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Oktava ribbons

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by John Stafford, Jan 24, 2005.

  1. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Hi all
    Has anyone tried the Oktava ribbons? I don't suppose they're an alternative to Royers, but I was just wondering if they're any good at all.

  2. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    You know, I'm curious about this too.

    I've used Oktava mics for a while (some modified, some factory fresh) and have enjoyed them for what they are - inexpensive, subjectively good mics.

    I use their tube mics and love 'em. I don't think there's much better for capturing a cello or clarinet.

    The ribbons though are dirt cheap and are well built - I just haven't blown the $$ to try one yet.

  3. LittleDogAudio

    LittleDogAudio Active Member

    I have three Oktava ribbons.
    For the price, they are a great deal. They sound wonderful but quite different from a Royer.

    The main concern about Oktava's is the build-quality. At one time they had about a 30% failure rate, at least that's been my experiance. If you get them from a big-box store, hold on to your receipt because chances are, you'll be switching them out for new ones.

    But, once you get one that sounds good, it will make you a happy guy/girl.

    They in no way compare to a Royer or AEA ,but hey for the $$$, whatya want?

  4. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member


    Thanks for the help. I understand what you mean as for the quality. I think, once you find one that works, they are built quite well, but I have had a lot of "out of box" failure with them. (Though I think this is linked more to the GC factor than anything else.)

    What, in your opinion, do you get differently than a Royer or AEA? Cuz, the AEAs aren't that much more than the Oktavas. Also, as for their tube mic, I would easily compare it to some of the better tube mics on the market. Agreed, different, but still quite comparable.

  5. LittleDogAudio

    LittleDogAudio Active Member

    The AEA's and especially the Royer's react better to high spl's.

    The Oktava seems to distort much quicker and not in a very nice way. Also the noise level of the Oktava is higher the the AEA or Royer.

    Also, you have to watch out for the really cheap mounting stem on the Oktava, I've literally ripped a couple off the mic just by trying to slightly adjust the pitch of the mic position.

    I don't own the Oktava tube mic, so no opinion on that one.

  6. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member


    You might want to check out this auction:


    It's on your side of the pond and, if it works well, you would have a great mic on your hands.

  7. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the link!
    That's very tempting, but I wonder if there's a reason why they're selling so cheaply. I have my credit card locked away upstairs as I tend to make impulsive decisions! I should really think about this...

    I'm considering a ribbon mic, and during my search I came across this website:

    Sonar x64

    While the samples don't have anything like the jaw-dropping quality of the Royers, but I really like some of the recordings. There's something very endearing about them.

    Thanks again!
  8. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    After some more listening, I think the ribbon used on Bye Bye Blackbird has some really great things to recommend it.

    I love the choir recording as well, although initially I didn't like it. I also really like the ML-11M ribbon. I don't know why, but I think there's something lovely in the sound, although I don't think many clients would be very happy to receive a recording like this!

    These are well worth a listen.

    Chris, if you get a chance to listen to these recordings, I'd love to know your opinion on how the ML16 compares to the modern Oktavas.

  9. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    I have an ML52 - the only job I've used it on so far was an audiobook where it worked very well. I found a nice, affordable shockmount -

    I popped the nut out of the base and filed just a bit to open up the bore and it fits the Octave nicely.

    I got the peavey mount at a local music store for $25. I think I got lucky, but even the normal street price seems to be less than $50.
  10. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    It's great that you can get a "cheap" shock that works with it. It also looks seriously impressive!

    My problem with Oktava is that they don't have an Irish agent (to the best of my knowledge), so I can't try before I buy. I could get one sent from a UK dealer that does its own quality control, but the price is quite high. Still, I really like the way your 012s worked on the strings on your Vivaldi recording, and I know Oktava is more than just another budget brand.

    Good luck with your upcoming session!

  11. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    I got mine for pretty cheap - and with my experience with Oktava, I would be reluctant to spend "real" money on them without an easy way to return or exchange them.

    I bought 2 of the ML52s - I got them for $200 ea US. Their sound was different enough (one was a fair bit darker than the other) that I chose to sell the dark mic on eBAY and just keep the one. I was lucky enough that I made good money on the sale, so the one I kept cost me very little.

    One of my MK012s is different from the other two as well. Not bad, but it needs more gain and sounds a little different.
  12. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Octava microphones in general are not too bad. The problem is that they all have individual characteristics and do not sound the same. I listened to three ribbon microphones at my local GC store and was amazed that they all sounded completely different. One sounded fat and thick, one sounded full but lacked any real highs and one sounded like it was a telephone and was all midrange. I was told, by the salesman at GC, that a lot of these microphones are built in people's homes and that is why there is such a large difference in the way they sound. I don't know if that is true or if they just have lousy quality control at the factory but what ever it is no two of the microphones ever seem to sound the same. Maybe if Octava would do something about their quality control they would really have something especially at the price point they sell for.

    My best suggestion would be to listen to them at home if at all possible on equipment you know but if that is not possible then audition them in the store BEFORE you buy.

    Best of luck!
  13. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Thanks gentlemen.

    I'll be in England for the day in March and I might be able to try some out in person. I suppose that's the best way to go. I don't know much about the mic business, but one might imagine that the cost of QC would generate huge sales, so that it would more than pay for itself. Take Rode. They have the sort of customer confidence that has to play a huge part in their well-earned takeover of the universe.

    BTW Jeremy, the guy selling the Oktava valve mics has a whole truck load without boxes. I wonder does that suggest they are rejects? I have another day or so to decide.

  14. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    I bought two oktavas 319's from guiatr center some time ago and they didn't give me any boxes, not even a pouch! If you get a good deal on the oktavas, you can always buy a box at the sound room (which by the way, is also a good place to buy qc oktavas) :D

  15. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately for me I have to pay duty and tax for anything I import from outside of Europe, so the Sound Room isn't all that economical a way for me to get Oktavas, but the current euro/ US dollar exchange rate goes some of the way towards making up for that. Of course it's worth paying that bit extra for a product that's as good as it can be. Sort of makes me wince a little though when I hear Americans talking about the great bargains you can get on mics!

    I took the plunge and bought the MKL5000. A great bargain considering the side of the pond I live on. I waited until some of his Oktava stash showed up in his feedback. Thanks again for the tip!

  16. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member


    Let us know how this mic worked out... I might be interested in one or two of them from this guy if all seems good.

  17. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    I hope it's really good, but it hasn't arrived yet. If I hadn't bought it, I would have had enough to get an AKG C34 on ebay today, but the AKG looked like it needed a little work -it would probably be cheaper to just go out and buy a C 426. It sould be fun playing with the patterens on the Oktava -the nearest thing I have to a multi-pattern is a Behringer!

    BTW the Behringer B2 Pro isn't that much cheaper than the AT4040, and it certainly isn't significantly dearer than 4033 -which is the one mic that seems to be cheaper on this side of the Atlantic. Ain't it a funny old world?

    I look forward to hearing all of the lurid detail about your new 4040s. I haven't used them that much, but I love that neutral transparency thing they do.

    I'm expecting my Oktava tomorrow.
  18. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Where was the C-34? I couldn't find the listing... The C-34 is probably one of my favorite of all of AKG's mics. I love the C426B, but the 34 is awesome in a whole different way.

  19. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    It was on UK ebay (#3778017823), but bidding closed yesterday. It was sort of painful because it went for just £560, just a little bit over the amount available on my credit card :evil:

  20. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    I had an AKG 422 that was lost/stolen, and I miss it. While it wasn't my favorite mic, it was good for putting up a stereo pair in tight places, on winds, etc. I've still got the blue selector/switch box/interface (with the selectable patterns and multiconnector to XLR outs) as well as the actual cable and the original carry case.

    But the mic and clip-holder are gone. :cry: We discovered the missing items 2 or 3 gigs after the last time it was actually used, and even with a lot of detective work on our part, it was never clear if someone left it behind at a gig, or if it was pilfered out of the box at an event.

    The frustrating thing is that I (not a helper) was probably the last one to handle it, but it's possible it got put in a bench or a pew and never put away properly, OR it's also possible that on a subsequent recording (at a local high school) someone helped themselves to it. It was one of those situations where we brought out a lot of extra stuff, used some of it, but not all, and there were a few items in cases that could have been rifled through, if it was a clever theif. If that was the case, we simply packed the unused stuf, returned it to the shop, and didn't find the mic was missing until much later.

    I'm still looking to eventually pick up a single-point, stereo mic for the same kind of use: In a sectional situation with big ensembles, or smaller chamber groups. It'll probably be the Royer SF-1200 next, or perhaps the Studio Projects stereo mic. (although THAT thing is HUGE! :shock: )

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