Thursday, November 29, 2007

History of Microphones, Sound Recording, Ribbon Microphones, Condenser Microphones,Telephones

Vocal Training Warrior: Vocal Training, Voice Lessons, Singers Voice Lessons, Speakers Vocal Training, Actors Vocal Training, Home Recording Studios, Quality Microphones, Podcasting, Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises, Clear Diction Exercises, Vocal Training Videos, Vocal Training E-books.

My last article, which received tremendous interest, was on the History of Audio Recording. I am grateful to all of you that read it and made it a great success. This article is no less important. We certainly can’t discuss the History of Audio Recording without also discussing the History of the Microphone. Neither can exist without the other. Together, let’s explore the birth and development of this incredible invention.

A microphone is, simply stated, a device that captures “waves” in the air created by the voice or any other noise transmitter and translates those waves into electrical signals. Another way to say it is to convert acoustic power into electrical power. After the sound waves are converted into electrical signals, to hear them again in an acoustic setting, they must be converted back to acoustic power through some kind of loudspeaker. It is amazing to think with all the technological advancements in the last 40 years, we still use this simple process on our stereo, computer or ipod.

Have you attended a concert lately? The relatively weak signal from a voice or musical instrument is created, changed into electrical energy by some sort of microphone, boosted through a series of power amplifiers and, finally, converted back to acoustic energy through loudspeakers. It is easy to sit, enjoy the music, and forget to be thankful for this amazing power that was created in our universe which we enjoy our entire day.

Let’s meet some of the visionary people who discovered and developed the universal principles that operate a microphone.

Johann Phillip Reis (1834-1874)

This German physicist designed a “sound transmitter” that employed the use of a metallic strip that rested on a membrane with a metal point contact that would complete a circuit as the membrane vibrated. His basic belief that, as the membrane responded to the increase and decrease of acoustic energy and bounced the metal point up and down with more intensity and increased the amplitude of electrical current, was brilliant. Unfortunately, this early effort was not developed enough to produce speech that could be understood.

Elisha Gray (1835-1901)

This American inventor would one day become one of the founders of the Western Electric Company. Gray’s design was called a “liquid Transmitter”. The “liquid” was an “acidic” solution. This was an incredible innovation. A diaphragm was attached to a movable electrically conductive rod that was immersed in the acidic solution. A second rod was fixed. With a battery attached, a circuit could be completed between the two rods. Acoustic vibrations traveling through the diaphragm caused the distance between the two rods to vary. The result was that this variance produced corresponding changes in electrical resistance in the acidic cell, changing the levels of current. These variations could be translated to a week audible sound.

Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)

Famous for his development of the telephone, he employed a similar device as Gray to produce the first transmission of intelligible speech over his primitive telephone. Most of us have heard of the famous words of Bell to his assistant, “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you.” The true inventor of the telephone, though, became a legal dispute between Bell and Gray. The courts remained neutral regarding their claims due to the overall poor quality of these early devices.

David Edward Hughes(1831-1900)

While Bell and Gray slugged it out in the courts, Hughes was diligently working to produce the first working microphone. Already a pioneer and patent holder in the telegraph industry by 1855, he designed a new kind of microphone by 1878. It was a completely different design that Bell and Gray. It incorporated the use of carbon granules loosely packed into an enclosed space. When the acoustical pressure varied as they traveled through the diaphragm, the electrical resistance that traveled through the carbon granules changed proportionally. The resulting sound was noisy and full of distortion but it was a significant step forward. Since early reports in the newspaper compared his device with a microscope, “ it acts for the ear much in the same way that the microscope serves the eye,” Hughes coined the current name “microphone” to his invention.

Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)

Edison took Hughes design and made it simple, cheap to manufacture, efficient and durable. He created a cavity filled with granules or carbonized anthracite coal packed between two electrodes, one of which was attached to a thin iron diaphragm. His refinements became the basis for all the telephone transmitters used in most of the telephones for the last century. Further, Bell Telephone and Bell laboratories are still incredible companies that continue to produce new communication technologies.

With the invention of the radio, new broadcasting microphones, like the Ribbon Microphone in 1942, were invented. The Ribbon Microphone originally employed the use of an aluminum ribbon that was placed between two poles of a magnet to generate voltages by electromagnetic induction. As the sound wave caused the ribbon to move, the induced current in the ribbon was proportional to the particle velocity in the sound wave. Ribbon microphones have historically been delicate and expensive. Today’s modern materials make present-day ribbon microphones durable enough for loud rock music and stage use.

An incredible step forward in microphone development occurred in 1964. Bell Laboratories researchers James West and Gerhard Sessler created the electroacoustic transducer, an Electret Microphone. The Electret Microphone was a type of Condenser Microphone that offered greater reliability, higher precision, lower cost, and a smaller size. It revolutionized the microphone industry with almost one billion manufactured each year. Further, during the 1970's, dynamic and condenser microphones were developed, allowing for a lower sound level sensitivity and a clearer sound recording.

Currently, microphones are so much a part of our daily life that we take them for granted. After writing this article, I have decided to put them on my list of things to be grateful for. Since I am a pilot, my safety is partially dependent on my being able to communicate on my radio. Guess what I use to talk on my headset? You guessed it, a microphone!

As for the future, many new and incredible innovations are being explored.

1)Laser Velocity Transducers
2)Optical Microphones
3)Direct Digital Output
4)Force Feedback technologies that are used in conjunction with an Optical Microphone

I hope that you have learned some important information about Microphones. As innovation continues at a rapid rate, the ones we use today may become a future exhibit in the Smithsonian Institution. Until then, they will continue to be an invention that taps into a universal principle that improves our lives.

The truth is, the universe is filled with probably billions of incredible things that we have just not discovered. As in the past, present and will be in the future, those that possess the faith and perseverance to tap into the universal mind are those that will discover and share the secrets of the universe with all of us.

Maybe you are that person!

Check out the latest Microphones at my web site and treat yourself for the holidays!

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Happy Holiday to all.

Jonathan Morgan Jenkins
Vocal Warrior

Monday, November 19, 2007

Home Recording Studios. History of Sound Recording, Digital Audio, MP3s and Multitrack Recording.

Vocal Training Warrior: Vocal Training, Voice Lessons, Singers Voice Lessons, Speakers Vocal Training, Actors Vocal Training, Home Recording Studios, Quality Microphones, Podcasting, Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises, Clear Diction Exercises, Vocal Training Videos, Vocal Training E-books.

Today, with the explosion of the inexpensive Consumer Electronics, some of the most incredible advances have been those in the Digital Recording Industry. This article documents the general history of Audio Recording.

The earliest record of an Audio Recording dates back as far as December 4, 1877. Thomas Edison became was the first to record and play back the human voice. The technologies that resulted in the phonograph were developed from the discoveries that he made developing the telegraph and telephone. His discovery came to him while he was experimenting with how a moving diaphragm linked to a coil would produce a weak, voice modulated signal. During this time he was also continuing his experiments with a telegraph repeater that was a simple device that made use of a needle to make indentations in paper with the dots and dashes used in Morse code.

These two innovative ideas were joined. He attached the stylus from the telegraph repeater to the diaphragm in the mouthpiece of a telephone. During his first test in July of 1877, he attempted success by mechanically pulling a sheet of paper under the needle, attached to the diaphragm as he shouted into the mouthpiece. Unfortunately, this combination failed to produce desired results. But, it did produce a vague recognizable sound that was the seed of faith Edison needed to continue fulfilling his vision.

During the following year, Edison and his staff worked with diligence to refine his invention. His first important discovery was to replace the paper with Tin Foil. This was appositive development and Tin Foil became the first viable recording media. A band of Tin Foils was mounted on a cylinder. The cylinder was turned manually with a hand crank during recording and playback. His first famous recorded words were, “Mary had a little lamb it’s fleece was white as snow. And everywhere that Mary went the lamb was
sure to go.”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Early Techniques - 1890s to 1930s

In the era of acoustic recordings (prior to the introduction of microphones,
electrical recording and amplification) the earliest recording studios were very
basic facilities, being essentially soundproof rooms that isolated the
performers from outside noise. During this era it was not uncommon for
recordings to be made in any available location, such as a local ballroom,
using portable acoustic recording equipment.

In this period, master recordings were made by a direct-to-disc cutting
process -- performers were typically grouped around a large acoustic horn (an
enlarged version of the familiar phonograph horn) and the acoustic energy
from the voices and/or instruments was channeled through the horn's
diaphragm to a mechanical cutting lathe located in the next room, which
inscribed the signal as a modulated groove directly onto the surface of the
master cylinder or disc.

Following the invention and commercial introduction of the microphone, the
electronic amplifier, the mixing desk and the loudspeaker, the recording
industry gradually converted to electric recording and this technology had
almost totally replaced mechanical acoustic recording methods by 1933.

The next breakthrough was Magnetic Tape developed by German inventor Joseph Begun. Graduating in 1929 from the Institute of Technology in Berlin, Germany, where he penned the revolutionary research book entitled “Magnetic Recording”, during 1934- 35, Begun developed and built the world's first tape recorder used for broadcasting.

During the 50’s magnetic tape applications made further strides, especially in the application of the recording studio. The person whose research led to the first Multitrack Recordings was the legendary Les Paul, the man also famous for the popular Les Paul Electric Guitar.

Paul's multitrack experiments, begun in the mid 1940’s, progressed rapidly and in 1953 he commissioned Ampex to build the world's first eight-track reel-to-reel tape recorder, at his own expense. Due to his diligent efforts, Ampex Corporation released the first commercial multitrack recorders in 1955, naming the process "Sel-Sync" (Selective Synchronous Recording). Elvis Presley was one of the many early artists that benefited from this incredible advancement in professional recording.

Our next big step forward is the invention of the Cassette Tape. In the Netherlands, The Philips Company invented and released the first compact audiocassette in 1962. They used high-quality polyester 1/8-inch tape produced by BASF. Recording and playback was at a speed of 1.7/8 inches per second, incredible for the time. The consumer's demand for blank tape used for personal music recording was unanticipated by Philips. They became a large and profitable corporation.

With the development of the computer through the sixties, especially in the Nasa Space Program, many recording visionaries knew that the ultimate future of Audio Recording was not tape but digital. The first big advance occurred in 1967 when the first digital tape recorder was invented. A 12-bit 30 kHz stereo device using a compander (similar to DBX Noise Reduction) to extend the dynamic range. In the 1970s, Thomas Stockham created the first digital audio recordings using standard computer equipment, as well as developing a digital audio recorder of his own design, the first of its kind to be offered commercially. In 1976 he made the first 16-bit digital recording at the Santa Fe Opera on a handmade Soundstream digital tape recorder.

Bringing us up to present day, the MP3 Audio File is arguably the most important invention we enjoy. Mp3 files are the ones burnt on CD’s, downloaded on the net and commonly imported into your ipod or itunes. It was invented by a team of European engineers at Philips in 1991. Compact discs soon followed and the rest is history.

I was first introduced to Digital Recording Technology when I recorded and released my
first CD, WINDOWS, (click here to listen to clips) in 1993. I was fortunate to have a close friend that was a consultant for Yamaha and had a Digital Studio filled with the latest equipment, much of which were prototypes that he was helping Yamaha develop.

Since then, the industry has absolutely exploded. It is hard to believe that this technology that today is common in many homes and the standard in professional studios was only recently in it’s infancy. The greatest advances have not only been in the technology and the availability to the public. When I built my first digital recording studio in 1994, I was
very limited as to what I could buy due to the very high cost.

I recall the days when a top of the line rack mount synthesizer could cost you as much as 5000.00. After you added the computer, mixing board, keyboard and other necessary
accessories, the cost of a basic recording studio could climb to as much as 20,000.00 to
30,000.00, minimum.

Now, the costs of owning a digital recording studio are as low as 199.00. What if I told you I could sell you your own recording studio that you could use in your home, in your car, on a picnic bench, on a business trip or on vacation! I am sure you would be interested! At my web site, I sell Digital Recording Studios Complete Packages for under a 600.00. This is an incredible value to the consumer.

Please click here, Home Recording Studios, and see for your self.

I hope you have enjoyed ands learned some important information in this article. I write all the time so sign up and be notified of updates.

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Happy Holiday to all.

Jonathan Morgan Jenkins
Vocal Warrior

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Vocal Training. Discrimination of Women as Singers and Public Speakers through Vocal Music History

Vocal Training Warrior : Vocal Training, Voice Lessons, Singers Voice Lessons, Speakers Vocal Training, Actors Vocal Training, Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises, Clear Diction Exercises, Vocal Training Videos, Vocal Training Ebooks.

In this Blog I am taking a different path from Voice and Speaking Lessons and writing on the very interesting subject of Music History. Specifically, how women have been descriminated against through the ages, especially in the arts. I hope you will read this with an open mind. We are all responsible not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Discrimination and Human Oppression of any kind that has occured through world history and in our present world was and is one of the greatest failings of humanity. With the discrimination of African Americans usually taking up much of our attention in the news, an often overlooked subject is discrimination of Women through the ages, not only in society, but in the performing arts.

In America, when the word Discrimination is mentioned, the most common thought is that of the treatment of African Americans during the ear of slave trade. Negro Slavery, in America, was introduced by law in 1517. In 1442 the first Negro slaves were imported into Europe. They were taken from Africa to Portugal in ships of Prince Henry, the "Navigator." From that time there was little traffic in Black Slaves until after the discovery of America. When the great destruction of American Indians occurred by war, and disease, the importation of Negroes into Spanish America was begun in order to fill the void in the labor market.

Slavery as an institution ended after 345 years on Sept. 22, 1862. United States President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that he later called "the central act of my administration, and the greatest event of the 19th century." The proclamation promised freedom for slaves held in any of the Confederate states that did not return to the Union by the end of the year. Black discrimination in American Society, of course, has continued for many years with the last 30 years seeing tremendous improvement in race relations.

So, why am I talking about Black Slavery in a Vocal Training article? Because the word discrimination should also cause us to reflect on the Institutional and Cultural Slavery of Women that has occurred for, as far as we know, a few thousand years. Personally, I am more disturbed by this act than anything the African Americans had to endure. This is because it has been a worldwide epidemic documented from the beginning of human history and continues in full force today in many cultures. Even today, in many cultures, women are abused legally and forced to dress certain ways or they can be killed. Those who founded America brought with them these same ideas, often taught in their religion, and “The land of the free” was only really for men.

I have tried for years to understand this and have never been able to. I recall, when I was younger, having the same thoughts after being brought up in a “Baby Boomer” culture where society was taught “ A woman’s place is in the kitchen.” I thank God I do not think this way now. I believe that all people have a responsibility to be independent personally and financially. If you are a woman or a man that is expecting someone else to take care of you and not understand the absolute necessity of using your own brain, personal vision and spiritual power to “conquer your world” then you are a Slave to some degree. Just ask any woman who has been through a divorce, left to fend for herself and finds herself with no skills to make a living. This should never happen. She should have done everything possible to train herself and be independent even though she was married. The responsibility for not preparing oneself for life is, ultimately, always the fault of the individual.

Now I want to discuss the main reason for my topic. In the institution of Singing and Public Speaking, there has also been incredible discrimination through the ages. Especially in the Dark Ages during the Medieval time period.

Some of the earliest references in culture to women singing are in the Bible. Singing seems to have become a regular profession at quite early date among the Hebrews. David had his troupe of "singing men and singing women" at Jerusalem (2 Sam 19:35), and no doubt Solomon added to their numbers. Isa 23:16 suggests that it was not uncommon for foreign female minstrels of questionable character to be heard making "sweet melody," singing songs along the streets and highways of Judea. Nor was the worship of the temple left to the usually incompetent and inconstant leadership of amateur choristers. Talented women played their part in temple ceremonies.

The truly darkest days of female musical and vocal expression were the oppressive centuries of the medieval time period generally 500 to 1450 AD. This was an age where European males influenced by other European males hoarded what they perceived as power. Other voices of the time, specifically women, were silenced by politics and religion.

During this time, the composition and performance of all music, in general, was also extremely oppressed. (I will discuss this in my next article)

During the Renaissance when the Catholic Church decided, “God had changed his mind,” women did become more active in the arts but progress was slow all the way through the beginning of the 1,800’s. That’s 1,300 years of female oppression on many cultural levels as well as Music and Speech. Surprisingly, this action was created and supported by the Catholic Church. I am at a loss to understand how “men of faith” could be so immature that they had to do this to women to feel powerful and control their world. This is a question that we still ask today when we see women covering their heads and being submissive to men in the name of religion. Who can honestly accept the notion that God would be pleased with one of his beautiful creations being oppresed?

Due to the blossoming of Choral music compositions during the Renaissance that required music be performed at a wider range, during the Baroque period, from 1600 to 1750, young male sopranos and altos comprised about 70 percent of all Choral and operatic singers. These vocal parts extended the upper range of music. This can be compared to music played on the right half of the piano keyboard. Sadly, women were still considered a minority.

But, when these boys with a woman’s range faced puberty with their voice dropping an octave, a solution to keep boys in the female range had to be found. The answer? Castration, to prevent the hormonal change that occurs during puberty. (Is this what happened to Michael Jackson?) Since male sopranos in opera were a necessity, in Italy, 4,000 - 5,000 boys were castrated annually. (Ouch!)

During puberty a boy’s vocal chords enlarge and lengthen, caused by an increased production of androgen hormones. Castration prevents the necessary flow of hormones and arrest growth. Since the Vocal Chords do not grow longer, lowering their pitch, afterwards the castrato would have the high voice of a boy soprano, but the lungpower of a full-grown man. (Strange! That is kind of how ET lokked!) Castration was performed by cutting the blood supply to the testicles, or by amputating them altogether. (Ouch Again!)

Women, especially in countries where the Catholic Church dominated, were forbidden on the stage. (So much for women's lib!) The justification for prohibition against women singing in the church choir had its origin in the bible: "Let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak." (I Corinthians 14:34). (It appears that "God" has changed his mind!) Nearly every church choir used pre-pubescent boys to sing the high parts in choral works because women were also not allowed to participate in church services. (You've come a long way baby!)

It was not until the nineteenth century before women were regularly found performing in opera houses or in church music. From the early monasteries and convents in the Middle Ages, women and men were separated in a religious context. Women possessed no role in the mass setting, and this naturally extended to an exclusion from all church music as well. Politically they were inferior to their male counterparts, generally translating to women not owning property, voting, or holding leadership positions of any consequence within society. It is such a tragedy to realize all of the amazing female talent that was unable to express itself due to institutional, male dominated discrimination.

Fortunately, there has been tremendous progress made as women have been liberated to pursue Musical, Speech and Acting careers. Considering the female discrimination that still exists in many of the world’s cultures, I hope women will appreciate the progress America has made. We are not perfect but we certainly are world leaders.

Can you imagine never hearing a Beverly Sills, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Leontyne Price, Billie Holiday, Bette Midler or Barbara Streisand? I sure could not. Yet, these talented women would have been told by those who claimed to represent God that their singing would be an offence to God. May we all honestly admit that God certainly restrained himself from throwing lightning bolts at these creeps?

I will end the article with my personal hope and prayer.

May every person, male or female, possess personal passions for all their goals and achieve every one of them so our world will continue to thrive through positive and not negative creative energy.


Since it is the Season for Giving, I hope you will consider giving my ebook Singing and Speaking on the Edge of a Grunt on sale for only 24.95 or my Zoom H-2 Personal Digital Recording Studio on sale for only 199.00. Record a song, speech, or music in full Surround Sound High Fidelity. Please check out these Revolutionary Products.

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Happy Holiday to all.

Jonathan Morgan Jenkins