GETTING MORE TALE #535: Drop the Microphone
Need to do some recording, but don’t own a microphone? No problem. In a pinch, any speaker can be used as a microphone.
As kids, my best friend Bob and I recorded stuff all the time. Skits, songs, commercials, and school projects were all recorded on cassettes on a regular basis. Some of the most fun weekends we had were spent recording. And laughing, a lot.
The problem was never lack of ideas, only lack of decent equipment. As kids we had to make due with what we had, which wasn’t much compared to what can be bought cheaply and easily today. We only had one microphone. It was a Lloyds from the early 70’s, and I still have it. But there were two of us and we both needed microphones.
I don’t know how we discovered it, but it turns out, any speaker can be used as a microphone, and that’s how we did most of our childhood recordings.
I had a ghetto blaster (dual cassette) with detachable speakers. The speakers connected via a normal 3.5mm audio jacks. The deck had a microphone jack of the same size. Converting a speaker to a microphone was as simple as unplugging it, and plugging it into the microphone jack.
Every speaker has a magnet and a coil to create sound. The signal travels through the wire to the speaker coil and magnet, causing the speaker’s membrane to vibrate and create sound. It also works in reverse! By plugging it into a microphone jack, the speaker membrane vibrates by picking up sound, and then converts it into a signal.
The sound quality was more than enough for two kids with a $0 budget. It was a tad bass-heavy, but good enough for us. Any serious recording should have proper microphones, but if you’re sitting down to record for shits n’ giggles, give it a try.
“Oral Roberts and Pals” sketch recorded January 12 1988 using the “speakers as microphone” technique. From “Mike and Bob Vol II”.