The invention of the microphone allowed information to spread faster, and people could communicate more easily.
The music and movie industries were greatly affected by the invention of microphones. They allowed artists and actors to record amazing songs and movies.
But when was the microphone invented? Who has invented it? Hooke Audio will provide you an overview of the formation and development of the microphone.
- 1 When Was The First Microphone Invented?
- 2 Timeline Of Microphone Inventions By Mic Type
- 2.1 1827: The Birth Of The Term Mic
- 2.2 1861: Invention of the Reis Telephone
- 2.3 1876: Invention of the Liquid Transmitter (Water Mic).
- 2.4 1876: Invention Of The Carbon Mic
- 2.5 1877: The Invention Of The Moving Coil Mic
- 2.6 1885: Invention Of The Transformer
- 2.7 1886: The Invention Of The Carbon-Button Mic
- 2.8 1904: The Invention Of The Vacuum Tub
- 2.9 1916: The Invention Of The Condenser Mic
- 2.10 1917: The Invention Of The Piezoelectric Mic
- 2.11 1920: The Invention Of The Early Electret Mic
- 2.12 1923: Invention Of The Moving Coil Magnetophone
- 2.13 1924: Invention Of The Ribbon Dynamic Mic
- 2.14 1941: Invention of the Line Mic Shotgun Mic.
- 2.15 1947: Invention Of The Transistor
- 2.16 1948: The Invention Of The Multi-Pattern Microphone
- 2.17 1957: Invention of the Wireless Microphone
- 2.18 1959: The Invention Of The Top Address Unidirectional Microphone
- 2.19 1961: The Invention Of The Electret Condenser Microphone
- 2.20 1965: The Invention Of The Solid-State Condenser Microphone
- 2.21 1983: Invention of the MEMS Microphone
- 2.22 2003: The Invention Of The Digital Microphone
- 3 Timeline of Microphone Types To Be In The Marketplace
- 3.1 1928: First Commercially Available Compactor Microphone
- 3.2 1931: First Commercially Available Ribbon Microphone
- 3.3 1931: First Commercially-Available Moving-Coil Dynamic Microphone
- 3.4 1938: First Commercially Available Electret-Condenser Microphone
- 3.5 1948: Commercially available multi-pattern microphone
- 3.6 1953: First commercially available wireless microphone
- 3.7 1956: First Commercially Available Shotgun Microphone
- 3.8 1959: First commercially available Unidirectional Top-Address Microphone
- 3.9 1964: First Commercially Available Solid State Condenser Microphone
- 3.10 1966: The First Commercially Available Phantom-Powered (+48V) Microphone
- 3.11 1968: First Commercially Available Electret-Condenser Microphone
- 3.12 2002: The First Commercially Available MEMS Microphone
- 3.13 2003: First Commercially Available Digital Microphone
- 4 Uses For The Microphone
- 5 Conclusion
When Was The First Microphone Invented?
Emile Berliner, who was working with Thomas Edison, introduced the microphone in 1877. It consisted of a microphone and a carbon button mic.
There were many models of microphones at the time, but the carbon button microphone was the most widely accepted.
Because it had two electrical contacts separated by a thin layer of carbon, the mic was called a loose-contact transmitter.
The diaphragm vibrates when sound waves struck it, and the loose contact was joined to form the mic. Berliner originally owned the mic, but the patent was sold to Thomas Edison later for $50,000.
Timeline Of Microphone Inventions By Mic Type
Let’s look closer at the inventions above and the other essential designs that improved mic technology.
1827: The Birth Of The Term Mic
Sir Charles Wheatstone, an English physicist who invented the telegraph, first coined the microphone.
Sir Charles Wheatstone was among the first scientists to discover that waves can transmit sound within a medium. He used this knowledge to create devices that could amplify sound and send it from one place to the next. These devices were called microphones by him, which still hold to this day.
1861: Invention of the Reis Telephone
Johann Philipp Reis, a German inventor, successfully developed and built an apparatus to convert sound into electricity in 1861. These signals were then sent through a conductor wire to another device, transforming them into sound.
The Reis telephone is arguably the first actual mic. Its transducer converts mechanical wave energy (sound waves) into electrical energy (audio signs).
Reis Telephone’s microphone was constructed of a horizontally stretched parchment diaphragm mounted on an enclosed wooden box. The box could be opened from the front by a speaking horn.
Two brass strips were placed above the diaphragm. The contact was made of a drop of mercury at the tip and was attached to the diaphragm’s center. This was attached to the other side by a platinum contact. These contacts were held together by gravity.
The resistance between the contacts changed proportionally as sound waves caused the parchment diaphragm to vibrate. This caused an electrical signal to be sent to the speaker.
Although this is often referred to as the first telephone and mic, it is often forgotten by history.
Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone using his liquid transmitter. Because of the incorrect/incorrect physical theories, Reis had developed about the operation of his telephone, he was granted the patent for the phone.
Thomas Edison was also believed to have obtained a translated transcript of the Reis Telephone’s inner workings, which was highly influential in the invention of the carbon microphone by Emile Berliner.
Although it is often forgotten, the Reis Telephone was an essential breakthrough in microphone technology.
1876: Invention of the Liquid Transmitter (Water Mic).
The liquid transformer (water mic) was created as part of Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone. The liquid transformer is a co-invention of A. G. Bell with Elisha Gray. However, some believe that Bell stole Gray’s idea.
The liquid transformer was made of a metal cup containing water and a small amount of sulphuric acid. To make the liquid electrically conductive, acid was added.
The diaphragm was connected to a needle by being stretched through a small horn. The needle’s other end was immersed in the liquid, but it did not touch the cup. The water resistance fluctuates as the rod or hand vibrates in the water.
Submerged in the liquid, a separate wire carried an inversely proportionate signal to the telephone speaker. This is explained by Ohm’s law, which states that the resistance of a circuit and its current varies in an inverse relationship.
Thomas Edison also took inspiration from the success story of the liquid transmitter when he developed the carbon mic.
Although the liquid portion was more readable than the Reis Telephone’s speech, it made it economically unpractical. Edison sought to improve the sound quality of Bell’s invention and create a microphone that could easily be mass-produced.
1876: Invention Of The Carbon Mic
The carbon microphone was first invented in 1876. This microphone was the first to be truly functional.
This mic was created by Thomas Edison and Emile Berlin in the United States. Strangely, David Edward Hughes, an independent inventor of the same microphone, made it in England the same year as the American team.
Many people would argue that Emile Berliner invented the microphone, while others would say Edison was the actual inventor. However, they did collaborate on the project.
The carbon microphone converts sound waves into audio signals by using variable resistance.
It comprises two separate metal plates, separated by carbon granules (hence its name).
The thicker plate acts as a stationary plate, while the thinnest plate acts as a diaphragm. Variable sound pressure (sound waves) at the diaphragm causes the diaphragm to vibrate and exert pressure on the carbon granules. This causes an increase in the electrical resistance between plates.
The plates are subject to a steady DC voltage. Modulation in current caused by the diaphragm movement and the varying resistance of these plates results in a variation in the current.
Emile Berliner, along with Thomas Edison, is often credited again with inventing the first carbon microphone in 1876.
According to legend, David Edward Hughes demonstrated his invention before the American duo. However, Hughes did not obtain a patent. Hughes called his microphone a gift from the world and added the term microphone to his invention as a tribute perhaps to Sir Charles Wheatstone, an English inventor.
Alexander Graham Bell purchased the patent to Berliner’s carbon microphone in 1878 to improve the functionality of his telephone. The patent was bought for USD 50,000, that’s roughly $1.1 Million today.
After a heated legal debate, the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1892 that Edison had invented the microphone. The original patent was rescinded, and Edison was awarded the patent.
Before the widespread adoption of vacuum tube technology in the 1920s, the carbon mic was the only method to produce high-quality audio signals.
Before the 1980s, carbon microphones were standard in most telephone systems. Electret microphones have become a more affordable and better quality option.
1877: The Invention Of The Moving Coil Mic
German inventor Ernst Werner von Siemens was the electrical engineer who invented the moving-coil dynamic mic in 1877. He may have created the mic in 1874, according to some.
The primitive microphone was equipped with a moving coil attached to a diaphragm. It also had a permanent magnetic field. A small electric current was created between the ring and diaphragm as they moved.
Although it worked, this microphone was a significant step in microphone development. It was not popular at the time.
Transformation (1886) and stronger permanent magnets (the 1930s) would eventually make moving-coil dynamic microphone technology possible.
It is important to note that the magneto phone, a moving-coil microphone equipped with stronger magnets and amplifiers using transformers and vacuum tubes, was created in 1923.
American scientists Edward C. Wente (American) and Albert L. Thuras (American) created a very close replica of the modern dynamic moving-coil microphone in 1931. While material and design improvements have occurred since then, the fundamental design of the microphone has not changed.
1885: Invention Of The Transformer
When discussing the inventors of the electric transformer, many names are mentioned (including William Stanley and Nikola Tesla).
Otto Blathy and Miksa Deri did the original design and development of the transformer at the Ganz factory in Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Transformator technology was only introduced to microphones in the 1920s. Many microphones have benefited from both steps up and step down transformer-coupled outputs since then.
1886: The Invention Of The Carbon-Button Mic
Thomas Edison, who was now trying to improve the Bell Telephone microphone (Emile Berlin’s carbon microphone), discovered a way to do this in 1886.
He discovered that carbon works better when it is roasted. The carbon-button microphone was born from this combination.
This improved carbon mic would eventually be used in all Bell phones until the 1980s.
1904: The Invention Of The Vacuum Tub
Sir John Ambrose Fleming (an English electrical engineer and physicist) invented the first vacuum tube in 1904.
In the 1920s, vacuum tubes were widely used in technology. They began to be used in the world of microphones.
Lee De Forest invented the first triode vacuum tubes (the primary tube used in microphones) in 1905. In 1906, the patent was granted.
Inventions using vacuum tubes could increase the quality of mic electrical signals. Triode vacuum tube acts as an impedance converter and amplifier of weak audio signals generated by microphone capsules.
1916: The Invention Of The Condenser Mic
Edward Christopher Wente, an American scientist, invented the first condenser microphone in 1916 while working for Western Electric.
The condenser microphone used two plates, just like its predecessor, the carbon microphone. The condenser microphone, however, did not contain any carbon granules. Instead, it had a space between plates.
The capacitor was formed by the two plates of the condenser microphone. To hold a fixed charge, a constant voltage was applied to the plate.
As with the carbon microphone, one of the plates was very thin. It acted as a diaphragm and moved in harmony with sound waves. The backplate, which was thicker and more stationary, was the other plate.
The distance between the plates changes as the diaphragm moves, which alters the capacitance of the parallel plate capacitor.
Any change in capacitance, if any, causes an inverted proportional increase in voltage. The mic outputs an AC voltage from the moving diaphragm that coincides with the AC voltage of the plates.
1917: The Invention Of The Piezoelectric Mic
The piezoelectric microphone was created unusually.
Paul Langevin, a French physicist, was the first to use piezoelectric Crystals to detect sound in 1917.
However, this sound capturing device was used as an ultrasonic submarine detector. It was used together with an ultrasound frequency emitter. The devices could be used together to determine the distance to enemy submarines by calculating the time taken for the signal (from the emitter) to travel to sub, echo off and return to the microphone.
Paul Langevin used an electrostatic (condenser microphone) for this purpose.
Alexander Nicolson, not the Scottish lawyer, is believed to have invented the first piezoelectric microphone that captures sound waves in 1919. He also developed piezoelectric loudspeakers, phonograph pickups, and other devices.
1920: The Invention Of The Early Electret Mic
According to Gerhard Sessler’s 1962 patent, the electret microphone was invented in 1960. The Japanese scientist Yoguchi may have created the first electret microphone in 1920.
The primitive electret microphone functioned in a similar way to the condenser microphone. The microphone’s backplate was made from an electret material to hold the fixed charge across the plates.
This microphone design was not commercially viable because electret materials were not able to sustain it for long.
1923: Invention Of The Moving Coil Magnetophone
It is worth noting that Ernst Werner von Siemens (German electrical engineer and inventor) may have created the first-ever moving-coil mic. In the same year, he was also granted a German patent for his electromechanical dynamic or move-coil transducer.
Marconi-Sykes’s magneto phone was the very first moving-coil type microphone. The microphone was created by Captain Henry Joseph Round, an English engineer who served as chief engineer at Marconi in 1923.
It quickly became the standard mic for BBC studios in London, and it remained that way until 1928.
The magneto phone was made from a cylindrical iron container with a central cylindrical pole piece. The magnet had an oddly shaped cavity. It contained one magnetic pole (the pole piece) and one magnetic pole (the iron pot).
A paper diaphragm was located at the top of this magnet piece. The diaphragm was attached to the iron pot at the outer circumference. It was also connected to the pole piece in its center, giving it an annular form.
The paper diaphragm was held by a light coil of conductive aluminum wire via cotton-wool pads coated with rubber solution. The cylindrical cavity contained the spare ring.
The aluminum coil moved with the annular diaphragm. The wave moved within the magnetic field created by the iron pot and pole piece. An electrical voltage was generated through electromagnetic induction.
Two amplifier stages were then used to send the mic signal through them. Each set consisted of an input transformer and multiple vacuum tubes, capacitors, and resistors. The password was then sent to an output transformer, where it was outputted as an audio signal.
1924: Invention Of The Ribbon Dynamic Mic
Another type of dynamic microphone, one that relies on electromagnetism, was created in 1924. The first ribbon microphone was invented by Dr. Erwin Gerlach and Walter Hans Schottky, both German scientists.
The ribbon microphone’s idea was to allow a finely conductive ribbon to be suspended in a magnetic field and generate an electric signal when it moves within that field.
They did precisely that. A ribbon of aluminum very thin was suspended within a magnetic structure. In this instance, the ribbon acted as the diaphragm and moved in harmony with the sound waves it received.
The conductive ribbon generated an AC voltage as it moved, which is an audio signal.
But, strong magnets weren’t available until the 1930s, when this ribbon microphone invention was practical for audio production. Harry F. Olson, RCA, was the one who drove ribbon microphone technology forward in those early years.
1931: Invention Of The Moving Coil Dynamic Mic
The primary dynamic moving-coil microphone that we all know was created in 1931. This could be argued to be based on Ernst Werner von Siemens’ 1877 invention and Captain Henry Joseph Round’s 1923 invention.
Despite this, American scientists Albert L. Thuras and Edward C. Wente invent the modern moving-coil dynamic mic in 1931.
The mic was constructed of a polystyrene circular diaphragm and a conductive coil attached to its rear. Its center point is at a smaller radius.
The coil of fine conductive metal moved with the diaphragm when it was suspended in an annular gap within an unusually shaped magnet.
This was the point when stronger magnets became available to make this moving coil microphone possible.
The main magnet was a larger piece of magnetic material that covered the coil from its exterior. The coil’s interior was adorned with a pole piece. This strange shape created the annular gap.
The coil’s pole piece provided the opposite magnetic pole to the giant magnet at the exterior.
Electromagnetic induction produced an audio signal across the coil as the coil and diaphragm moved. Although it wasn’t a high voltage signal, it was still a significant signal relative to previous calls.
1941: Invention of the Line Mic Shotgun Mic.
Harry F. Olson, RCA, had in 1941 invented and received a US Patent for an Electroacoustical Apparatus (Line Microphone Shotgun Microphone ).
The electro-acoustical apparatus consisted of a mic with a tube that extended from its diaphragm to the front.
This tube, also known as an interference tube in modern times, had precisely measured slots that allowed sound to pass through. It was also open at the far end.
Slots can cause off-axis sound waves and timing differences at different sound frequencies. This caused frequency cancellation at the microphone diaphragm and within the tube.
This cancellation centered the microphone’s Polar Pattern in the direction that the tube pointed.
The shotgun microphone design has seen significant improvements since then. The introduction of the top-address pencil microphone has dramatically improved the focus of polar shotgun patterns.
1947: Invention Of The Transistor
The first point-contact transistor was invented by American physicists from Bell Laboratories in 1947 by Walter Brattain and John Bardeen.
Numerous transistors have since been created. In microphone technology, the primary transistor type that is worth mentioning is the junction-gate-field-effect transistor (JFET).
Heinrich Welker, an applied and theoretical German physicist, was the first to patent the JFET in 1945.
Until the mid-1960s, field-effect transistors were not practical in microphone technology. This invention changed everything about microphone technology (and the entire world).
The FET patent was first granted to Julius Edgar Lilienfeld, an Austro-Hungarian physicist, in 1925. Although the FET was intended to be a solid-state replacement for the triode vacuum tube, which it eventually became, there were not enough materials or technology at the time to produce a functional model.
1948: The Invention Of The Multi-Pattern Microphone
The M7 condenser capsule, the first to use dual-diaphragm condenser microphones, was the catalyst for the invention of multi-pattern microphones. Georg Neumann and his engineers from Georg Neumann GmbH are responsible for both these inventions.
The Neumann U 47 tube-condenser microphone was the first microphone to include the M7 capsule, multiple polar patterns, and it’s still in use today. It featured an omnidirectional pattern with both the capsule’s sides polarized and a cardioid pattern with only the capsule’s front polarized.
1957: Invention of the Wireless Microphone
Diagrams of wireless microphones circulated in the mid-1940s. Working wireless microphones date back to 1947. Reg Moores’ wireless figure skating microphone was the first to be noted.
The first patent granted for wireless microphones was filed in 1957. It was filed in 1957 by Raymond A. Litke (an American electrical engineer). Litke is historically credited as the inventor of wireless microphones.
Litke was motivated to invent the wireless microphone because it could be used for television, the radio, and classroom instruction. He had a handheld mic as well as a miniature lavalier.
Shure introduced the wireless Vagabond 88 microphone on the market in 1953. Sennheiser also had a wireless microphone system that was developed before Litke in 1957. Telefunken released this system under the name Microport in 1958.
1959: The Invention Of The Top Address Unidirectional Microphone
Ernie Seeler, a Shure engineer, had created the Unidyne III capsule. Shure introduced the Model 545 on the market in 1959, Which was the birth of the first unidirectional top-address microphone.
Unidyne III capsule had a single diaphragm and an air volume cavity to its rear. The Unidyne III capsule was positioned at the microphone’s end, with the air volume cavity at its bottom. This allows the capsule to point out of the microphone’s top (top-address) rather than out from the mic’s side (side-address), as every microphone before it.
1961: The Invention Of The Electret Condenser Microphone
The Electroacoustic Microphone was developed by Dr. James E. West and Gerhard Sesler, both Bell Laboratory engineers. In 1962, they were granted a patent for their invention.
The condenser microphone cap could be charged with electret technology.
These capsules and their microphones can be made without the need for external power. They are also cheaper than externally polarized capsules.
Electret microphones are still the most popular type of microphone on the planet today, though MEMS microphones could surpass them shortly.
The rise in popularity of electret microphones can be summed up as:
- Electret materials have a longer life expectancy.
- JFETs have become smaller and more efficient.
1965: The Invention Of The Solid-State Condenser Microphone
The advent of transistors saw the elimination of vacuum tubes and replacing FETs, which are cheaper and last longer. It was only a matter of time before solid-state transistors started replacing vacuum tubes in microphone designs.
Schoeps created the first solid-state microphone (the CMT20).
1983: Invention of the MEMS Microphone
D. Hohm, Gerhard M. Sessler introduced the first silicon micro-machining microphone (MEMS microphone) in 1983.
The duo essentially took Sessler’s electret microphone (invented in 1962) and fabricated the first working silicon condenser mic with Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems technology.
MEMS microphones are preferable to electret mics today in the following ways.
- Better performance/reliability.
- Smaller size.
- Compatibility with automated high-temperature printing circuit board (PCB) mounting processes.
- Sensitivity to mechanical shocks is lower.
- It is integrated with CMOS electronics in the same package or chip.
- More economical
2003: The Invention Of The Digital Microphone
Alec Reeves, a British scientist, invented pulse-code modulation (PCM) in 1937. It is a standard method of digitally representing analog signals.
Since then, digital audio has evolved, with a notable rise in development during the 1960s. 1971 saw the first commercially available digital recordings.
Digital audio was not popularized in professional audio until the late 1970s. Digital audio was popularized by consumers only after the Compact Disc was introduced in 1982.
Digital recording was a popular choice in the 1990s. The vast majority of audio today is recorded digitally.
Since microphones are analog devices by nature, digital processing of their signals must be done. This is usually done using an external analog-to-digital signal converter.
Georg Neumann engineers invented the first digital microphone in 2003, and it was released to the public under the name Solution D D-01.
This microphone’s design is straightforward in theory. The D-01 includes an internal analog-to-digital converter. The microphone outputs digital audio.
The market realized that USB microphones with built-in analog converters would be a good choice because of the growth in computers and audio recording software. Around 2005, USB microphones of varying quality began to appear.
Timeline of Microphone Types To Be In The Marketplace
It is an incredible accomplishment to invent a microphone type. The introduction of commercial microphone models is another breakthrough in microphone technology.
Below is a table listing the first microphones that are commercially available for each type.
1928: First Commercially Available Compactor Microphone
Georg Neumann’s CMV3 microphone The Bottle was the first condenser microphone that was commercially available. CMV3 Condensator Microfon Verstarkerwas 3, or condenser mic amplifier 3, was released in 1928.
CMV3 featured Neumann M1 Omnidirectional, a large, gold-sputtered colloidal dial, and RE084 triode-based tubes electronics.
Neumann was part of a worldwide Telefunken distribution agreement. The CMV3 models that were exported to other countries had Telefunken logos.
1931: First Commercially Available Ribbon Microphone
Harry F. Olson, his RCA, and the RCA PB-31 were the first to make a ribbon microphone commercially available. This mic-type photophone was only available in a limited number (about 50 units) and was first released in 1931.
A practical ribbon microphone was a breakthrough in microphone technology. The PB-31 was one of the many ribbon microphones that were available at the time. Ribbon microphones outperformed condenser microphones at that time in frequency response, clarity, and realism.
In early 1932, the PB-31 was replaced by the improved RCA 44-A (precursor to the famous 44-BX).
1931: First Commercially-Available Moving-Coil Dynamic Microphone
In 1931, the introduction of the first dynamic moving-coil microphone was made.
Albert L. Thuras and Edward C. Wente (of Western Electric) introduced the Western Electric 618A electrodynamic transmitter to the market in 1931. It was the first commercially available moving-coil dynamic microphone.
The omnidirectional microphone features a duralumin diaphragm that is clamped to the magnet’s outer edge.
An aluminum ribbon coil was attached to the diaphragm’s rear end. An audio signal was created when the ring and diaphragm moved relative to the permanent magnet.
Permanent magnets made the microphone passive.
1938: First Commercially Available Electret-Condenser Microphone
Bogen Company was the manufacturer of the first commercially available electret microphone. The No-Voltage Voltron was its name, and only a few units were made. It was produced from 1938 to 1940.
Although these wax electrets worked, they were unstable, and their permanent charges faded very quickly. These early electret mics didn’t catch on until the 1960s when electret materials were vastly improved, and transistors became available to convert the capsule impedances.
1948: Commercially available multi-pattern microphone
Georg Neumann introduced another microphone to the market in 1948. The iconic Neumann U 47 microphone, which had selectable cardioid and omnidirectional polar patterns, was the first multi-pattern microphone on the market.
The original design of the U 47 included the Neumann M 7 capsule. This dual-PVC-diaphragm condenser capsule was used. The tablet was replaced later in 1960 by the Neumann K 49 capsule. It used biaxially oriented PET film for its diaphragm material.
An omnidirectional polar pattern could be achieved by polarizing both diaphragms on the U 47 capsule. A cardioid pattern was created by only polarizing one diaphragm in the U 47 capsule. Since the capacitance losses caused by having the rear diaphragm in engagement were eliminated, the mic was 5 dB less sensitive in cardioid mode.
The circuitry of the U 47 was built around the Telefunken VF 14 M RF pentode vacuum tubes, which were military-grade.
1953: First commercially available wireless microphone
Although I said previously that wireless microphones were invented only in 1957, this was actually when the first patent was granted (to Raymond A. Litke).
The Shure Brothers (Sidney N. Shure and Samuel J. Shure) introduced the world’s first professional wireless microphone system in 1953. The Vagabond 88 was the name of this system, and it was sold between 1953 and 1960.
The Vagabond88 system contained the following:
- Model 88T handheld transmitter (2.MHz)
- Model 88R FM receiver (2 MHz).
- Mic stand adapter to the 88T
- Clip and Lavalier cord to hold the 88T.
- Copper antenna wire coil.
- A set of batteries includes a 30-volt B battery and a 1.3-volt Mercury cell.
- The system used 3 CK526AX pentode and 2 CK512AX pentode vacuum tubes.
1956: First Commercially Available Shotgun Microphone
The Model MD 82 was released by Labor W (now Sennheiser Electronics GmbH). It was the first commercially available shotgun microphone.
One meter-long interference tubes were featured in the MD 82. The tube had a slot running from one end to the other. Sound could be entered through this slot.
The tube blocked sounds from all directions, increasing the directionality of microphones.
To reduce high-frequency loss, the resonances were placed 3 mm apart.
1959: First commercially available Unidirectional Top-Address Microphone
Ernie Seeler, a Shure company employee, designed the first unidirectional full address mic in 1959. The company then released the Model 545 microphone.
It may seem minor to collect sound from the top of a microphone rather than from the side. The Unidyne III capsule, Seller’s breakthrough invention in microphone technology, set new standards for design and engineering.
Unidyne III is a single-diaphragm, directional capsule. Its rear side is exposed to air volume, which allows sounds to enter at a slower rate. This creates the unidirectional, or cardioid, polar pattern.
Unidyne III capsules for the Model 545 featured a pneumatic shock mount system.
Although this may seem simple today, it was a massive step in developing microphone technology at the time.
1964: First Commercially Available Solid State Condenser Microphone
Schoeps CMT 20 was the first transistorized microphone ever to be released on the market. It was released in 1964.
Although the CMT 20 used a transformer, it did not use low-noise FETs. The transistor was used to convert impedance rather than a vacuum tube. However, the only way to keep noise low was to use radio-frequency circuits in which the capsule modulated an electromagnetic carrier.
It is worth noting that the CMT 20 was the first active, transformerless microphone available on the mass market.
Schoeps claims that the CMT20 is the first phantom-powered microphone. It runs on 9-12 VDC, which is supplied via a balanced audio cable. Most would disagree that the Neumann KM 84 was the first phantom-powered microphone with the now-standard +48 volts DC.
1966: The First Commercially Available Phantom-Powered (+48V) Microphone
Neumann GmbH and NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) came together in 1966 to establish the 48 V DC phantom current standard (which was later standardized in DIN 45596).
Neumann presented the Neumann KM 84, the world’s first phantom-powered microphone, to the world using this new powering technique.
The KM 84 microphone was a small-diaphragm, externally polarized condenser microphone. It had a cardioid microphone and was top-address.
48 V phantom power effectively polarized and powered the active FET circuitry of the KM 84. An output transformer powered the microphone.
1968: First Commercially Available Electret-Condenser Microphone
Sony’s ECM (electret-condenser microphone) line of microphones was released in 1968. It starred the ECM-22P.
The ECM-22P small-diaphragm condenser pencil microphone is an electret condenser. The ECM-22P was the first device to include a quasi-permanent, practical electret capsule. The charge of electret materials would last for an extended period but would eventually fade.
The ECM-22P can be run on either phantom power (or batteries) to power its active transistorized circuitry.
2002: The First Commercially Available MEMS Microphone
In 2002, the first commercial Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems microphone was introduced to the market. It was manufactured by Knowles and named the SiSonic.
The iconic breakthrough in microphone technology was built on CMOS/MEMS technology.
2003: First Commercially Available Digital Microphone
The Neumann Solution D-01 was the first-ever digital microphone to be introduced on the commercial market. It was launched in 2003 and remained the flagship microphone in the Neumann Solution D series.
The Neumann Solution D-01 microphone analog to digital converter conforms with the AES 42 standards.
- The following features are available on the mic:
- Digital output (AES42).
- Internal digital signal processing (DSP) functions include overload protection, gain, compressor/limiter, and de-esser, variable cut, variable low, etc. These functions are available in DSP.
- All parameters can be saved in the microphone.
- Remotely controlled signal LEDs that can be used to communicate with the artist.
- Harmonized sound in 15 directional patterns
- Low self-noise (8dB-A)
- A/D Conversion (patented): Neumann process, 28-bit internal words.
- DSP: Fixed point, variable internal words lengths 28 bits to 60 bit.
- Sampling rates: 44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192 kHz.
- Output data format 24 bits per AES/EBU (AES 3)
Uses For The Microphone
A microphone converts sound waves into electric voltages, which in turn are converted back to sound waveforms.
Speakers amplify the sound waves. We all know that microphones provide music and entertainment to people around the globe.
Because of their high volume levels, dynamic microphones can record bass guitars, drums, and amplifiers. Condenser microphones can be used to record vocal tracks, pianos, live string, and acoustic guitars.
Condenser microphones respond faster than other types and can capture even the smallest sounds. Ribbon microphones are fragile and should not be used often.
However, their ability to record higher frequencies of sound gives them an advantage when recording instruments that require more detail.
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Before the microphone was invented, people had to rely on megaphones or other amplifying devices to be heard over long distances. This was often difficult and inconvenient, especially in large crowds. With the invention of the microphone, people could be heard clearly and easily without carrying around a bulky megaphone.
The microphone is an acoustic-to-electric transducer or sensor that converts sound into an electrical signal. Microphones are used in many applications such as telephones, tape recorders, hearing aids, motion picture production, live sound reinforcement, two-way radios, megaphones, and radio and television broadcasting. Thanks for reading this article!