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2015/11/05

Microphones of the Month: Toshiba type A vs RCA PB144 / 44A

Toshiba are well known for making mid-range consumer electronic equipment. Once upon a time they used to make some fine ribbon microphones too! 

Toshiba A (left) and RCA PB144 ribbon microphones

The microphone on the left is generally know in internet-land as the Toshiba 'Type A', although it is labelled SN-1631. It is a very close copy of the RCA 44A and its relatives. I have been informed by a Japanese expert that this was made under license by RCA, most likely in the post-WW2 era. Having looked carefully at the Type A and compared it to my own RCA PB144 (right), I have no reason to doubt this assertion.


The mics look similar outside - my PB 144 has a film set style hanger mounting, whist the Toshiba has a simple cast yoke, and the grill hole size differs.


Inside the microphones there are many similarities and few differences. Both use three large horseshoe magnets to provide the magnetic field, and and the ribbon dimensions are very close.


Perhaps the biggest difference is that the RCA uses cast pole pieces, whereas in the Japanese version they are milled. This probably reflects the tooling and machinery available at the time. Casting is an expensive process for low quantity products.


Beyond the cosmetics, the Toshiba has a 200 ohm output transformer whereas my PB 144 is a 50 ohm microphone, with these no doubt being in line with the broadcast standards of Japan and USA at that time.

(Thanks to Takayoshi Sumitomo for his expertise)