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Microfiles: The Astatic Metro 788, A Striking Handheld Model From The 1950s
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I grew up during the CB radio craze of the 1970s. We had CBs in our cars, and in the house, there was a Radio Shack Navaho model base station complete with an Astatic D-104 “Lollipop” microphone.

When the mic collecting bug bit me, I learned that Astatic also manufactured products designed for PA and recording when I spied a handheld beauty called the Metro 788 at an antique store. 

Astatic dates back to the 1930s when two Ham radio operators, C.M. Chorpening and F.H. Woodworth, sought better mics to use with their transmitters. They experimented with some condenser types, and soon, fellow amateurs showed interest, so the two fledgling entrepreneurs formed a partnership and went into the microphone business. Incorporating in Youngstown, OH, in 1933,

Astatic soon produced its first production model, the Crystal D-104 (which was manufactured until 2001), and also added phonograph cartridges to its line.

During World War II, the company produced a variety of items for the military, including mics, phono cartridges and needles, and co-axial cable connectors. Astatic was also one of the largest manufacturers of hydrophones (underwater mics) for the U.S. Navy.

A full view of the Metro 788 on an Emco Radio Products vintage stand. (click to enlarge)

In addition, the company also perfected and produced a static discharger that dissipated static electricity that accumulated on the wings of military airplane wing surfaces due to friction during flight.

Astatic moved north to Conneaut, OH, in late 1944 and continued to specialize in communications mics. In 1988, the Conneaut Audio Devices (CAD) division was formed to address the needs of live and studio markets, and in 2009, the company officially changed its name to CAD Audio, continuing the Astatic name for the install products.

The amateur and CB product division was eventually sold to Barjam LLC, which still manufacturers mics under the Astatic name.

Family Of Three
The Metro 788 is one of three mics in a handheld series introduced in the late 1950s. All three are physically similar and mainly differ in terms of color scheme and frequency response.

The Metro 788 with its factory shipping box, SA-8 mic clip, lav neck chain, and belt clip.(click to enlarge)

The Metro, a dynamic type, is the basic model, with a black body and a striking gold-brushed grill that protects a light green perforated metal windscreen. It has a limited but useful frequency response of 60 Hz to 13 kHz. An ad in a 1962 electronics catalog states, “the Metro has a wide range for voice and music reproduction in PA, recording and TV.”

The mid-level model in the series is the Tempo 888, with brushed chrome accents and a frequency response of 50 Hz to 15 kHz range. Ad copy touting the 888: “High fidelity and advanced styling for applications in color TV and deluxe PA systems.”

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