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/
Posted in 1930s Microphone, 1940s Microphone, BBC Microphones, STC Microphones, Uncategorized, Vintage Broadcasting, Vintage Microphones, WW2 Microphones
Tagged 1930s Microphone, 1940s Microphone, BBC Microphones, BBC outside broadcasting microphone, STC Microphone, STC4017, World War 2 microphone
Found in a garden shed where it had been for at least the last thirty years, this WW2 British military throat mic looks a bit sad and dilapidated. The paint is falling off and the steel fittings are rusting, the elastic is past its best, and a hungry woodworm has been drilling into the crumbling leather. So imagine my surprise when I plugged it in and it immediately burst into life!
The M.T.L.L. No 2 was used by the RAF and by the army. The mic was worn around the neck and was designed to pick up vibrations direct from the voice box. The two leather covered sensors were pressed against either side of the throat. The great advantage of the throat mic was that it could be used effectively in very noisy environments, such as inside a tank or an aircraft in combat. Even loud sounds around the wearer would be largely rejected. Although the audio quality is not fabulous, speech has a high degree of intelligibility.
This view below is of the back of one of the sensors with the plastic cover removed. Inside there is a magnet, the polarity of which is marked on the metal case ‘N’ and ‘S’. The wires are identified with red and blue cotton thread. (Hot and cold?)
Below, (pinched from an ebay listing) is a photo of the front side of the mic, without its leather covering. Here there appear to be a couple of coils.
Below, the strip of steel which picks up vibrations from the throat is sitting on top of the coils and magnet. This assembly is held in place by the leather covering. The result of this ingenious arrangement is a small electrical (audio) output signal appearing at the red and blue wires.
CLICK here to hear a short voice test of this unusual creation.
It would be hard to exaggerate the importance of military communications during World War 2 and the crucial role played by the M.T.L.L. No 2 throat microphone.
Posted in 1930s Microphone, 1940s Microphone, Mititary Microphones, Noise- cancelling microphones, Uncategorized, Vintage Microphones, WW2 Microphones
Tagged 1930s Microphone, 1940s Microphone, Military Microphone, Throat Microphone, Vintage Microphone, WW2 microphone
The very first post that I wrote for this blog back in 2012 was about the STC4021 (Apple & Biscuit). Still one of my favourite microphones. I even made a YouTube video to go with it! In the course of the video I mentioned the STC4001B Acoustic Baffle. According to the STC brochure this could be purchased to modify the frequency response and directionality of the microphone. These days the 4001B Acoustic Baffle is very hard to find. So imagine my surprise when a brand new old stock 4001B (still in the box) appeared on eBay.
So I thought I had better ‘Buy it now‘ and make another video to celebrate the occasion!
Posted in 1930s Microphone, BBC Microphones, Microphone Tech Specs, STC Microphones, Uncategorized, Vintage Broadcasting, Vintage Brochures and Tech Specs, Vintage Microphones, WW2 Microphones
Tagged 1930s Microphone, BBC Microphones, STC Microphone, Vintage Microphone
In this age of manicured digital perfection, where nothing is quite what it seems, I look back with nostalgia to a time when recording was all about capturing a performance by a great artist and not about manufacturing one!
At the present time when so much R & D is being expended on surround sound, virtual reality and other forms of immersive audio, I find myself taking a renewed interest in Mono! Just as black and white photography still has it’s charms I think that there is a good deal to recommend about sound recorded in Mono. Genuine Monophonic recordings made with just 1 microphone are completely phase coherent and coming from a single point there is something very focused and unambiguous about the sound. The listener’s attention is concentrated completely on the music and not distracted by artefacts of multi-channel production. Recordings made in this way can also provide the listener with an excitingly honest account of a real performance. The balance is simply what felt right to the performers (or conductor) at the time and there is little scope for fiddling around with the mix afterwards. For the engineer the art of Monophonic recording is in carefully choosing the right microphone and positioning it in exactly the right place, ie the perfect listening position.
Virtuoso gypsy jazz duo ‘Echoes of France’ (Fenner Curtis violin, and Andy Wood guitar) were looking for an authentic 1930’s/40’s sound for their latest recordings, harking back to the golden years of Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli. We had a very pleasant session experimenting with vintage microphones. In the space of a few hours recording in glorious Mono we laid down 12 complete tracks. No overdubs, no mixing, no editing, no plugins, no special effects! However, what we did end up with is 3 different microphone recordings to choose from!
The shoot-out is between the mighty Siemens SM3 ribbon mic, an STC4017 and an STC4021. Although they are all from the 1930’s each of these microphones has a very distinctive tonal character.
Take a listen to this short clip of each of the three mics. CLICK HERE.
Please leave any comments below and vote for the winner.
When I told my photographer that this picture was for a Microphone Shootout she suggested that perhaps they should be wearing cowboy hats for the occasion !!!
ECHOES OF FRANCE ALBUM OUT NOW!
Recorded on the mighty Siemens SM3 Ribbon Microphone.
In 1932 Marconi-Reisz carbon mics were still in regular use but their days were already numbered.
The other day I purchased a copy of the BBC Year Book 1933 from my usual supplier (ebay). The book covers the period from October 1931 to October 1932. Inside I found an absolutely fascinating chapter on the latest developments in microphones and associated technology heralding the move away from the old carbon mics and the arrival of experimental condensers and the brand new Western Electric dynamic mic. It also describes an innovative new development in the form of equalisation circuitry for correcting anomalies in the frequency response of microphones. The birth of EQ as we know it today. Exciting times!
Here below I have scanned the whole chapter.
Here is some more info about the slack diaphragm condenser
With the arrival of the iconic BBC-Marconi Type ‘A’ ribbon microphone in 1934 the somewhat unreliable condensers featured above were gradually phased out.
The 1933 Year Book also celebrates the opening of the BBC’s fabulous new art deco London headquarters in 1932.
Posted in BBC Microphones, Microphone techniques Ancient & Modern, Vintage Brochures and Tech Specs, Vintage Microphones
Tagged 1930s Microphone, BBC Microphones, History of microphone EQ, Marconi-Reisz microphone, old carbon mics, STC Condenser microphone, STC4017, The Bomb condenser microphone, The Voight Slack Diaphragm Condenser, Vintage Microphone, Voight Microphone, WE630A
Every time ‘The King’s Speech’ is re-run on TV I find myself foaming at the mouth and whining-on about the microphones…… or more specifically about the WRONG BBC microphones! This annoys the hell out of my family, and so I thought I would get it off my chest in a blog post!
Don’t misunderstand me, I love the film. Fabulous acting etc etc. BUT…………….. The spring mounted carbon microphones that appear throughout, and most irritatingly of all in that final speech, were phased out by the BBC around 1935!!!! Surely the producers knew that? Perhaps they thought the carbon mics looked cool, or more intimidating in the close-ups? Whatever the reason, they are quite simply WRONG! By 1938 the STC4017C was used almost exclusively by the BBC for outside broadcasting. Indeed here is an uncomfortable looking George VI making a speech in 1938 with a typical array of STC4017s.
Also, there would certainly have been at least 2 microphones, as that was standard BBC practice at the time. The lower mic in the picture facing upwards at an angle is positioned to pick up the voice as the speaker looks down at his notes and moves off axis from the main pair. (Chamberlain can be seen with a similar setup declaring war on Germany)
I also found this fabulous Pathe News Reel from 1938. This is what The King’s Speech should have looked (and sounded) like!
Ok rant over! Phew, that’s better!
Whilst the BBC was broadcasting and recording many of the momentous events of World War 2 using the STC4017C, and American radio stations continued to use the original trusty Western Electric 618A, out on the high seas the British Royal Navy were issuing orders and communicating using the Vitavox Admiralty Pattern No 1359.
Because it looks very similar, I had previously thought that the Vitavox was simply a re-badged STC, but this is not the case. Having finally managed to unscrew the grills on both it is easy to see key differences.
1) The STC4017 (on the right) is very slightly larger than the Vitavox No 1359. 2) The Vitavox diaphragm is, however, a good deal larger than the STC. 3) The Vitavox has no equalising tube running from the front to the rear chamber . 4) The grill components are quite different.
CLICK HERE for Sound Clip.
The Admiralty Pattern No1359 is also mentioned in the Australian Royal Navy Fleet Orders for 1945 for use with radio & disc recording equipment. It is suggested here as an inferior alternative to the STC4021 (which has a much flatter frequency response).N.B. Coarse groove, direct cut, disc recording equipment was used extensively by broadcasters and the military throughout WW2.
Posted in STC Microphones, Vintage Microphones, WW2 Microphones
Tagged 1930s Microphone, 1944 D-Day, Naval Microphones, STC Microphone, STC4017, Vintage Microphone, Vitavox, Vitavox Admiralty Pattern No 1359, WE630A, World War 2 microphone