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Ribbon mic shopping

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by sshack, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    Hey guys. I've had a Fat Head 2 for a while, but just sold it to my buddy as I wanted to get a stereo pair with the Lundahl transformers instead. However, the more I think about it, the more I'm looking outside of that option at some other ideas, hence I'd like some opinions.

    My applications for the mics will be primarily for guitar cabs and drum room mic. The other thoughts that I had was the Cascade Gomez and the Beyerdynamic M160. I'm all about the M160, but would like to have a ribbon that is figure 8 as well. Maybe one of each?

    The Cascadess (Gomez and FH2) both rock around $500 and $650 for a single mic and stereo pair respectively. The Beyer seems to be roughly in that ball park as well.

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The classic pair for M-S work is the Beyerdynamic M160 (hypercardioid) and M130 (figure-8) combination. The two of these would set you back around $1300, but it's hard to think of a better investment in this area of recording technology. The M160 can be used alone on guitar cabs and almost any acoustic instrument. If you think you must have the flexibility to set up true Blumlein or M-S Blumlein, then maybe this is not the pair for you (unless you get two M130s).
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I added an AEA R84 to my ribbon collection last Friday and haven't had a chance to comment. So far all I've used it on is guitar cabinets, and it is wonderful! Really captures the bottom end better than any other mic I have used on a cabinet.

    Now in addition to the R84 I have a pair of Fat Head 2's, a Beyer M160, and a Beyer M130. You know the Fat Head. It's a very good mic for the price, but there is a definite jump in quality to the Beyers or the R84. I've been using the Beyers either individually or as an MS pair on acoustic guitar, mando, sax and trumpet. I have not compared the R84 yet. I'll report back when I do.

    BTW I assume you have listened to the clips in the Ribbon Shootout from last year.
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Oh, and I agree with Boswell about the 130/160 pair being about as good a value purchase as you can make in recording - at least for the stuff I do. The R84 might be the better purchase specifically for cabinets and drum room (matter of taste). But the 130/160 pair does a ton of things very well. Furthermore, they are small, durable, easy to position, work on any type of mic stand, etc.

    On the Cascades with the Lundahls I'm kind of skeptical. You are out of the "dirt cheap" mic category. Aren't you always going to be wondering if you shouldn't have spent a few hundred more and gotten the Beyers? I know I would. With the FH2 pair I can take them on location, lend them to clumsy people, etc.
  5. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    Yeah, thanks guys. I'm really trying to keep the budget around that 500-600 if possible. I realize that only gets me one M160/130, but I'm trying to keep an open mind. I've heard glorious things about the R84, but I think it's just out of my reach price-wise. However, I'd love to hear anything that you can report Bob.
    I've seen the shoot out thread, but haven't had a chance to listen to it on decent speakers yet.

    FWIW, I really just envision keeping one ribbon on my cab at all time and one as a room mic...but I can see using it for acoustic and/or vox when applicable.
  6. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    Point well taken on the FH w/Lundahl perspective Bob, thank you. So, with the M130/160 pair I guess I wasn't sure about the credentials of the M130 as a stand alone...as opposed to being paired up with the M160. That's not to say that I would never use them in an M/S configuration. I've just really only heard the praises of the M160...

    It sounds though like that pair may be the best bang for the buck, even if the buck is a little higher thus requiring me to save a few more dollars.
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    You know that Audio Technica is offering their ribbon microphones now also. I think they are both mono? And let's not forget the Rupert Neve ribbon microphone either. Ribbon microphones aren't cheap because there is nothing cheap about ribbon microphone. You know that Cascades makes a stereo ribbon also. I love my 160/130 combinations. I also love my RCA 77 DX's. I have found some of the pre-amplified powered ribbons sounding too much like their condenser counterparts. Great if you want that condenser sound. The one I want to ribbon sound I want a ribbon sound. There is no replacement for that sound. Your Fathead may have guaranteed you much better results with something other than a Chinese transformer. You might consider going that route again with a transformer upgrade? I have found that most of these Chinese transformers sound like well, Chinese transformers. They just can't compare to good quality transformers and that's a fact Jack.

    Jack of all transformers master of one
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  8. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    I do want my ribbons to sound like ribbons, not condensers...I have enough of those.
    I'm torn on the FH2 w/Lundahl mostly because I found the regular FH2 to be pretty adequate on just about everything that I used it on (electric, acoustic, vox, drums/room)...so I can only assume that the upgraded transformer would help all the more.
    The issue that I'm struggling with on the other ribbons suggested is that most of them seem to excel in some areas, not so much in others. For instance, if I get the M160, I know I can't go wrong for my room and electric (which was initially all that I thought I'd use it on before thinking it through), but I don't know how it would fare for vox. Conversely, the R84 would be great for acoustic and vox, but maybe not so much on the other applications.

    Somewhere there's a thin line of making a practical choice and over thinking the whole thing. As always, I appreciate the comments and insights....
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I must say whenever I've used my M 160/130 for vocal/announcer work, I always stick out on the extra foam condom. Also realize that the RCA 44 BX, R 84, Fat Head, Royer & others are long geometry ribbons. While the M 160/130 & RCA 77 DX are short geometry ribbons. There is your basic difference. I've always wanted a 44 BX but have never put out the $ to obtain one yet. So many ribbons so few dollars. Oh my, oh my.

    Ribbon mania
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I believe you'll find the new AT4080 is up there with the standards.
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    If you are getting close to $1000, I'd check out a R-121. Royers are excellent for guitars.
    I hear you remy. My new life quest are ribbons. I have 2 R-122 and they are very versatile and can handle SPL. The 122 aren't as warm as the 121's but they handle a wider variety of pres with a bit more defined bottom so I went for those.

    My next investment is the SF-24 and an R-121... hmm and more and more.
  12. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    sshack -

    I'm in much the same position of you, except my budget for new ribbon mics doesn't exist yet.
    All the same, the primary uses my ribbons would mirror yours - I do a lot of rock work, so it's all about the drums and guitars.

    However (assuming the pre-mentioned mic test), you really should keep in mind what that ribbon mic(s) will also do.
    Even w/ the FH2s, I've had great success w/ female vocals, horns, strings (fiddle, mando, guitar) and any hand/aux percussion that needed some softening.

    I also think the M/S config is important to consider for drums. Placed right, you can getting a pretty thumping kit w/ just this setup. Also, ribbons might make a good alternative for stereo OHs...

    Maybe the M160 for cabs and room for now, and add the M130 down the road?
    You'll still have your FH2s, which will find a home often enough.
    I'd like 3-4 different ribbons over just two modified ones, myself.

    Not helping, I know. But if you're gonna spend $500-$1000 on ribbon mics, you'll want to be able to pull them out for more than just a guitar cab or room mic.
    And choices are good.
  13. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    I love AT mics. I end up coming back to my 4033 more than any other LDC that I own and end up wondering why I even mess with some of the others. I've been eyeing the 4080 since it came out as it appears to be the one mic that could do everything that I want it to.
    In fact, it would probably behoove me to forget any 'conventional thinking' that I've done to this point and just get one; knowing that it would serve me well. Of course, the only down fall is that I can only afford one right now.
    It wouldn't necessarily suck to have that problem though, eh?
  14. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    Ok, so I found an AT 4080 on Ebay for cheap and went for it. It should arrive in a few days. I'll try and get some clips to share with everyone. Thanks for all of the input.

    Oh, and I will still get an M160. :)

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