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Xaudia offer microphone re-ribboning and repair services.

2022/05/13

Beyer M30 - a super-rare early ribbon microphone

To the best of my knowledge, this M30 is the earliest production model Beyer ribbon microphone. (Do please send me a message if you know of an earlier one). Here it is pictured with a modern M160 for scale.

This microphone came in for repair with most of the original piston ribbon in place. The first thing that leaps out is that, from the outset, Beyer went in their own direction for corrugating the ribbon. 

I have heard a couple of suggestions about why this may be. Pistonic ribbons are in theory more efficient as the ribbon moves through the magnetic flux in a flat manner although my own measurements suggest that it only gives a couple of dB at best. Perhaps the most convincing one was Wes Dooley's suggestion that they were circumventing RCA patents for the more common wiggly ribbons. 

The magnetic circuit itself is a work of art, bringing the field from the large block magnet to the sides of the ribbon through four arms. The body of the microphone is chromed brass with one of the most substantial grills that I have ever seen. And the output transformer is a large toroidal type similar to those found in the earliest Oktava microphones and also old Siemens M201 ribbon mics.

I have talked to a lot of customers about this subject and there is a roughly equal split on which type of ribbon sounds 'better', with some preferring RCA style and others insisting that pistonic is best. The reader can make their own mind up about that! However, from a technical perspective, I have the equipment to make the wiggly ribbons but not the pistons. 


From a historical perpective, it was nice to see the old ribbon. But it was somewhat damaged, a little corroded and stuck to the side of the motor. I took lots of photos and asked Marco, the owner, if he wanted a museum piece or a working microphone. It can be hard to make these decisions but we went ahead and repaired the microphone, which sounds rather lovely with a new ribbon in place.




Marco kindly shared a couple of recordings he made with the M30. The microphone was positioned around 40-50 cm from the singer, and the band performed in a 'small shack' of about 4,5 x 3,5 m.  There is naturally some spill from other instruments in the M30 but it gives a good indication of how well an old ribbon microphone like this can perform. 

Listen to "That's It, I Quit, I'm Moving On" by Binky All Stars
Listen to "Old Devil Moon" by Binky All Stars

Thanks to Marco at Vintage Microphone World for sharing his insight, microphones and recordings. His book 'Witnesses of Words' is well worth checking out.Witnesses of Words

2022/05/02

B&O BM5 stereo collet repair


This is a really common problem with B&O stereo microphones. They snap in half! At the time of writing I have over ten broken BM5s in my inventory and some repairs for customers, and so clearly something needs to be done.



The rotating mechanisms were (usually*) made from plastic. With time and use, the plastic parts become brittle and the teeth break away. First the mic becomes wobbly and then can break away completely. These parts are also make the top part of the microphone difficult to service because it can be impossible to remove the collet without causing further damage.

And so I commissioned some replacement collets and can now offer repairs for this problem.


Brass collet for BM5

The replacement part is machined from brass and won't break easily. There is some re-wiring to be done. The BM5 used a 9 pin socket which was not easy to replicate. And so we simply run the wires through a hole in the collet and solder together. The socket can get oxidised and noisy anyway, and there is no real need to remove the top part in general use. 

Using a brass collet has the additional benefit of making a good electrical contact between the top and bottom mic, which means better grounding.**


Here is the repaired rotating mechanism which should be good for another few decades of use.

These parts are made specifically for Xaudia in the North of England.

Notes.

* Some later BM5s used a different design with steel parts. B&O clearly realised that they had a problem. 

** I have addressed the grounding issue in an earlier post.