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The Altec 639B (Bird Cage) Vintage Microphone was first produced by Western Electric in 1939.  The federal government broke up WE due to antitrust violations and in 1947. Altec then began manufacturing the 639B.  By incorporating both a dynamic and ribbon element, directionality was achieved. In fact, the 639 series were the first commercial switch-selectable, multipattern microphones.  The 639B has SIX SWITCHABLE PATTERNS R,D,C,1,2, and 3 selectable through a 6 position screwdriver operated switch.  There are 3 variations on cardioid. These were achieved by switching from one element to another and by superimposing phase cancellation.  For the first time, ambiance and bleed could be adjusted in the studio by switching patterns. Likewise, due to the fact that two capsules were present, the 639 was quite heavy and bulky weighing 3.25 pounds and it was ~ 7.5 x 4.5 x 3.5 inches. The 639A series differed in that it had only three switchable patterns.

This mic was the work-horse of broadcasting both radio and television in that era. Today, they are treasured by collectors and proaudio engineers. It was included in the article, "Twelve Microphones that Changed History", by Jim Webb, along side Western Electric, RCA, Neumann and AKG..  This excellent site, Coutant.org, features the 639 series and it's specifications. Here are the origiinal specs in pdf format.

This microphone was tested using a non-OEM cable (included) with an XLR plug.  The signal is clear and silky smooth.  The sound is quite impressive.  The overall condition of the mic is excellent.  The grill is without defect. The switch works well.  This 639B has never been dropped, exposed to smoke or exposed to phantom power / multimeter while in my possession. The carrying bag is also included and it is not the original one but it was purchased fairly recently and it is vintage. I do not have a yolk for this mike.

The stand is not included.


Price: $1100.00 (obo)
Sold on eBay:
$773.00 (03-16-2007)

    The condition of this item is:

      Tested Functioning Restored Physical Restored Electrical Silk Damaged Rusted Threads Worn Cable Bad / Absent Screws Missing Dent Scratch Crack Been Dropped Smoke Free NOS Element Intact Mint Self Noise High Sounds Great Used on Drums Logo intact   Vintage


    The accessories for this item are:

      Original Mike bagl XLR OEM Cable Set


    The specfications of this item are:

      Omni Figure Eight Cardioid ( 3 patterns) Dynamic Ribbon/Velocity

      Frequency: 40 - 10,000 Cycles/sec
      25-50 ohms
      Weight and Height:
      3.25 lb; 7.5 x 4.5 x 3.5
      Dual Dynamic (omnidirectional) and Bidirectional Ribbon Capsules
      Year Manufactured:
      84 dB below 1 volt/dyne/cm^2, 64 dB below 1 volt/10 dynes/cm^2


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