Rein Oravox

Carbon Microphone

One of my favourite mics and a real oddity.

This is in fact a beautiful 1920s/early 1930s Western Electric 387 with chrome housing – the exact model of microphone used to record Judy Garland singing ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ for the Wizard of Oz movie soundtrack.

It’s a carbon mic – one of the earliest microphone technologies (as still used in conventional telephones) meaning it was reliable and rugged although not very accurate.

The spring-mounted double-button carbon microphone was designed to keep the carbon granules inside the transmitter from moving and touching the diaphragm during operation. Western Electric introduced the first model 373W in 1920, followed by the improved model 387.

My mic was adapted for sale as an early hearing aid and has an on/off button and earpiece on the cable. Otherwise, it’s a stock General Electric 387 in lovely condition. Value? I have no idea. I’ve seen 387s (without the chrome casing) for for anything up to $2700 US in auction but have never seen a complete version like this offered for sale. That’s not the point though. This is one of 30 or so of my favourite rare pieces.

View more in our Vintage Microphone Collection