We tested the new Melodium 42 Bn and the original Melodium 42B on guitar and vocals. As these microphones are huge, positioning them very close to each other is kind of impossible, unfortunately.
The Coles used in this test is from recent production (2018); the Melodium reissue was made in 2021.
The old original Melodium 42B dates back to the 1950s. This particular model has been upgraded with a Sowter transformer and is available for rent at Echoschall.
A brief history of the Melodium 42B
The Melodium 42B was one of the world’s first ribbon microphones. Up to now, it has been one of the most iconic and best-sounding ribbon microphones ever made.
The functional principle of this type of microphone was first presented in 1925 in Munich (Germany) by Siemens and Halske.
Shortly after that, RCA became a pioneer in developing ribbon microphones. Especially RCA inventor Harry Olsen and his team developed many innovations which became a model for other manufacturers on other continents.
As amplifier technology advanced, many of today’s legendary ribbon microphones came onto the market in the 1930s. For example, the RCA 44 in America, the BBC Marconi Type A in England, the Siemens ELA M 25 in Germany, and the Melodium Type R and 42B in France.
One of the company’s founders was Émile Furn, a Frenchman with Lebanese roots who had previously worked at Magnavox in California and manufactured radios and phonographs for several years. Back in Paris, he started his own company with Charles Boutelleau in 1928. The Melodium ribbon microphones were soon developed after that.
Disappearance and come-back
Especially during the second world war, materials were raw and scarce, and somehow Melodium used whatever materials they could get their hands on to build the microphones.
So the initial design went through numerous changes. By the late 1940s, the design was finalized, and Melodium had established a very high manufacturing standard. Melodium also manufactured dynamic microphones, such as the 75A, which was very successful in France and was used by Edith Piaf, among others. The successor of the Melodium 42B was the RM6, a much smaller ribbon mic.
Unfortunately, in the 60s and 70s, Melodium had little to offer against big microphone brands like Neumann or AKG.
Condenser microphones were the big thing then, and ribbon mics were simply regarded as out-of-date.
So the brand slowly disappeared from the scene again before the company disappeared in the 1980s. Since 2020, a reissue of the Melodium 42B has been in production: the Melodium 42Bn (“n” like new) is made by a new company that registered the brand name Melodium again.
Read more about old ribbon microphones in the following articles: