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Wireless Microphones Through The Ages

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Daniel Levi:
One of my interests is vintage wireless microphones and how it evolved over time and it's kinda interesting to watch old videos on YouTube and seeing what was used back then and as such I though I'd do a post with a sort of history of what was available that you would have seen professionals use and some videos/pictures to go with them.

This probably won't be wholly accurate (as I have no experience of said systems other than seeing them on TV/YT) and there won't be any definite years quoted but it should give a good idea of what became available, it wont be complete and I may miss out manufacturers (noting that I am no way an expert just interested). I will go up to the 80's and stop there. I will probably also break it up in to separate posts as it will probably take a while. It mostly a case of it gives me something to do.

Naturally any recollections, corrections and anything else really is much appreciated.

Now lets get started,

The first commonly used professional systems would have been the ones manufactured/marketed by Vega/Cetec Vega, used a lot by Guitarists and the like, plus would have probably been the basis for Kate Bush's headworn microphone for the "Tour Of Life" reputedly the first one of it's kind.

As for examples, we'll start at the beginning with the original Vega systems. i.e,

I believe this video for "Didn't It Rain" by Sister Rosetta Tharpe on Yorkshire TV from 1964 was probably a Vega system
though it could potentially have been a custom jobbie by the local TV company.
It was also use by performers such as ELO who had all their strung instruments fitted for the "Out Of The Blue" tour,

Later on Vega would have the "Hourglass" handheld systems that seemed to be popular in America yet I haven't seen any use of them in the UK so far.

Next we'll look at the Nady handheld systems, starting with the ones that bolted on to an SM58.
There is video of both ABBA and DEVO using such systems but not much else, they do look like a bit of a fudge!

Abba Live in Wembley 1979
DEVO "Whip It" Live

Later Nady had complete handheld systems that looked much better, used by a lot of artists and for some of the performers at the Wembley Live Aid concert, not sure of the model number though.
i.e. Nik Kershaw at Live Aid, 

Looking at their timeline these systems would morph into the UHF-950 what I would guess was Nady's last true professional wireless system

Then later again Nady had the 49? series and later budget 101/102 systems that some acts used, OMD being one of them, see the "We Love You" video.

Now on to Sennheiser, the first systems would be the original sytems made in conjunction with Telefunken i.e.,
Later on they would have the "philishave" units, again not sure of the model number.

Followed by the immensely popular SKM4031TV, used everywhere until the 90's

and the cheaper SKM-1072/1030 based system though looking at video's I've only seen Europe use such system although they do crop up regularly on eBay in the UK,

and in action during "The Final Countdown Tour", Sweden,

and lastly for this first bit a bit of an oddball, TOA. They had systems from the late 70's but all I have seen being used (albeit only in a couple of videos and I wasn't looking for them) is the WM-220/230 systems.
This is such a microphone I randomly acquired for cheap (~15 sans reciever), very compact all metal systems and the handhelds can have a clip added like a lavalier for hands free use, quoted 30hrs battery life on 3xAAA which is impressive (five hours when the battery low light comes on!) and they might not have companding as the manual alludes to it not requiring it.

There is a video of Cindy Lauper from the Tonight Shown in 1983 using said system, although interestingly the antenna seems to have been shorted as the one I have that transmits on 175.0Mhz has an antenna about a foot or so long.

As an extra bit a couple of systems that I do not know who the manufacturer is,
Firstly the handheld system use by Kate Bus for the "Tour Of Life",

And the system use by France Gall during the "Le Tour De France" tour 1988, looks at bit like a SM57 head which is oddball, given the shape of the body I would say later TOA but I have no real idea.

That's it for now and I will do another post concerning the professional Sony, Samson, Beyerdynamic and others as I see fit

Jerome Malsack:
Later on Vega would have the "Hourglass" handheld systems that seemed to be popular in America yet I haven't seen any use of them in the UK so far.

This also looks like the EV  2000  or 2500 line of the vhf microphones. 

Curt Sorensen:
Here's a thread that seems relevant.

John L Nobile:
First w/less mic I saw was at the first Peter Gabriel tour after leaving Genesis. Blew me away. I had no clue something like that was possible at the time.

First w/less system I used was HME around 1988. At one point in 1990, we had 19 units. We never had more than 17 working at once and even then it was sketchy. They stopped making stage products after that and did what they did best..coms for fast food outlets. I don't miss them.

Daniel Levi:

--- Quote from: Jerome Malsack on April 03, 2021, 05:13:02 PM ---Later on Vega would have the "Hourglass" handheld systems that seemed to be popular in America yet I haven't seen any use of them in the UK so far.

This also looks like the EV  2000  or 2500 line of the vhf microphones.

--- End quote ---

Seen some Telex systems that look similar as well.

At the very low end we had a system sold by one of the catalogue stores, Argos, that again had a similar microphone. Sold under their own Acoustic Solutions brand

Also after a search for Telex wireless mics the one Kate Bush is seen using on her tour could be a Telex WHM-300/400 or similar, has the right slim and long look.


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