Astatic's Final Edition D-104
a. [Pref. a- not + static.] (Magnetism) Having little or no tendency to
take a fixed or definite position or direction: thus, a suspended magnetic
needle, when rendered astatic, loses its polarity, or tendency to point in
a given direction.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, ©
1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.
Having no particular directional characteristics
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the
English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
The definition of astatic that best suits the D-104 line of microphones
is the one immediately above: having no particular directional
characteristics. For years this mic, dubbed the "lollypop" has
been the most sensitive microphone known in the communications field. They
have the capability of picking up everything in a room and more. I
remember years ago operators testing their D-104 mics on their Browning
and Tram radios, by leaving them keyed while they walked out of the room
and kept talking. Some could go to the other end of the house and still
have decent modulation. Moreover, I'm referring to the days before these
mics were amplified. Of course these mics would also pick up the TV,
Stereo, people talking in the other room and even activities going on
outside the house. Even back then most everyone had his or her radios
turned up including the modulation. In addition, many of the high-end tube
radios had capabilities of extremely high audio gain and no front panel
control. This meant once the radio was back from the shop; you had no
control over the modulation with these non-amplified D-104s. This gave the
microphone a bad name in some circles. However, the fault wasn't in the
mic, it was in the radio set-up. Some operators actually put a heavy sock
over the mike to cut the sensitivity down and still had 100% modulation 3
Before long, the transistorized CB made the scene. These radios for the
most part required low impedance microphones. The non-amplified D-104 with
either the crystal or ceramic cartridge are high impedance mics and won't
work with a low impedance radio. To accommodate the newer radios Astatic
came out with the preamplifier kit that could be retrofitted to any
existing D-104. Later they manufactured two types of D-104s, one amplified
and one not. The amplified version was designed primarily with impedance
matching in mind, although it had substantial output gain over the
non-amplified unit. This kept them in the CB market as the tube radios
were quickly disappearing, while keeping the Astatic signature sound in
the CB market for more generations.
As well as being popular with the CB community, the D-104 was the
favorite of amateur radio operators. After all, it was designed for this
market and brought to it by Ham radio operators. As you will see in the
Astatic Story provided from their web site, this microphone replaced the
old carbon mic elements. If you ever heard on of these in use, you would
understand how remarkable the new crystal elements were in their time. The
carbon element was low gain, and flat sounding to be generous. No longer
did these amateur radio operators have to hold the microphone up to their
mouth to be heard. The D104 was the perfect addition to the old tube type
amateur radios. Their clear clean reproductive quality was a perfect
complement to these AM transceivers. As sideband became popular, these
mics were still widely used, but some operators didn't appreciate the
higher frequency response or the high sensitivity on these narrow band
audio sensitive transmitters. Many preferred a lower tone, which gave the
transmission a smoother sound. This along with newer transistorized
transceivers brought about the development of new dynamic microphones.
Astatic was no exception; they developed the 10-DA dynamic head for the
D-104 stand. This dynamic head worked on either the amplified or the
The 10-DA head was less popular with the CB crowd. Most CBers with
sideband radios either didn't use sideband or used both modes and
preferred the crystal or ceramic element sound on both.
Many CB base stations came with D-104 mics as stock mics. Although many
Browning base radios had D-104 used on them, this wasn't the stock mic.
The stock mic that came with the Browning base was the banana mic
manufactured by Electro-Voice. Browning however, did offer the Astatic
D-104 with the Browning logo on the back of the head as an option. Tram
supplied the D-104 base mike with their Titan III, Titan IV, D201 and
their D210A base stations. The ARF 2001 radio CB base station came with a
custom D-104. This mic was amplified and was power from the radio through
one of the pins of the microphone jack. Don Stoner provided a
non-amplified version of the D-104 with his sideband only Pro-40 CB
transceiver. This radio had a solid-state mic preamp that worked with the
high impedance D-104 mic. The audio tailoring proved this mic could have
an excellent smooth tone, which was perfect for sideband. Don was one to
prove so-called conventional wisdom false. There may be many other radios
that supplied or offered the D-104 base mic with their equipment that I'm
unaware of, but these examples indicate the popularity and impact the
Astatic company made in communications over the years.
Astatic built on their flagship hammer-tone gray and chrome microphone
continuing to add models to the line. They added the Silver Eagle all
chrome version with the eagle logo on the back. They also added the
Special, a black and chrome version. Then came the gold plated serialized
Golden Eagle. To compete with the Turner base mics they added the push-bar
making the mic more versatile. Now the mic could be keyed from the sidebar
(chicken-choker) or the push-bar on the base of the mic. Then came the
Silver Eagle Plus. This was a Silver Eagle with a new PC board. This mic
had an ETS (end of transmission or roger) beep and a -20dB pad as well as
the mic gains control on the bottom. This mic wasn't very popular as it
had some design problems. It incorporated a latching relay and triggering
circuit for low battery drain. Once the battery started to loose it's
power, the mic would sometimes fail to key or remain keyed after the bar
was released. Otherwise, it sounded like the standard Silver Eagle. To
follow were the Night Eagle and K Eagle models with their roger-k and
multi-tone ETS. Another serialized version that came out amidst these
latter versions was the Diamond Eagle. This completely brass plated mic
incorporated a small diamond embedded in the eagle logo back plate of the
All these models were produced to increase their market share and
toward the end to aid sagging sales. The radios manufacturers that
supplied the D-104 microphones produced high-end high quality
communications gear. By the way, all manufactured in the United States of
America. Once CB and Amateur equipment was produced of shore, quality
microphones were not supplied with these low cost alternatives. The way
they shifted the market to imports was through price. The amateur radio
manufactures such as Icom, Kenwood, and Yaesu developed their own
microphones with Up/Down buttons to control frequency selection from the
mic and amplified versions powered from the radio. Amateur radio has
become a hobby of convenience rather than experimental hobby radio. In
some aspects, CB is more of an experimental hobby radio than ham radio.
Over the years, CB and 10 Meter base stations sales have also diminished.
When Astatic attempted a price increase years ago, everyone in the
business protested. This forced Astatic to look elsewhere for
manufacturing of many mechanical parts. Over the years radio many dealers
have faced the situation and kept the D-104 under that magic $100.00
threshold, making less on every sale. But knowing that very few failures
occur in this product, returns were almost unheard of, so lost profits
were better than getting a high volume of returns that occur with many of
the imported mics.
Well, it's the diminishing sales of the D-104 line of base microphones
responsible this new product and a sad chapter in the Astatic history. I
have contacted the people of Astatic for further information, but I
haven't received a call from the contact person that was supposed to
call with additional information. I can tell you that a decision was made
quite a while ago to discontinue the base microphones. I'm not sure if the
EchoMax 2000 is included, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were. Base mic
sales are down across the board. Additionally, CTI Audio, the parent
company of Astatic was purchased by Omnitronics, LLC. According to the
sale representative I spoke to, there will be no change in the day-to-day
operations or in the current staff. They will continue to produce the
consumer handheld microphones as well as their commercial products. This
is the usual blanket statement that is made in these situations. In most
cases, major changes occur once the new organization gets a feel for
what's needed to make the company perform to their expectations. We will
just have to wait and hope for the best. I'm sorry to say, I believe I was
right when I predicted that the CTIs purchase of Valor was a mistake and
could drag them down. Valor was a failing company well in debt, producing
and importing generic CB accessories that anyone including distributors
could do on their own, eliminating the middle man. There were no unique
products in their line, so why would someone pay more for the Valor name?
Well finally to the heart of the story. The new Astatic Final Edition
Silver Eagle is a working microphone, that you may never want to use
because it comes in an impressive display case. The case is constructed of
light gauge aluminum, aluminum extrusion and glass. The front door
is hinged and has a unique chrome latch. A little pricey at $199.95, but
it is a nice collector piece. The mic itself does look as if it extra care
was taken in the chrome plating process and is highly polished.
One distributor is advertising the case as a glass enclosure;
undoubtedly this will filter down through some dealers and to the public.
Please correct anyone that is under this impression. This will save them
from a disappointment if they make the purchase under the wrong
impression. The enclosure has heavy-duty foam in the bottom with
additional pieces fitted to hold it centered in the enclosure. The mic
cord is concealed under the foam base. There is a split foam top to keep
the mic in place during shipping. They can be left in place or removed for
an un-obstructed view of the microphone head. Placed in the rear of the
display case is the signed Certificate of Authenticity. The signatures of
the President, Chief Operating Officer, and the Production Supervisor are
on the certificate.
On The Thumbnails Below For Close-Up View
by Bob F CBWI
The following is from the Astatic web site.
The Astatic Story
The following was excerpted from the 1946 Astatic
Away back in 1930, two radio amateurs, C. M. Chorpening, W8WR (now
W8MJM), and F. H. Woodworth, W8AHW, both of Youngstown Ohio, began
searching for a better microphone for their phone transmitters. Up until
this time they had been using various carbon type microphones. The
condenser type appealed to them as an answer to their problem. Several
units were designed and given trials on the air. Before long, other
amateurs among their acquaintance began visiting their shacks, interested
in either building or buying this new type of "mike." Chorpening
and Woodworth, encouraged by this interest, decided to form a partnership
and build these units for their friends. While the condenser unit proved
reasonably satisfactory, it had certain limitations which it was hoped
could eventually be overcome.
|C. M. Chorpening, Vice President
||F. H. Woodworth, President
NEW ELEMENT SUGGESTED
It was about this time that an old acquaintance, Mr.
Charles E. Semple of Cleveland, who had been visiting his "ham"
friends frequently, invited them to pay him a visit. With a background of
phonograph and loud speaker experience, Mr Semple was then occupying bench
space in the Brush Laboratories, experimenting with elements made from
Rochelle Salts, (Sodium Potassium Tartrate). Through Mr. Semple, the two
visitors met A. L. Williams, electrical and mechanical engineer, and Dr.
C. B Sawyer, scientist, who demonstrated the action of these new elements
in relation to microphones, phonograph pickups, speakers, recording heads,
earphones and other devices where it was desired to transform mechanical
energy into electrical energy or the reverse. Here, it seemed, they had
found the answer to a simple, low-cost, dependable "mike" for
the "ham rig."
A group of Astatic officials and employees, in those early days.
INCORPORATED IN 1933
By 1933, Chorpening and Woodworth found it advisable
to incorporate a manufacturing and sales company and to branch out with a
line of Crystal Microphones, Crystal Phonograph Pickups and Recording
heads for manufacturers and Radio Jobbers. Mr. Semple was brought into the
new organization as designer and later served as general manager until his
death in 1939.
Main Plant and Offices of the The Astatic Corporation at Conneaut, Ohio
Thanks goes to Keith P. Graham for putting together this history page.