A long time ago, I owned an RCA 44BX, the iconic broadcast microphone. I fell on hard times and sold it (hoping to buy it back some day) and the mic subsequently had a hard life (damaged ribbon, some sort of plating job, paperweight) until I lost track of it. So when a "baby brother" (about half-size) made by Indiana's own Electro-Voice* turned up for just over $100 at an antique mall, I bought it on sight.
|"After." The base is not original.|
Fast-forward a couple of years; browsing for a microphone for work, I stumbled across AEA, who still make classic RCA microphones. They're quite expensive and worth every cent.
They're also beautiful.
If you look carefully at their home page, you'll see a "repair form" link. And not just the RCA types; they sell and support the STC/Coles mics made in the UK, too. So I called and asked their ace service guy (fixing ribbon mics is the darkest of Dark Arts, combining watchmaking, ship-in-a-bottle skills and fine-arts-grade audio talent, and that's just for a start) if he'd consider fixing an Electro-Voice V-1?
"There's a V-2 on my bench right now, so that'd be a yes."
I filled out the form and dithered for several weeks. This could be costly! On the other hand, while there are several firms making ribbon mics these days (with varying degrees of success. AEA is the gold standard they aspire towards), repairing them is a much scarcer skill and very nearly died out once already. Shipped the mic and crossed my fingers.
Several weeks later, at the Dayton Hamvention of all places, my celphone rang. AEA: "Hey, what's that weird connector on your V-1? We haven't got anything that will mate with it!"
I had to laugh. "Sorry, I forgot it's only 1937 in my basement. It's an early hi-Z connector, used on mics and test gear through the 1960s. You've called me at the one place where I can be sure of finding one; I'll make up an adapter and send it to you."
The V-1 uses a "spot" connector. All later E-V ribbon mics were selectable-impedance and had either an unterminated cable or one of the early multi-pin connectors.
About a month later, they called with my bill. New ribbon, new magnets, new rubber shockmount, alignment and test, bench time-- I braced for the bottom line.
About $150. Well under what I was anticipating.
Mind you, by their standards, the little E-V is a fairly undemanding repair and the cast-zinc base prevents much cosmetic refinishing (zamak is unpredictable stuff and only gets more so the more you mess with it). The end result looks better than it did when I bought it, with the grill all clean and shiny, and sounds great. Output's not very high -- that's a small ribbon, after all -- but well within what a decent mic preamp can deal with.
I'm tempted to ask them if they'll look at my Amperite ribbon mic:
Electro-Voice V-1: good mic, back in service.
AEA: They've made me even more of a fan than I already was!
* E-V started out in South Bend, eventually jumping the border for Buchanan, Michigan. They've built good mics since Day One, if you ask me.