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ribbon mics for mains?

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by Exsultavit, Jan 28, 2006.

  1. Exsultavit

    Exsultavit Active Member

    I have a friend/ engineer who wants to try this on a symphony orch in a Decca Tree configuration. He is, I think, new to classical recording. I am not, but I have little experience with ribbons in classical situations as mains- mostly because I am such a fan of top end that I prefer condensor's sound over anything 'duller'.

    I wonder if any of you have had success using ribbon mics as mains?


  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I have done considerable fine arts classical music recording. I have frequently used the Beyer M160/130 HyperCardioid/figure 8 combination in an MS configuration. One of the sweetest sounds you'll ever hear! Like yourself, so many people like that crispy metallic flavor from state-of-the-art condenser microphones. I find that irritating. On fine arts classical music I like things to be more mellow and relaxing and you get that with ribbons.

    I just did a violin/piano audition and utilized both of my RCA 77 DX ribbons. Man that was so lush!

    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I just did a recording yesterday using the M130 and a TLM193 in a MS array yesterday.

    Far from "dull" or lifeless.

    I also used my gefell M296's as flanks and for reverb. I couldn't have been more pleased.

    The violins were very strident (as this was a HS orchestra) and the Beyer/Neumann combo didn't roll it off so much as it tamed it down and made it far more friendly.

    Other than that, high-frequency info such as triangles, cymbals and trumpets were just fine - neigh - beautiful.

    Now, I hope you're not saying he wants to use ribbons in a Decca Tree...?

    That would be a tad odd.

  4. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    Lovely but difficult I would say.

    I got to play around a bit with a Royer SF24 on various sources, and indeed a very nice sound. Have tried with choir, flute, trumpet and violin, all with nice results. Warm and round and still clear.

    But setting up a Blumlein pair (crossed 8-s) and getting a good balance between direct and ambient sound will take quite a bit of training for me. I will do a bit more trying in various settings, but my guess is that it definitely has a place among other mics and techniques.

  5. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Ribbons are NICE, have used 77DXs for classical recording, have also used Beyers. One thing you want to be very careful off is the quality of the preamp you are using and the most important thing to remember is NO PHANTOM POWER or you will damage the ribbons.
  6. Exsultavit

    Exsultavit Active Member

    Thanks for all your replies! Seems that the 'ribbon mic mains' are more popular than I thought.

    I also thought of how the fig8 ribbons would be a strange combo with a Decca Tree config.

    More thoughts?

  7. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Gunnar, the best approach with this is to err on the close side and then trim back from there. I do a lot of chamber music with the SF24 as main, also choral. I find that I usually need to get as close as possible to fit the musicians into the 90deg window, and I like a wide stereo image. If that ends up with too much direct sound, I add convolution reverb in mastering. This always seems to fix any direct/diffuse balance problems.
  8. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Use an SF-24 all the time for orchestral recordings. Sometimes it works beautifully and other times, not so much.... Pretty much like any mic. It is a great tool to have in the arsenal, though.

    I find that i usually have to ballance out the sound with a set of mics on the flanks that is full frequency. The SF-24 has a monster low end, but on some sources, I prefer a bit more on top (other sources, I leave it untouched- really depends). In that case, I get great results with my B&K 4006's.

  9. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Gorgeous on string quartets... The Royer SF12 (passive) was my only stereo microphone for about three years, very fussy with preamps. It was then replaced with the SF24 for a year or so. I was kind of forced to learn how to use Blumlein ribbons, and now I'm glad for that. I don't use it (the SF24) often these days because a) I'm getting fussier about what I use, and b) I'm doing a much wider range of instruments/orchestrations than when I started. I also realised that, although the ribbons might sound beautiful to me, to some clients they simply sound too dull - rightly or wrongly. If the client isn't happy, the rest doesn't matter.

    When a ribbon is the right microphone for the job, it is VERY MUCH the right microphone for the job...
  10. dizziness

    dizziness Guest

    I'm on the fence right now, between a SF-12 and Gordon pre-amp, just a SF-24 (with my DAV BG2), or just pick up a pair of Schoeps CMC6/MK2s or DPA 4006TL. I can't make up my mind... It seems the DAV is probably good enough for a while. I enjoy it quite a bit. But the Gordon has always had my eyes and ears... It's ooh, so nice.

    It seems I would be better served with a truly upper-tier pair of SDC (to complement the Shure KSM141 and Royer R-121 that serve me well.)The posts in this thread that I might be left wanting with a SF12 or SF24 even with a Gordon pre.

    Then of course, we get to the whole laptop/ADC mess.. Michal at Mytek needs to get that Firewire card shipping... The Fireface800 is decent but I feel it is limiting in respect to performance.
  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    FWIW, I tried the SF12 not too long ago and admittedly, I only had it for a short period. However, I couldn't warm up to it on virtually any source. I tried it on male vox, female vox, full orchestra and a few others... (For more details, check out the post "Mics and Pres to die for").

    For full orchestra, it left me feeling like there was a blanket over the orchestra. The conductor also quickly shot it down.

    In truth, I haven't worked with the 24 but maybe once (if you can call standing around on a session "working" with it...) I didn't get a chance to give it a fair shake, so I don't know about it. Although I hear it's quite a bit more open.

    For me, (and ribbons) I have found the Beyer M130 to be one of my all time favorites. A pair of those plus an M160 make a virtually unbeatable combination. When I need a little brighter of a sound, I use a MS combo with a condenser as the mid (TLM 193 or CMC64). Of course, this is on the occassion that I use MS or Blum (usually for smaller ensembles as I must get RIGHT up on the performers to actually use either technique.)

    As for your dillemma between the pres and the mics - I would lean towards the mic. Schoeps, DPAs, Senns and most other mics aren't that picky about their preamps. The DAV is a good pre (I'm in the process of finding out just how good - I just got the BG2 a few weeks ago) and would suit most any mic just fine.

    The Gordons may be nice, but they are VERY expensive. I just don't know how someone can justify paying that price when the performance is at best, marginally better.

    Just some thoughts.

  12. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    AMEN, brother!
  13. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    The thing about ribbons (especially the Royers, Coles, or any of the more "traditional" sounding ribbons) is that they tend to be very picky about positioning. As I said earlier, when they work well, they are amazing. However, when they don't- ugh... Sort of one of those sounds that you also have to get used to if you are used to condensers.

    The other thing about ribbons is that they don't seem to have the "dig" into an ensemble that other microphones have. They sound great, but I find that I rely on my spot mics more with them than I do with condensers...

  14. dizziness

    dizziness Guest

    Thanks for that. I need to hear it to keep the pocketbook in check. A 2-channel isn't more than a Millennia M-2b. So, VERY is a relative term. I was considering a HV-3d for a contrast to the DAV and so the Gordon came into the mix.

    On the other hand, your suggestion that a diverse mic closet is going to make things easier and increase the possibilities more than any mic preamp.

    Perhaps my success with the blumlein pair of R-121 is due to their high frequency rise?

  15. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    I would tend to agree... I've put the majority of my money into microphones. I have some good preamps, but I'm not loaded up on them like I am my mics. I can get a great sound when I'm using Schoeps, DPA, AKG, etc... If those mics are going through great preamps, the sound will (of course) be better, but if I have crappy mics, the best pres in the world won't save my sound.


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