If you were a musician in the 1970s or are a fan of vintage gear, the name Univox should be familiar.
Merson Musical Products, a musical instrument division of Unicord Incorporated, made and marketed a wide range of products with the Univox brand, including guitars, keyboards and cool-looking blue Tolex-covered guitar and bass amps.
In addition, Merson Musical Products was the U.S. importer of Marshall amps, Korg keyboards and other lines including Tempro brand drums (my first kit).
Some big acts of the day, including The Doors, Led Zeppelin and Billy Preston, endorsed Univox gear, but it never really caught on with professionals. The company was purchased by Korg in the mid 1980s, and the brand was retired.
The Univox line also included some PA gear, such as the LEM-2 PA system, which consisted of the LEM-XI matrix mixer (tape echo unit, 6-channel mixer and 150-watt power amplifier all in one package) and two horn-loaded column loudspeakers loaded with four 12-inch transducers. Other offerings included the Band-Aid 7-band graphic EQ, and of course, a few microphones.
My first exposure to a Univox mic was through a friend in high school who owned a DF-56, dubbed “The Cheep” in company advertising. That entry-level handheld mic served him well during his garage band days. I didn’t see another Univox mic for many years until, one day at an estate sale, I spotted this beauty, a DF-14B dynamic microphone still with its box.
The DF-14B and cable in the original box. (click to enlarge)
Sporting smooth lines reminiscent of “Art Deco” styling, the DF-14B body and casing is made of polished die cast aluminum. It’s outfitted with a recessed multi-impedance switch on the rear allowing a choice of 50K ohms or 10K ohms high impedance, or 600 ohms low impedance. It also includes an on/off switch.
There were at least two versions offered over the years, the earlier version DF-14 and the later DF-14B. I don’t have specs on the DF-14, but I’ve seen photos, and it looks the same as the “B” version except it didn’t include an on/off switch.
One catalog photo that I have of the DF-14B shows a different logo on the front, leading me to believe that this mic, like many others that were manufactured in Japan at the time, was simply “re-badged” for Univox by changing the name on the faceplate.
The recessed multi-impedance switch and 3-pin connector. (click to enlarge)
A dealer memo dated December 23, 1965 states: “Compare its quality…its good looks…its performance with other mikes selling for $85.00. You’ll find the DF-14B as good. Yet, we’ve priced it at $45.00 – with extra profit for the dealer.” While the list price may have been $45, a catalog ad from 1969 shows the microphone was selling for $32.50 complete with a “heavy-duty reinforced shielded cable with phone plug.”
The console end of the cable terminates in a standard connector, but the mic end does not. It uses a 3-pin connector similar to the one found on a few Aiwa microphones from the period, yet while the pin layout and spacing is the same, the pin diameter on the Univox is thicker, making the plugs non-compatible.
Even though it’s not an expensive or particularly rare model, the DF-14B is definitely one of the favorites in my collection because of its unique boxy look and the heritage of the Univox name.
The slim profile of the DF-14B as seen from the side. (click to enlarge)
Univox DF-14B Specs
Transducer Type: Non-metallic diaphragm dynamic
Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional
Frequency Response: 50 Hz – 15 kHz =/- 5 dB
Sensitivity: -45 dB @ 50K or 10K ohms, -55 dB @ 600 ohms
Nominal Impedance: Switchable 600, 10K or 50K ohms
Size: 5 X 2.75 inches
Net Weight: 29 ounces
Price for a new one in 1969: $32.50
Craig Leerman is senior contributing editor for Live Sound International and ProSoundWeb.
(Find more Microfiles articles by Craig here.)