TRAM TR50 innovator Ted Rapp - man of mystery?

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Bill White

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May 21, 2009, 9:04:52 PM5/21/09
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Theodore A Rapp brought us the legendary TR50 lapel mike.

Over the years, I�ve heard some fascinating anecdotes of his life.

Much of this may be myth as there seems to be very little documented
evidence of his life. While the company has reverted back to his
family, they do not appear to have a web site. Seems a pity that Ted
died almost without trace. Maybe he wanted it that way?

Can anyone out there positively confirm or deny the following?

Ted was a very private person who preferred to keep a low profile.

He once worked in the R&D division of the CIA where they developed a
miniature version of an electret mike for surveillance work.

Realizing the commercial potential for concealable mikes in film & TV,
Ted left the agency and developed the TRAM lapel mike which became an
industry standard.

Ted believed the agency was upset about him commercializing �their�
invention, and that they intended to �get back at him� one day.

Reputedly, he lived with his mother in upstate NY and the TRAM name came
from Ted Rapp And Mother.

He was extremely cautious about phone and fax communications as he
believed they were being �tapped� by his former employer.

If you can throw any light on the above, or the real truth about Ted
Rapp, please let us know as he deserves to be remembered for his
contributions to our industry.


Batter up!


Bill White
http://microphonemagic.tv

Douglas Tourtelot

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May 21, 2009, 11:44:16 PM5/21/09
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I had always believed the TRAM stood for Ted Rapp Audio Microphones, but I
can't cite any references<g>.

D.


On 5/21/09 6:04 PM, in article
cc6dned1VuapZ4jX...@westnet.com.au, "Bill White"
<Micropho...@Gmail.com> wrote:

>
> Theodore A Rapp brought us the legendary TR50 lapel mike.
>

> Over the years, I�ve heard some fascinating anecdotes of his life.


>
> Much of this may be myth as there seems to be very little documented
> evidence of his life. While the company has reverted back to his
> family, they do not appear to have a web site. Seems a pity that Ted
> died almost without trace. Maybe he wanted it that way?
>
> Can anyone out there positively confirm or deny the following?
>
> Ted was a very private person who preferred to keep a low profile.
>
> He once worked in the R&D division of the CIA where they developed a
> miniature version of an electret mike for surveillance work.
>
> Realizing the commercial potential for concealable mikes in film & TV,
> Ted left the agency and developed the TRAM lapel mike which became an
> industry standard.
>

> Ted believed the agency was upset about him commercializing �their�
> invention, and that they intended to �get back at him� one day.


>
> Reputedly, he lived with his mother in upstate NY and the TRAM name came
> from Ted Rapp And Mother.
>
> He was extremely cautious about phone and fax communications as he

> believed they were being �tapped� by his former employer.

petev

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May 22, 2009, 12:38:43 AM5/22/09
to
FWIW, the elements in Tram mics were stock items from hearing aid
industry.

mitch...@aol.com

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May 22, 2009, 1:15:38 AM5/22/09
to
On May 21, 9:38 pm, petev <beliza...@gmail.com> wrote:
> FWIW, the elements in Tram mics were stock items from hearing aid
> industry.

IIRC.... Rapp wasn't the first to use those elements. Turbosound was
the first to use that element in their Mini-Mics (not be confused w/
PSCs Millimic). Their version had the element facing upward with a
tiny hearing aid battery compartment at the end of the cable. They
came with a balancing transformer in a cool little wooden box.
MItch

Scott

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May 22, 2009, 3:02:40 AM5/22/09
to
On May 21, 6:04 pm, Bill White <Microphone.Ma...@Gmail.com> wrote:
> Theodore A Rapp brought us the legendary TR50 lapel mike.
>
> Over the years, I’ve heard some fascinating anecdotes of his life.

>
> Much of this may be myth as there seems to be very little documented
> evidence of his life.  While the company has reverted back to his
> family, they do not appear to have a web site.  Seems a pity that Ted
> died almost without trace.  Maybe he wanted it that way?
>
> Can anyone out there positively confirm or deny the following?
>
> Ted was a very private person who preferred to keep a low profile.
>
> He once worked in the R&D division of the CIA where they developed a
> miniature version of an electret mike for surveillance work.
>
> Realizing the commercial potential for concealable mikes in film & TV,
> Ted left the agency and developed the TRAM lapel mike which became an
> industry standard.
>
> Ted believed the agency was upset about him commercializing ‘their’
> invention, and that they intended to ‘get back at him’ one day.

>
> Reputedly, he lived with his mother in upstate NY and the TRAM name came
> from Ted Rapp And Mother.
>
> He was extremely cautious about phone and fax communications as he
> believed they were being ‘tapped’ by his former employer.

>
> If you can throw any light on the above, or the real truth about Ted
> Rapp, please let us know as he deserves to be remembered for his
> contributions to our industry.
>
> Batter up!
>
> Bill Whitehttp://microphonemagic.tv

http://trammicrophones.com/

Bill White

unread,
May 22, 2009, 3:10:19 AM5/22/09
to
Douglas Tourtelot wrote:
> I had always believed the TRAM stood for Ted Rapp Audio Microphones, but I
> can't cite any references<g>.

Hi Douglas,
The only reference I could find was:

Theodore Rapp, the originator of the Tram, was approached by Jerry Bruck
of Posthorn Recordings to consider making an improved personal
microphone with a different capsule. I guess he and others had listened
critically and wished for improvements. Ted Rapp had been turning out
microphones with his mother�s help (TRAM =Ted Rapp and Mother)

SOURCE
http://www.google.com.au/search?q=%22ted+rapp+and+mother%22&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&client=firefox-a

>
> D.
>
>
> On 5/21/09 6:04 PM, in article
> cc6dned1VuapZ4jX...@westnet.com.au, "Bill White"
> <Micropho...@Gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> Theodore A Rapp brought us the legendary TR50 lapel mike.
>>

>> Over the years, I�ve heard some fascinating anecdotes of his life.


>>
>> Much of this may be myth as there seems to be very little documented
>> evidence of his life. While the company has reverted back to his
>> family, they do not appear to have a web site. Seems a pity that Ted
>> died almost without trace. Maybe he wanted it that way?
>>
>> Can anyone out there positively confirm or deny the following?
>>
>> Ted was a very private person who preferred to keep a low profile.
>>
>> He once worked in the R&D division of the CIA where they developed a
>> miniature version of an electret mike for surveillance work.
>>
>> Realizing the commercial potential for concealable mikes in film & TV,
>> Ted left the agency and developed the TRAM lapel mike which became an
>> industry standard.
>>

>> Ted believed the agency was upset about him commercializing �their�

>> invention, and that they intended to �get back at him� one day.


>>
>> Reputedly, he lived with his mother in upstate NY and the TRAM name came
>> from Ted Rapp And Mother.
>>
>> He was extremely cautious about phone and fax communications as he

>> believed they were being �tapped� by his former employer.

SoundBites

unread,
May 22, 2009, 4:40:56 AM5/22/09
to

Try contacting Jerry Bruck at Posthorn, he might be able to fill you in.
Jerry developed the Sonitrim based on the Tram. Great mic and I was
lucky to buy a couple from the man himself in his studio in New York.
They were my first mics when i started out 20 years ago and theyre still
a key part of my kit today.

SoundBites

unread,
May 22, 2009, 4:42:03 AM5/22/09
to

Try contactinganother innovator, Jerry Bruck at Posthorn, he might be
able to fill you in.
Jerry developed the Sonitrim based on the Tram. Great mic and I was
lucky to buy a couple from the man himself in his studio in New York.
They were my first mics when i started out 20 years ago and theyre still
a key part of my kit today.

SoundBites

unread,
May 22, 2009, 4:42:52 AM5/22/09
to

Try contacting another innovator, Jerry Bruck at Posthorn, he might be

able to fill you in.
Jerry developed the Sonitrim based on the Tram. Great mic and I was
lucky to buy a couple from the man himself in his studio in New York.
They were my first mics when i started out 20 years ago and theyre still
a key part of my kit today.

Douglas Tourtelot

unread,
May 22, 2009, 9:25:38 AM5/22/09
to SoundBites
I have an email into Jerry, an old friend of mine. I'll see if he writes
back.

D.


On 5/22/09 1:40 AM, in article tytRl.28979$j7.4...@news.indigo.ie,
"SoundBites" <even...@hotmail.com> wrote:

>
> Try contacting Jerry Bruck at Posthorn, he might be able to fill you in.
> Jerry developed the Sonitrim based on the Tram. Great mic and I was
> lucky to buy a couple from the man himself in his studio in New York.
> They were my first mics when i started out 20 years ago and theyre still
> a key part of my kit today.
>
>
>
> Bill White wrote:
>> Douglas Tourtelot wrote:
>>> I had always believed the TRAM stood for Ted Rapp Audio Microphones,
>>> but I
>>> can't cite any references<g>.
>>
>> Hi Douglas,
>> The only reference I could find was:
>>
>> Theodore Rapp, the originator of the Tram, was approached by Jerry Bruck
>> of Posthorn Recordings to consider making an improved personal
>> microphone with a different capsule. I guess he and others had listened
>> critically and wished for improvements. Ted Rapp had been turning out

>> microphones with his mother’s help (TRAM =Ted Rapp and Mother)


>>
>> SOURCE
>> http://www.google.com.au/search?q=%22ted+rapp+and+mother%22&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
>> &aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&client=firefox-a
>>
>>
>>>
>>> D.
>>>
>>>
>>> On 5/21/09 6:04 PM, in article
>>> cc6dned1VuapZ4jX...@westnet.com.au, "Bill White"
>>> <Micropho...@Gmail.com> wrote:
>>>
>>>> Theodore A Rapp brought us the legendary TR50 lapel mike.
>>>>

>>>> Over the years, I¹ve heard some fascinating anecdotes of his life.


>>>>
>>>> Much of this may be myth as there seems to be very little documented
>>>> evidence of his life. While the company has reverted back to his
>>>> family, they do not appear to have a web site. Seems a pity that Ted
>>>> died almost without trace. Maybe he wanted it that way?
>>>>
>>>> Can anyone out there positively confirm or deny the following?
>>>>
>>>> Ted was a very private person who preferred to keep a low profile.
>>>>
>>>> He once worked in the R&D division of the CIA where they developed a
>>>> miniature version of an electret mike for surveillance work.
>>>>
>>>> Realizing the commercial potential for concealable mikes in film & TV,
>>>> Ted left the agency and developed the TRAM lapel mike which became an
>>>> industry standard.
>>>>

>>>> Ted believed the agency was upset about him commercializing Œtheir¹
>>>> invention, and that they intended to Œget back at him¹ one day.


>>>>
>>>> Reputedly, he lived with his mother in upstate NY and the TRAM name came
>>>> from Ted Rapp And Mother.
>>>>
>>>> He was extremely cautious about phone and fax communications as he

>>>> believed they were being Œtapped¹ by his former employer.

rraudio

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May 22, 2009, 11:47:05 AM5/22/09
to
I bought a couple of Trams from Ted when he was in Nyack, NY around
1990.
Nyack is about 20 miles from Midtown Manhattan.

Jim Feeley

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May 22, 2009, 12:33:16 PM5/22/09
to
On a doubtful whim, I checked Wikipedia. The entry for lav mics could use a
little help...not that I have time (or enough knowledge for that at the
moment):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavalier_microphone


Anyway, when were TRAMs first introduced? I ask because in 1980, Countryman
was producing a small mic for the music industry. I think it was the ISOMAX,
but that name may have come along later. I'm not sure when they were
introduced. They were used by recording studios, touring bands, and the
like. I fell out of touch with the Countrymans for about 20 years before
reconnecting with them, so I don't know when they started building and
marketing their mics for and to Broadway and production audio. Some others
here do, for sure.

Anyway again, this isn't a "who came first" post. It's more about the
"secret CIA project" thought. IIRC, Carl was using hearing-aid elements.
They weren't super consistent back then, so each was qualified, tested, and
then matched with a custom EQ circuit that was cast in plastic around a
patchbay-style XLR connector. I would think TRAM and the like were also
using commercially available elements.

I'd love to know more about the history of all the equipment we use. Bill,
good luck with your investigation

Jim "also heard the '...and Mother' claim" Feeley


On 5/22/09 6:25 AM, in article C63BF5E2.65FF%dtour...@comcast.net,
"Douglas Tourtelot" <dtour...@comcast.net> wrote:

Jim
PS- I don't check messages sent directly to this email address. Too much
spam. But I'm not hard to find on the internet...
--
Jim Feeley
POV Media


gl...@trewaudio.com

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May 22, 2009, 1:43:49 PM5/22/09
to
I know nothing. Nothing at all.

But I will say that I did enjoy doing business with Ted, and grew to
appreciate his unusual traits.

Regarding his opinions of FAX machines, at the time, TRAM was the only
manufacturer who would not receive purchase orders by FAX and insisted
that they be sent by US mail. The orders were always processed
efficiently and correctly. Also during that time, he soldered on every
connector himself, to order.

Even though other lav microphones now have a respectable share of the
market, it is a great tribute to Ted Rapp that the TRAM mic is still
preferred by many, and the mounting accessories and box are still
considered by most to be the best in the industry.

It might be interesting to note that he seemed to detest the term
"Vampire Clip" for his most famous mounting accessory. He always
listed it as "Clip-on Holder" and refused to call it anything else.

The way he would sign off on the phone now comes to mind...

"and out"

Glen Trew

Martin Harrington

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May 22, 2009, 10:48:45 PM5/22/09
to
I've still got a couple of the countryman "isomax" mics.
I got them in the late 70's, early 80's.
They are slightly larger than a 152, (Lectro), but are directional, made
especially for instrument use.

Martin H
Lend An Ear Sound


On 23/05/09 2:33 AM, in article C63C21DC.E6C88%jfe...@pacbell.net, "Jim

ses...@earthlink.net

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Dec 7, 2016, 10:18:26 AM12/7/16
to
I helped Ted develop the now infamous tram. Used extensively on broadway after it was developed. Yes "Ted Rapp and Mom" is correct. He was also an Air Force Reserve Pilot. Yes he was cautious because we sold to many agencies and companies that preferred to remain "offline " in todays parlance. A great friend, mechanical genius. Developed and manufactured the units in his home. I helped him sort through thousands of elements for sensitiity and frequency response. That was the secret sauce.

portse...@gmail.com

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Feb 5, 2020, 3:29:43 PM2/5/20
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About what year was the TRAM developed?

geof...@gmail.com

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Feb 6, 2020, 8:24:03 AM2/6/20
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My understanding...Along with the array of brilliant concealable mounts, and it being available in various colors, the secret sauce was the low-noise cable. Also, the original Tram had a 10k bump to push through clothing. Often this would overload the front end of many first-generation wireless transmitters. Jerry implemented a flat response version called the Sonotrim, which also cut better with Schoeps.

And yes Glen, I remember the "and out" as well.

Geoff Maxwell


JamieSound

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Feb 6, 2020, 9:23:24 AM2/6/20
to
So nice to hear the backstory from Glen and comments by Geoff. I only spoke with Henry a few times on phone but he was very nice. What Geoff said is true, as the SonoTrim cut better with Schoeps than the overwhelmingly more popular Tram. Although they live in the bottom of my lav box, I still have some Trams & Trims, and occasionally use them, mostly for special rigs. Like the Nagra & Vegas, Trams remained the lav of choice for a very long time. Way to go, Henry.

Scott Dorsey

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Feb 6, 2020, 1:37:09 PM2/6/20
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<geof...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>My understanding...Along with the array of brilliant concealable mounts, an=
>d it being available in various colors, the secret sauce was the low-noise =
>cable. Also, the original Tram had a 10k bump to push through clothing. Oft=
>en this would overload the front end of many first-generation wireless tran=
>smitters. Jerry implemented a flat response version called the Sonotrim, wh=
>ich also cut better with Schoeps.

Not just low noise but it didn't decay with skin oils the way vinyl cables
did back then.
--scott
--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

chicag...@gmail.com

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Feb 8, 2020, 9:09:40 PM2/8/20
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Wow, talk about reviving a thread that goes back a few years! I think we broke the way back machine!

I did have a few occasions to talk with Ted over the years, going back further than I care to recall. Interesting guy, and like most genius types, rather private about his technology.

And yes, he certainly deserves more credit than he’s received over the years...
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