My microphone collection has a lot of models from the big-name manufacturers, but I’m actually drawn to collecting more obscure units and in-house brands from regional electronics stores. Case in point is the Allied Electronics Knight KN-4550.
Allied was founded in Chicago in 1928 by Simon Wexler as the radio parts distribution arm of his company, Columbia Radio Corporation, which distributed radios (and later stereos), communication equipment, electronic parts, tools, test gear and more through retail and mail order. The company sold both national brands as well as items under its own brands that included Allied, Knight, and Knight-Kit.
In 1970, Tandy Corporation, parent company of Radio Shack, acquired both the consumer and industrial divisions of Allied, with radio components rebranded for a time as Allied Radio Shack. The brand changed hands a few times before being bought by Electrocomponents in 1999.
Like many retailers before the days of the Internet, Allied produced catalogs on a regular basis. They were quite extensive, usually more than 400 pages. (I have one from 1967 and it has over 500 pages!) The catalogs featured tons of electronic parts as well as a large assortment of audio gear that included PA systems, guitars and basses, guitar and bass amplifiers – and of course, microphones, including models from manufacturers such as Shure, Electro-Voice, Astatic joined by the in-house brands.
Looking through early catalogs, Knight seemed to be the main Allied in-house brand for a time, affixed not only to mics but to consumer radios, CB and amateur radio transceivers, PA gear and even electronic test gear like VOM meters and of course microphones. By the late 1960s, Allied replaced Knight as the in-house brand.
I found my KN-4550 in an antique store while on vacation years ago. My suitcase usually comes home from trips with more than I started with because I’m addicted to vintage mics. This particular model is a good-looking example of a stand-mounted microphone of the period (1950s-60s), with a hefty all-metal body finished in satin chrome.
The catalog proclaims it “Knight’s best microphone” and adds that “the cardioid pattern picks up sound from the front of the mike and rejects most sounds from the rear – sharply reduces feedback.”
The base, which screws directly to a standard 5/8”-27 threaded stand, has an on/off switch as well as a four-conductor screw-on connector. The main body is a little more than 7 inches long and includes three ports per side, headed by a well-constructed metal grille. The unit shipped with an unterminated 18-foot cable.
The catalog states “two separately tuned chambers assure smooth 45-14,000 CPS output at -55 dB.” CPS is Cycles Per Second, a typical electronic measurement of the time and before Hertz became a common specification. Marketed for stage use as well as paging and two-way radio applications, its was a solid all-around performer.
While many mics, including this one, were made in Japan and rebadged for various brands, I’ve never seen another like it, so perhaps it was made exclusively for Allied, as with many of the company’s other in-house goods. Like many in-house-branded mics, the KN-4550 was a great option for those looking for a good performing unit at a lower price than the national brands.
Type: Cardioid Dynamic
Frequency Response: 45 Hz to 14 kHz
Impedance: Switchable high or low
Price in 1965: $34.50