Xaudia offer microphone re-ribboning and repair services.


2-Track Mind's Tannoy mic restoration

Here is a nice article by Seth at the 2-Track Mind blog, describing how he restored a very early Tannoy ribbon microphone. Seth went to great lengths, building his own corrugator and refinishing the mic, and the results look great. I played a tiny role here and was able to supply a little brass mount so that he could put it on a stand.

The mic itself is quite unusual, and the motor assembly (above) is different to most of the other Type 1 Tannoy ribbon mics that I have seen. Below is the more usual look of these mics inside, with a large cylindrical magnet and simple flat pole pieces:

It is becoming clear that Tannoy made many different variations on their ribbon mics. I feel a big Tannoy blog post coming on...


Syncron AU7A schematic (again)

Many thanks to Dan Zellman, a former Syncron employee, who sent in this schematic for the AU7A condenser microphone. This was the 'last issue' diagram.

Syncron AU7A factory schematic

There are a few differences from my traced circuit that I posted in an earlier blog entry, most noticeably I had the 42V battery supply reversed.  Also, I have worked on several of these mics, but have never seen one with the 470pF capacitor present. 

SJT 25/10/14


Mount-a-Mic assembly instructions

Here is a step-by-step guide to assemble an Xaudia Mount-a-Mic cable:

1. Make sure you have all the parts.

2. Strip and prepare the cable ends ready for soldering. Push through the Mount-a-Mic adapter

3. Solder the female XLR connector. We recommend connecting the barrel lug to pin 1.

4. Fit the plastic strain-relief

5. Slide the metal barrel over the plastic parts

6. Slowly screw the barrel into the adapter, allowing the cable to rotate freely as you go. 

7. Fit your choice of connector to the other end, and enjoy!

Mount-A-Mic adapters from Xaudia

Have you ever struggled to find the right clip or mount to put a microphone on a stand? Here is a solution: the Mount-a-Mic adapter from Xaudia.

Xaudia - Mount-a-Mic assembled cable

This simple yet cunning gizmo is designed to convert XLR plugs so that they can be screwed onto a 5/8” mic stand.

Mount-a-Mic adapter from Xaudia

The Mount-A-Mic adapter simply replaces the cable gland on Neutrik XLR plugs. The cable now exits through the side, and the assembly can be attached to the mic stand.

Then just plug the mic in, and go! You can now put almost any microphone on your stand, so long as it has an XLR plug.  Great for Geffell….

And a Neumann is no problem!

Here are some assembly instructions for those who wish to make their own cables.


New RCA thread adapters

We have some shiny new thread adapters for RCA microphones.  These thread adapters fit most of the 'big' vintage RCA microphones, including the 44, 74b, and 77 ranges, and also are perfect for Sony professional mics, including the C38b and C48 microphones.

We have been selling thread adapters for a while but the latest batch are a step up in quality. They are machined from solid brass and have a standard 3/8" female thread that will fit most modern mic stands. They can also be supplied with 5/8" on request.

It fits this RCA77B perfectly.

These fit the following microphones….
Most RCA 44, PB140, PB144, 74b, 77B, 77DX, MI-4010-A, BK-11.
Some (but not all) models of the RCA Varacoustic.
Sony C38, C48, FV300, Some C37s.
Many Aiwa, Toshiba and Matsushita ribbon mics
Syncron / Fairchild AU7a
Some older Amperite mics

Please ask about your microphone.


Electrovoice V2 revisited

These old Elctrovoice ribbon mics look great but sadly the sound rarely lives up to expectations.

I have worked on a few of these over the years and there are several things that let these microphones down - happily they can all be sorted out with a bit of thought.

EV V2 clamp with through-ribbon bolt!

Firstly, and perhaps most annoying are the ribbon clamps. EV used thin plastic clamps to insulate the ribbon from the body of the mic, and the ribbon is secured by a central screw that goes straight through the ribbon. The old EV ribbons are quite thick and were supplied with (even thicker) copper end terminals,  so that they could just be screwed in place. One problem is that tightening the screw twists the ribbon, pulling it into the side walls of the motor. It also does not make very good electrical contact, especially with a new thin aluminium ribbon. And the clamps are flexible too so the ribbon is not held securely.

New ribbon silver clamp

A better solution is to make new stiff metal clamps. These could be made from plated brass but I tend to use solid sterling silver to avoid the need for a plating process. One clamp must still be insulated from the body of the microphone to avoid shorting out the ribbon.

Rusty old magnet.

The next problem is the weak magnetic field. Replacing the old magnet with a new neodynium one can boost the field around five-fold, which gives a corresponding increase in output. With stronger magnets the steel screws can jump into the ribbon gap and wreck a new ribbon, so it is best to swap the screws out to some brass or stainless ones.

EV V2 transformer.

The old transformers are not great and lack bass but that's an easy thing to sort out! And finally the old plugs are getting hard to find so we can put an XLR on the rear.

XLR fitted to EV ribbon mic

Voila! With new clamps, ribbon and magnet we have a healthy signal with plenty of bottom end!


The world's smallest ribbon mic?

Is this the world's smallest ribbon microphone mechanism?

The Beyer M560n(c) has a motor measuring just 33 mm long and 10 mm deep, which fits into the mouthpiece of a headset.

The tiny transformer is mounted at the other end of the microphone. The mic is clearly designed for close speech and the transformer has a very low inductance (35 µH at 1 kHz), which gives a bass roll off to compensate proximity effect.

Despite its small size, it was not much more difficult to repair than some other Beyer mics. Here is the motor with a new ribbon, ready to go again….

If you know of a smaller ribbon motor, then get in touch!


Pimp my microphone!

Here are some upgraded, modified and generally pimped mics that we have put together for customers.

In each case the microphone gets a new ribbon, upgrade transformer and a few other tweaks, along with a shiny new badge.

I will leave the reader to guess the identities of the donor mics. 


Transformer boxes

Here are our updated transformer boxes, looking smart with a new metal badge and hammertone paint. They come in a rugged metal box with Neutik XLR connectors at each end for easy use.

These little gadgets are perfect for interfacing old 30 and 50 ohm microphones to modern equipment that expects to see 200 to 600 ohm microphones, and can give an increased output of up to around 12 dB, which is welcome for older ribbon mics.

They are available in a range of ratios, and our most popular model is the 50 Ω to 600 Ω box, which is ideal for Melodium 42B, STC 4033, and Western Electric /  Altec 639 'birdcage' microphones.

These can be supplied to order in almost any required ratio to match your microphone. 


Melodium 42B XLR mod

The old Melodium 3 pin plugs are getting very hard to find, and quite expensive when they do show up. This is a pragmatic approach to the problem, and allows an XLR to be connected directly….

The Switchcraft connector could be painted to match the mic, but I don't mind the nickel either.


A mount for an STC 4017 dynamic mic

A customer asked me to make a mount for his STC 4017 dynamic mic without modifying the microphone itself. Often these come with a handle or a threaded stud for mounting, but this one came with nothing at all.

My first thought was to make some kind of ring clamp, but that would require a large diameter brass tube and was starting to look quite expensive and bulky. So I came up with this…

It is simply a folded strip of aluminium screwed to a threaded brass cylinder. The bass of the cylinder is threaded to fit a 5/8" mic stand. The mic slides into a slot in the aluminium and is held by its own ground clamp.

Some shrink sleeve ensures that the signal outputs are not shorted by the new mount.



What's inside a Beyerdynamic M260?

This is what happens when one dissects a couple of Beyerdynamic ribbon mics: bodies, grills, motors, transformers, XLR or DIN output connectors. Nothing surprising there….

But what are those grey plastic tubes?

These are in fact acoustic chambers that provide back pressure to the ribbon, changing it from its natural figure-8 pattern towards being hyper-cardioid. It is also critical to the microphone's sound - if you make an M260 without one, it sounds pretty awful.

There is one more important ingredient to the mic, and that is a piece of string. This is stuffed into the chamber to break up internal reflections. Sometimes simple works!


B&O BM3 ribbon mic - Black Viking edition!

The Black Viking is Xaudia's latest take on the B&O BM3. The vikings came from Denmark and invaded our home town of York, so it seems a fitting name for the mic.

This one has new magnets, new ribbon, a 300 ohm output transformer and XLR output connector. Re-finished in a tough black powder-coating, it is ready for a few more decades of action.

More available soon!


MOTM Tannoy MD422 cardioid ribbon mic

Here is Tannoy's cardioid ribbon microphone - the MD422.

Tannoy MD422 ribbon mic, front

Firstly, Tannoy lose a point for the name. 'MD' should surely mean "microphone dynamic" in any sensible society! Perhaps the D stands for "directional"? Who knows, but it puts them at odds with other the Sennheiser MD421, and it is just plain confusing.

Tannoy MD422 ribbon mic, rear

Whatever the D stands for, the mic itself has an industrial look, and this one is finished in a bronze-ish coloured paint. To the best of my knowledge this is the only cardioid ribbon model that Tannoy ever produced, and it uses an acoustic labyrinth to provide the necessary back pressure to the rear of the ribbon. The chamber is the black cylinder in the photo below.

Tannoy MD422 ribbon mic, chamber

Some of the parts were made to a budget, or perhaps a short production run, with thin stamped metal for the base and top cap, along with two layers of off-the-shelf mesh to protect the mic from dirt and wind.

The ribbon assembly and magnets are the same as found in the type 2 Tannoy 'pitchfork' microphone, which would have saved costs by sharing components.

Tannoy MD422 inside, showing ribbon motor

The MD422 was subject of a BBC technical report, which concluded:"..this microphone has nothing to commend it for use in the Television Service". That assessment seems rather harsh, but at the time the Corporation's selection criteria were flat, uncoloured responses and good signal/noise performance.

In the report, the bi-directional BBC-Marconi AXBT was used as a comparison, which was much more expensive, a different pattern, and therefore a tough benchmark. Cardioid (and non-directional) ribbon mics generally use an acoustic chamber on one side of the ribbon to apply pressure, and this damps the ribbon motion, reducing the output compared with its natural bi-directional response.

Drawing of the Tannoy MD422 from BBC technical document.

Unlike my mic, the BBC's example had a yoke mount rather than a fixed base, although there are mounting screw holes in the side of mine.

Despite my irritation with the model number, and the BBCs damning assessment,  I like this microphone very much. It has a gentle warm tone. More importantly, it was an attempt at technical innovation, which is always to be celebrated.