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Cascade Fathead vs Gomez
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Mike Douaire
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25th March 2010
Old 25th March 2010
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Cascade Fathead vs Gomez

So I'm in the market to buy a ribbon mic. This would be my first ribbon mic and im extremely excited to get one for multiple applications.

After researching, I thought I had settled on the Fathead w/ Lundahl transformer - everyone seemed to love it, great price, comparable to R121, etc etc.

Well now I just saw that Michael Joly has a microphone with Cascade - the Gomez.

Sooo considering how much experience MJ has in working with microphones, a lot of them being ribbons, now I'm considering that over the Fathead.

But the price difference. Does anyone have any experience with these mics and can give an honest A/B on them? Is the price difference worth it?

Applications: Mono drum room (or M-S once I get a decent cardiod condenser), Electric guitar, acoustic guitar. Future applications would probably be violins, horns, etc - but not right away.
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#2
25th March 2010
Old 25th March 2010
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I've got some experience with both ; )

Here are the similarities: Both the FatHead and Gomez use the same "short ribbon / long path" type motor described in my article about Chinese ribbon mics. So both mics have a slight "peak-before-cut" frequency response with a top end that is attenuated somewhat compared to the "long ribbon / short path" type mics (Cascade Vin-Jet, Apex 205 etc). This frequency response contour makes them a favorite for guitar cabs where both upper mid presence and very top end cut are desired.

...and the differences: The FatHead uses a two-layer grille mesh while the Gomez is a single layer and thus offers reduced coloration due to the greater open area of the headbasket and reduced internal reflections. The FatHead has stock factory wiring while the Gomez has Evidence Audio LYRIC HG solid copper which offers a very tight transient response and nice harmonic / fundamental alignment. The Fathead has a factory stock XLR connector while the Gomez uses a higher quality Switchcraft part. And finally, and quite significantly, the Gomez is built and goes through an inspection process at Cascade Microphones to ensure ribbon tension and about ten other quality control points conform to the standards I requested for the Gomez MJE.

A thought about your intended "multiple application" usage - For folks getting their first ribbon mic who want to use it for multiple and varied sources I always recommend the "long ribbon / short path" type of mic (Vin-Jet or Apex 205 etc) because this type of mic has a flatter and more extended top end response. I feel this makes it a more versatile player for vocals, acoustic guitar, piano and drum room / OH usages. I tend to think of the FatHead / Gomez as a "second ribbon mic" and one that is a bit more specialized because of its frequency response contour.

One really inexpensive way into the world of ribbon mics is to consider a Nady RSM-4 or RSM-5 (a "short ribbon / long path" motor like the FatHead / Gomez) for $79 and an Apex 205 "long ribbon / short path" mic for $99. Just get them from a reputable dealer and immediately check them for proper ribbon tension or sag as I describe here. If the ribbon is sagging just return and and get another one.

With proper ribbon tension both of these ribbon mics offer good performance out of the box and great (Coles 4038-challenging quality) once upgraded.

So if I was in your shoes I wouldn't spend my entire budget on a single ribbon mic but I'd buy one of each of the two basic ribbon motor types for greater versatility at just about the same or lower price and just make sure the vendor sends out good ones.
Mike Douaire
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25th March 2010
Old 25th March 2010
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Thanks Michael! Your expertise is always a blessing.

I'm still trying to convince my drummer to send his Oktava MK-012s over to you for the infamous mod - if they were MY oktavas the mod wouldve been done as soon as I was informed of it (at least a year ago). Stubborn drummers!!

I appreciate the consideration in moving me towards options - to break me into the ribbon world.

I actually found a pretty good deal on a Gomez MJE and I might lean towards getting that based on your description. The Nady's and Apex's sound tempting too (especially for the money), but I might invest in those later on. However, I'm going to keep looking into the them (I did much more research on the Cascades, Shiny Box, than the Apex and Nadys) and see what I come up with.

Thanks Michael!

Keep the comments coming everyone!
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25th March 2010
Old 25th March 2010
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MJ 205 thumbsupthumbsup
Mike Douaire
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25th March 2010
Old 25th March 2010
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Dammit! This always happens! I try to shave down the options, people keep giving me more.

Haha alright so I'm adding the Apex 205 w/ MJ mods to the list I suppose.

Fathead w/ Lundahl
Gomez MJE
Apex 205 w/ MJ mod

Those are the contenders now?

Keep in mind - E Guitar Cabs and Room Drums (mono & M-S). Everything else is secondary.
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25th March 2010
Old 25th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Douaire View Post
Dammit! This always happens! I try to shave down the options, people keep giving me more.

Haha alright so I'm adding the Apex 205 w/ MJ mods to the list I suppose.

Fathead w/ Lundahl
Gomez MJE
Apex 205 w/ MJ mod

Those are the contenders now?

Keep in mind - E Guitar Cabs and Room Drums (mono & M-S). Everything else is secondary.
Keep in mind that your Fathead/Gomez choices are BASICALLY the same mic. At least they are the same "sound". The modded 205 is "different" - see Michael's description which is spot on.

For drum room, horns, vln - the 205 hands down. For tpt and other brass, the Joly205 is world class. It's my fav drum room mic, in mono, out in front of the kit. A much "broader" sound than the mid focused fathead. Higher highs, much deeper lows. thumbsup

For gtr cab, I'd probably reach for the fathead first due to it's midrange focus, although the 205 can work great as well.

Good luck. Ribbons ROCK! thumbsup

PS - my m-s I presume you mean blumlein as both mics are Fig8.

PPS - Go here : Drum Mic Madness!!!! to hear the fathead vs. 205 on room (along with other mics as well.)
Mike Douaire
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25th March 2010
Old 25th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post

PS - my m-s I presume you mean blumlein as both mics are Fig8.

Nope, M-S, only going 1 ribbon. I'm probably gonna pick up a 4047 for the Mid mic.

Hmm I did read that the Fatheads have a nice midrange focus - which would normally make me lean more towards it as I'm the guitarist of the band

However, I need a killer drum sound as well. I was originally using a Mojave MA-200 as the mono room mic (which was very nice) but no longer have access to it. And for $1k, id rather buy into more options.

I might actually lean towards the Apex 205 w/ MJ mod now that I think about it. This gives me a good excuse to mail out my drummer's MK-012s that I've been begging him to get modded. Plus I could probably afford the Apex right now without having to wait for the money.

Apex 205 w/ Joly Mod if I only could choose 1 ribbon? Michael made it out to seem as if this would be the better workhorse, especially for a first time ribbon buyer.

By the way, I saw your credits on IMDB. Dang man! You've got some serious work under your belt, congrats on all that!
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25th March 2010
Old 25th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Douaire View Post
Apex 205 w/ Joly Mod if I only could choose 1 ribbon? Michael made it out to seem as if this would be the better workhorse, especially for a first time ribbon buyer.

By the way, I saw your credits on IMDB. Dang man! You've got some serious work under your belt, congrats on all that!
That would be my choice, but that's me, and I record a lot more than just guitar. Thanks. thumbsup
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25th March 2010
Old 25th March 2010
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Just spent the last 30 min listening to and reading the Ribbon Madness thread where you did the shoot out with the Coles, the Apex, and (sort of) the AEA. Amazing thread, thanks so much for that. And whoa. Definitely getting an Apex 205 now.

Thanks for that Bill, that sounded incredible.

Now I just need a nice grand for my singer to play cuz that piano was so nice.
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25th March 2010
Old 25th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Douaire View Post
Just spent the last 30 min listening to and reading the Ribbon Madness thread where you did the shoot out with the Coles, the Apex, and (sort of) the AEA. Amazing thread, thanks so much for that. And whoa. Definitely getting an Apex 205 now.

Thanks for that Bill, that sounded incredible.

Now I just need a nice grand for my singer to play cuz that piano was so nice.
Cool. Glad you dug it. Don't forget to leave your comments on that thread as well. Keeps track of peoples comments and thoughts there.

Did you like the Coles or the 205 better?
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26th March 2010
Old 26th March 2010
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They were incredibly close. And unfortunately some of the people guessing before hand threw off my own guesses.

I think it honestly came down to what Jeff was playing - some clips I liked Mic 1 better, others I liked Mic 2 better. Which all in all is pretty incredible. That post made up my mind real quick on which ribbon to buy tho. Thanks for the help, I'll post on that thread as well!
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26th March 2010
Old 26th March 2010
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Dears,
I have a question, I'm from barcelona, Spain, and I'd like to buy a modified Apex 205 MJ from Michael,

I noticed Michael does not offer the mic with the mod in the website, but rather the mod alone... Now sending the mic to barcelona, back to USA to get the mod and back again to Barcelona seems a waste of money, am I missing something?? Can I get the mic modded from Michael?? Or i have to wait for a 2nd hand one to show up?? Couldn't find a contact link on octavamod either.

Thanks

Carlos.
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26th March 2010
Old 26th March 2010
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Hi Carlos, thanks for your interest.

For international folks I buy the mic from an an online retailer for $99 and have it sent directly to me (free) for modification; invoice the ender user for the mic, mods and shipping (US Postal Service International Express - about $42 and 5 business days); then ship to the end user. Email for details.
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26th March 2010
Old 26th March 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Douaire View Post
They were incredibly close.
No kidding. Surprised the heck out of me when I first listened.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Douaire View Post
And unfortunately some of the people guessing before hand threw off my own guesses.
Ha! The nature of internet shootout threads.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Douaire View Post
I think it honestly came down to what Jeff was playing - some clips I liked Mic 1 better, others I liked Mic 2 better. Which all in all is pretty incredible.
I'd have to agree with you 100%. When he plays softer and more sparce, the coles really shine. When he gets more bombastic, and especially when he plays low notes forcefully, the Apex really opens up the sound better and it doesn't feel as constricted. As you know, I just chose the Apex and went with them for the entire project for consistency and ease, but the Coles are certainly a mic that I'd like to have in my personal locker when time and $$ permit.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Douaire View Post
That post made up my mind real quick on which ribbon to buy tho. Thanks for the help, I'll post on that thread as well!
No problem. Glad you figured out what you wanted. Only ONE caveat about the 205 (or any modded ribbon for that matter) - be careful moving it around or using it in windy places. The open headbasket makes a huge difference in sound, but the mic itself is a bit vulnerable. That said, I've even had a mic stand with one on it go down with no problems, so maybe I just worry too much......

Cheers,

bp
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28th November 2011
Old 28th November 2011
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Hello. Resurrection of an old thread here.

I’m in the market for a stereo set of ribbons for recording jazz/commercial horns, especially trumpet (and sax too).

I’m curious what your thoughts are on the following:

(1) For my application with trumpet and other horns, which would you recommend: the “long ribbon / short path” mics (Vin-Jet/modded Apex 205) or the “short ribbon / long path” mics (FatHead/Gomez)?

(2) How would a stock Vin-Jet compare to a modded Apex 205 for a trumpet and other horns?

(3) Is it possible to get a stereo/matched pair of Vin-Jets, modded Apex 205s, or Gomezes?

(4) Will a blumlein stereo bar from Cascade work for all these mics?

Thanks so much!
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21st December 2011
Old 21st December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
No kidding. Surprised the heck out of me when I first listened.



Ha! The nature of internet shootout threads.....



I'd have to agree with you 100%. When he plays softer and more sparce, the coles really shine. When he gets more bombastic, and especially when he plays low notes forcefully, the Apex really opens up the sound better and it doesn't feel as constricted. As you know, I just chose the Apex and went with them for the entire project for consistency and ease, but the Coles are certainly a mic that I'd like to have in my personal locker when time and $$ permit.


No problem. Glad you figured out what you wanted. Only ONE caveat about the 205 (or any modded ribbon for that matter) - be careful moving it around or using it in windy places. The open headbasket makes a huge difference in sound, but the mic itself is a bit vulnerable. That said, I've even had a mic stand with one on it go down with no problems, so maybe I just worry too much......

Cheers,

bp
Hey DrBill, I'm about to place an order with MJ for a couple of mics two of which are Apex 205s. I'd be using them for whatever they sound good on but mainly OH's, drum room, vocals and guitars I figure. But now I started thinking that maybe instead of getting a pair of the same model it could be a good idea to get an Apex and a Gomez instead. To have different flavours? What's your take on this...

Cheers,
Peter
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21st December 2011
Old 21st December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mantra View Post
What's your take on this...

Cheers,
Peter
Personally I like pairs. SEveral of your usages suggest pairs. I'd say that's your answer. Good luck. I think you'll dig em.
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21st December 2011
Old 21st December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SurfingMusicMan View Post
Hello. Resurrection of an old thread here.

I’m in the market for a stereo set of ribbons for recording jazz/commercial horns, especially trumpet (and sax too).

I’m curious what your thoughts are on the following:

(1) For my application with trumpet and other horns, which would you recommend: the “long ribbon / short path” mics (Vin-Jet/modded Apex 205) or the “short ribbon / long path” mics (FatHead/Gomez)?

(2) How would a stock Vin-Jet compare to a modded Apex 205 for a trumpet and other horns?

(3) Is it possible to get a stereo/matched pair of Vin-Jets, modded Apex 205s, or Gomezes?

(4) Will a blumlein stereo bar from Cascade work for all these mics?

Thanks so much!

1 - for me, long ribbon for most things except loud elec guitar cabs. On those a shorter ribbon like the fathead seems better to me.

2 - my fav tpt mic - and the fav of several players who have used them - are the MJ modded 205's. An excellent choice. If you're looking for a more retro 40/50's sound, of course, the RCA's are unparalleled. Don't know the vinjet.

3 - if MJ does your mods, the mics will come tuned very close. You could consider them matched. Ask MJ about that. What he offers over any "out of the box from the manufacturer" of inexpensive ribbons is attention to detail and tuning of the ribbons.

4 - ???

Good luck with your decisions.....
#19
21st December 2011
Old 21st December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Personally I like pairs. SEveral of your usages suggest pairs. I'd say that's your answer. Good luck. I think you'll dig em.
Thanks for your input. I'm sticking to the original plan and am getting me a pair of ribbonzzzz!
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