This RCA (Radio Corporation of America) 74B microphone, commonly referred to as the “Junior Velocity” has rapidly become one of our favorite ribbon mics to use in our collection. This particular model, introduced in 1935 and produced through the 1950s, was designed as a cheaper alternative to the more widely used 44. As with all ribbon mics the 74B is bi-directional, meaning that both the front and back of the mic can be used at the same time. The 44’s, PB31’s and other models were more heavy and more costly units and were primarily used for radio broadcast, film and other recording applications. RCA decided that there was a market for a more stripped down, lighter and less expensive version of their widely used mics, and thus the Jr. Velocity was born.
Check out this original advert from 1937: If we could only go back in time and buy A LOT of these things for just $43.50!!
The frequency response (70hz-9K) of the Jr. Velocity is definitely pretty limited by modern standards, but considering that at the time Western Electric’s disc cutting machines which only had a range from 60hz-6K, I’d say RCA was ahead of the curve for sure. The 74B uses a massive alnico magnet and a longer ribbon to get its classic sounds. The mic’s ball and socket joint (as opposed to a more traditional “yoke” mount) allows for more rotation/tilting of the mic to get the desired angle, which does a lot in capturing the tonality of what it has been placed in front of. With the microphone’s limited range we have found it to be a very mid-focused mic that is well suited for any source where a smooth/round top end is wanted and on low volume electric guitars, certain vocalists, and on horns. Second only to its classic sound, one of the greatest attributes of this mic is just the look of it! These RCA’s were built at the height of american industrial design, and the perforated metal cover and boxy design has a great classic feel and has become iconic. RCA mics have been featured on hundreds if not thousands of record covers. We’ve also seen that a little bit of that extra visual mojo rubs off on musicians, helping them reach back and evoke the feeling of a performance from a bygone era. We are honored to have a bit of the RCA history available to use here at the studio. All in all it is a great compliment to our classic ribbon mic collection.