripp.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Hush Hush

Voices carry. That is unless corrosion and crud gum up the rotary tuner in your Zenith television. That's where New Super Hush comes in, the miracle TV tuner cleaner that eliminates bad connections, lubricates, cleans and protects fine electrical contacts, without damaging delicate plastics.

The freon propellant was also a cleaner, and an excellent remover of cigarette smoke film, so that, and some silicone oil, comprised most of the contents of Hush.

This is a full can, never been used! Ready for that vintage Fender Champ amp, to clean, lubricate and polish those scratchy, crackly, dirty old pots.

and in case you were wondering,,,

There are six little 1.5 volt cells inside every 9 volt battery. You can see them here, all connected in series. They are smaller than AAA size, though about the same diameter, only shorter.

Each cell is connected with a metal tab that is spot welded to the end. The case is nothing more than a painted can.

The 9 volt battery was a star of the 1960s, when millions of them powered transistor AM radios for hours on end. This was quite a feat, as only a few years before, portable radios had two batteries, and used current-hogging tubes, so the battery life was short.

These are called "dry cells" but they aren't really dry. If you open them up, which you should not do, you will find they have a pasty electrolyte in them. Sometimes that electrolyte leaks out, gets into the radio, and makes a corroded mess. Nasty stuff, but it usually can be cleaned up.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Roswellite FAQ- Frequently Asked Questions About Crowley and Tripp Ribbon Microphones

Please feel free to ask me more questions for possible inclusion in the FAQ. Here is a link to all posts mentioning Roswellite.

What is Roswellite?

Roswellite is the trademarked name of a new nano-enabled ribbon material invented and produced by Soundwave Research Laboratories, Inc. and used in certain Crowley and Tripp microphones. Roswellite is also known as "acoustic nanofilm". It is an extremely strong, low mass, superelastic, paramagnetic composite with high inherent conductivity and shape memory properties. Roswellite can be employed to replace the "foils" such as those used in ribbon microphones. Due to its high strength, toughness and shape retaining properties, Roswellite can withstand windblast, plosives, phantom power applications, and high sound pressure levels, even at low frequencies.

Where is Roswellite made?

Roswellite is Made in USA.

What is the advantage of Roswellite?

Roswellite is far stronger and more responsive than the "foils" that have been traditionally use in ribbon microphones. For this reason, it is essentially a permanent ribbon, in the same way a capsule or element in any condenser or dynamic microphone is. Roswellite completely overcomes any strength, fragility or application limitations associated with traditional "foil" ribbon microphones. Roswellite has other advantages in processing: The shape memory feature of the material and its extreme durability and elasticity, and the manner in which it is manufactured, affords far greater piece-to-piece consistency. This saves time in the assembly, and produces a more uniform product.

What is "shape memory"?

Shape Memory is the ability of a material to return to a predetermined shape after distortion. Shape memory processes are those in which a material is made that has certain characteristics that favor a specific or multiplicity of shapes and states.

What does it sound like?

I think that a Roswellite fitted ribbon mic is hard to tell from a traditional ribbon. There are some slight differences, and they tend to be subjective ones. At moderate volume levels, a "foil" ribbon will sound similar to a Roswellite ribbon. At extreme SPLs, the Roswellite ribbon is obviously able to maintain its integrity, so the dynamic range is significantly improved.This is why a Roswellite ribbon placed in or near a kick drum has such a clean,solid sound.

How does it compare with foil ribbons?

There really is a big difference. The foil ribbon is sensitive to sound but has far lower tensile strength and excursion ability than Roswellite. The conductivity of Roswellite approaches that of elemental aluminum, yet is at least 5 time stronger. The lateral flexibility and elastic modulus of Roswellite exceed aluminum by a wide margin.

What is the maximum SPL that it will take?

We aren't sure. The test equipment required to actually produce and measure distortion at over 146 db isn't available to us right now. We have to build a properly loud calibrated source, and that will take some time. We can withstand actual percussive sounds like those produced by a kick drum, easily, and the waveforms we see do not appear to be distorted. We have been thinking about building a pistonphone but these devices are not very useful above a few hundred cycles, at best. There is evidence that the material behaves linearly up to very high levels - probably well past 146 dB at any frequency. That is very high indeed.

What microphones have Roswellite and what do they sound like?

Right now el Diablo and Naked Eye Roswellite have Roswellite in them. The el Diablo is a unique microphone voiced somewhat like a U47fet, and with a rising response not unlike a large diaphragm condenser, but with a presumed bigger dynamic range at the bottom. The reason I say "presumed" is that we do not yet have a good test setup for measuring distortion at extreme excursions. Naked Eye Roswellite sounds very much like Naked Eye Classic, to the point where most people regard it as the same. Once again, however, the higher SPL handling of Roswellite, especially at the bottom end, should result in a bigger dynamic range than its aluminum cousin, but it is probably not very different sounding in normal use.

Is the Q of Roswellite different than foils?

Roswellite used alone in air does have a slightly lower Q than aluminum foil. However, all Crowley and Tripp microphones are a system designed to have a Q of very close to 1 at any frequency in the passband. In other words, the ribbons in any of our mics including those with or without Roswellite, are virtually non-resonant.

Do you plan to release more products with Roswellite?

Yes, we hope to in the future.

Can you describe the process of making Roswellite?

We don't provide details of our processes.

Can I replace the ribbon in my microphone with Roswellite?

No, at least not at this time. Some ribbon microphones can be modified for use with Roswellite, and we have done so here at our laboratory for testing and comparison purposes only.

Do you supply samples of Roswellite?

We do not.

If Roswellite works so well, why use "foil" anymore?

It seems to us that this is a fair question, but one that will take some time to answer. The higher cost of Roswellite would be one reason it might not be appropriate in some circumstances. Over time, as more of the material can be made at lower cost, I think Roswellite may replace foils.

Will Crowley and Tripp be supplying its acoustic nanomaterials to other manufacturers?

We have an active licensing program with several technologies. Please contact us for more information.

I am a manufacturer. How can I find out about these materials for my application?

Please call us and we will discuss your application and, if appropriate, we will recommend one or more of our nanomaterials for that application.