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Ribbon Mic Mini-forum

Hi all;

I'd like to start a sane, professional, civil discussion on the state (and spate) of ribbon mics out there available today. It seems like every time I turn around, there's a bunch of new ones availabe - some brands I've just started hearing about, some even newer than that.

In no particular order, and no particular model, I'd be interested in reading about folk's experiences with these, including bang for the buck, reliability, real-world results, preamp issues, etc. etc. (Anything is fair game, as long as your statements are provable or at least based on something tangible. Gut reactions are OK too, but no needless bashing or trash talking! Hahaha)

I've just come across some brands like Shiny Box,Cascade, (seem to have a competitor to the SF-12 going on, too!) Tripps-Crowly, and many other newcomers I can't recall at the moment. (Add your favorite here; seems like every time I look at ribbons for sale on Ebay, there's yet another strange new brand popping up.)

I'm sure a lot of these have at least something of a far-eastern heritage, let alone country of origin, but I always keep an open mind.

How about you? Any favorites? Dogs? Good experiences, bad ones? Mainly, I'd like to know the real-world difference between the big guys and the new upstarts. They can't all be as good as they claim, yet I'm sure there's actually a lot of very good and quite usuable mid-level new ribbons out there.



mdemeyer Wed, 02/21/2007 - 23:32
Made some simultaneous recordings last weekend with an M160/M130 MS pair (AEA TRP) and Schoeps MK4 and MK21 close pairs (Hardy M1) on string quartet and violin/piano works. Live concert without a good sound check, so the recordings are not ideal :( , but I'll post samples this weekend for comparison anyway. I was planning to do MS (Beyer) vs MS (Schoeps) comparisons, but decided I wanted a little different sound from the Schoeps on this one.

Stay tuned...


JoeH Thu, 02/22/2007 - 01:14
All of the recordings has something talking for them, but none of them really are useful to my ears.

I would have to agree with you there, Gunnar. Don't get me wrong, these are lovely recordings, but I can hear what you're talking about, along with a few things of my own that I noticed.... I do think, though, that this is a wonderful start to a solid centerpiece of a recording. Soloists, etc. do need a helping hand in some areas.

Overall, though, the detail is quite wonderful and warm, of course. I just don't think they're enough, by themselves for this sort of thing. Nothing seems overloaded or overpowered, though, and that's always a good thing. Things seem to sit well in their place, but again, I'm sure there are things you'd want to adjust (soloists, choir, brass, etc.) and this pair of SF-24s alone are not doing the job. (Nor would one expect them to, in these kinds of situations...)

All in all, though, I'm really enjoying what's being offered in this mini-forum. Hope to hear more from folks!

JoeH Tue, 02/20/2007 - 00:23
well, that's a good start, alright. But I have to admit, I'm sensing a bit of snobbery in those posts.

What I'm hoping for is real-world listening and testing, not just complaints and pot shots without testing them in use. I also realize you can't go by just the Disney samples alone (I too heard them, and liked them), and figured the Cascades are Chinese.

But even if they are, what are they like in real world use, etc? Worth the $, or better to wait on the upper end stuff? Lots of choices out there, and I'm hoping to get as much info as possible.

Hope to hear more from those who own or have used any of these, good or bad....

Cucco Tue, 02/27/2007 - 06:11
I haven't done a direct comparison between the two, but I never hesitate to use the Beyers along side the Schoeps. In the case of the the clip I posted above, I did actually run a Schoeps CMC6 MK4 beside the beyer on the soprano's voice. We both agreed that the beyer was the clear winner on her voice.

I think it's always a matter of choice and differences.

Member Thu, 03/08/2007 - 21:18
Beyer M130


In the piano/vocal recording clip you posted, where was the M130 placed relative to the vocalist? How close? I enjoyed the sound of that clip you posted - very nice.

Does anyone else like the M130 ??? What do you end up using it for?

I've used the M160's before with drums and really enjoyed them. They've been able to zoom right in on a drum kit when there is a lot going on on-stage...



RemyRAD Fri, 03/09/2007 - 01:09
jazzbutcher, I love my M130 and 3 M160's. I generally use my M130 as the side microphone of an MS pair. Sometimes, I'll use it like I use the other figure of 8 microphones I have and enjoy that kind of pick a pattern for certain applications. It's the same microphone as the M160. That's why they suggest it for use in an MS pair.

They are particularly eloquent for jazz and fine arts classical recording. Great on jazz guitar amplifiers. Marvelous for drum overheads. Great on female vocalists! Fabulous on violins, violas and cellos. I always use a foam pop filter when recording vocalists. Much safer. Can't really use the nylon embroidery loop screens for live shows.

Plus, these particular ribbon microphones have more of that older "RCA 77" like ribbon sound. Not as bright or condenser like sounding as the Royer's, which are great but I don't really think they sound like ribbon microphones? To me they sound more like condenser microphones. So I haven't purchased one yet as I have plenty of condenser microphones.

Ribbon crazy
Ms. Remy Ann David

IIRs Fri, 03/09/2007 - 03:24
I also love my M160 & M130 mics!

I use them as a stereo pair for recording choirs, and sometimes as drum overheads.

Individually I love them for certain types of guitar sound, and certain types of female voice.

Often when I record vocals with my usual LDC I put up one of those ribbons as well and use it to feed the reverb: it makes the verb sound really warm and natural!

Davedog Tue, 02/27/2007 - 15:58
Please forgive this infidel for hijacking your wonderful thread...I'll only be a moment....

Just a quick comment on the under-the-piano-micing that J mentioned earlier.......(yes yes I know this is a ribbon mic thread....okay, my M500 died years ago and I was too dumb to have it repaired!)....For definition and better frequency response under the piano, try a PZM. We had one mounted to a piece of plexi-glass and I gotta tell ya, it filled all the holes the other mics on top left open.

Thanx for your kindness.....back to your program........davedog

Cucco Fri, 03/09/2007 - 05:49
Re: Beyer M130

jazzbutcher wrote: Jeremy,

In the piano/vocal recording clip you posted, where was the M130 placed relative to the vocalist? How close? I enjoyed the sound of that clip you posted - very nice.

Does anyone else like the M130 ??? What do you end up using it for?

I've used the M160's before with drums and really enjoyed them. They've been able to zoom right in on a drum kit when there is a lot going on on-stage...



The 130 was placed about 4 feet in front of the soloist and slightly lower and angled up.

I use 130/160s all the time.

I love them as a M/S spot in orchestra woodwinds. I'll also use them on larger choirs where gain issues aren't a concern.

ghellquist Tue, 02/20/2007 - 12:17
Ribbons seems to be all the fashion right now. A lot of models are coming to the market right now.

To put it simply, in my mind, there is a reason that ribbon technology was more or less dead a long time, overtaken by the in almost every respect superior condensor mic.

My own experience is limited to running an SF24 for classical remote recording. I find it difficult to use, extremely sensisitive to the room making it more or less useless in many places. A few recordings has been really superb: on soprano singers (the opera type) where it sort of tames the worst parts, on grand piano, on brass. Considering how seldom I use it, it is now up for sale.


JoeH Tue, 02/20/2007 - 12:55
Interesting to hear that, Gunnar. I have access to an SF-12, which keeps my happy, but as for one of my own, I'm still finding the cost of the SF-24 extremely dear; cannot afford one right now, although I'd be interested in chatting with you privately about yours, and what you might want for it.)

I've got an AEA RE84 here, and it's simply gorgeous - at least up close, on male vocal and other things that work better in a controlled environment. (I doubt I'd EVER take this out on a gig...)

Having seen the new Cascade stereo ribbon (very similar looking to the Royer stereo, but obviously a cheaper outing), I'm wondering what the net difference would be, for the times I use it. I'm NOT knocking the good folks at Royer, and I know they make a fine product. But for the $ I'd spend on the SF-12 or 24 vs. the few times I'd use it, I'm wondering if the Cascade isn't a better deal overall.

I can't help but feel the proliferation of ribbon mics - good, bad, somewhere in the middle - might make for a more level playing field overall. More folks can have access to them, and get a taste of what the fuss is all about...

JoeH Wed, 03/14/2007 - 07:41
Jazzbutcher: if you haven't tried the TRP yet from AEA, you should check it out. (Full disclosure: I just reviewed it for MIX magazine, coming out next month or shortly thereafter...I can comment more after its out.)

I love the thing, and it's taught me more than ever: good ribbons need good pre's. They're nothing worth using without a good preamp. I hated to send it back to AEA (couldn't afford it - yet), but I'm planning to get one as soon as my finances improve. (Got an R84 that I luuuuuv, and it's fine with my Grace pre with the ribbon setting, but I still prefer the gain with the TRP.)

Zilla Tue, 02/20/2007 - 17:53
My experience with getting desirable results from ribbon mics has been when they are employed as spot mics. Not so much as main stereo arrays. My all-round favorite ribbon would probably be the Coles 4038. Brass, pianos, harps, lutes, guitar cabinets, percussion all sound just wonderful through those mics.

RemyRAD Tue, 02/20/2007 - 22:17
David those two examples sure were sweet! And what kind of preamp? Very quiet.

And what about that Nady "tube ribbon"??

I test ribbon microphones by blowing into them. If they don't sound good after I blow into them, you can give them to me.

I can't get these ribbons out of my hair!
Ms. Remy Ann David