Universum Senator Hi-Fi Dynamic 23547

A rather huge and sturdy cudgel!

A rather huge and sturdy cudgel!

This Senator Hi-Fi dynamic microphone was distributed in Germany (and probably some other European countries as well) by Quelle, a German mail order warehouse. It doesn’t have a real model number, only a catalogue serial number, 23547, which is typical for all Quelle microphones which were sold under the brands Senator or Universum. Its true origins are unknown, but we suspect it was probably built in Japan in the 1970s. A lot of the 1970s consumer audio gear from the Senator and Universum brands – boomboxes, record players etc. – was built in Japan, and there’s something that exudes a really funky 70s Japanese vibe about the style of this microphone. Its golden brown colour somehow reminds me of an old Datsun, and the slightly round metal grille just looks like classic Nippon design from the 70s. Well, no proof, just a hunch. (Update: Stumbling upon an article about RCA prosumer mics of the 70s by Chris of preservationsound.com, I just found out that the Senator Hi-Fi was sold in the US as RCA Starmaker 96. I still strongly believe that it was built in Japan, though – the other mics of the RCA Starmaker catalogue also look like Japanese 70s stuff to me.)

It has quite a nice set of features, most notably a switchable high-pass filter at 100Hz which attenuates the signal by 0 dB, 8 dB and 16 dB and the choice of two impedances, 200 and 15K Ohms, which can be selected by simply rotating the DIN connector by 180°. This is quite a smart system, although it makes it really hard to find a replacement, should you happen upon one of these without its cable. There are star-shaped 5-pin DIN connectors which were used for headphones until the 70s, but I’ve yet to see one with a screw thread – you could probably build a working adapter, but it wouldn’t be ideal for serious studio use, unless you tape it to the mic, which in turn makes the high-pass filter unusable. That said, the original connector screws on very tightly, and many of these mics are typically conserved in their original plastic cases, complete with crumbling windscreens which smell of decade-old cigarette smoke and a shiny metal microphone clamp.

The Senator HiFi dynamic mic has a very strange 5-pin DIN connector that is virtually impossible to replace.

The Senator HiFi dynamic mic has a very strange star-shaped 5-pin DIN connector that is virtually impossible to replace.

Ours came without the box, but with a nice yellow-ish windscreen (which might have been green at some point) and a crude homebrew wooden table stand – I don’t think this is included by default. Overall, the build quality of this mic is amazingly solid, it’s a real cudgel, about 20cm long, heavy and with a solid metal body. We’re not now absolutely sure about its pickup pattern, but suspect that it is either a cardioid or supercardioid, not an omni like many other reporter mics (I’ve seen some sites claim that it is an omnidirectional mic, but this is definitely not the case – the box also says “Richtmikrofon”, which means “directional microphone”). We’ve used it on clean guitar amp, which resulted in a warm, cozy, jazzy and rather undefined bowl of guitar jello. On snare drum we managed to get a really nice snappy dancehall sound, nice midrange and lots of sparkle. It is a tad hard to place on snare drum, though, you’ll need a really good stand because it’s so long and heavy.

Specs!

  • Frequency response: 50 – 15,000 Hz
  • Switchable impedance of 200 and 15K Ohms
  • Weird star-shaped 5-pole DIN connector
  • 100 Hz bass attenuation in two steps -8dB and -16dB.
  • directional pattern: cardioid

Sounds!

Making 96 new stars with electrics guitars!


Style: (5.0 / 5)
Sound: (3.5 / 5)
Uniqueness: (4.0 / 5)
Usefulness: (3.0 / 5)

Trash:Gold ratio 1:2

4 Comments
  1. can you tell me what mods you did to make this microphone usable. I have this mic and the chord. i would prefer not to cut the chord to wire to xlr. thanks

    • Hi Atma, thanks for your comment! I’m afraid there’s only one way to make the mic usable – build an adapter from the original cable. If you have the same as on our mic, it should be a really long cable – simply cut it in the middle and keep the unmodified end in a box, then there’s no risk of incorrect wiring if you ever want to return the cable to its former state. The wiring to XLR is very straightforward, it’s only ground and +/- if I remember correctly, as the adapter can be rotated for high impedance.

    • Hm, well! Not much, I guess. Much less than its usefulness merits. 20€ maybe, depending on condition and completeness?

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