1962 BBC Training Manual

In the 1951 BBC Microphones training manual we saw that the corporation functioned with a small selection of British manufactured microphones, most of which had been in service since the 1930’s.  So when I saw this Manual from 1962 I was curious to see how ‘Auntie’ had moved on into the swinging sixties.

BBC Training Manual 1962

Old favourites continued in use.                                                                                         BBC Training Manual 1962 STC Dynamic Microphones

The STC4021 ‘Apple and Biscuit’ first appeared in 1935 as did the famous Marconi A series ribbon microphone pictured on the page below. (The AXBT is the 4th generation).  The STC4035 was a lighter, updated replacement for the old STC 4017, which had been phased out in the mid 50’s. The 4032 is identical to the 4035 but housed in a neat handheld Bakelite body making it suitable for outdoor use in all weathers. The 4037 was designed for TV and has a rather more modern look (slim lightweight body and matt black finish). However, the capsule is still pretty much the same as the good old ‘Apple and Biscuit’. STC’s dynamic models were the tried and tested backbone of general purpose and outside broadcasting. The noise-cancelling STC4104 lip ribbon mic was used for sports commentary and noisy events. This was an updated version of the older Marconi lip ribbon microphone. More recently manufactured by Coles, the 4104 continues in production to this day.

BBC Training Manual 1962 Ribbon Microphones

So what was new?

FM broadcasting by the BBC began in 1955 and the audio frequency response was thereby extended from 5 kHz up to 15 kHz. The new FM system was also considerably less susceptible to noise and interference than AM. Although the old favourite microphones from STC and Marconi were still fine for everyday transmission of speech, when it came to the broadcasting of high quality music, mics with improved high end response were now required. With this in mind the BBC Research Department designed 2 new ribbon microphones (pictured above). First came the PGS (Pressure Gradient with a Single magnet) and from this developed the 4038. Manufactured by STC these new microphones were considerably smaller and lighter than the old Marconi AXBT, and had an almost flat frequency response up to 15 kHz. This was around ½ an octave higher than the mighty AXBT. Now manufactured by Coles the 4038 continues in service to this day and is still recognised as one of the finest ribbon microphones available.

The photograph below is rather bizarre. In real life the STC4033 is around 3x bigger than the Reslo! The Reslo was small and convenient for use on TV (as mentioned in my previous blog post). The STC4033 is an unusual hybrid, similar in design to the classic Western Electric 639 ‘Birdcage’. It has an ‘Apple and Biscuit’ type omni dynamic element, and a ribbon element. This gives a choice of switchable polar patterns. Using the elements separately we have Omni or Figure of Eight and by combining the outputs of both we obtain Cardioid. Nevertheless, by 1962 the STC4033 was a somewhat antiquated design and no match for the more sophisticated competition coming out of Germany and Austria.

BBC Training Manual 1962 Reslo and STC4033

Enter AKG and Neumann……….

A number of high quality condenser microphones now appeared in the BBC microphone locker. The legendary AKG C12 quickly became a firm favourite for the broadcasting of concerts and was very often the only microphone used to capture a symphony orchestra in glorious Mono! The AKG C28, C29 and C30 were perfect for solo performers on live TV. The variable extension pieces made it easy for unobtrusive positioning.

BBC Traing Manual 1962 AKG C12.jpgBBC Traing Manual 1962 AKGC28 .jpg

The Neumann KM54 cardioid, and the multi-pattern KM56 were also popular choices for high quality broadcasting.

BBC Training Manual 1962 Neumann KM54BBC Training Manual 1962 Neumann KM56

Other Microphones.

A number of other microphones are given a mention but not honoured with a photo. The Corporation was still very much dominated by BBC Radio and most of these microphones are from the rapidly evolving new world of BBC Television. TV presenters very often needed to keep their hands free and microphones ‘in shot’ needed to be small and unobtrusive.

BBC Training Manual 1962BBC Training Manual 1962BBC Training Manual 1962

The Placing of Microphones
The diagrams and explanations on the pages below provide an interesting insight into the lost world of recording and broadcasting in Mono.

BBC Training Manual 1962 Microphone Placement 01

The BBC philosophy for the broadcasting of classical music is best summed up in the opening sentence of the page below.  In the manual there is a clear distinction between music which requires the engineer to simply reproduce a ‘true balance’ created by the conductor and the performers (captured by one microphone), and more popular forms of music which require the engineer to create the balance from a number of microphones. Today this distinction has been all but lost.

BBC Training Manual 1962 Microphone Placement 02BBC Training Manual 1962 Microphone Placement 03

 Modern Dance Bands

BBC Training Manual 1962 Microphone Placement 05

Setups for Dance Bands.

BBC Training Manual 1962 Microphone Placement 06

The section above on Modern Dance Bands contains no mention of the latest Beat Groups, Rock’n’Roll or Skiffle. BBC thinking was clearly lagging at least 5 years behind the latest trends in popular music. If you were a teenager in 1962 the ensembles mentioned above are the sort of music your Mum and Dad would have liked! Within a couple of years British teenagers were under the bedclothes every night with a transistor radio listening to their favourite music coming from pirate radio stations such a Radio Caroline and Radio London, illegally broadcasting from offshore. It wasn’t until 1967 that the BBC threw in the towel and set up Radio 1 to cater for a younger audience!


The final chapter of the manual is devoted to describing the basic principles of ‘STEREOPHONY’. Even though stereophonic records had been around for several years, by 1962 stereo broadcasting was still in it’s infancy. Around this time there were a number of experimental BBC broadcasts. In our house I can remember my Dad following the instructions for a particular broadcast by setting up 2 radio sets tuned to different programmes, one carrying the left-hand channel and one carrying the right !! Unfortunately the 2 radios were very different sizes and so the effect was somewhat less than perfect! It was not until 1973 that Radios 1,2 and 4 finally broadcast in stereo.

In Conclusion.

Although a small amount of space is given to sound in the context of television, this manual is firmly focused on ‘High-Quality Sound Production and Reproduction’ for BBC Radio. Tape had pretty much replaced 78 rpm discs as the primary means of recording and storing programmes. FM broadcasting was a huge technical leap forward and the arrival of some new condenser microphones further improved the quality of the output. Nevertheless, in many respects, even by 1962 ‘Auntie’ still had one foot firmly in the 1930’s !





‘The Beatles Mic’ Reslo RB/L Black Label (Circa 1961)

Reslosound Ltd were a British company based in Romford, Essex, manufacturing microphones and electrical equipment throughout the 50’s and 60’s. In recent years the Reslo RB has become known as ‘The Beatles Mic’ because of its association with The Beatles early days at The Cavern Club.

However, as I recall (‘cos I’m that old), the Reslo RB was simply a popular vocal mic with many up-and-coming young beat groups in the clubs and pubs around Liverpool and Manchester. Like the Shure SM58 today, the Reslo RB was not, perhaps, the greatest vocal mic in the world, but it wasn’t bad either, and most importantly it was pitched at a price that gigging musicians could afford! In 1962 the Reslo RB/L could be purchased for £9.12s, which was less than half the price of an AKG D19B. A Sennheiser MD21 cost £16gns, or if you couldn’t quite afford the Reslo you could always settle for a Grampian DP4 L at £8. For their first gig at The Cavern in 1961 The Beatles were paid £5.

So how on earth did a delicate ribbon microphone survive whilst an enthusiastic singer (straining to get heard through a 50watt Vox PA) screamed ‘Twist and Shout’ at a distance of half an inch? (Or in the case of my mate’s band, an old valve amp built into a re-purposed rabbit hutch!) Reslosound clearly knew their market and gave this problem some thought. To avoid instant annihilation of the ribbon, Reslo had a cunning plan! Firstly the RB was designed with the ribbon motor facing backwards i.e. with the ribbon nearest the back of the microphone and thus somewhat shielded by the magnet. Secondly the RBs were supplied with a set of fine fibreglass ‘ acoustic correction pads ‘.

Reslo Filter Pads Kit 1961

These had a range of functions, described in detail in the Reslo Instruction Manual. However, the most important purpose of the pads was to prevent the implosion of breath on the ribbon.


In the almost inevitable event of catastrophic failure Reslo also had ‘Plan B’ in the form of replacement ribbons which came mounted on a plastic frame ready to do a quick swap.  It was also not uncommon for musicians to replace a blown ribbon themselves using the thin aluminium foil that came in cigarette packets! Having heard the results this is not to be recommended……… but it worked!

Rolling Stones 1963

Another bunch of likely lads with a Reslo RB. The Rolling Stones in 1963

The BBC Connection

In 1961 the BBC were looking around for small, unobtrusive microphones to use on TV. After serious deliberation, and thorough testing of the Reslo RBM/T, the Research Department concluded that ‘The performance of the microphone fell short of broadcasting standards’ (a night out at The Cavern would have told them that!).  However, the cheapness and robust construction of the RB was also noted, and they therefore suggested implementing a number of simple changes to the design which would bring it up to broadcasting specification. The full report can be read here…….

 1961 BBC Modifications.

The modified broadcast microphone is known as the Reslo VRM/T

The VRM/T was sold to the BBC for the princely sum of £10 per microphone.BBC TV Grandstand Reslo VRM/T

Home Taping

The Reslo RB was also popular with amateur tape recording enthusiasts. Once again, it gave good results without breaking the bank. The British tape recorder manufacturer Ferrograph sold Reslos with some of their machines and made their own in-line transformers to match them to the input. Here is a review of the RB by Fred Judd, who edited Amateur Tape Recording magazine for a number of years……. ResloRB_review by F Judd

Reslos also appeared in re-badged versions for various equipment manufacturers including VOX and GEC.


Fronting many famous (and not-so-famous) names of the 60’s the Reslo RB has rightly earned a place in rock ’n’ roll history, and thanks to its solid design there are many examples still in circulation. With a bit of a clean and a new ribbon they will probably carry on rocking for another 60 years.

So what does the Reslo RB/L sound like?

CLICK HERE Pete Gill with Reslo RBL

P.S.    If your Reslo RB needs re-ribboning or if you fancy upgrading to BBC spec http://xaudia.com/ do a fantastic job.


Remembering D-Day June 6th 1944

CLICKHEREJohn Snagge announces the D-Day Landings in France 75 years ago today.

The STC4017c was used by the BBC throughout World War 2 to broadcast many momentous events and speeches. Possibly the most important communication tool of the 20th century it was the first microphone robust enough to withstand the rigors of serious outside broadcasting in a war zone.

For more information https://martinmitchellsmicrophones.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/stc-4017c-dead-or-alive/

Rycote Classic-Softie Windsheild.

My Dad worked in the building trade and was also a keen photographer. As a child he taught me the importance of always having the right tools for the job. This is a lesson I have carried with me into my own professional life and probably explains my large collection of microphones! It also applies to microphone accessories such as shock mounts and windshields. There is no point in having a great recording ruined by unwanted handling, or ‘blasting’ wind noise.

Rycote have built an international reputation through decades of R&D and are widely recognised as market leaders in both shock mounts and wind protection for location recording and ENG. The Rycote Classic-Softie featured here effectively reduces wind noise by 25db whilst leaving the frequency response of the microphone completely unaffected. It consists of an outer layer of synthetic fur and an inner core of specially designed foam which is not degraded by UV, and is also impervious to moisture, making it perfect to use even in the most inhospitable conditions.  The Rycote Softie also comes in a variety of different sizes to suit a range of microphones.

Sennheiser MKE803Sennheiser MKE803 with Rycote  InVision  INV-7 Lyre shock mount.

Putting on the Rycote Classic-SoftieAmazingly fast to put on ……………………………………………………….

Rycote Classic-SoftieSennheiser MKE803 with Rycote Classic-Softie Windshield. An extremely light and versatile combination.  Perfect for location situations where equipment has to be carried!

CLICK HERE  to hear my favourite singer on a windy day in a tree about 30m away.Distant Blackbird SingingBlackbird Indicated by Arrow

CLICK HERE to hear a close-up of sinister burrowing bees recorded with a mild breezeBurrowing Bee

CLICK HERE to hear the noisiest pig in the world having his diner. Recorded with moderately strong wind not far from a busy main road.  Microphone at a distance of about 2m.Pig.

The rejection characteristics of the microphone help to suppress the traffic sounds and the Rycote Classic-Softie deals with the wind……… and the pig deals with his diner!


Right tools for the job!



Extinct Audio ‘Valkyr’ BMx2 Blumlien Stereo Ribbon Microphone (2019)

Following the success and critical acclaim of the ‘Viking’ BM9, Extinct Audio have continued the Nordic theme with their latest creation the ‘Valkyr’ BMx2 Blumlien Stereo Ribbon Microphone. If you are looking for a stereo ribbon mic which sounds fantastic and looks stunning this is it! The immediate reaction of performers and audio colleagues is ‘Wow, what is that’?  Even the ‘Fenrir’ anti-vibration mount is a beautiful and effective piece of engineering, gripping the mic firmly and making it easy to position.

Extinct Audio 'Valkyr' BMx2 Blumlien Stereo Ribbon Microphone

These microphones are hand built by Extinct Audio at their workshop just outside York here in the UK. The ribbons are painstakingly tuned and perfectly matched.

So what does it sound like? 

  1. Acoustic Guitar Recorded in M-S Stereo.Extinct Audio 'Valkyr' M-S Stereo
  2. Swing From Paris. Recorded in X-Y configuration.Swing From Paris
  3. Church Organ. Recorded in M-S StereoValkyr Organ Recital
  4. Baroque Chamber Orchestra. M-S ConfigurationBlog pic 1
  5. Eight A Cappella Singers followed by 70 Strong Choir . X-Y ConfigurationSet-up for Choir
  6. Cello and Orchestra. Y-Y ConfigurationRebecca Mc Naught playing Haydn Cello Concerto. edit

Minimal Mic’ing.

I have always been a fan of minimal mic’ing. The more open microphones on any recording the more distortion and low-level noise. On multi-mic’d orchestral and choral recordings almost inevitably there are also an abundance of out-of-phase signals to deal with, (caused by sound arriving at different mics at different times). In reverberant acoustics this problem is compounded by large amounts of reflected sound.

The last 3 recordings above demonstrate all the advantages of using a single, high-quality pair of coincidentally mounted microphones. In these examples the two microphones are encased in one body, the Extinct Audio ‘Valkyr’ BM9x2 . For all three concerts the mic was set on a tall stand positioned dead centre, (angled slightly down towards the back of the performers), a couple of metres behind the conductor.

  1. The acceptance angle of the microphones either in M-S or X-Y configuration easily takes in the whole orchestra/choir.
  2. The audio arriving at the front of the mics is phase coherent.
  3. The stereo image produced has excellent depth and positional accuracy, such that the listener can easily identify where individual players/singers were sitting/standing!
  4. The balance obtained completely reflects the conductor’s direction.
  5. The rich acoustics are also accurately reproduced, capturing a clear impression of the building.

What’s not to like?


For more information: https://www.extinctaudio.co.uk/


Philips LBB9050/05 Dual Capsule Dynamic Microphone 1970

 Philips LBB9050-05

 Philips LBB9050-05

Philips LBB9050-05

Launched in 1970 the LBB9050/05 was Philips flagship dynamic microphone, and was heralded in Philips literature as being a ‘revolutionary new design incorporating high and low frequency systems’. However, a small amount of research reveals more than a passing similarity in technical specifications between the LBB9050/05 and the popular D200 series of microphones by AKG, which had been around for several years.

Philips LBB9050-05

The mystery unravels further, and the true origins of this microphone become clear when we observe the words ‘Made in Austria’ on the packaging, the storage case, and on the microphone itself. Michael Amon, top technician at AKG for 30 years, has confirmed to me that the LBB9050/05 was indeed made by AKG for Philips in 1969.

Box for Philips LBB9050/05

 Philips LBB9050-05 Bass Capsule Ports

Picture above shows Tuchel socket, and ports for the LF capsule.

The Dual Capsule Design.

The original Austrian patent dates from 1960. The full specification appears in the English patent registered by AKG in 1965, and shown below. This makes an interesting read if you want to understand how this clever piece of technology works.

Original AKG Patent for Dual Capsule Microphones

Philips Advertising Leaflets Courtesy of Philips Company Archives.

LBB9050 microphone,

leafletLBB9050 microphone, leaflet, 1971

So What Does It Sound Like CLICK HERE for a short clip of Blues Guitar

In Conclusion

Just like its AKG cousins the D200, D202, D222 and the D224, the Philips LBB9050/05 is a serious quality professional microphone, exhibiting a wide frequency response, tight cardioid polar pattern, and no proximity effect.  Sadly, these days it is much less well known than the AKG models.  But maybe Philips is to blame? If you were to choose a completely unmemorable name for a product you really couldn’t do better than to call it the LBB9050/05!  Two minutes from now you will probably have forgotten it!


AKG D12. The Best Bass Drum Microphone In The World?

When it first appeared in 1953 the AKG D12 was presented as a high quality, general purpose musician’s microphone. Suitable for instruments and vocals. As such, it very rapidly gained popularity. (A bit like a Shure 55, but without the chrome and the stylish good looks!)

AKG Advert from the late 50’s

1950's AKG Advert for D12

With the growth of multi-track recording in the 1960’s the D12’s particular ability to handle low frequencies at high SPLs was soon acknowledged and increasingly it gravitated to bass drum duties. By the time I started recording in the mid-70’s it was the bass drum microphone of choice for most recording studios. (Certainly on this side of the Atlantic.) Apart from the D12 itself, there were a number of similar (theme and variations) microphones from AKG including the D20, D25, D30 etc. Slightly different frequency responses, shock mountings and filters.

1960's AKG D20 and D25 Advert.

In 1978 the AKG D12 was reissued as the AKG D12E and now came with an XLR socket.


AKG D12 E Technical Specifications

A couple of weeks ago I sat down to write this blog post on the AKG D12 and had intended, as usual, to illustrate with some suitable recorded examples…….. Now here’s the problem.

If I am commissioned to record a fabulous Stradivarius violin, or a superb Steinway piano, my intention (as you might expect), would be to reproduce the sound of that instrument as faithfully as possible along with the acoustics of the studio or concert hall. The same might be true for a great saxophone, a terrific trumpet or a classic guitar through a vintage amp.

However, in the world of rock’n’roll drumming things are very different!! It would appear that pretty much the last thing anyone wants to hear is the actual sound of the bass drum!

After some preliminary research I soon discovered that all the drummers I know ‘treat’ their bass drums in some way or another, ranging from bits of tape, damping rings, Moon Gel, special heads, cushions, pillows and even a duvet! Many of these bass drums also require considerable amounts of EQ whatever mic you choose …… and then it depends what sort of music you are recording. A great heavy metal bass drum sound doesn’t really work for jazz! Consequently I haven’t recorded any examples as it seemed completely pointless, and would probably demonstrate more about the drummer’s taste in soft furnishings than about the qualities of the microphone. I think that all I can say is that the AKG D12, and its close relatives, will put up with any amount of SPL and respond well to whatever EQ you throw at them!


Whether or not the D12 is / was the greatest bass drum mic in the world, who knows? Maybe? It has appeared in front of more famous bass drums than most!