Meeting Topic: Ribbon Microphones: Then and Now
Moderator Name: Robert Cochran
Speaker Name: Wes Dooley of Audio Engineering Associates (AEA)
Other business or activities at the meeting:
Election results for the upcoming 2011/2012 year:
Chair: Kerry J Haps; Vice-Chair: Giles Davis; Treasurer: Rivanaldo Oliveira; Secretary: Ken Platz; Webmaster: Chad Cline
Committee: Bob Cochran; Teri Grossheim; Gary Khan; Charles King; Bradley Olson; Bob Schulein; Jeff Segota
Meeting Location: Shure Incorporated; Niles, Illinois, USA
Wes Dooley began his presentation by providing a brief history of microphone development and how improvements to the designs of the early audio pioneers have enabled ribbon microphones to stand the test of time — recognizing the recent 're-interest' in using ribbon microphones for the studio and the stage.
Reviewing notes from the evening, I realized that most of what I formally captured was the paraphrased comments or insights that came from Wes's experiences and observations:
• "...the common setup of using microphones as MS stereo pairs went out of style...but not out of fashion..."
• "How many of you used to record stuff?...How many of you are still recording?...There's no end in sight..."
• "...making ribbon microphones — you can make enough to survive if you're careful..."
• "I do everything I know how to do."
• "It's all physics — design designs relative to performance."
• When you measure your designs and determine your design changes "make a difference", you need to ask yourself, "but does it matter?"
• In regards to predictive modeling, "you could model ribbon microphones but you're better off if you build it and see how it does..."; "Trial and error works better for me."
• "The 1932 RCA 44A was a sonic revolution."
• "Transformers and transformer design — now that is the true black art"
I have always been impressed when great thinkers and designers acknowledge those that have come before them and Wes did just that in his presentation. He referred to the early microphone pioneers of Walter Schottky, Erwin Gerlack, and Harry Olson and also mentioned our great contemporaries — from Richard Heyser to Walter Sear.
Across the Chicago area, violent storms raged, knocking out power, downing trees, and even, somewhat ironically, canceling an Earth, Wind and Fire concert, but Chicago's AES section was dry and safe in the S.N. Shure Theater, and entertained and further educated by the good Wes Dooley.
The Chicago AES Section would like to extend a special thank you to Wes Dooley for providing our Section a very informative and lively presentation.
Written By: Ken Platz