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 ‘.
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!
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…….
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.
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?
P.S. If your Reslo RB needs re-ribboning or if you fancy upgrading to BBC spec http://xaudia.com/ do a fantastic job.
I have an xaudia reconditioned RB/L (the Beeb as they call it). It’s a fantastic improvement on the original. I just broke it out to record hammered dulcimer and viola and it did a beautiful job.