- April 21, 2018 at 3:25 am #11650
Total posts : 218
When I first became interested in Part 15 AM broadcasting while in high school I wanted to get a “real radio announcer” microphone and searched the Allied Radio catalog and a local electronics wholesaler for something suitable. I found the Electrovoice 664 microphone and fell in love with its design. I didn’t know much about performance specs, nor did I care, I just wanted it because it looked great.
Reality set in when I found the best price for it was $52 which was over a month’s pay for me as a bicycle mechanic. Couldn’t swing this so I settled for a $12 Calrad DM-12 and a $2.50 desk stand. This mic sounded OK and looked alright but it just wasn’t that cool. I used it for announcing, recording, and later for my ham radio activities and it served me well but when I dug it out recently I noticed it sounded “tinny” and I was no longer happy with it. It appears that the diaphragm is damaged.
So I pursued my old idea of owning my dream microphone and found a nearly pristine 664 with connector and cable for about the origional price and I bought it. It is pictured above mounted on my $2.50 stand.
The first thing I noticed was this is a heavy mic weighing about 1 1/2 pounds. The desk stand noticed this also and the slightest bump would tip it and send the microphone heading nose first for the desktop or floor. Not good!
The base of the stand is cast iron but it is not heavy enough to provide tip over resistance so added weight was needed. I had a left over lead casting which I had made for my gamma spectrometry experiements and which was just the right diameter to hide neatly under the stand base and was heavy enough to minimize the chance of tip over. I drilled a center hole in the lead disc and fashoned an expansion cylinder from a bolt and rubber grommet which fits into the bottom of the stand tubing and is held tightly by the tightened nut. This is really heavy and stable so that problem is solved. The picture is above.
The microphone is dual impedance, 150 and 15K ohms (measured) and since I am intending to connect it to a sound card input I selected the High Z setting to give a higher input voltage to the high impedance card input. Unfortunately, my sound card is noted for poor gain with microphones so a preamplifier is needed to boost the microphone signal to line level which drives the sound card to a suitable volume.
The microphone sounds great to my ear and is not tinny at all. Electrovoice brags about the “Variable D” technology in the mic which varies the phase difference between the pressure at the front and rear of the diaphragm according to the sound frequency. This is claimed to eliminate the distance effect which typically boosts the bass when the speaker is too close to the mic. That’s nice, but the technology actually dictates the outside shape of the microphone so it turns out that this was not just art deco. Form follows function.
Anyway, I probably will spend more time looking at the mic than talking into it. but such is to be expected when an oldster finally gets his youngster dream microphone.
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- April 21, 2018 at 9:05 am #57182
Total posts : 0
An FM station I worked for before anybody was born had one of those microphones. And I saw one in the broadcast booth at a public school sports announder booth overlooking a stadium.
In a similar way to your story, the first microphone that captured my romantic heart was also an EV mic… the SLIMAIR Model 636.
It seems that the first FM station I ever listened to on the radio did a lot of test broadcasts as they were fiddling with their 25 kW transmitter, and their “studio” was an undecorated concrete room on the 21st floor of a downtown high-rise (The Boatmen’s Bank Building -Oldest Bank West of the Mississippi), so the window was open only a few feet from the microphone…
One could hear the rush and clammor of the street activity complete with streetcars and their clanging bells.
This “acoustic soup” was so crisp and clear over mono FM that I saved up and got my first professional microphone… the EV 636, which is still in my closet with the other microphones.
Say, that counter-weight so neatly fit into your mic stand is another “Neil Edwards Refinement”! Excellent! You show the signs of a true ALPB Man!
- April 21, 2018 at 10:19 am #57183
Total posts : 0
The EV-664 was really touted as a mic for public address and ham radio use, due to it’s clarity and extra punch in the mid-range making it very clear and understandable in these uses. Of course they’ve been used for every purpose over the years. I have a couple in my collection but have never used them for radio broadcasting.
One legend of the 664 is salesmen used to use them as hammers — they’d pound in a nail with one and show the client they still worked perfectly. They’re practically indestructible.
Joe Bussard, a crazy old guy who is probably the worlds foremost collector of 78 speed records ran what is considered to be the worlds last 78 speed record company, “Fonotone Records”. He recorded all his artists through one mic, in mono, with the mic plugged directly into the mic input of a mono Ampex reel to reel machine. I believe it was a model 601. He then used these tapes to cut lacquer records one at a time, by hand, so sell to his customers. Anyway, from studying his work and the archival photographs I’ve been able to track down over the years they were all recorded with either an unidentified ribbon mic or an EV-664. Many of his recordings can be heard online. The first recordings of guitar legend John Fahey were done in Joe’s basement for Fonotone. There’s a half hour documentary on Joe on Youtube:
Anyway, the 664 is a legendary mic and everyone should have one in their mic arsenal.
I have hoped to replicate Joe’s recoding technique someday when I get time. I’ve got the same equipment he used (and still uses) and plenty of local talent around me. Just never seem to get to it.
- April 21, 2018 at 5:31 pm #57186
Total posts : 0
Tim, I have read about the “hammer” legend. I wonder why someone would mar a perfectly good nail by hitting it with a microphone.
EV apparently developed this for PA type applications but that shouldn’t limit it to only this. I recall seeing this model in 1960’s newscasts where speakers such as Dr. Martin Luther King presented at a podium.
Maybe it was not favored for radio jocks because it has an on/off switch which they probably would forget to turn on? I did read that the cardioid response is not ideal for broadcast but I don’t know why. Maybe Carl will chime in about this.
What triggered my renewed interest is I was watching a movie set in the 60’s or 70’s and there was a scene where a small band was performing in a bar and the microphone was clearly featured. I saw it again in another movie a few days later and though that I would like to have one and use it for ALPB and other fun stuff so I plunged.
Apparently this mic is still one of the favorites for picking up the sound of the kick drum and guitar though condenser mics are reportedly better for high frequencies from other instruments. There is quite a bit of interesting reading on the topics which I found by searching “ElectroVoice 664”.
One thing anyone looking to buy one of these should know is it uses an Amphenol Series 91 connecter which costs $35 or thereabouts. I was fortunate that the cable with this connector was included in the deal but I saw many which did not.
- April 21, 2018 at 6:33 pm #57188
Total posts : 0
One of my all time favorite movies “That Thing You Do” (actually tied for the #3 position in my top ten list of greatest movies of all time) shows the band “The Wonders” in several live performances of their hit song. You see the EV664 in a lot of scenes, such as this performance:
- April 22, 2018 at 9:19 pm #57191
Total posts : 0
Seeing Neil’s EV 664 triggered an old memory from the days when I was a microphone freak lusting after various models and versions…
Note how the 664 is very silverish and thus possibly found to be a source of glare when shown on a TV camera.
Deep in the memory I thought I’d seen a version of the mic with a “matte finish”, which means “non-reflective”.
Sure enough, there is actually another model, the EV 665.
It doesn’t have the high impedance tap.
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