I had been looking at several microphone options especially in the budget price bracket which I equate with being about $600 or less. I'm a female with a contra alto voice and was looking for a darker mic with clarity that might sound good on both my vocals and an acoustic guitar.
After reading Sound on Sounds ribbon mic shoot out. It really is no surprise that the Royer and the Coles consistently came out on top in each category but the surprise was this little (not so little in size though) budget mic from Golden Age Projects. Fortunately they tried a few of the microphones from Golden Age but the top performer seemed to be the MKII Active Ribbon which costs a little over $200 new. With little lose I ordered.
I haven't tried the more expensive mics in this category but I can say that I am very pleased particularly considering the cost. But regardless of the price the mic sounds really good. Being a ribbon it is a tad darker but I don't find I have to EQ or de-ess much which is what I was hoping. True to the review I find it smooth and with a good presence. I have not compared this mic through different pre amps but I am running it through an A Designs Pacifica. Anyway it is definitely a keeper.
hokay - I spent a few hours with it last night. Before I go further, let me emphatically state that it doesn't help me sing more in tune, so needless to say I'm disappointed.
Beyond that, however, this is a GREAT great GREAT cheap mic. If you want a straight ribbon mic, this isn't for you. It is an active ribbon, so it runs on phantom power. The upshot is you don't need a specific, super-clean powerful preamp - as long as it says 48V next to a button or switch, you're covered.
It looks real swell and makes you wanna sing in mono. I tried it through a GAP Pre 73 and a Summit 2ba-221. Also through a modified ART Pro Channel. In each case, I got very useable results, although I preferred the Summit (-20 pad engaged, impedance knob turned off to the left). The GAP 73 came close, but the Summit had a more open top end, whether I used the 2BA's tube output or just the solidstate out. Overall a little tube was requested by my brane. At that point I went into an Aphex 651 to my converters.
Sonically - hmmm. Not what I expected, but I LOVE it. The top end is THERE - much more so than a standard ribbon. It has a slight trace of zingy at the very top - the specs say it goes up to 18Khz, but it sounds like a very smooth, soft-topped condenser. I have always been a sibilant singer - this mic handles the "s, t, th, z, sh" sounds with a gentleness you won't find in condensers anywhere near this price point. And it takes eq real swellsville.
The bottom end isn't quite as expansive as the big ticket ribbons, but it's still there. It has a (gotta use the word again) "gentle" proximity effect. the thing even comes with a low-cut switch that's supposed to kick in at 100Hz - I have a boomy low voice and I was a few inches away from the little guy and I didn't need it.
It also has a -10 dB pad which I also haven't tried yet. I may need to, since there was a slight woolyness when my boomyness woke up. Not a bad sound, maybe what some would consider 'warm".
Overall, it fits my mic collection very well - my main vocal mics are a Jolymodded MK219, a Genesis tube and a AKG 202 dynamic (also a Cr 24 that sneaks in here and there). The GAP R1Mk3 sits between the 219 and the 202 - it's very smooth - rounder than a dynamic and softer on top than a fet.
For $200, just buy the thing. It's probably what lots of you have been looking for to fight the CCC Syndrome (Cheap Chinese Condenser). The cable it comes with is a little on the short side, but hey - it's a cable. No aluminum case, but a well-padded "sack" to hang from a door knob so the ribbon doesn't lay on it's side.
Having used all of the original ribbon mics that GA makes - this one, while not may fave - still would find a place in the locker due to its natural ability to tame hi freq sounds - while not sounding overly dark and muffled and coupled with the active electronics and needing phantom power means that its a lot less finnicky when it comes to preamps..
The example which springs to mind is when it beat out a MUCH more expensive mic (Brauner VM1) - and while not overly fair test/comparison to the brauner - it shows that it's the mic that makes all the difference in any given situation.. The female singer in question had quite a naturally bright voice, which coupled with the Brauner (normally the go to mic for "posh" vocal sounds) was just too bright and fizzy and definitely NOT what we were looking for... changed over to the R1 Active, same everything else in the vocal chain resulted in a perfect tone that still had plenty enough hi-end in the sound but also without needing de-essing.. Its other main use on sessions was for drum room mic (while the studio's Royer 121's were in use on the guitar cabs) and using a pair in a Blumlein configuration about eight feet away gave a really nice wide big sound that sounded great on its own, but but even better when abused with a bit of distressor action!!!
Overall - although i still prefer the R1 Tube Ribbon for its combo of tubes and transformers and the extra density to the sound that brings, but the R1 Active is still a solid performer..