Some microphone models have acquired an iconic status and their appearance has left an indelible impression on the audience.
These days they still deliver good performance.
Firstly: BBC / Marconi AXB ribbon microphone, this model had a bi-directional pickup pattern; it could be spoken into on both sides. The warm sound these microphones produce evokes memories of old BBC broadcasts, and for the Dutch, BBC facilitated broadcasts of ‘Radio Oranje’, Dutch radio in exile, during the Second World War.
The AXB shown here, produced since 1940, comes from Bush House, the building from which the BBC made all overseas broadcasts. Therefore Queen Wilhelmina may have spoken encouraging words for the Dutch population, through this microphone.
The Shure 55 dynamic microphone, pictured here, is another icon; this model dates back to 1939 and was used for many radio broadcasts, but also for live sound, amongst others by the Andrews Sisters and Frank Sinatra.
This was the microphone used to record vocals in Sam Philips’ SUN Studio in Memphis, Tennessee where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and many others recorded their hits. It was the first single-element unidirectional microphone. At the 75th anniversary of this type, in 2014, Shure presented a modern copy, in a limited edition.