Mic of the Month – Shure 508 Stratoliner

Here is our first Microphone of the Month for 2015. This Shure Stratoliner looks like a Zeppelin airship or perhaps Flash Gordon’s space ship. But is it a crystal, ribbon or dynamic microphone?

I had always thought that the Shure Stratoliner series were crystal microphones, and indeed the 708 model does have a crystal element. But although this 508C uses the same body, it is quite a different microphone inside.

This one says ‘dynamic’ on the label but it is really a rather strange ribbon microphone. Here is the business end of the mic with some kind of flat ribbon in place, possibly made from kitchen foil.

Once we remove the ribbon and clean the motor, we can see a series of slots right behind the ribbon. These make an acoustic cavity and help to control the directional pattern.

The motor design is quite basic, with two cylinder magnets behind the ribbon, covered in felt. The transformer is mounted behind the magnets.

This construction and slots behind the ribbon also do odd things to the frequency response. Here is the published response chart from the Shure 508a user manual:

Even the published chart is pretty bumpy, and it seems that Shure were willing to sacrifice fidelity for directionality. And the mic does sounds peaky – definitely one for the vintage / special effects shelf in your microphone locker.

UFO over York

Strange cylinders were spotted today in the skies above the Xaudia workshop!

Actually it was the Good Year airship, but Aliens and Time Travellers are welcome to visit.

The kettle is always on, and there is a good pub round the corner.

Steampunk tube mic!

Here is a tube microphone that we put together for Jørn Christensen of Rodeløkka studio in Oslo, Norway. Jørn wanted a steampunk vibe… and that’s exactly what he got!

Xaudia Frankenphone ribbon mic

Here is a nice Frankenphone ribbon mic that I put together from spare parts ….

The mic body was salvaged from a broken SE condenser mic, repainted with some nice hammer finish paint and given one of our shiny brass nameplates.

The ribbon motor frame was an unidentified part that was found in an old Reslo mic, but fitted with new neodynium magnets to give a good strong magnetic field. And the transformer was, of course, wound here at Xaudia.

Ribbon motor with new magnets, and transformer

The microphone is rather nice sounding, with a full bottom, big proximity effect and a and good top end response too, for a ribbon. We’ll be putting it through its paces with Silent Fears at the weekend, along with some other new toys.