Pawn Shop Mic


I picked up an Astatic DN-HZ mic at the pawn shop for 10 bucks - how could I pass it up? - biggish diaphram dynamic, 1940s or so, art deco, in good shape, 30-7000 hz range, omnidirectional, amphenol connector, sometimes known as “the commentator”, but that’s all I can tell you about it. Anyone by any chance have a wiring diagram or a data sheet for one of these?

No, I thought not. :)

Here’s a picture of one:

hah, cool looking… what kind of connector is that?


Here is someone selling a manual for US$8.00!



The obvious use would be blues harp, and I bet it would sound cool for that. My brother uses a variety of Astatic’s on stage, but that particular model doesn’t look familiar. Surf on blues harp pages for info on Astatic mics, maybe.

We have some Altecs that are similar, and they’re great for distorted vocals. Set one up along with a good mic. Route the good one through a preamp and into your recorder for a clean channel, then plug the High Z mic into an amp in an isolated space, dial in your dirt and mic the amp. Much better than plug-in distortion for that latest punk rock tune you’ve been working on.

Dimmer - amphenol, three prong, but not xlr, spacing is different, and only 1 and 2 are used. It’s the hi-z model. I thought I had one of those connectors somewhere, but I don’t.

Don - thanks! hoping for free, but 8 dollars is pretty close to free. :)

Clava - I have several Astatic mics, actually, a d104 which is the big lollipop mic with a crystal element; a small lavalier dynamic that sounds cool on snare, and now this one. This is a dynamic, but I have noticed it mentioned on a couple of harp player’s web pages. The distorted vocal idea is definitely one I’m gonna try out.

Not that I had any time at all this weekend for anything music. For non-US forum-ers, it’s “labor day” weekend here, theoretically a holiday on which we celebrate work by not working, but… :)

Well, the mic is a scream. It sounds pretty much like an old, narrow response dynamic should. But the specs originally given for the mic - 30-7000 hz - are not accurate, at least not for this mic, from the sound of it. I’d believe the high figure, but the low figure is way too low. Sing “nah nah nah nah” while holding your nose and you have the sound. Anyway, well worth 10 bucks!


In Googling around yesterday I saw someone selling the mic for US$200! Not that it will sell for that but it gives you some idea anyway.

The $8.00 was for a wiring diagram, not a OM.


Yea… That 3-pin Connector is or should be standard convention wireing… I have a Sure PE-54 with that set-up… It should be the same.

It looks like pin-3… is the +/Hot connector… The other two are tied together and connected to the Shield/Earth…

Look colsely… I had to take my Glasses off to have a better look at the connector’s Buissness-end…


Sure looks like a HarpMan’s Prayer Mic… without the level control… to me…

I just took out the amphenol connector, and hard wired a 1/4 inch plug to it. Yep, sounds a lot like the green harp mic. Just put it on the snare drum, along with an sm57, trashy sound to mix in, and also stuck it on the guitar, along with - get this - the D-6 and the astatic lavalier I mentioned, which sounds a bit like a thin sm 57. The total sound with the three mics is sort of cool. Sort of! :)

Quote (Don Gaynor @ Sep. 05 2005,15:10)

In Googling around yesterday I saw someone selling the mic for US$200! Not that it will sell for that but it gives you some idea anyway.

The $8.00 was for a wiring diagram, not a OM.


Hey Don! Thanks! I saw the 200 dollar one - no way it's worth 200, but I suppose some mic collector out there might just pay that. No recording person would! At least not a rational one!

After disassembling the mic, it looks pretty simple, I'm still gonna get the wiring diagram just because, but it's all wired up now and working like a 60 year old champ!


So I emailed Astatic, and not only did I get a reply, but the contact person actually went through some old files and found a brochure for the mic, and offered to send me a copy!

Nice people stun me sometimes. :)

Anyway, learned the following, in addition to what I already knew:

"High impedance version of the Model DN-50. Impedance is EIA 40,000 ohms;
output–52db, re: 1 volt/microbar. Has ten feet of 2 wire cable."


"A dynamical microphone also known as the “Commentator”.
"Rugged all directional high impedance mike"

Freq. range : 30 - 7KHz
1950’s list price: $39.70."

The DN-50 was a 50 ohms model, the DN-MZ was a multi-impedance version.

I sometimes think I could be a Cliff Clavin about this sort of stuff…


“It’s a little known fact …”


By gum, the people at Astatic are realy nice - they sent along the data sheet, and it arrived today! :)

Only new item really was the freq response - 50 - 10 K, mylar diaphram (which explains why it still works so well, I suppose)…


Hi TomS:
Thanks for that post… You know… you have this ability to draw attention to your personnality, that gets people to respond/reply to your requests… And… you live in an area where all this stuff is there for the grabbing… I mean, there are yard sales, and all, but where you live there are yard sales that has all this classic-vintage electronics that anywhere else on the contenent, it would be 100 ft. down in the land-fill site…

Who do you believe is this guy is, that replied to you from the Astatic Company? Would he be a senior person, or would he be a Newbie to the Company?


He was a she, all I know is that I filled out an email form on the website, and had a response in a day or so. She said she actually dug through some old filing cabinets to find the data sheet - guess they don’t get too many requests - she also said that they did not have much literature on vintage mics, b/c they make and have made so many products through the years. My sense is that it is not a big company, one doesn’t get that sort of attention often from bigger firms, but who knows? Anyway, I thought it was totally cool.

You are right, I we do seem to have a lot of older stuff hanging around flint. My hypothesis is that b/c this was once a pretty well off place, a lot of folks bought some cool things, like in the 50s and 60s, and now those people are retired, dead, or moved on, and basements get cleaned out…

You would not believe the treasure trove of books we found at a yard sale a while back. The family of the first Japanese engineer to work for GM had sold their house, and as the new owner said, “they never threw away a book.” He was selling books from about 1915 on for 25 cents each, old engineering books, literature, kids books from the teens to the 60s, philosophy, history, a Yale fascimilie of Shakespeare’s first folio - the sons and daughters all became lawyers and doctors and professors, so you can sort of guess what they had - everything! We loaded up the car, adn I mean we loaded it. :)

I keep hoping to find another RCA 77 or the like. :)

Hi Tom:
I always knew Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and those States to be and what they called the Industrial Heartland of the USA… Well… other states… too… but the War Year Money was made in that part of your country… I’m too young to know… But there was a houseing Boom… after the war… And all those houses had to be filled with something… Including Electronic Toys… There’s gotta be mountians of that stuff over there… where you live…


i used to work for an AM/FM radio station which had been around since the 40’s. they had some of those as well as some others. i dont remember what brand (seems they were RCA) or model they were or whatever happened to them. they switched to sennheisers and the old ones were packed away somewhere. i probably should have grabbed em when i had the chance… :cool:
station was in a small town in nebraska

Yep, the two ribbon mics I have came from an old radio station - an RCA 77 dx and an sk-50.

and the best EV 664 I have came from a school:


1950’s list price: $39.70."

D@%M Tom! Adjusted for inflation, that’s a thousand dollar mackry-fone you got there! :D