Beyer M55

I blame the Bauhaus movement and their ascetic principles regarding ornamentation and basically anything that doesn’t add to the function of the product in question. Their ideas trickled down into German industrial design, and that’s why German microphone manufacturers were rather stingy with the bling-bling, and especially the chrome which Italian and American companies loved so much during the 40s, 50s and 60s.

There’s one notable exception, the particularly pretty little Beyer omni M55. It is still rather understated, with its clean lines and sleek design, but it shines in pure, luxurious chrome. Pretty! Then again, it came in a greyish-brown paper box, huh. I guess that was enough luxury for one microphone already.

The Beyer M55 will outsparkle all your other harmonica microphones if you apply some chrome polish and keep your hands clean.

The Beyer M55 will outsparkle all your other harmonica microphones if you apply some chrome polish and keep your hands clean.

The M55 was a favourite for picking up speech; being a dynamic omni, it is rather forgiving in terms of placement, it offers quite good speech reproduction quality and is very sturdy. Like its cardioid sibling, the M80, the Beyerdynamic M55 is often found in the HN version which can be wired for two different impedances: 50kOhm for use with tube tape recorders, 500 Ohm for transistorized equipment (and all modern recording gear).

If you want to replace the DIN plug with balanced XLR wiring at 500 Ohm, use pins 2 & 3 for signal and 1 as shield, for unbalanced 50kOhm use pin 1 as shield and pin 2 as signal.

Being able to operate through a built-in high impedance transformer and being an omni makes it a favourite among harmonica players, and we’ve tried it ourselves – it sounds really good. Not as harsh as some of those bullet type mics, as it is a rather dark sounding and creamy mic, but still very loud, and it isn’t very prone to feedback either.

There’s another mic that OEM’d the M55 which is called Schaub-Lorenz SM-100. It looks exactly the same. The M55 was also sold with a black body and chrome grille, and without the Beyer, Beyerdynamic or Eugen Beyer logo on the grille, possibly an offer by the mailorder warehouse Quelle who stocked them as a generic “Dynamisches Mikrofon 192.666” (that’s more or less what their nomenclature looked like). There is a Quelle version of the M80, as mentioned here.

Some specimens apparently have a wire mesh windscreen to protect the capsule which I have seen in other Beyer mics like the M69, although the ones I have opened also had foam in various stages of decay inside. So, judging from the high availability and the many different revisions, the mic must have been in production for quite a long time – a wild guess would be late 50s to mid-70s.

Specs!

  • 70 – 16,000Hz
  • 500 Ohms and 50 kOhms
  • cable length: 200cm
Style:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Sound:3 Stars (3 / 5)
Uniqueness:3 Stars (3 / 5)
Usefulness:3 Stars (3 / 5)

Trash:Gold ratio – 1:1

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