Published by IIRs on 19th December 2011
These have an unusual shape for ribbon mics, with the diminutive ball end not seeming large enough to contain one ribbon, let alone two.
There is no mistaking the warm ribbon sound however. But unlike some cheaper ribbons I have tried, they don't sound muffled or stodgy: these mics roll off the high end gently as you would expect, and present a much warmer sound than a typical condenser in the same position, but the high end takes EQ well, and a smooth "air" boost can often bring out a beautifully soft and understated top end that you can't really get from condensers. I like to think of this as a matt finish instead of the glossy sheen of a condenser.
The M160 has a slight presence boost in the upper mids, which probably helps it sound sound so great on electric guitar cabs, or drum overheads. This has also worked really well on tricky sources such as a banjo: it captured a perfect balance of transient attack and woody tone, with no unpleasant harshness whatsoever.
In some situations such as solo violin I find I am not so keen on the presence bump, and I tend to reach for the slightly darker sounding M130 instead.
Speaking of the M130, the combination of M160/M130 in Mid/Side is a thing of great beauty on sources such as choirs, string or horn sections... even a full orchestra on a couple of occasions. The small size and light weight is another bonus when positioning them over the conductor's head!
Of course being ribbon mics they have a pretty low output, and will place more demands on your preamps when used at a distance or on quiet acoustic sources. But they are not much harder to drive than many classic dynamic models, and most decent preamps should cope fine. To put it into context, I have often used my M160/M130 mics on location plugged into the Mackie Onyx pres on my firewire interface, and while I have sometimes needed the gain pots up all the way I have never had any issues with noise.
Highly recommended: these mics are a great bargain, and something of an industry secret.
By edva on 19th February 2012
The Beyerdynamic M160 ribbon microphone is a little jewel of a mic. Only a smallish six inches in length, the mic is uniquely tiny and durable for a ribbon. But its biggest difference from most other ribbons is the unidirectional (hypercardioid) pattern, much tighter and with greater off-axis rejection than one would typically get with a ribbon mic.
The sound also is unique in having extended high frequency response, and a gentle, wide presence boost, resulting in a brighter and more aggressive tone than most other ribbon mics; while at the same time having a very mild, tame low end, contrary to usual ribbon thumpiness. Yet, like all ribbons, it is very smooth and laid-back at the upper end of the spectrum, resulting in a pleasing, relatively natural tone on most sources.
I tested an M160 using a Cloudlifter for extra gain through an Avalon 737 pre-amp and got a brilliant, focused, yet creamy capture of a strummed Martin acoustic, and in fact the M160 has since become my go-to for that application. The combination of detail and brightness with ribbon realism and smoothness makes the Beyer M160 a unique and special microphone.
By hakanai on 29th February 2012
M160, go buy 2
Honestly, these mics are used on every recording I do. I use them most as drum overheads, and for jazz they are the sound. I run them through some api 3124's and it has everything you are looking for. Just that sound. Everything is there, with none of the harsh top or mud bottom. They are articulate with out being obnoxious. They have a very linear off axis response that really makes the difference when miking multiple sound sources, like drum OH's and ensembles.
Recently I have been using them with a Hamptone stereo tube pre and been getting some new results. They actually go a little warmer with this pre, which is not always my experience with that pre.
This is truly a mic for every session, something will always sound right through these. I have used them on drums, gtr cabs, acoustic gtr, female vox, banjo, mandolin, violin, trumpets, sax, piano, and i'm sure more. If you record jazz drums or med/close mic'd piano, I highly recommend trying these for a session. I have heard multiple offerings from royer and AEA, and these give a different option to those.