Wonderful interview about the Abbey Road Microphone Collection (UK)   

LSI: Classic Gear - Shure SM58 (May 2008)
[7.03Mb PDF]
From Lighting & Sound International


Concealed / Lavalier Microphones

Microphones took a long time to be miniaturised. Sony’s first small lavalier microphone was the ECM-50 in 1969.
Before radio microphones, film and TV producers used wired microphones hidden on their performers, with wires (often) trailing out of a trouser leg or other out-of-shot costume option. 

Radio Microphones (under construction)

The use of radio microphones is now widespread across the theatre, film & event industries.
Their wide use is more recent than you may realise, however.

Use on Films:
Peter Handford, the sound recordist on Murder on the Orient Express (1974), shot at Elstree Studios, ‘pioneered the use of concealed radio microphones for feature film production’ (hidden in the furniture in the train carriages). 
However, a concealed radio microphone was first used on the movie of My Fair Lady (1964) for Rex Harrison’s sung sequences, which was built-into his tie, which had to be custom-made to hide the bulky microphone. The choreography and blocking of the scene made a wired lavalier microphone or boom microphone impossible, and the actor insisted that he would not mime to playback, as his performance was slightly different every time. The sound engineer on the project was George Groves who spoke about his work on the film

Groves said that Rex Harrison specifically asked for a radio microphone after seeing Sophia Loren giving a tour of Rome using a wireless microphone (1964 – see clip below)

Use in Theatre: 
Became widespread in the 1980s due to the new technologically-advanced musicals where sound reinforcement was needed to beat the volume of the electronic instruments and rock instruments in the band. 

This blog article has some great date references which form part of the list below. Research is ongoing. 

  • 1961: First use of a body-worn radio microphone on Broadway was Anna Maria Alberghetti in Carnival in 1961.
  • 1970: The musical The Grass Harp in 1970 was the last Broadway musical to use no body-worn radio microphones. 
  • 1970: Micron radio microphone systems begin development by Audio Engineering (UK). 
  • 1971: Radio Mics were used on Hello Dolly in 1971 with Ethel Merman on Broadway. 
  • 1972: A radio mic was mounted to the cross for the final sequences of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Palace Theatre in London while the bulk of the microphones in the show were wired. The reset after the show involved a lot of untangling of cables and getting them into the correct locations for the next show, and the choreography had to ensure that cables didn’t get tangled during each number.
  • 1972: Launch of the first Micron radio microphone systems (UK). 
  • 1973: Grease at the Dominion Theatre in London (starring Richard Gere and Stacey Gregg) used wired mics throughout. 
  • 1980: Audio Engineering produced first modular radio microphone rack system with individual diversity receivers (UK). 
  • 1981: Dreamgirls (Broadway): 5 wireless mics swapped between cast members. 
  • 1982: Cats (Broadway): First Broadway production in which every cast member had an individual radio mic. 
  • 1983: Little Shop of Horrors – used ?9 radio microphones
  • 1984: Les Miserables – the Barbican production was the debut of the Micron CNS compander-based diversity radio microphone system. 

Use in Live Music Performance:

  • 1979: Kate Bush’s management saw radio microphones on the West End stage, and approached the manufacturer of the product (Micron) about using them in her concerts. For her Tour of Life in 1979, she used a miniature microphone combined with thick wire coat hangers to form a headset. 
  • EDC (based in the UK) had a range of hand-held radio microphones available in 1979 as well.

LSI: Classic Gear - The Radio Mic (May 2015)
[External Website]
From Lighting & Sound International

LSI: Digital Wireless Microphones (February 2017)
[External Website]
From Lighting & Sound International


More information coming soon


Any undated equipment is listed first with a grey background. If you can help us by adding dates please Contact Us!

Cygnus Radio Microphones
Minkom Radio Microphones
NE185 Radio Mic Receiver
U4S Marcad Diversity Radio Mic Receiver
Model 55 Unidyne  (1939)
Model 647A  (1953)
Mikroport  (1957)
MD421 Dynamic Microphone  (1960)
SM58  (1966)
ECM-50 Lavalier Microphone  (1969)
ECM-30 Lavalier Microphone  (1978)
Sirius Radio Microphones  (1979)
PCC-160  (1986)
Crown Audio
N/D Microphones  (1987)

This archive is still under construction, so please bear with us while we add more items. If you have specific information or documents that we don't have, and would be willing to share, please contact us!

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