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Stuck Between 2 Ribbons... Ribbon Microphones
Old 5th June 2018
  #1
Gear Head
 

Stuck Between 2 Ribbons...

Hi all. First time posting here, sorry if this is the wrong place.

I'm currently looking to get either one or two ribbon mics for my little basement studio and was looking for advice on which direction to go. I currently have a couple of 57's, an SM7 and an AT4050. I plan to use the ribbon(s) for drum overhead(s), electric and acoustic guitars. I've been considering these options;

2x Beyer M160 - I really like how these sound on overheads but I don't dig how they do on guitars in the Clipilator demos. I wish these had more bottom end to them, and on the electric guitar demo something in the mid-highs seems funky or harsh to my ear. Started looking at these largely because my space has very low ceilings (maybe 7' to 8'). Sadly I'm at mercy of internet demos for these because they are not readily available to rent or buy where I live.

1x Royer 121 - A very special mic. I was able to demo this in my space and fell in love. Nice and big sounding low-mids that are still detailed, very nice high-end rolloff, has a real nice modern ribbon sound to me (something I kind of felt the M160 was missing; maybe because of the hyper cardioid pattern or lack of lows in comparison?). Sounded awesome as a mono overhead, even in my low-cieling space, and guitars sounded incredible on it. A second one of these would be a year or two away.

So I guess my question is, knowing where I'm starting from, what would you guys suggest? Are the web demos doing the M160 a disservice, or does my comparison between it and the 121 sound about right? Would having a stereo set be that advantageous?

Thanks in advance.
Old 5th June 2018
  #2
Two is always better then one. Haven't used the m160 but used 121 allot on room duties. I prefer coles to the ribbons I tried, 121, r84. Try the coles before you buy is my suggestion.
Old 5th June 2018
  #3
Lives for gear
Apart from specific uses, listen to yourself...
160: “I like how these sound...”
121: “...and fell in love...”
I’d recommend love over like without reading the rest.
You could argue stereo vs. mono as a reason to favor the 160, but you can get a pair of Cascade Fatheads (or something) for not too much at a later date, or add another 121 when you can afford it. I would not recommend like over love for this purchase.
Old 5th June 2018
  #4
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
Apart from specific uses, listen to yourself...
160: “I like how these sound...”
121: “...and fell in love...”
I’d recommend love over like without reading the rest.
You could argue stereo vs. mono as a reason to favor the 160, but you can get a pair of Cascade Fatheads (or something) for not too much at a later date, or add another 121 when you can afford it. I would not recommend like over love for this purchase.
Haha yes, I was aware of that as I was typing the post. I can't say I've fallen in love with the Beyer because I haven't been able to try it myself in person in my space. I only fell in love with the 121 after hearing it in my space for myself. I guess I really need to find some way to try the M160 to know for sure.

And yes also good points. I've also been considering buying another second-hand 4050 as well for a second overhead. I really like how they do over the drums as well.
Old 5th June 2018
  #5
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crille_mannen View Post
Two is always better then one. Haven't used the m160 but used 121 allot on room duties. I prefer coles to the ribbons I tried, 121, r84. Try the coles before you buy is my suggestion.
Yeah stereo overheads is undeniably nice over mono.

Coles is awesome, but is suuper dark and smooth to my ear, a bit too-much-so for me right now. 4038 is absolutely on the list for down the road though.
Old 5th June 2018
  #6
How does your room sound? With the 160's, you will get better rejection off-axis
Old 5th June 2018
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by usrockband View Post
Yeah stereo overheads is undeniably nice over mono.

Coles is awesome, but is suuper dark and smooth to my ear, a bit too-much-so for me right now. 4038 is absolutely on the list for down the road though.
Last recording I used 4038 as OH and km84 as spot mics that was a nice combo if you want a bit more sparkle to the OH since like you say the coles are very dark. But it was a dense modern track so I almost only used the coles in the mix since the mid buildup is always an issue in a dense metal mix. It's my new favorite (y)

Both the 121 and r84 has something ugly in the mids which I don't like if you compare them directly to coles. All the pairs I mentioned are quality mics though ofc.
Old 5th June 2018
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Perhaps your solution might be the new ribbon from Royer, the R-10. By all accounts a very nice mic and a matched pair will cost about what a single R-121 would.
Certainly worth a listen, in any case. I believe Vintage King has a video comparing the two on their site as a start.
Old 5th June 2018
  #9
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Mixwell View Post
How does your room sound? With the 160's, you will get better rejection off-axis
Room actually sounds pretty ok, even with the figure 8. I was worried it could be a problem but didn't seem to be when I tried the 121. But yes, that was what got me looking at the M160 in the first place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crille_mannen View Post
Last recording I used 4038 as OH and km84 as spot mics that was a nice combo if you want a bit more sparkle to the OH since like you say the coles are very dark. But it was a dense modern track so I almost only used the coles in the mix since the mid buildup is always an issue in a dense metal mix. It's my new favorite (y)

Both the 121 and r84 has something ugly in the mids which I don't like if you compare them directly to coles. All the pairs I mentioned are quality mics though ofc.
Interesting, I could see how that would be a good combo. How is the Coles as far as durability goes compared to the Royer and Beyer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by burp182 View Post
Perhaps your solution might be the new ribbon from Royer, the R-10. By all accounts a very nice mic and a matched pair will cost about what a single R-121 would.
Certainly worth a listen, in any case. I believe Vintage King has a video comparing the two on their site as a start.
I haven't tried the R10, but I did try the R101. Came out really liking it. From listening to demos here and there between the R10 and M160 I think I lean towards the M160 between the two.
Old 5th June 2018
  #10
Lives for gear
 
AlexK's Avatar
 

Personally I find far more uses for M160s over the Royer. I agree with the poster above - the R121 can be a little harsh and aggressive across the midrange.

Of course your mileage may vary but IMO, the Beyers are a more useful tool.

R121 is a spectacular snare-side mic however!
Old 5th June 2018
  #11
Lives for gear
 
thismercifulfate's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by usrockband View Post
1x Royer 121 - A very special mic. I was able to demo this in my space and fell in love.
That says it all right there. get the Royer and be happy. Anything else is a gamble. The Royer will retain its value, so you can always sell it down the road, or more likely acquire a second one!
Old 5th June 2018
  #12
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexK View Post
Personally I find far more uses for M160s over the Royer. I agree with the poster above - the R121 can be a little harsh and aggressive across the midrange.

Of course your mileage may vary but IMO, the Beyers are a more useful tool.

R121 is a spectacular snare-side mic however!
Snare-side eh? Do you use a blast filter for that? Or just careful placement? I'm gonna try and find a way to at least try the M160.

Interestingly I don't hear the same intense midrange you guys have mentioned in the 121. I personally found the mid-highs in the M160 to be slightly aggressive (at least in the clipalator demos), but I don't know how much weight to put in those without trying the mic.


Quote:
Originally Posted by thismercifulfate View Post
That says it all right there. get the Royer and be happy. Anything else is a gamble. The Royer will retain its value, so you can always sell it down the road, or more likely acquire a second one!
Haha, I suppose I didn't do myself any favours there. But I see your point. I still really want to try the M160 if I get the chance but I'm starting to think the thing to do is go with the Royer and either buy another down the line, or another 4050 sooner.
Old 5th June 2018
  #13
From what I know ribbons are more sensitive then most mics but I would feel bad dropping any mic or blow a ribbon with phantom power

The 121 are just so colored while the coles sounds allot more natural to my ears and would probably work very well on vocals and guitars etc. I just had the luxury to addition and own several highend mics and then it's easy to chose a favorite. You will be happy with either one I'd say
Old 5th June 2018
  #14
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crille_mannen View Post
From what I know ribbons are more sensitive then most mics but I would feel bad dropping any mic or blow a ribbon with phantom power

The 121 are just so colored while the coles sounds allot more natural to my ears and would probably work very well on vocals and guitars etc. I just had the luxury to addition and own several highend mics and then it's easy to chose a favorite. You will be happy with either one I'd say
That's a luxury I hope to have some day myself! Thanks for the advice!
Old 5th June 2018
  #15
Gear Nut
 

Btwn the Royer and the M160, I say M160. I like Royers quite a bit for overheads, but not as much for guitar stuff and M160s work very well as OH's too. M160 is also one of my favorite acoustic guitar mics.

I would also consider the SE VR1. Really fantastic. It's basically the only electric guitar mic I use at this point. Can def. handle at least the same volume as a 121 and more than an M160. Have had good results on overheads as well. Acoustic guitar, not so much, but I've only used it for a scratch track, so I didn't spend time with positioning and all that. Nice as a vocal mic too. You can get a pair for about what a used 121 would cost you, so the price:performance ratio is insane.
Old 6th June 2018
  #16
Lives for gear
 
AlexK's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by usrockband View Post
Snare-side eh? Do you use a blast filter for that? Or just careful placement? I'm gonna try and find a way to at least try the M160.
No blast filter needed - a snare doesn't produce puffs of air. Even then, Royers are pretty resilient for ribbon mics.

The mic goes sideways on - ie, one side facing upwards, and the other side facing downwards. That way you're capturing the out-of-phaseness of the snare but inverting the top/top heads with the nature of the fig-8 front/back phase flip.

Blend with snare top/bottom mics and you get a really powerful low mid pop, but without the mud.

Obviously not every kit/tuning/setup needs this...
Old 6th June 2018
  #17
Lives for gear
 
thismercifulfate's Avatar
Most snares do have a vent hole, and it would definitely be advisable to avoid placing a ribbon mic near it.
Old 6th June 2018
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
Rtroost's Avatar
Suggest you borrow or rent a 4038 before you decide. Theyre very robust. You mention they sound dark...perhaps but they take eq great.

Last edited by Rtroost; 6th June 2018 at 08:23 PM.. Reason: Eq comment
Old 6th June 2018
  #19
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maggot Brain View Post
Btwn the Royer and the M160, I say M160. I like Royers quite a bit for overheads, but not as much for guitar stuff and M160s work very well as OH's too. M160 is also one of my favorite acoustic guitar mics.

I would also consider the SE VR1. Really fantastic. It's basically the only electric guitar mic I use at this point. Can def. handle at least the same volume as a 121 and more than an M160. Have had good results on overheads as well. Acoustic guitar, not so much, but I've only used it for a scratch track, so I didn't spend time with positioning and all that. Nice as a vocal mic too. You can get a pair for about what a used 121 would cost you, so the price:performance ratio is insane.
Hmm I'll take a look. They're quite a bit cheaper than a single Royer here. Maybe a good set to grab...

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexK View Post
No blast filter needed - a snare doesn't produce puffs of air. Even then, Royers are pretty resilient for ribbon mics.

The mic goes sideways on - ie, one side facing upwards, and the other side facing downwards. That way you're capturing the out-of-phaseness of the snare but inverting the top/top heads with the nature of the fig-8 front/back phase flip.

Blend with snare top/bottom mics and you get a really powerful low mid pop, but without the mud.

Obviously not every kit/tuning/setup needs this...
Ah ok. I'll give that a try. I really liked how the 121 did overhead, curious to hear it on the snare. Thanks!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rtroost View Post
Suggest you borrow or rent a 4038 before you decide. Theyre very robust. You mention they sound dark...perhaps but they take eq great.
Coles seems to be quite popular here. They're quite tricky to get where I am, but I think I could probably work it out to give one a try. Just curious, how to they handle high SPL? That was my other concern with the 4038, namely on guitars.
Old 6th June 2018
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
Rtroost's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by usrockband View Post
Coles seems to be quite popular here. They're quite tricky to get where I am, but I think I could probably work it out to give one a try. Just curious, how to they handle high SPL? That was my other concern with the 4038, namely on guitars.
https://mpe.berklee.edu/documents/st...les%204038.pdf

I use ‘em about 18” back from a cab (mesa 100w ev12) but the good advice is in that manual “i you can feel the air move” use a pop guard.

They do weigh a tonne...
Old 7th June 2018
  #21
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismercifulfate View Post
Most snares do have a vent hole, and it would definitely be advisable to avoid placing a ribbon mic near it.
The vent hole on a snare is on the side of the hoop. There isn’t any reason to place a ribbon where the head of the mic would get a puff of air from the vent. Not an issue.
Old 7th June 2018
  #22
din
Gear Maniac
 
din's Avatar
 

M160 gets my vote for drum overheads.
Old 7th June 2018
  #23
Gear Head
 

So I gave the M160 a go tonight in my space and I gotta say... It was pretty much what I expected. Very nice sounding mic but there's something going on in the mid-highs that makes guitars come out kind of odd to me (noticed this on Clipalator as well). I also think that while it does sound great for OH the brighter highs almost make it sound like a condenser or dynamic mic to my ear. I think my 4050 could get a similar sound here. The M160 couldn't get the bottom end out of the bass drum and toms overhead the same way the 121 I have seems to be able to, but it did handle cymbals a bit better I think.

Side question; I noticed when recording overhead drums in my low cieling space that I had to crank the gain quite a bit higher on the Beyer than I did on the Royer to get the same levels. Is that related to the cardioid pattern on the Beyer? Or is the Beyer just lower output than the Royer?

I think the last mic I'm going to try before settling on the Royer is the Coles. I've listened to more demos and I gotta say, it does sound reaally nice. It is dark and smooth but it somehow also seems to manage the top end quite well. Hopefully my "local" shop will let me take one for a test...

Thanks for all the tips and advice so far. What a cool bunch of people here
Old 7th June 2018
  #24
Lives for gear
You are doing the most important thing in selecting microphones... you are trying them in your own space, presumably with your familiar sources and speakers.
Old 7th June 2018
  #25
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by usrockband View Post
So I gave the M160 a go tonight in my space and I gotta say... It was pretty much what I expected. Very nice sounding mic but there's something going on in the mid-highs that makes guitars come out kind of odd to me.
Did you think about trying 1 M160 and 1 M130 (if available)?

I exactly know what you mean with the aggressive upper midrange thing, i almost on every source dip that a bit when mixing. But i think that's the exact reason why snare sounds so good with them. I still like it very much. For miking guitar amps i prefer the darker tone of the M130.

With a combination of both you could get stereo drums (try MS?) an still have both characters.
I don't know the Royers. Tried the Coles once as drum overheads and wasn't impressed at all. But i think that was the context, and we didn't have much time.
Old 7th June 2018
  #26
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
You are doing the most important thing in selecting microphones... you are trying them in your own space, presumably with your familiar sources and speakers.
Yes, trying to compare them with my gear versus clipalator on different speakers. I just find the Beyer to be quite bright. I feel I could get a pretty similar sound with my current mics by tweaking the EQ. The 121 on the other hand captures far more mid-lows and bottom end while still being very detailed in that range, which makes it sound very different from the mics I have. I think that's honestly the biggest reason it appeals to me so far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lou latch View Post
Did you think about trying 1 M160 and 1 M130 (if available)?

I exactly know what you mean with the aggressive upper midrange thing, i almost on every source dip that a bit when mixing. But i think that's the exact reason why snare sounds so good with them. I still like it very much. For miking guitar amps i prefer the darker tone of the M130.

With a combination of both you could get stereo drums (try MS?) an still have both characters.
I don't know the Royers. Tried the Coles once as drum overheads and wasn't impressed at all. But i think that was the context, and we didn't have much time.
Haven't looked into the M130 mostly because I thought it was basically just a Figure-8 M160. Is the capsule actually different? If it actually has a darker smoother sound that could be appealing too... They seem to be pretty tricky to find though where I am.
Old 7th June 2018
  #27
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by usrockband View Post
Haven't looked into the M130 mostly because I thought it was basically just a Figure-8 M160. Is the capsule actually different? If it actually has a darker smoother sound that could be appealing too... They seem to be pretty tricky to find though where I am.
Yes, they look almost the same but the sound is completely different.
The M160 is a very unique ribbon mic, being hypercardioid and lacking the typical low frequency bump.
The M130 to me has a more classic ribbon sound, it's a pretty dark mic. I like it on guitar amps, horns, hihat and other stuff that can get nasty in the upper range. But again, i never directly compared it to a Royer or Coles.
Old 7th June 2018
  #28
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by usrockband View Post
I just find the Beyer to be quite bright. I feel I could get a pretty similar sound with my current mics by tweaking the EQ.
I think a big strength of the m160 lies in delivering a clear, very focussed sound, especially when recording more than one source in a space, or when recording in an acoustically compromised space.

I just don't get there with a condenser and eq (tried many times). The off-axis response and transients of ribbon mics are very natural. Dynamic or condenser microphones might sound nice for the recorded instrument, but if there are other instruments playing, or an ugly room response bleeding in, this will often render badly in the recording.

That said, i just recorded a singer/songwriter in a nice room for whose voice the m160 was working better than any condenser i tried. Might have been because his 'sss'es are a bit sharp. The guitar sounded great with condensers (UM70/omni).
Old 8th June 2018
  #29
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DeadPoet's Avatar
M160 is instant seventies sound to my ears.


Was about to get me a pair of Coles 4038 last year and then I tried the NoHype LRM-2. Too close to warrant the price difference in my book.

Coles
NoHype


Herwig
Old 8th June 2018
  #30
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lou latch View Post
Yes, they look almost the same but the sound is completely different.
The M160 is a very unique ribbon mic, being hypercardioid and lacking the typical low frequency bump.
The M130 to me has a more classic ribbon sound, it's a pretty dark mic. I like it on guitar amps, horns, hihat and other stuff that can get nasty in the upper range. But again, i never directly compared it to a Royer or Coles.
This combo sounds really tempting but I can barely find any demos of the M130 online, and the only way I can try is by buying from online stores that have restocking fees for returns... Not ideal. The couple demos I've heard sound nice; not massively different from the M160 but definitely a little darker to my ear (which I like).

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadPoet View Post
M160 is instant seventies sound to my ears.


Was about to get me a pair of Coles 4038 last year and then I tried the NoHype LRM-2. Too close to warrant the price difference in my book.

Coles
NoHype


Herwig
I hear that 70's vibe as well. M160 is an awesome mic don't get me wrong. But my young mic collection already has a couple of mic's that (to my ear) come pretty darn close to it. It'll probably be my next mic purchase after this one (stereo pair perhaps...).

Those mics are pretty close. I'm stuck with crappy iPhone headphones at the moment but through these they're almost identical; Coles seems to control the bass drum a bit better though.
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