Ribbon microphones first emerged within the Twenties. In 1931, RCA started commercially manufacturing the PB-31, which had a huge effect on the recording and broadcast industries. Ribbon mics remained widespread all through the ’50s, although progressively began to see much less use in favor of condensers. Nonetheless, a couple of fashions managed to proceed to have constant play in studios, and among the classics are nonetheless used as we speak. Today, the perfect trendy ribbon mic has benefits over the older ones — significantly in output degree, signal-to-noise ratio, and sturdiness.
What Is a Ribbon Mic & How Do They Work?
A ribbon microphone is definitely a easy gadget by way of electronics. It makes use of a skinny strip of steel suspended between two magnetized poles to generate an electrical cost in response to acoustic vitality. Early ribbons had a bidirectional, or figure-8, polar sample, in that they decide up equally effectively from both aspect of the diaphragm. Once they had been first launched, ribbon mics additionally had an exceptional frequency response of about 20 Hz to twenty kHz, which is what we come to anticipate from mics these days — the whole spectrum of human listening to. Fairly spectacular for 100-year-old know-how!
For a few years, ribbon microphones had been fragile. The ultra-thin corrugated steel “ribbon” might simply be broken in response to excessive SPLs or tough dealing with. They’re considerably stronger as we speak than they was once, due to improvements in materials that makes the ribbon an entire lot extra sturdy. As you’ll see within the listing under, some ribbons are even go-to mics for recording electrical guitar — not a quiet instrument by any means.
What Are Ribbon Mics Finest For?
As painful as it’s to utter business cliches, ribbon microphones are likely to have a heat and vintage-y sound in comparison with condensers and dynamic mics. For a few years they had been favorites on brass due to their means to easy out and mellow harsh frequencies and devices.
Ribbons undoubtedly have a singular character that’s finest outlined in observe. Fortunately trendy ribbon mics are extra viable than ever, in that they aren’t such delicate items of apparatus anymore. If you wish to hear one in motion, take into account any of the 9 finest ribbon mics listed right here.
The 9 Finest Ribbon Mics for Your Studio in 2023
The M 160 by Beyerdynamic is a premium dual-ribbon microphone effectively suited to acoustic devices. It sounds nice on all forms of strings, and even percussive devices like hi-hat and overheads. The 160 has spectacular SPL-handling, so that you hardly ever have to fret about overloading it. Additionally useful is its hypercardioid polar sample for max off-axis rejection, making it a superb stage microphone.
In each appears and sound, the AEA R84 is each bit a traditional ribbon microphone with that unmistakable sound. One key facet of ribbon mics is how precisely and naturally they’re in a position to reproduce transients, as a result of precise ribbon’s sensitivity and response to acoustic vitality. The AEA R84 is a stunning vocal mic, but additionally works effectively on piano, brass, strings, and percussion.
Royer singlehandedly introduced the ribbon microphone into the twenty first century with the inimitable R-121. It sounds very “alive,” as should you’re within the room with the instrument, so it’s nice for pure and intimate recordings. Curiously, the R-121 is widespread on guitar amps/cupboards because it handles excessive SPLs simply, and it’s a brilliant sturdy ribbon mic general.
The Voodoo VR1 is a favourite relating to inexpensive ribbon mics. Nothing about it feels too low cost, and it even rivals among the rather more costly choices on the market. If you wish to experiment with a ribbon mic however hold issues comparatively cheap, this is able to be an amazing microphone to strive.
AEA’s A440 is an extremely high-end microphone based mostly on the long-lasting RCA 44. Not solely that, it’s truly one of many quietest ribbon microphones ever made, with among the most pure sound you may get out of a recording. Put this on any supply and what you hear is nearly exactly what you get, with simply sufficient sweetness to flatter absolutely anything.
We love the Voodoo VR1 talked about above, however if you’d like really the perfect finances ribbon mic, Avantone has it beat. This might simply be a house studio workhorse ribbon — and also you don’t hear the time period “workhorse” sometimes attributed to a ribbon. However it has all the fashionable accoutrements to make it a sturdy and dependable ribbon microphone for any locker.
7. Coles 4038
Right here’s one other well-known ribbon microphone that sees use in skilled studios on a regular basis. It epitomizes all the finest traits of a top quality ribbon, corresponding to glorious transient response, vast, flat frequency response, and pure, three-dimensional sonics. It’s unbelievable on vocals, drums, brass, and absolutely anything else.
If you happen to’re on the lookout for true versatility, the KSM313 is the place it’s at. This can be a dual-voice microphone; on one aspect of the mic you have got a brighter sound that excels on vocals, and the opposite you have got a richer, fuller voice that works nice on devices. It isn’t the most cost effective microphone, however basically having two mics in a single with their very own distinctive character is a implausible function.
The Groove Tubes Velo 8 is one other superior and inexpensive ribbon microphone, as long as you may get your fingers on a used one. Like most trendy ribbons, it’s fairly versatile on a variety of sources, and also you don’t have to fret about damaging it on a loud guitar amp.