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Ribbon microphones


Woodwind
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I've done a search and it seems most mentions of Ribbon microphones are from a while back, so I thought I'd start a new thread and hear from other ribbon fans.

 

 

I'd always heard that a ribbon was a great way to record a double bass. Alas when I was playing and recording in that instrument I never tried one.

 

Scroll forward a decade or so - I'd been involved in various sessions with my bassoon and contrabassoon and the engineers always brought out an interesting looking microphone.

 

I enquired and it was a Coles 4038.

My interest was firmly piqued so when it came to record some of my own music last year I asked for a Coles to be used in conjunction with a Neuman u87.

 

In mixing I found I basically avoided adding any of the U87 as the Coles had such an amazing sound.

 

Very solid, wonderful midrange and lovely bass .

 

Since then I've experimented with various other vintage and new ribbon mics and I am now a self confessed fan.

 

I'm looking to buy a cheaper vintage mic for my own demos and will always insist on a Coles to be used in conjunction with other mics in studio sessions.

 

Anyone use ribbons here?

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Yes, although at the other end of the price spectrum! I use a Chinese (?) Superlux R102 to record my nyckelharpa. I find it smooths out some harshness in the upper mids that I encountered when using a large diaphragm condenser. As it is an active ribbon mic, using phantom power, it doesn't require a lot of boost from the mic pre, so it's fine going straight into my interface. I seem to recall it cost about £100 a few years ago. No complaints so far. They often seem to be recommended for stringed instruments. If I were going to upgrade, the Rode NTR and the Sontronics Sigma both look interesting, but I'm not sure the (probably) slight improvement would be worth the expense (they're both in the £600-£800 range) for me.

Edited by Earbrass
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16 hours ago, Earbrass said:

Yes, although at the other end of the price spectrum! I use a Chinese (?) Superlux R102 to record my nyckelharpa. I find it smooths out some harshness in the upper mids that I encountered when using a large diaphragm condenser. As it is an active ribbon mic, using phantom power, it doesn't require a lot of boost from the mic pre, so it's fine going straight into my interface. I seem to recall it cost about £100 a few years ago. No complaints so far. They often seem to be recommended for stringed instruments. If I were going to upgrade, the Rode NTR and the Sontronics Sigma both look interesting, but I'm not sure the (probably) slight improvement would be worth the expense (they're both in the £600-£800 range) for me.

 

I think you're right.

One can catch the spirit and qualities of a ribbon with a modest outlay.

The more expensive, arguably better, microphones offer improvements, but will start to expose everything else one needs to improve - pre-amp(s) and room primarily.

 

I've been digging around on current albums I like and the engineers have used very humble vintage ribbon mics.

 

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The Coles are great, nit just for double bass, I use them as ambient room pics for kits and guitars too, lovely units.

 

The Rupert Neve SE Electronic ribbons are good too, but the standout for me is the Sontronics Sigma 2, which is excellent, but not what you'd call cheap.

 

Some ribbons are picky about their pre-amp pairings, certainly the Coles come alive with a variable impedance pre like the Neve 1073.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just got a Grampian GR ribbon mic, completely refurbished and modified by Stewart at Xaudia.

 

Quick test recording and it's fantastic!

 

I can see this will be a slippery slope.

These older mics have a fair bit of romance to them and can be brought up to modern standards and sound wonderful!

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