Looking like a cross between a Van Gogh Sunflower and a pepper pot, the Mélodium 76a is a shining gem of chrome and aluminium. A classic of French design!
In the 1960’s Mélodium developed a variety of modular parts and accessories to give their range of microphones greater versatility and customers more options.
The basic 76A microphone (head) came with a choice of 10 ohms or 200 ohms impedance.
The mic could be used plugged straight into the cable. (Great for harmonica players!)
If required this handy plug-in transformer converts the 76A from 200 ohms to Hi-Z.
There was also a choice of handles.
In this 1970’s Mélodium Catalogue (below) the technical details of the microphones are presented along with a full range of parts and accessories, including goosenecks, tall stands, short stands, table stands and a large selection of adapters, switches and transformers. It is a very comprehensive selection, to cover every possible application.
CLICK Here for MelodiumCatalog
Sadly these days it is hard to find much information about Mélodium. Even in its heyday the company was little known outside of the French speaking world. By the end of the 1970’s Mélodium were no longer in business. Probably wiped out by the superior German and American competition.
Having finished re-soldering all of the joints in my eBay ‘bargain’, I just need to plug it in and find out what it sounds like!
CLICK HERE for Sound clip of Voice and Blackbird in the garden.
When the previous owner mentioned in the description that there were ‘a few wiring issues’ with this vintage French PA microphone he wasn’t kidding! (It looked perfect enough in the eBay photograph!)
Was that why it was so cheap, and no one else bid? Hmmm…….
So now for a bit of fun wiring it back together!
I’ll report back if it by some miracle it works!!
P.S. Just to make things a little more exciting Mélodium have their own plugs and sockets that only fit Mélodium microphones. They are made so that the pins can be moved about in various configurations up to 5 pins! This 431 socket will be 3 pin…… when I get them in the right holes!
P.P.S Just noticed that there should be a rubber gland inside the knurled ring at the top!
A Rare Find! Still wrapped up in it’s original box!
According to the yellowing Russian leaflet pictured above, the Oktava MD-66a is a ‘Dynamic coil microphone meant for sound amplification of speech and air traffic/transport controllers/officials communications. One direction microphone.’ (literal translation)
Although the Oktava MD-66a doesn’t look anything like an AKG D58 it is clear from the 2 frequency response graphs above that the design intention of both mics is fairly similar, with a steep cut from the mid-range downwards and a considerable boost to the frequencies which affect the intelligibility of speech. N.B. The dotted line on the AKG graph shows how the low-end frequency response is restored to flat when the sound source is very close to the mic (bass proximity effect). Low frequency sound emanating from further away, however, will be greatly attenuated thereby improving the clarity of the close mic’d sound.
The polar plot also shows a narrowing of the high frequency response on axis. High frequency sound arriving off axis will therefore be considerably reduced.
Although I don’t have any ‘air traffic’ or ‘transport’ to control or ‘officials communications’ to make, it does occur to me that this neat little noise-cancelling dynamic might have many other uses.
CLICK HERE for Acoustic Guitar & Harmonica.
P.S. Having taken the MD-66a out on a number of live gigs recently it is currently my favourite mic on snare. It delivers a crisp, fat, punchy sound whilst picking up very little of the bass drum.
It is quite a few years since AKG stopped manufacturing the remarkable D224 cardioid dynamic. There are still some appearing on eBay but the supply of ones in good working order is dwindling. I was therefore very curious when I spotted a Russian microphone which I had never seen, or heard of before, that looked somewhat reminiscent of the D224. It had a similar twin capsule design with separate elements for treble and bass, which means that like the 224 it would not exhibit proximity effect. It also appeared that the frequency response was not dissimilar (30Hz – 18kHz). It even had an almost identical-looking stepped roll-off filter at 50Hz. So to satisfy my curiosity I bought 2!
When the mics arrived I was immediately reminded of a well-known brand of margarine which has the slogan ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter!’ However, unlike the margarine that wouldn’t fool anyone, these Russian microphones look and sound very similar to their Austrian counterparts. Even the nickel plating appears to be as good as anything found on an AKG. It rapidly became clear that the Oktava MD-186 is not simply a cheap ‘knock off’. It is a very solid, well-engineered, high quality, professional microphone.
Oktava MD186 Frequency Response Graph
So does it really sound anything like the classic AKG D224 ?
Below are links to 3 very different sample recordings:-
CLICK HERE for Voice recording comparing an AKGD224 and the Oktava MD-186.
CLICK HERE for Clarinet recorded on the MD-186
CLICK HERE for Live recording of Guitar and Cajon on MD-186 x2
My two MD-186s are from the tail end of the Soviet era (1989 & 1990) when Oktava was still wholly owned by the Russian State. Although manufactured around a year apart they sound identical to one another. So much so that I would not hesitate to use them as a stereo pair.
Looking on Oktava’s Russian website I was excited to find that the MD-186 appears to be still in production!
However, upon further investigation I can find no retail outlet actually selling them! It has been suggested to me that maybe they are only on sale to Russian TV and Radio Stations. Or it could be that they are no longer manufactured and Oktava simply haven’t updated this web page on their Russian site! Whatever the explanation it seems a great pity that these classic dual element dynamic microphones are no longer available from Oktava………… or AKG !
After years of lugging around the mighty (heavy & cumbersome) STC4017, BBC outside broadcasters must have been absolutely delighted, in the mid-1950s, by the arrival of the 4037! Designed specifically for the burgeoning new medium of television, the STC4037 was a triumph of British understatement! Even by modern standards it is light (260g) and well-balanced, and its slender, tapered, profile feels very comfortable in the hand. Also the black shrivel enamel finish is non-reflective under TV lighting. The 4037 was so beautifully minimal and unobtrusive (and black) that it soon became affectionately known as ‘The Stick’. ‘The Stick’ came in 2 sizes, the 21.3cm long version, the STC4037A, and the shorter 13.6cm STC4037C. The short version had slightly less bass response but was extremely unobtrusive, all but disappearing in the presenter’s hand.
A couple of TV clips from the 1960s featuring the STC4037 :-
Gwyn Thomas talks to Alan Whicker about the Chip Crisis
A great Liverpool band The Undertakers with 4037 on vocals
The original box arrived a wee bit bruised and battered!
STC4069A connector and PAS45/14 stand adapter
3 pin connector on base of mic
STC4037 Brochure 1961
Click Here For Short Sound Clip.
Meanwhile here is another couple of suggested uses!!
Crisp snare, nice fat toms, and smooth detailed cymbals, and so much bottom end that the kick mic was nearly redundant! Job done!
Here is a short live clip of this kit with the 4037 as pictured.
Also tasty on double bass!
Posted in BBC Microphones, STC Microphones, Vintage Brochures and Tech Specs, Vintage Microphones
Tagged 1950's Microphone, 1960's Microphone, 1970's Microphone, Alan Wicker, BBC Microphones, Microphones for Television, STC Microphone, STC4037, STC4069A connector, The Stick, Vintage Microphone