Monthly Archives: March 2022

The Faulkner Phased Array. Another Useful Stereo Microphone Technique.

The Faulkner Phased Array with Extinct Audio BM9s

The Faulkner Phased Array was invented circa 1980 by British Classical engineer Tony Faulkner.

To improve the realism of his recordings, Faulkner sought to gain a better sense of ‘space’ and ambience. Somewhat dissatisfied with co-incident microphone techniques, Faulkner experimented with spaced microphones until he arrived at an array which not only gave excellent positionality, but also captured those elusive qualities of openness.

In common with the ORTF Array and the Jecklin Disc, Faulkner’s technique also exploits the inter-aural time difference between the human ears, which allows our brains to calculate the precise location of sounds. The Faulkner Phased Array uses 2 figure-of-eight microphones mounted in parallel, facing straight forward and spaced 20cm apart. Since the microphones are not splayed, this means that they can be placed somewhat further away from the subject, without detracting from the balance. It also means that in a further back position they can be used to record at head height rather than up in the air. In live concert recordings there are sometimes practical reasons why microphones can’t be placed close to the performers. In this situation the Faulkner Array may provide the perfect solution.

Recording in concert halls and churches where there is sometimes rather too much reverberation, another benefit of this array is that the dead zones of the figure-of-eight microphones are pointing straight out to the sides. This greatly reduces unwanted reflections and thereby improves the clarity and ‘presence’ of the subject.

I recently used the Extinct Audio BM9 matched pair pictured above in the reverberant acoustic of Cheltenham’s splendid Pittville Pump Room.

This recording features dynamic 17 year old violinist Isaac Williams, winner of the Audience Vote in this year’s Gloucestershire Young Musician of The Year. He is accompanied by pianist John Wright.

(N.B. The other microphones on the stand are not part of this recording.)

CLICK HERE to listen to the dramatic opening bars of Saint-Saëns’s Danse Macabre

Conclusion

At a time when engineers seem to be very much obsessed with close mic-ing everything that moves, it is refreshing to find a stereo microphone technique which encourages recording from a more natural perspective.

P.S.

If you are interested in more detail, I have just come across this fascinating article by Tony Faulkner himself writing in Hi-Fi News magazine in July 1981.

STC 4035 Omnidirectional Dynamic (Circa 1953)

STC4035

Designed in the early 1950’s and used extensively by the BBC, the STC4035 replaced the STC4017C which had been in service since 1938. Throughout the 50’s and 60’s the 4035, along with its Bakelite cousin the STC4032, were amongst the BBC’s primary outside broadcasting microphones. Apart from the casing and switching on the 4032 these two microphones were identical. Although both models had the same very effective wind resistant fine mesh grill, in the event of very high wind or rain the 4001.A. windshield could be added.

STC4032 and STC4035 with 4001 windshield
STC4035 with 4001A windshield
STC4017 compared to STC4035

The 4035 was much lighter and smaller than the old 4017, and although it was essentially omnidirectional there was some directionality at high frequencies.

Here is a full description and technical specification.

Below is a pricelist from the late 50’s.

N.B. In today’s money £18.10.0 would be around £520.00.

At the BBC the 4035 was used for a very wide range of tasks.

Big Ben

In the mid 50’s an STC4035 with a modified connector/mounting attachment was installed directly beneath ‘Big Ben’ in the Elizabeth Tower at Westminster. This was connected to BBC Broadcasting House and used to broadcast ‘live’ the world famous clock chimes of this huge, iconic bell. My Dad (along with the rest of the British population) always used to set his watch by the BBC chimes.

Horse Racing

In order to capture the exciting thunder of horses’ hooves and all the thrills and spills of the race, BBC Manchester Radio OBs used to place a 4035 in every jump for the Grand National.

Wimbledon.

1962. Interesting arrangement of two STC4035s with windshields.
(Photo IET Archives)

They were also used as general effects mics at many other sporting, and outdoor events, very often used to pick up atmosphere and the sound of the crowd.

Perfect for Political Speeches

British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in 1957 (Photo BBC)
STC Dual stand for 4035

STC Dual stand.

ITV arrived in the mid-1950’s and also found plenty of use for the mighty 4035!

STC4035 in Grampian Parabolic Reflector
1967 Coltishall Airshow AngliaTV:  STC 4035 in a Grampian Parabolic Reflector. (Photo Dave Taylor).

I love the look of dedicated concentration, trying to focus the dish on high speed aircraft using only headphones!

STC4035 connection socket

The 4035 connection socket is the same as most STC microphones and requires the 4069A plug (which is still widely available).  Interesting to see the screw heads in this picture. These can be undone to separate the upper and lower halves of the microphone for repair. Normally they are covered with hard wax.

So……. What does it sound like?  CLICK HERE for audio clip.

Conclusion

If there was a competition for the world’s most boring looking, least stylish microphone, the STC4035 would definitely be in the running, with its dull grey/black finish and uninteresting shape. Also, unfortunately, unlike the ‘Apple and Biscuit’ STC4021 or ‘The Stick’ STC4037, the poor old 4035 doesn’t even have an amusing nickname! However, good looks aren’t everything and if you are simply looking for a robust ‘workhorse’ microphone with a reputation for being completely reliable, even in the most adverse conditions, then the STC4035 is definitely worth considering!