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MICROPHONE OF THE MONTH DECEMBER

BBC MARCONI Type AXBT

 

 

The BBC type A was the English answer to the American RCA
44 A, a microphone of superb quality, released in 1933, but
much too expensive for the BBC, at a price of £ 130 (about £ 6700 now). Together with the company of Radio pioneer Marconi, the BBC developed the Type A microphone, which was then produced by Marconi, for a price of only £ 9 (£ 450 now), in 1934. The design was based on the RCA 44 A, which itself was derived from a German design by Siemens and Halske.

It became the main microphone for radio broadcasts in the studio, for over thirty years.
The design became a BBC icon. Although the looks stayed
the same, over the years the microphone was improved (like the RCA 44); first as Type AX, with a thinner ribbon, then AXB, better shielded against electronic interference, and finally as AXBT, to provide more output (the T stands for Ticonal, a stronger sort of magnet), which was the last improvement, made in 1944. The AXBT was produced until 1959.

During World War II all broadcasts of Radio Oranje (Dutch Radio in exile) were done with these AX(BT)s. The image of Queen Wilhelmina in front of this microphone is familiar to almost all Dutch. The AXB in the picture comes from 'Bush House', in London. the location the BBC used for all radio broadcasts to Europe, since 1940. So maybe Wilhelmina used this microphone to encourage the Dutch population.

In 1953 the BBC produced a successor; the smaller PGD. This
was again too expensive, which led to production of the cos-
metically different, but easier to produce PGS, by Standard Telephone and Cables (STC) badged as STC 4038. In the Sixties, the BBC switched to using AKG mics, while STC continued production until they ceased making microphones in 1972. Today it is still sold as the Coles 4038, appreciated in studios Worldwide, and considered one of the best ever made.

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