UK Prime Minister talks to Adventures In Audio

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Record-Producer.com.

Saturday May 12, 2012
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It's not every day we get a new Prime Minister in the UK. And for a Prime Minister to talk directly to Adventures In Audio, well that must be really special!

OK, I'll come clean it wasn't the new Prime Minister who talked to Adventures in Audio, it was John Major, who had a spell as Prime Minister in the 1990s.

Oh, and it wasn't exactly the Prime Minister, it was the press office of 10 Downing Street, which is the Prime Minster's official residence. Well that's not too bad, is it?

And what did they say...

Er... "Naff off! And don't come back!" - or words to that effect.

So Adventures In Audio was told to 'go away' by the Downing Street press office. Why?

As you might have guessed, it wasn't Adventures In Audio that was told to go away, it was me personally - David Mellor. Adventures In Audio didn't exist in the 1990s, and neither did nearly every other site on the web.

But I was already deeply involved in audio training. I had classes full of eager students, hundreds of them, all keen to learn audio in the best possible way.

One of the best ways to learn is to find out things for yourself, rather than just reading it or being told. So I used to set 'find out yourself' projects. Just small things to see who was most keen, so I could recommend them to potential employers.

At the time, as I said, John Major was Prime Minister of the UK. He had a habit of talking to the TV news and press from outside of 10 Downing Street. He had a pair of microphones specially set up for the purpose.

I used to ask my students what make and model the mics were. They were often visible on the TV news.

So how can you tell the make and model of microphones from a fuzzy TV picture (no HD back then)?

The answer in this case is that these mics are very distinctive - look closer and you will see that they have two windshields each, one at the front and one at the back.

That seems odd, until you realize how these mics work. All cardioid and hypercardioid microphones have vents behind the diaphragm as well as at the front. That's how their directional pattern is created.

Normally these vents are immediately behind the diaphragm and are covered by a standard windshield.

But these mics have additional vents right at the end, hence they need an extra windshield with two holes.

AKG D224

AKG D224

There are very few mics that are like this, so John Major's microphones - now David Cameron's - must be the AKG D224.

Any student who followed that line of reasoning to come up with the answer would clearly be an excellent student indeed.

However, there is a difference between being merely excellent and being sneakily clever (like a politician!).

What some students realized was that they could save themselves a whole lot of work simply by calling the Downing Street press office.

Perhaps if one or two had done this, it wouldn't have been a problem. But suddenly practically all of them heard of this method of 'research' and did exactly the same thing.

Before too long, Downing Street rather tired of this, and sought to find the culprit - me!

So I received a warning in stern tones to MAKE IT STOP!

And I did, rather than get thrown into the dungeon of the Tower of London.

I would like to think that this cease-and-desist missive came from the Prime Minster himself, and I will cheerily persist in this delusion despite what anyone else might say.

It's worth noting that this model has not been made for quite a few years now, and it is clearly still providing excellent service. Indeed in the House of Commons (the UK parliament) they still use the even older AKG D202 for both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. Actually, it could be a D222 because they look very similar, but either way these are really old mics, but they still perform well.

So, best of luck to you, new Prime Minister David Cameron. Enjoy your microphones!

I promise not to bother you.

(Article written May 12, 2010)

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