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Ribbons In Your Hair

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by MadMax, May 26, 2009.

  1. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    With all the talk about ribbon mic's, lets stop skirting the subject, and go ahead and get it out in the open where we can dig into em'....

    While the wiki article is very generic, it should be at least a good enough jumping off point to start a reasonable discussion.

    I own several ribbons, and I'm in love with the silkiness and richness I get from them.

    I find them great mic's to use on just about any source, but especially acoustic instruments and vocals where I am looking for a mellow-ish sound that needs to convey a smooth emotion.

    Anyone else wanna help me convince the world to rediscover these gems of our industry?... Such as your favorite ribbon to use on a particular source, characteristic of a particular ribbon you always reach for, etc......
  2. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Well, as the recent posts indicate, I'm getting to be a big fan.

    Rather than go on about how great ribbons are, it might be good to examine why they went out of fashion and why they seem to be coming back. (Are they really coming back, or is that just me extrapolating from my own interest?) So the negatives on ribbons are that they are fragile, pretty expensive, and have "worse" specs than condensers. They are more "colored" than condensers which is sometimes seen as a drawback and sometimes as an advantage.

    Some of these drawbacks have been mitigated by modern technology (though they are still out there) and that may be reviving interest in ribbons. I also think that after decades of trying to get cleaner, more neutral recordings there is a move back to more color. One modern trend working against ribbons is the loudness war. Not sure a ribbon is the tool to cut through a solid brick of sound.
  3. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    I think you hit on the crux of it for me at the end there, Bob. A ribbon mic is just such a different tool from a dynamic or condenser mic.
    It's like having a hammer and a screwdriver, but no wrenches.

    While my biggest foray into ribbons has been the Fathead IIs, they are one of my prized mics, along with my 414s, M39s, 421s, and yes, 57s.
    I particularly like using them in conjunction w/ a dynamic on amps, as well as on some vocals and acoustic instruments.

    I haven't been around long enough to follow the ebb and flow of the popularity of ribbon mics, but I have been around long enough to get serious. Just like a mechanic can't be serious w/o a variety of tools, I can't presume to offer the services I want w/o a couple of ribbon mics.

    Next step - a few really nice colored preamps...
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    API 3124. Four channels of color and confidence. Never think, "maybe it's the preamp" again.
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    OK for close-miked ribbons, but I find I can't get enough gain out of my 3124s for ribbon stereo pairs or room mics.

    Pre-amps suitable for ribbons should be the topic of a separate thread.
  6. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Good point. I've (a) mostly used the ribbons I have in close situations and (b) mostly used the Cascades which had one of the highest outputs in the tests we did with Jeremy. I've never had any problem with those, but we'll see how it goes with the Beyers. They had one of the lower outputs (if I recall correctly).

    My recommendation of the API 3124 is a general one - not specifically aimed at ribbons. More directed at the discussion of "color."
  7. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    The 3124 is on the top of my list. I've got an ISA 428 which allows for variable impedance - very helpful w/ ribbons.
    I only mentioned the pre as a reference to ribbons as tools - and that colored preamps were also tools I considered essential for me in the near future.

    I think the newer Royers may be playing a role in ribbons' resurgence.
    More and more "pros" are using them on guitar cabs, even in live sound, and I think that has brought them more forward in the collective conscious.
    They certainly are more rugged than your traditional ribbon mics.
    I know there are also some newer ribbons that can withstand a dose of phantom power. Not recommended, but if it accidentally happens, your mic should survive. It does seem that manufacturers are starting to make strides in building ribbon mics that aren't so "fragile".
  8. iamfrobs

    iamfrobs Guest

    Is it true that Jimi used M160s at Isle of Wight?

    Seems like they would have to be durable for festival use.

    EDIT: I'm dumb and totally forgot the rest of my post.
  9. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    soapfloats and Boswell,

    I generally use the Great River MP2-mh for my stereo OH's/Pairs.

    Plenty of nice neutral gain.

    Although, I can't wait to try the SF-12 in the studio with the 1073's.

    I think they fell out of fashion as they really haven't changed much over the last couple of decades. So they really weren't subject to being a "nice new shiny toy" version every year.

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