Throughout the course of vintage microphone history, many strangely shaped microphones were invented. This page is dedicated to the many strange and wonderful microphones contained in the Steele Vintage Microphone Collection.
"Machine-gun" microphones were invented with the purpose of collecting sounds from many different distances away simultaneously. This allowed sounds from varying distances from the microphone to be recorded. These were very useful for locations where several sound sources at difference distances needed to be captured using only one microphone.
Figure S3 is an advertisement for an early "machine-gun" microphone. The Western Electric 618A/E99098 (Figure S1), and the RCA 10006A (Figure S2) are two examples of early "machine-gun" microphones. They were often referred to as "machine-gun" mics because of their machine gun-like appearance when mounted on tripods, as seen in Figure S4.
Improvements were made to the original "machine-gun" design, resulting in the "shotgun" mic. The Electro-Voice Microphone in Figure S5, and the Electro-Voice 643 advertised in Figure S6, are two examples of early "shotgun" microphones. These were incredibly long, and more modern "shotgun" microphones are substantially smaller and easier to handle.
Shotgun microphones picked up sound in much the same way as the original "machine-gun" microphones, but used tiny slits along their long bodies to collect sound, as opposed to the multitude of tubes used for "machine-gun" microphones. A more detailed depiction of these slits can be seen in Figure S7, taken from the U.S. patent for the unidirectional microphone invented by Wayne A. Beaverson and Robert C. Ramsey. Two more modern "shotgun" microphones are featured below.
Miniature Condenser Microphones
The Western Electric Model 640AA, at right, is a type of miniature condenser microphone. These were very small microphones which were placed on an amplifier; the amplifier section of this particular model is the rounded part which gives it a "spaceship-like" shape. Aside from Western Electric, many other manufacturers produced similar miniature condenser microphones, but this is the only one of its kind held in the Steele Collection.
Below is an advertisement for this particular model of mini condenser microphone.
Flexible Condenser Microphones
At left are two examples of condenser microphones built into bendable stands. This particular kind of microphone is very similar to the miniature condenser microphone, due to the compact nature of the microphone itself, but is used for different purposes. As the advertisement below indicates, it's intended to be inconspicuous, allowing the user's face to be visible and yet achieving good sound quality by close proximity to the user.
The RCA Model MI3043
At right is an RCA MI3043, also referred to as the Type KU2A. This microphone is a uni-directional microphone which is often suspended above the sound being captured. The technical specs for this particular model are featured on the Technical Data sheet below.
- Paquette, Bob. The History & Evolution of the Microphone. Edited by Nathan St. Pierre,1999. Pg 597.
- www.electrovoice.com/downloads.php?type=Engineering Data Sheet