We kick off a new series profiling classic studio equipment with a look at a humble dynamic mic that has passed into Liverpudlian legend.
An association with the Beatles never did anything any harm, but few pieces of studio kit have gained more from it than the AKG D19. Abbey Road engineers used this modest moving‑coil dynamic as a drum overhead on most of the band’s early records, earning it the nickname the ‘Ringo mic’.
In fact, the D19 was pretty ubiquitous in the ’60s. It did duty with thousands of other bands in sessions and on stages, and was sold to home‑recording enthusiasts as well as broadcasters and studios. Introduced around 1957, it went through several evolutions in its long career, and was sold as an OEM item under numerous other brands, including Philips, Telefunken, Norelco, Revox and Uher. Hundreds of thousands were sold in all, making this one of the few items of classic gear that you stand a realistic chance of finding at a car boot sale.
What’s special about the D19? Well, it’s a smart‑looking mic, and a fair bit smaller than most comparable designs, which no doubt endeared it to TV directors. But take a closer look and you’ll see that the D19’s metal shell has a series of rectangular slots running down it. These implement AKG’s own interpretation of the ‘Variable‑D’ technology invented by Electro‑Voice and used in mics like the RE15 and RE20. I’ve never managed to discover whether AKG officially licensed this technology or simply adapted it in some way that avoided infringing EV’s patent, but either way, it serves the same purpose here: to minimise proximity effect.
The D19 thus doesn’t suffer the same ‘bass tip‑up’ as...