Ever since the advent of the ‘Talkies’ sound technicians have struggled to pick up speech in motion pictures with sufficient clarity. For many years the problem of getting the microphone close enough to the performers without it being in the camera shot was a constant challenge! On the other hand if the mic was too far away the sound was often ruined by the pickup of unwanted surrounding noise.
Seeking to address this problem, in October 1959 Wayne A. Beaverson of Electro-Voice filed for a patent on a new type of directional microphone which could be successfully operated at a distance from the sound source. At low frequencies this microphone exhibits the directional characteristics of a cardioid mic, with excellent rear rejection. As the frequency response rises it becomes a line mic with considerable attenuation of unwanted sound from the sides. Thus the new ‘Cardiline’ design provides excellent directivity right across its operating frequency range.
Electro-Voice Patent for Unidirectional Microphone 1963
The success of the new microphone was such that in 1963 Electro-Voice received an Academy Awards “Oscar” for the development of the model 642 Cardiline, The award, in part, read “To Electro-Voice for a highly directional dynamic line microphone… capable of picking up sound in situations where a microphone cannot be placed close to the sound source and where unwanted sounds are to be discriminated against.”
Although the Academy Award went to the 642, the microphone drawn and described in the original patent application was in fact its close cousin the EV644. At this point you might be wondering about the 643? Well ……… The 643 was pretty much the same as the 642 except in one significant detail ……… it was just over 7 feet long! All three of these mics were of the Cardiline pattern but they were aimed (excuse the pun) at different areas of the market. As we know, the 642 was tailored very much for the film and TV industry and came with an elastic mount for attaching to a boom.
Although extravagant claims are made for the mighty 643 in the advert above, I suspect that this mic was in fact quite awkward and unwieldy to use (even sighting along the barrel!!) It is certainly hard to find any fond recollections of it. I came across one report from some poor sod who once spent an afternoon standing on the roof of a football stadium trying to follow the ball round the field!! Anyone who has ever operated a theatre follow spot will appreciate just how ludicrous that must have been!
Which leaves the 644. (My latest eBay bargain!)
Designed for use on stage, in theatres, auditoriums and churches, the EV644 Sound Spot came with a microphone stand mounting and was finished in classic Electro-Voice chrome. You could also buy it with a dull matt paint finish,(non-reflective under lighting), but why do that when the chrome version just looks so rock’n’roll cool !
CLICK HERE for Voice recording at a distance of 12ft
CLICK HERE for Glockenspiel Recording
The 1963 patent shown above acknowledges a number of earlier inventions relating to directional microphones. In particular the patents of Harry Olson dating back to 1939. However, the earlier inventions, (mostly involving complex arrangements of multiple tubes of differing lengths), were awkward and cumbersome. In contrast, Beaverson’s Cardiline microphone, using a single multi-path tube feeding a single cardioid capsule, was an uncomplicated work of genius. It was both effective and easy to use.
To this day the elements of Beaverson’s patent can to be seen in shotgun microphones all over the world.
Below are the Techincal Specification Sheets for all 3 microphones.
Hi Martin. Thank you for your article about the Electro-Voice E1642, 1643 & 1644 Cardilina Microphine. You cited my father Wayne A. Beaverson of Electo-Voice for the patent on a unidirectional microphone. Your article is a great tribute for his contribution to the world of electronics. He died October 28, 2017. We will likely include your article at his memorial service.
Dear Nancy, So sorry to hear of your father’s passing. Please accept my condolences. I have long been an admirer of his work. In the history of microphone technology there are a number of inventions that can be seen as real game changers. The ElectroVoice Patent for the the Cardiline microphone which bears your father’s name is one of those inventions. It completely changed the possibilities for recording dialogue in the cinema. Indeed for recording any sound at a distance. A brilliant work of genius!
I would feel very honoured if you decide to use my article in his memorial service.
How much would one sell for today?
I paid £100 for my 644 on eBay. 642s tend to go for slightly more. However, I have never see a 643 for sale.
Dave B. here again – I have a friend who just shipped me a 642 – what a beauty! Shame it doesn’t pass audio. I am assuming it does not need phantom power, correct? At any rate, anyone you know either in the States or overseas who can actually repair this puppy??
Hi Dave, Good to hear from you. No, it doesn’t need phantom. It is a dynamic and the EV capsules of this period have a great reputation for being robust and reliable. So hopefully the problem may not be the capsule. The most common causes of failure are the on/off switch and the wiring to the plug. I have a 664 which arrived looking great but the switch was dead even through it felt ok and the previous owner had re-wired the 4 pin amphenol connector completely wrong. Sadly I don’t know anyone at the moment who repairs vintage mics (apart from ribbons) . I’ll ask around and get back to you if I find anyone.
Greetings Martin: The only place i ever saw an EV 643 in use was in the early 60’s at President Kennedy’s newsconferences. The mic was on the side of the stage and was used to pick up reporters’ questions. The podium mic, b-t-w, was usually 2 EV-666’s, probably one of the best sounding, most flexible cardiods ever made. I used a 644 for radio field reporting in the mid 70’s until Sennheiser came out with the ME-80 electret shotgun combo. The 644 was also an excellent mic for its time. Sadly, after EV was sold to a conglomerate in the early 80’s, this amazing company which dominated US sound applications, lost much of its market share. Luckily, their brain-trust didn’t monkey with the 635A, RE-50, RE-20, or the RE-16..though they dropped the RE-15,which was a superb cardioid and easier to use than the RE-16.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Interesting. Thanks for your comment Mike.
I read about these amazing mics about back in 2012 when I was just getting into vintage mic’s. Picked up a pair of 642’s and a 644 from a deceased estate of a family friend who worked as a pro sound recorder from 60’s-90’s. I only recently 2019 set them up to use for some live recording of a friends band. Once I set the levels and found a place no one would bump them the results were amazing. Thank you for a great article Martin a very interesting read..