Philips 9549 (EL 6010)

A huge magnet in a steel case with an extra large diaphragm: The Philips 9549 is a dangerously heavy dynamic mic, probably built in the 40s or 50s. When we first held it in our hands (it came in a batch of nondescript microphones bought without any overly big expectations), we were stumped. What is it? Old! Heavy! And what a terribly strange 4-pin connector. There was nothing we could do with it. We removed the nice vintage Philips badge which informed us about the three different impedances (50 Ohm, 200 Ohm, 10K Ohm – hence the four pins, we figured!) and the model number 9549. By the way, the microphone also has one of the more typical Philips model names: EL 6010. The only difference seems to be the included table stand.

Anyway, our next and horribly wrong step was to “unscrew” the grille. Yep, it turned. But turning it twisted off the wires leading from the diaphragm to the connector at the soldering points, the horror! Now we needed to take the whole thing apart, solder new wires to the diaphragm and lead them down to the connector. Note: If you ever want to open the mic, the aluminium rim of the grille needs to be pried loose and then pulled off, getting terminally scratched and damaged in the process, this is obviously the only way.

The Philips 9549 has been extensively featured in all major Dutch Rockabilly musicals.

The Philips 9549 has been extensively featured in all major Dutch Rockabilly musicals.

So, with the wires torn off and a perfectly good vintage microphone all but ruined, we tore and pulled some more and handled the connector with such disrespect that it finally came loose, and with it came an impedance transformer which we promptly and without a care in the world ripped out as well. Alas, no more variable impedance. The nice thing about it was, since it was already beyond any historically correct repair, we simply pushed a male XLR connector into the handle of the microphone, a perfect fit!

And off we went. Large diaphragm dynamic cardioid – this looked like a job for bass drum. And it worked surprisingly well, we captured a really nice and mellow, full-bodied bass drum sound without too much spill from the other drums. A very directional mic with a very limited frequency range – neat! Combined with a phase inverted electret on the side of the beater for a more pronounced attack, this was starting to sound extremely usable. Similarly it turned out pretty nice on bass amp. On voice, not so hot.

Also, one thing to consider is the brutalist construction of this thing. It weighs a full kilogram, that’s 2 lbs and I don’t even know how many oz. It has a built-in screw thread next to the handle, you’ll need a good and solid stand to use it. With this heft also comes great durability, though: Philips famously claimed that the microphone can withstand tropical conditions as well as extended stays in the polar regions of this globe. Our specimen certainly proved its rugged qualities with a spectacular comeback from the dead!

Specs!

  • Cardioid
  • Variable impedance: 50, 200, 10K Ohms
  • Frequency range: 50 – 10,000 Hz
  • Weight: 1000 grams

Sounds!

No EQ, bass drum track of an entire drum kit / awfully resonating bass guitar amp

Style: (5 / 5)
Sound: (3 / 5)
Uniqueness: (5 / 5)
Usefulness: (3 / 5)

Trash:Gold ratio – 1:1

3 Comments
  1. Sound clip of the kick track? Personallllly I’d like to hear samples of any/all of the mics on trashblitz, since I’ll probably never see one in the flesh.

    If you feel inspired…

    • Thanks for commenting! I’m pretty sure the track, or at least the mixdown of the jam session we recorded is around somewhere, I’ll have a look – the thing is, we’ve been thinking about putting audio examples up on trashblitz more than once, but we simply can’t agree on a methodology. Should we aim for comparability, simply do A/B voice recordings with an SM57, find the source that suits the mic best in our opinion, just put every mic in front of a guitar amp because there’s always a position for a dynamic mic where it sounds good, …? It’s really hard to decide, hah.

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