Pye tulip PTC 4000 / 4001

The glorious Pye tulip microphone is the best thing to come out of Cambridge since the advanced learner’s dictionary, and it is no less educational. Plus, it arrives here with exciting news: Frans has joined the trashblitz gang! Expect unexpected insights, unprecedentedly good pictures, unparalleled audio samples and ungentlemanly language galore, as he explores the depths of vintage hell with us!

The Pye Tulip will make all taxi driving skiffle band frontmen weep with nostalgia.

The Pye “tulip” mic was built for radio communication in the 60s in swinging England, available in red, light blue and rather turdy brown. Of course nobody needs a brown one. It sounds like your typical fallout shelter announcer, or telephone. As trashy on the good side of trash as you need.

There’s a “bad” side of trash as well, with ugly resonant spikes randomly gracing the frequency range – you can have that in many other mics, but this … this!!! the Tulip sounds just gorgeously trashy. If you arm your search engine for getting (a few, of course, not just one, you stingy tightwad!) a Tulip, search with “Pye PTC 4000” or 4001 as well, they are not too rare, at least in England. Don’t pay more than 50€ or so, we don’t need the sellers to get greedy.

Did i mention the Tulip has a capsule with 2.4 kOhm impedance? So it’s not a technically good fit with most mic preamps? But don’t hyperventilate, i checked it on high impedance mic inputs as well and even with high Z D.I. box inputs – it sounds every drop as trashy on the “correct” input impedance. The earliest models are from 1958, so treat the old thing gently, even if the heavy base could be put to good use if you have a violent discussion in the studio with a drummer. I suspect it sounds like a telephone because (drumroll from the drummer with the smashed frontteeth) the capsule looks like a telephone capsule, which also could be found in military field handsets from Pye. One capsule even was painted bright red. I was smitten enough to not take a photo. Or my camera was broken, i can’t remember.

i nicked this pic from the web and did tinker around with it a bit

Which brings us … if you follow your natural instinct of dismantling everything you get… they take some effort to open, as the halves of the plastic shell are held together inside by a 5mm metal bolt. So you either smash the thing and 3D-print it a new shell or you pry the halves apart, stick a thin sawblade in there and conduct your autopsy. The capsules aren’t exactly matched as stereo pairs, if you get my drift – so bury your plans for a Decca-tree with three light blue Tulips, even if it would be the most decorative Decca tree ever. What’s 15dBs give or take on frequency or signal amongst friends? They sound different, of course. Remember, you HAVE to get a few of them.

A Tulip that died for your sins.

German mic versus British flower.


I made a recording for you, the first is a Tulip side by side with some german mic, then two random Tulips compared. The other Tulip gave 20 dB signal less, i gained it up a little. If you really want to know the stinking technical details about frequency range, here you are: ca. 350-3500 Hz.

Also, check out some Pye history and advanced Tulip porn.

Specs of the Pye tulip!

  • Polar pattern: omni
  • Frequency range: 350-3500 Hz?
  • Impedance: 2400 ohms
  • connector: just solder an XLR to it


Two lips talking into two tulips!

Style: (5.0 / 5)
Sound: (1.5 / 5)
Uniqueness: (5.0 / 5)
Usefulness: (3.5 / 5)

Trash:Gold ratio – 3500:350

One Comment
  1. G’day, In OZ we used a GREEN version and called it the LILY microphone. It was used on the PYE range of VHF and UHF Bases Stations and on their Control Units.

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