Coles 4038

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The Coles 4038 is a ribbon microphone produced by Coles Electroacoustics. The microphone was designed and patented by the BBC in the 1950s[1] and was originally known as the STC 4038.[2] The sound of the microphone has been described as "British" with a "BBC politeness",[3] and its appearance has been likened to that of a waffle iron.[4] It is used in both sound recording and radio broadcasting.[5]

History[edit]

The microphone was designed by the BBC in 1953 and the prototype was assigned the model number BBC PGS/1.[6] It was designed as a result of the BBC's request for a strong and affordable microphone that was smaller than previous models[7] (such as the Type A). The 4038 was an improvement on the Type A's frequency response, and was described as "less obtrusive".[8]

The microphone was produced by Standard Telephones and Cables[9] before their manufacturing was transferred to Coles in the mid 1970s.[10] Since its design in the 1950s, the technical specifications of the 4038 have remained unchanged.[11]

Use[edit]

Recording[edit]

In recording environments, the 4038 is often used as drum overheads and on brass instruments.[3][12] The microphone became a favourite of British recording engineers in the 1950s and 60s, but did not receive widespread use in the United States.[12] The microphone was described as recording sounds "bigger than life" – such as drums or amplified guitars – some Beatles and Led Zeppelin recordings featured 4038s as overhead microphones on the drum kit.[13][14]

In a 1994 interview, Steve Albini said that "if [he] owned one mic, this would be it".[1] Albini has also commented that "really nothing beats them as an overhead on a drum kit".[14]

Broadcast[edit]

At one point, Bush House (home of the BBC World Service) used the 4038 almost exclusively.[15]

Technical[edit]

The 4038's frequency response is flat, with a range of approximately 30–15,000 Hz.[16] The attenuation of high frequencies reduces sibilance on vocals, but also reduces detail.[3]

The microphone uses a bi-directional polar pattern.[17]

The microphone is connected using a Western Electric jack connector designated 4069, which adapts the microphone's 3-pin output to a standard XLR connector.[18]

Sensitivity (at 1,000 Hz Open Circuit Voltage)
-65dB re: 1 Volt/Pa[19]
Impedance
300 ohms
Produced
1950s–present

Footnotes[edit]

Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]