Six 40-year-old RE20 microphones recently returned home to Nashville’s legendary RCA Studio B after undergoing their first ever factory refurb – a testimony to their rugged reliability and enduring quality.
Built in 1957, RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tenn. is hallowed ground in the world of country music and recording history. Dubbed the “Home of 1000 Hits” and birthplace of the “Nashville Sound,” the studio was ground zero for the resurgence of country music in the 1960s, hosting sessions by a long list of legendary performers including Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, Chet Atkins, Dolly Parton, The Everly Brothers, Waylon Jennings, and Jim Reeves.
Towards the end of the 1960s, six Electro-Voice RE20 microphones—a new product at the time but a globally recognized industry standard today—were drafted for duty at Studio B, miking all manner of instruments. Favored for their depth, clarity, and flexibility, the mics began a journey that would find them heard on hundreds of recordings that have now become part of the American cultural landscape.
When Studio B closed its doors for a period in the 1970s, the mics moved to the “Bradley Barn,” an equally renowned studio owned by Owen and Harold Bradley. Literally built inside a barn, this was the first studio on the Nashville strip, and its owners were later inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Studio B had become a tourist attraction by the late 1970s, and today the studio is leased to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Restored to its former glory as a working analog recording studio, Studio B is currently co-managed by Belmont University, which uses the space as a classroom to teach students about recording technology. To ensure the Studio B experience is as authentic as possible, the current owners recently bought back most of the original equipment that had left the studio over the years—including the six RE20 mics. Having returned home, the mics were due for a refurbishment... their first in forty years.
“Each of the six RE20s passed audio when they arrived at my bench,” says Ben McEntarffer, a microphone technician at the Electro-Voice factory service center in Lincoln, Neb. “It’s amazing to think of all the music that entered history through those mic elements over the years. I learned all about their storied history first hand from my contact at Studio B, Luke Gilfeather, and it was a real honor to work on them; they’re great American-made tools of the trade. I carefully refurbished every part of each RE20 except for the steel casings—they’re good to go for another 40 years!”
Over the years, the RE20 itself has become almost as iconic as the legends who have worked with it, becoming an industry standard in recording and broadcast studios around the globe—and one of the most recognizable mics in the world.