A French classic is reborn.
As ribbon mics grew in popularity during the 21st Century, so prices for original RCA and Coles mics soared. Canny studio owners then turned their attention to less well‑known vintage models, and soon discovered the Melodium 42B.
Developed by Charles Boutelleau and Émile Furn about 80 years ago, this imposing microphone enjoyed a long career in its native France. Over the last decade or so, word spread that the 42B was an affordable and good‑sounding alternative to the RCA 44 — to the point where only the second of those things is now true! Whereas you could once pick them up for a couple of hundred poundsdollars, a 42B in good condition will now set you back a four‑figure sum.
In other words, the 42B has become a classic mic in its own right. And, as we all know, what happens to classic mics is that they get reintroduced or copied. In this case, the team behind Brittany’s Kerwax Studios loved their Melodiums so much that they embarked on a painstaking recreation. The new Melodium 42Bn is almost entirely manufactured in France, with an interesting and laudable emphasis on sustainability — but, as far as I know, without the involvement of anyone connected to the original Melodium company.
When replicating such an old mic, there’s a delicate judgement call to be made as to which aspects of its design should be improved or modernised, and which should be left alone. That dilemma is particularly acute in the case of the 42B because, for all the original’s good qualities,...