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good ribbon mic for guitar amp
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anth
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24th February 2012
Old 24th February 2012
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good ribbon mic for guitar amp

I have a mbox 3 and shure 57 and want to record some good quality guitar tones for an indie rock studio project. I have a great selection of amps and guitars so I wanna do them justice. From my research, it is common practice to use a close mic and a room mic. I'm thinking about close miking with the 57 and using a ribbon mic further back from the amp for the room... any suggestions on which mic would be best suited for this application. I am thinking the shinybox mxl. Do I need a external preamp to get the level of the mic loud enough or can I get by with the internal preamps in the mbox 3.

Alternatively, can you suggest other ways of miking it... two close mics? etc etc
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24th February 2012
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Michael Wagener Michael Wagener's Discography gets one hell of a great guitar sound. last time I saw him mic a cabinet, he used a pair of Royer 121s.
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24th February 2012
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Royer R121's sound great and can handle being stuck in front of an amp..
Placement is personal Why not get someone to stick a pair of headphones on (to save their ears!) and move the mic while you listen in the control room to find whats good to your ears..
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24th February 2012
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...um....pardon me...may I just sit in the back over there and listen?...thanks...
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24th February 2012
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What's your budget? The Royer 121 is probably the most popular ribbon mic for guitar amps right now, but this was posted in the Low End Theory, so that maybe out of your budget.

As far as an external preamp is concerned, it's gonna be hard to say. Ribbons do need lots of gain, but if you record your amps pretty loud, you may not need one. If you do need one, you might want to check out the Fethead or Cloudlifter. They are inline supplemental preamps that give you an additional 20 or so dB of gain to your old preamp. Of course, a good quality preamp will get you a better tone than the mbox will be able to on it's own or with the inline preamp addition. And with that you'd want better converters and perhaps a DI splitter so you could also take a DI of the track at the same time.... It can all get really expensive, really quickly.

My advice would be to see what you can do with the sm57. They've been getting great guitar tones by themselves for decades. If you want to try a ribbon, maybe try a Nady RSM 4 or RSM 5. They're good ribbon mics for around $100. If you want something nicer, get the Royer 121 and a Great River ME-1NV preamp.
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24th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silent Sound View Post
What's your budget? The Royer 121 is probably the most popular ribbon mic for guitar amps right now, but this was posted in the Low End Theory, so that maybe out of your budget.

As far as an external preamp is concerned, it's gonna be hard to say. Ribbons do need lots of gain, but if you record your amps pretty loud, you may not need one. If you do need one, you might want to check out the Fethead or Cloudlifter. They are inline supplemental preamps that give you an additional 20 or so dB of gain to your old preamp. Of course, a good quality preamp will get you a better tone than the mbox will be able to on it's own or with the inline preamp addition. And with that you'd want better converters and perhaps a DI splitter so you could also take a DI of the track at the same time.... It can all get really expensive, really quickly.

My advice would be to see what you can do with the sm57. They've been getting great guitar tones by themselves for decades. If you want to try a ribbon, maybe try a Nady RSM 4 or RSM 5. They're good ribbon mics for around $100. If you want something nicer, get the Royer 121 and a Great River ME-1NV preamp.
I agree.

Other things to think about...
I like to place my ribbon mics right up on the speaker, not as the room mic. For a room mic I prefer a small diaphragm condenser waaaayyyyy across the room for the BIG amp sound (assuming the guitarist is using more than one speaker) and I sometimes will use a large diaphragm condenser that does not hype the high frequencies back six or eight feet from the amp. I always walk around and listen to find what to my ears is a sweet spot and THAT is where I place the room mics.

On the speaker I will often get up close and listen for the sweet speaker--there is typically one that sounds a little better if it is a 2x12 or 4x12 cabinet.

I really love ribbon microphones on electric guitar--they will give you a fat, thick sound. I prefer them more for rhythm electric guitar more so than lead work.

For budget on ribbon microphones... This has been posted many times before, but I'll write it again: If you are looking for a ribbon mic in the sub-$1000 range, you have a lot of options. Most of them are coming out of China with the notable exceptions of the Beyerdynamic ribbon mics and the Oktava ribbon mic. Of the Chinese mics, there are basically three models and everyone is pretty much re-branding them. There is the long ribbon type, like the Apex 205 or the Cascade Vin-Jet. There is the short ribbon type, like the Nady RSM-4 or the Cascade Fathead. Then there are the dual short ribbon types like produced by Apex or CAD.

My suggestion is to find the best deal on a Chinese ribbon mic that you can. Look at the Nady RSM-4 or RSM-5, as already mentioned, or for a long motor type, look for an Apex 205. Look for others as well, but I suspect you will not be able to find a better deal than those.

Oh yes, I would be remiss in not mentioning a mic made by one of our fellow gearslutz: The DIYAC RM-5. Check it out here: https://www.me.com/gallery/#101734

Okay, so you have some ribbon mic information to chew on. Learn more about how they work, the figure eight pattern, the null areas of their pickup field, how fragile the ribbons are and all that.

I will not get into DIY ribbon mic stuff as I typically do. Look it up and you will find a lot of posts on the subject if it is something that interests you. And good luck!
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24th February 2012
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+1 on the fathead with a sm57 combo. You seriously can't go wrong.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattqualls View Post
+1 on the fathead with a sm57 combo. You seriously can't go wrong.
On a low-end budget....THIS!! ^
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattqualls View Post
+1 on the fathead with a sm57 combo. You seriously can't go wrong.
+1. Although I think I'm the fourth person to say that. Does that make it a +4?
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+1 on the Fatheads. I'm pairing it with a Heil PR30 which is quite a present dynamic with lots more detail than a 57 or i5. It really is a pucka combo.
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25th February 2012
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Forgive my stupidity, but for all those that love the Fathead/SM57 combo...are you all setting the Fathead up to the speaker while the 57 takes on acoustics duty or are you placing both mics off the cab & blending the two?
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25th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puffer Fish View Post
There is the short ribbon type, like the Nady RSM-4 or the Cascade Fathead. Then there are the dual short ribbon types like produced by Apex or CAD.
Sorry to point it out, but nobody in China makes short ribbon microphones so far.

It is surprising to see even larger re-branders adopting that term "short ribbon" for the Chinese mics, which is incorrect and confusing. One would think they should know better...

Historically, short ribbons are those of 1" length and less and from top of my head, the only two current companies making such ribbons are Beyer and Coles.

The correct term for 1.5" Chinese ribbon microphones would be "medium ribbons". The distinction is important because they have completely different polar pattern properties (besides the obvious technical differences).

Best, M
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25th February 2012
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Its really popular to use a ribbon mic on a guitar cabinet. Its certainly not the only way to skin that smoke wagon.

If you want a room mic for 'bigness' a tube LDC is going to give you that lazy rise on transients as well as a bit of smoothness.

Not to say that a ribbon doesnt do that as well, its just that they are kinda 'dark' especially the cheaper ones (except for a few models)...

For 'crisp' go with an fet based LDC out a few feet.

For 'punch' a pair of SDC's in an X/Y configuration does a nice job.

For combo amp I have used a simple 57 on the grill and an LDC multipattern in fig of 8 and an SDC as the center mic in a mid/side set up. AT the BACK of the amp!! Gobo off the back at about 2-3ft. and put the amp in the middle of the room front open with the 57 on it.

These are all things I have found to work and if you have the time, experiment and have fun!
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25th February 2012
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Ya, in the "low end" I'm digging Fathead II plus.. something else. Last weekend it was a LDC (e300?). Blending those two signals I doubt I'll need any EQ. The condenser is bright and really cuts, the ribbon is dark and heavy. Studio owner suggested I try the Fathead instead of the R121.. I was kind of shocked by that, but I loved the results.

This was my first outing with the Fathead II, I have a Cascade Victor which I also like quite well on a guitar cab.
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25th February 2012
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Sontronics Delta

If you want a great mic less expensive then a royer a mono ribbon mic sontronics Delta...

a Stereo one blumlein Sontronics Orpheus

Thein are fantastic mics for the price tag...
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25th February 2012
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Another vote for the cascade fathead II plus another mic to capture some higher freqs. The fatheads are great fat sounding mics. A 57 works well, I also like my sterling st55 with the fatheads to capture some higher freqs. Put em both in close mic position about 3-6 inch from the grill cloth.

Jim

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anth
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25th February 2012
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thanks for all the input guys. Unfortunately, I am having trouble finding a cascade fathead 2 in Australia... I can get one in but have to wait few weeks. Although, I can get a shinybox mxc or a royer r-101 right away. Would you suggest either of these ? I was originally thinking of using the ribbon as a room mic but from what I have read, it is better as a 2nd close mic (further away) in addition to a dynamic. I'd rather spend less (shinybox) because I then have to look at getting a mic preamp to boost the level.

In addition, I have a stellar cm-6 LDC coming in a few weeks... not sure if I should hold off recording and use this as a room mic and thus the fathead becomes an option again. This would give me 2 close mics and one room. I should mention that the room is smallish and has carpet, heavy blinds and furniture around the room i.e. it is quite dead and worked great for recording vocals... so not sure if I should bother with a room mic?
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25th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anth View Post
thanks for all the input guys. Unfortunately, I am having trouble finding a cascade fathead 2 in Australia... I can get one in but have to wait few weeks. Although, I can get a shinybox mxc or a royer r-101 right away. Would you suggest either of these ? I was originally thinking of using the ribbon as a room mic but from what I have read, it is better as a 2nd close mic (further away) in addition to a dynamic. I'd rather spend less (shinybox) because I then have to look at getting a mic preamp to boost the level.
mic pre or maybe a cheaper option as already mentioned a Fethead or Cloudlifter...just a thought.

Nobody's mentioned the r 101 but that is also a good choice, but again still a chunk of change....I think the shinybox could be a good starting point.
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25th February 2012
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As far as the low end is concerned, I'm a bit shocked no one has suggested the Avantone CR-14...mine was delivered just today so I personally have not gotten to use it on my amp yet...does anyone have experience with this one?
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25th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wearecreative View Post
As far as the low end is concerned, I'm a bit shocked no one has suggested the Avantone CR-14...mine was delivered just today so I personally have not gotten to use it on my amp yet...does anyone have experience with this one?
I own one of those and think they're great. Figure of 8, a brightness most ribbons at this price point dont have, nice presentation with the wooden box and an attache' case for travel. I love it on a closed back cabinet with a Kel HM-1. Or alone. Great vocal mic. Especially female vocals.
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Triple post... (gearslutz app fail)
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25th February 2012
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Loving my AEA R92 at the moment.... Doesn't seem to be a source that doesn't like it. Everything I try it on sounds like a dream. It has me Jonesing for some higher end AEA stuff.
The R92 is designed with close micing in mind, low proximity effect and capable of withstanding high SPL.
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25th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marik View Post
Sorry to point it out, but nobody in China makes short ribbon microphones so far.

It is surprising to see even larger re-branders adopting that term "short ribbon" for the Chinese mics, which is incorrect and confusing. One would think they should know better...

Historically, short ribbons are those of 1" length and less and from top of my head, the only two current companies making such ribbons are Beyer and Coles.

The correct term for 1.5" Chinese ribbon microphones would be "medium ribbons". The distinction is important because they have completely different polar pattern properties (besides the obvious technical differences).

Best, M
Thank you for the clarification. I never heard or read where the shorter ribbons were referred to as medium length before. Interesting.
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25th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anth View Post
I'd rather spend less (shinybox) because I then have to look at getting a mic preamp to boost the level.
maybe not on the preamp. It depends upon how loud you will have your amp running. In my experience, I have never needed a lot of gain for mics on the guitar amps.

[/QUOTE]In addition, I have a stellar cm-6 LDC coming in a few weeks... not sure if I should hold off recording and use this as a room mic and thus the fathead becomes an option again. This would give me 2 close mics and one room. I should mention that the room is smallish and has carpet, heavy blinds and furniture around the room i.e. it is quite dead and worked great for recording vocals... so not sure if I should bother with a room mic?[/QUOTE]

Well if you already have an LDC coming, why not wait... unless you can't for some reason. If it were me, I would incorporate the CM-6 into your recording strategy as a room mic (even if the room is smallish) and give it a try before jumping ahead and buying more stuff. Who knows, the CM-6 combined with the SM-57 might be just the sound you were looking for.
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25th February 2012
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Just chiming in with the suggestion of the mxl r144 - can be had for £100 or less and sounds awesome on valve amps!

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Just chiming in with the suggestion of the mxl r144 - can be had for £100 or less and sounds awesome on valve amps!

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+1 to MXL. I bought the MXL r40 and the Fethead after reading about them here on gearslutz (I paid $80 incuding shipping!!! WHAT??? That's just CRAZY cheap!!!.) My MXL r40 quit working about a month after I bought it for no apparent reason. Well. I contacted MXL and I must say-they're support was absolutey outstanding. I shipped it back-they fixed it and returned it no cost other than one way shipping.

Not to get off topic BUT-I was at Micro Center the other day and I couldn't help but notice-almost everything is made in China-even the close I wear (I shop at Old Navy for casual wear) 'Tis kinda spooooky-just sayin?

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I recorded this funkay/jazzzzy jam with the MXL r40/Fethead, a strat and a vintage Fender Champ amp-in a verrrrrrry humble bedroom setup as may be obvious?


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Talking

Modded MXL R40s.

DIY it, MXL R40 cost $69 dollars and the Cinemag CM 9887 was 42 bucks.

$111 Ribbon mics.

They sound awesome!

According to MXL the ribbon is already a 1.8 micron design, there's no resonator plates around the ribbon.

Stock versus modded?

The stock version is bright and light on the low mids and lows.

Upgraded transformer brings bass low mids and a much more natural top end.

These things smoke on overheads, guitar cabs and they are one of my recent faves on close miked acoustic guitar.

I want another pair with Samar Audio transformers and another pair with AMI transformers

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25th February 2012
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Has anyone compared the Fathead to the R40?
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