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The Handy 96-1058 wouldn’t look out of place on modern stages.

Microfiles: The Handy Electronics 96-1058, An Omnidirectional General Purpose Model From The 1960s

A regional brand microphone that offered up good looks, good sound quality and was more affordable than the big-name brands of the era.

I collect three different things: vintage microphones, vintage four-to-six channel microphone mixers, and strange looks from my wife when another acquisition to my collections arrives. Let’s take a look at a microphone that recently got me “the look” from Kelly when she handed me the package from that had been delivered to our porch, the Handy Electronics 96-1058.

I don’t know a lot about Handy Electronics except that it was a division of a corporation called Hydrometals and was based in Rockford, Illinois. I also know the division sold consumer electronic items that included audio plugs and adapters, earphones, headphones and mics because I’ve seen them all in Handy-branded packaging.

Hydrometals had a range of diverse divisions back in the day, including ones that manufactured pumps, valves and pipe fittings, lithographic plates and chemicals for the printing trades, tools, and more. There was a large demand for consumer electronics after World War II, and I suppose Hydrometals either bought an existing electronics company or started one to get in on that lucrative market.

The Handy 96-1058, which debuted in the mid-1960s, is a handheld omnidirectional dynamic general-purpose microphone. The box states that it provides, “Professional quality for use by bands, entertainers, speakers, etc. Flat response for true high-fidelity performance.” (The box also doles out this pearl of wisdom: “Ideal for stereo recordings when used in pairs.”)

The complete package shipped with a stand-mount clip and a cable.

It’s an attractively designed unit with modern styling that wouldn’t look out of place on stages today. It’s made from zinc covered in satin chrome and sports an on/off switch as well as a black grille the spec sheet calls a “wind and noise screen.” The mic shipped with a stand-mount adapter clip and a 15-foot cable terminated with a 1/4-inch phone plug.

Further, it has a four-pin connector and can be easily configured to be used low impedance or high impedance by simply inserting the plug on the cable a different way into the connector. For low impedance, the user inserts the plug so a red dot on the mic body lines up with a red dot on the connector body. For high impedance, the user simply rotates the connector 90 degrees so the red dots are on opposite sides of each other.

As with many in-house branded microphones, the 96-1058 was made in Japan for Handy. I’ve seen two versions of the packaging for this particular model. The unit I own has the earlier yellow box that sports a picture of the mic, while later red packaging depicted a woman with long hair singing into the mic. That box also featured two plastic window cutouts that afforded a view of the actual mic and cable inside the box.

Handy offered a few “full size” microphones – paperwork included with this model lists another model that is under warranty, but I’ve only seen this model and some small Handy branded mics with built-in cables terminated in 1/8-inch plugs that were designed for use with tape recorders.

The four-pin connector that also plays a role in changing the mic’s impedance.

Along with the spec sheet, the 96-1058 shipped with a “Guarantee Certificate” stating that Handy offered a 90-day unconditional guarantee against defects in workmanship or materials on all of its microphones and VOM multi-meters. If a unit was out of the 90-day warranty period, it would be reconditioned or replaced, with different set prices for different gear. (The price for the 96-1058 mic to be repaired or replaced was a whopping $5.50 plus shipping to Rockford.)

The Handy 96-1058 is a good example of a regional brand microphone that offered up good looks, good sound quality and was more affordable than the big-name brands in the 1960s and 70s.

Type: Omnidirectional dynamic
Frequency Response: 55 Hz – 13 kHz
Sensitivity: -61 dB at 1 kHz
Impedance: Switchable, 200 ohm and 50 K ohm
Price when new: $21.50

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