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Today you can buy microphones that were used to record Nirvana's 'In Utero'

Today you can buy microphones that were used to record Nirvana’s 'In Utero'


I don't want to say “me too” too loudly, but my microphone collection includes mics that were used by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Sir Yehudi Menuhin at a memorial service in St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Unfortunately since both mics were Shure SM58 models and I didn't make a note of who used which, I don't think there is any likelihood that I can cash in.

Not so Steve Albini though. His microphone collection includes some that he used to record Nirvana's In Utero at Pachyderm Studio in 1993. The mics have since resided at Albini's Electrical Audio and are now up for sale.

The mics in question are these…

  • A stereo pair of Lomo 19A9 vacuum tube capacitor mics
  • An Electro-Voice PL20 dynamic mic – a differently badged and coloured version of the well known RE20

According to sales agent Reverb, the Lomo mics were used as drum overheads; the PL20 and one of the Lomos (which one?) were used for Kurt Cobain's vocal.

Do you want them?

This is a good question. Microphones are not generally known to improve with age, but older designs sometimes have characteristic sound textures that make new, modern mics sound a little bland in comparison. Age will not improve frequency response, noise or distortion, but these elements of texture can also be interesting to work with.

So would you buy these mics because of their vintage status? Maybe.

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What about the Nirvana connection? This could make the mics museum pieces. If you run an audio museum then they could be great additions to your collection and look lovely in a display case. That would be a little sad wouldn't it, for the mics never to be used again?

But does the ghost of Kurt Cobain live on through these mics? I could ask whether the ghost of drummer Dave Grohl lives on too, except he is still very much in the land of the living. I saw him on BBC Breakfast just yesterday.

You could perhaps feel that you were channeling Kurt Cobain's spirit to use these mics. Or you could sell this idea to people who hire your services or studio. There could be an artistic or financial return in that.

But these mics must have been used on many different bands and artists since In Utero. Might that not have tarnished any remaining ghostly spirit that resides within? Only a psychic detective could answer that one.

Whatever, these are interesting mics, and the fact that they are available to buy is worthy of attention. The sale by auction opens September 21, 2017 and concludes September 30. Here is the link you need to find out more…

P.S. If you buy the mics, let us know and we will feature you and your studio in these pages.

P.P.S. A word from Steve…

David Mellor

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David Mellor