If you have never heard of Ruggiero Columbo, you are far from alone. And therein lies a tale. Eighty-odd years ago, scattered in labs and home workshops around the world, a group of inspired inventors wrestled out the secrets of how the human voice could be electrically amplified and recorded. The improved condenser microphones, among other bits of technology, that came of their work were a blessing, particularly for the male pop singers who had hitherto had to sing high in order to sing loud enough to cut—literally, with the power of their voices—a mechanical recording. Duly liberated, these men were now free to work the lower registers, and soon Bing Crosby [photo: at RCA44 ribbon mic] would change the musical landscape with a mellow baritone.