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Best Mic Pre for ribbon mic

I would be interested to hear from any/all on best choices for mic-pre for ribbon mics. I am particulary interested in recording acoustic stringed instruments, especially guitar, dobro and Weissenborn guitar.
Here is my current set-up:

Fireface 800
Cubase SX3
Record on Dell p.c.

I currently own a Manley Dual Mono mic pre but I am thinking there may be better choices out there for the R84 (and ribbon mics in general)...again, I am really interested in recording acoustic music at my home studio.

I have heard a lot of good things about Great River, Millennia and Buzz Audio



tomtom Wed, 06/22/2005 - 23:57

Are you unhappy with the Manley? Man, that's a lot of clean gain for you ribbon microphone!!! The Manley is probably as good as it gets and should be up to the task for your ribbon microphone.
You should get a different preamp if you want a different flavor, otherwise, I would stick with the Manley and invest the money for different microphones. Two mikes in one preamp always give you more options than one mike in two preamps...
Personally, I like API preamps with my Royer Ribbon. When things get a little dark, they brighten up your sound. Very simple design, lots of clean gain and OOOOH they sound good.


Profile picture for user atlasproaudio

atlasproaudio Thu, 06/23/2005 - 00:29

RobA wrote:

I have heard a lot of good things about Great River, Millennia and Buzz Audio

All three of those brand of preamps are very high quality pieces and will work fine on ribbons. In order of 'most clean' to 'most colored' of those three, the Millennia is the cleanest (it's completely transformerless), the Buzz is in the middle and I would describe it as 'euphonic' (neither extremely colored or extremely clean), and then the Great River has a more vintage vibe, although is a bit more hi-fi than some vintage pieces (which is nice because little EQ will have to be used on any of these pieces, other than maybe a little high frequency shelf, which is mainly because of the ribbon not the preamp itself since ribbons are generally dark sounding).

Hope this helps :)

RobA Thu, 06/23/2005 - 05:24


You may be right about the Manley, I dunno...

I wish I had some way to do an A/B test and try some different options. I always thought the Manley was designed with capacitor microphones in mind (at least that's what their copy says). Interesting I wrote to EveAnna Manley a few days back asking her what the best mic pre was for my ribbon mic and she wrote back telling me I should buy their new (forthcoming) TNT mic pre.

Once again, I really do appreciate the feedback.


Profile picture for user Kurt Foster

Kurt Foster Tue, 06/21/2005 - 14:06

Ribbons usually have a pretty low impedance and need a mic pre with either a lot of gain or one that has input impedance switching.

On one end of the scale, the Great River MP2NV is a very good choice for ribbon mics. On the other, the SP VTB-1 is reported to work well with ribbons ... although I cannot attest to that from any personal experience.

Zilla Tue, 06/21/2005 - 16:08

Kurt Foster wrote: Ribbons usually have a pretty low impedance...

Low compared to what? A Coles 4038 ribbon mic, for example, has an output impedance of 300ohms but Schoeps condensor mics have an output of only 90ohms. So in comparison I would be inclined to say that ribbons have higher impedances.

Kurt Foster wrote: ...need a mic pre with either a lot of gain or one that has input impedance switching.

You will need a mic pre with lots of gain regardless of whether it has an input impedance switch. Almost all ribbon mics utilize an output transformer. The reason for a variable impedance switch is to load the mic's output transformer correctly for optimal (linear) signal transfer.

RobA Wed, 06/22/2005 - 15:02

Thank you all for your response. I appreciate it!

One thing that I hear time and again is that the Great River gets the "70's Neve sound" I grew up in the 70's but I am not sure I know exactly what is meant by the 70's Neve sound terminology.

What gives?