Sometime in the early 50’s Turner came out with some very cool and very radical microphones named the Turner 5D Colortone microphone. They came in eye popping Yellow, Orange as well as Green and Ivory. Their tag line was “Microphones In Color”.
The “D” in the 5D stands for Dynamic. Turner also made a 5X and the “X” stood for crystal. The 5D was much heavier than the 5X, weighing 17oz compared to the 5X’s 9oz.
The problem with this microphone campaign was the US microphone market just wasn’t ready for these radical colors and they simply didn’t sell. Like so many good ideas, these were ahead of their times and they just didn’t catch on.
Here is an excellent example of a green 5D. The lower housing is similar to what you would see on a Turner 22X or 22D. The upper part of the mic unit was even more radical than the Turner 22 or Turner 33 microphones. In designing the 5D, turner sort of blended the 2 previous models.
I had a chance to talk to Bob Paquette, who owns and operates the microphone museum. He said Turner never sold any of the Colortonews and the ones that do occasionally appear are samples that were used to showcase the line. The 5D microphone design just wasn’t up to Turner’s standards. It was based on the 33 design, but the insides incorporated aluminum with the plastic shell. The design just didn’t sound as good as the 22s or the 33s. He said at one point, one of the Turner engineers was so disgusted with them that he threw a bunch away in a river near his home. Most of the ones that people do find are cracked or are in bad condition. The ones that are in good shape, in his opinion, are usually overpriced. Still I would really love to have one of these mics, just because I think they look cool.
The first advertisement I could find that mentioned the Colortones was from Broadcasting magazine in Oct 21 1946. It had an ad for the Crystal version, which would have been the Colortone 5X. A year later in October 1947 I found another ad that mentioned the dynamic 5D version in Radio News magazine. I couldn’t find any more ads or mention of them beyond 1947, so I assume that is when they stopped with their limited production run.
Here is an ad that introduced these mics to the world. You can find this Turner 5D Colortone Microphone ad in Robert Paquette Microphone Museum.