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"The Microphone Book"

John Eargle's comprehensive book on microphones and how they work is a modern classic By Frank Moldstad

First published in 2001, and recently updated, John Eargles The Microphone Book can already be termed a classic handbook on microphones and how they work. This second edition extends the book with updates throughout, and includes brand new chapters on surround sound and vintage mics.

Eargle is a Grammy-winning engineer (Best Classical Engineering 2001, for Dvorák: Requiem, Op. 89; Sym. No. 9, Op. 95 "From the New World") and audio consultant whose resume ranges from the London Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra to Etta James and Joe Turner. He is a past president of the Audio Engineering Society and currently heads audio consulting firm JME Consulting. In 2002, he shared a Scientific and Engineering Academy Award with Don Keele and Mark Engebretson ?for the concept, design and engineering of the modern constant-directivity radiator style motion picture loudspeaker system.

So, Eargle knows his subject -- and just as important, hes able to explain it clearly. This 377-page book ($44.95, Focal Press), will be invaluable to anyone who works professionally with microphones, whether its for music, public speaking, broadcast, or film.

Alexander Graham Bell's liquid transmitter design was exhibited at the Philadelphia Exhibition in 1876.
The book begins with ?A Short History of the Microphone, going from Alexander Graham Bells 1876 patent for a mechanical string and early electrical current mics to the development of modern mic technologies. From there, it moves into a fairly technical chapter called ?Basic Sound Transmission and Operational Forces on Microphones. This chapter describes the principles of sine waves, frequencies, decibels and phase, illustrating the math behind them with equations and graphs. It concludes by explaining the relationship between diffraction and microphone dimensions.

Next are individual chapters on various microphone types, from ribbon mics  (pressure and pressure gradient designs), cardioids (first-order directional mics), and high directionality microphones used for picking up dialog on film and video sets. Throughout, there are interesting examples of how to take advantage of the properties of these mics.

For instance, in discussing a Schoeps microphone design called Polarflex that varies first order microphone patterns over a wide frequency range, Eargle notes that it employs separate omni and figure-8 elements that allow the user to combine them and mix three variable frequency ranges. ?As an example, a user can ?design a microphone that is essentially omnidirectional at LF, cardioid at MF, and supercardioid at HF, he writes. ?The transition frequencies between these regimes of operations can be selected by the user. Such a microphone would be useful in recording a large performing group, orchestral or choral, by allowing the engineer to operate at a greater than normal distance while retaining the desired presence at MF and HF.


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Related Keywords:The Microphone Book, John Eargle, microphones, surround sound , vintage mics,

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