In our series of articles on microphones, to this point, we have focused on “broadcast-quality” mikes. Microphones, of course, are used in many other applications such as public address, paging systems, ham radio, CB radio, home recording, telephones, computers and many more uses.
This time we'll turn the “Microphone-man” spotlight on one of Shure Brothers lower cost mikes that was popular from the '40s clear through the '50s...it's the Shure 708a. I've always thought that this mike had one of the most snazzy, art-deco, modernistic styles around, in fact Shure called it the “Stratoliner”. This model was an expensive looking unit that had a very affordable price.
Originally Shure offered the Stratoliner in both a crystal and dynamic models. The crystal unit was labled the 708A and the dynamic was the 508 with A, B and C models. The A model had a rating of 50 ohms, the B was 250 ohms and the C model had a high impedance output. The 708A crystal was, of course, a high impedance...all the Stratoliner models were what Shure called “semi-directional” but actually would be classed as “omni-directional”.
All 4 models of the Stratoliner looked exactly the same externally. Shure used their standard swivel stand mount “stud” that was equipped with a 5/8-27 stand-mounting thread as well as a three pin locking connector...the same mounting Shure used on the much more expensive 55-Unidyne. The mike body itself had a fancy “wrap-around” grill like a lot of the cars of the 1940s...plus a set of four fins to the rear.
Sometime in the '40s Shure decided to drop the dynamic units but continued the crystal model to 1958. The 1952 Allied Radio catalog offered the model 708A at $16 as compared to the famous Unidyne model 55 which sold for $42. I always wished I could have bought a 708A back in the '50s but never did...just recently I was able to obtain one in beautiful condition but had to pay a lot more than $16!
So there you have it...the story of the Shure Stratoliner...one of the sharpest looking and good sounding general purpose microphones of the mid-20th century! During this period Shure billed itself as “Microphone Headquarters”...and Shure was beginning to make a name for itself that has continued down to the present day.
A nice example of a Stratoliner offered on Ebay along with data sheet. Shure said this model was suitable for public address, recording, call systems, radio telephone equipment and similar applications.
A composite photo showing a Stratoliner mounted on a Shure “Grip-to Talk”stand.
Side view of Microphone-man's own Shure Stratoliner. The finish was called “iridescent neutral gray.
Front view highlighting the 1940s look to the grill. The shell came apart in two halves held together by 4 screws
The rear featured the four “snazzy” fins giving the Stratoliner a Buck Rogers space ship look!
Microphone Man's Shure Stratoliner...she's a beaut!