Published by edva on 27th February 2012
Cascade Fathead II ribbon microphone
The somewhat amusingly named Fathead II is a ribbon mic assembled in the USA by Cascade Microphones of "off shore components". Thus, the build quality and quality control are very good, better than what one might expect at the price. And the low price is one of the selling points of this mic, along with the aforementioned generally good quality; as well as decent sound.
The mic is sold singly or in pairs, and usually comes in a nice case, either wood or metal, with a very substantial shockmount; and in some iterations, a very "heavy duty" stereo bar, which is very useful for Blumlein positioning and that sort of thing. A couple of color options are offered. Materially, the Fathead II and its accessories are good value for the money.
Sonically, the mic certainly exhibits the instantly recognizable ribbon tone, with huge, warm lows, relatively clear mids, and very attenuated highs. My pair has only the stock transformer, and reportedly the upgraded one sounds somewhat clearer. There is a certain color to the Fathead's sound however that I imagine is wedded to the basic design and componentry of the mic, with either transformer. On some sources this can be a good thing, whilst on most others it can be less than ideal. This can best be heard by A/B'ing the mic with another model, for example a more expensive ribbon mic. Usually the mid frequency coloration of the better mic will be more pleasant, and far preferable, to that of the Fathead.
However, I have had good results using the Fatheads in a M-S array on jazz drums, and as a single overhead mic on "fiddle" (not violin), where it really, really took the edge off any potential stridency. But generally I have found that there are much better sounding ribbon mics available, albeit usually more expensive.
As a possible first foray into the warm, natural sound of ribbon mics, one could do a lot worse than the Fathead II. A low-ender, admittedly, but good value for the price.
By estebanco on 28th February 2012
Cascade Fathead II Ribbon Microphone
I bought a pair of these as my first ribbon mics. Having only recorded guitar amps with dynamics and LDCs, I really liked the beef this added to my guitar sounds. It's really dark sounding, but I love blending it with an RE20 to find the perfect tone. It's usually pretty low in the mix, but it does add some nice warmth. If you turn the mic around backwards, it's a little brighter.
The case and accessories are great, shockmounts are super sturdy and holds the mic with elastic (really strong, unlike the BLUE shockmounts), so nothing to twist or crank or get stuck. I haven't had a chance to use the blumlein bar yet, but I'm sure it's great.
I bought a pair thinking I would use them as another option for drum overheads... not so exciting for me though. Smooth, but waaaay to dark for my liking. Put them up in the room and liked them better, but I think they'll stay on guitar cabs for me.
Cascade claims that they can handle phantom power with no damage... I can attest to that... on a few occasions. I'll learn to be more careful when I get my Royer...
By Bill Hambone on 3rd March 2012
Cascade Fathead II
This mic is a great value. I had borrowed a stock Fathead I from a friend few years ago. I was really impressed after using it to track a nylon string guitar and a vintage Fender amp. I recently bought a used Fathead II with the Lundhal transformer upgrade from a fellow on Gearslutz. I love it! It gives every source I've used it on a nice, smooth, warm and "woody" sound. It sounds great on strings, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and voice. It also comes with a nice padded wooden box, and a sturdy metal carrying case.
The only thing I don't like about this mic is the shockmount. It's a little hard to get the mic in and out, and the tightening screw tends to come loose. I also wish the it had a low cut switch as it has quite a huge proximity effect.
Cascade's customer service is also very good. When my ribbon became damaged and started buzzing, I called Cascade and they replaced it for me quickly and cheaply. They are a cool company making cool mics. I wish I had held out to buy that new copper colored Knucklehead ribbon they just released. That thing is beautiful!
By elfen on 28th March 2012
Fat Head II
I borrowed the Cascade Fat Head II from a friend before purchasing my own. The one I borrowed was a standard FatHead II with no transformer upgrade. It make me discover ribbon mics and since then I use it on almost all recordings as another texture alongside my cardioids.
You have to purchase it online as no local store has it. The purchase and delivery was easy, secure and fast.
I purchased one with the Cinemag transformer upgrade and did some comparative testings with the standard one. The upgraded one is a bit more cleaner and upfront. Feel a bit more professional for lack of better word.
The sound is darker than all the mics I used to date, it got a creamy texture that adds a lot of character to a recording. I use it for vocals, guitars, flutes percussions, drums. It smooth out the transients and gives a roundness that other kind of microphones did not. I used it combined with a cardioid on a cello and violin and the combination gives a perfect match of smooth tone and precision.
It come in a steel case and the mic is placed in a wooden box. It has a great protection casing. Like the other reviewer said, the shockmount is a bit tricky to use. The suspension elastics gets unhooked a bit too easily from the shockmount frame.
The price is great for this quality, it's not an all-rounded mic for sure but a great mic to have in your sonic palette.
By soundmark on 2nd April 2012
I have owned both Fathead and Fathhead II (didnt hear a difference, personally). I think they are solid e guitar mics and would throw one up with the same confidence (maybe more) than a 57. In fact, a 57 and a fathead side by side on a nice tube combo amp sounds like a good day of e guit tracking.
Sucks on vocals, interesting on percussion, sucks on viola, interesting in Blumlein room.