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Ribbon Mic Advice
Old 16th November 2007
  #1
Gear Head
 
Goldtop's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Ribbon Mic Advice

I'm planning on purchasing a ribbon mic as I continue my quest to capture a great guitar sound.
I understand sonic satisfaction is subjective. What I'm looking for is a brief opinion on quality and characteristics. The application is primarily electic guitar and acoustic with possibly some vocal applications.

Here are the candidates:
Royer 121 (Obviously the clear front runner but the $$ hurts )
AEA R84
AEA R92
Blue Woodpecker
Beyer M 160
Beyer M 130

Thank you ladies and gentleman for the feedback!
Old 16th November 2007
  #2
Gear addict
 

R-84 all the way !!!...

Way more versatile than the R-121 and this this thing's got the magic touch !...

I must admit that I'm using the R-121 on guitar amps and on the HH though, but for most other applications I'll pick up the AEA...

Good luck,

Olivier.
Old 16th November 2007
  #3
Lives for gear
 

unless you're doing crunch electric guitar (which the 121 excels at) the R84 will serve you best out of the choices you mention. Incredible on AG and vox. For clean and half dirty electric it's fantastic. The one thing about the R84 is its huge proximity effect. You really need to keep it at least 8-10" off the source, or use a 120 Hz low cut at the preamp.
David
Old 16th November 2007
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldtop View Post
I'm planning on purchasing a ribbon mic as I continue my quest to capture a great guitar sound.
I understand sonic satisfaction is subjective. What I'm looking for is a brief opinion on quality and characteristics. The application is primarily electic guitar and acoustic with possibly some vocal applications.
If you wanted to listen instead of read, you might consider the Ribbon Roundup CD. No Woodpecker in the lineup though. And no acoustic guitar. But it might make you more familiar with the sounds capable through the other candidates. AND save you some money instead of buying one that you end up not liking.

Just thought I'd mention it in case you weren't aware of it. Just trying to help.



More info here: Lynn's Ribbon Roundup (or "What I Did on my Summer Vacation") - 3dB

You can order a copy by clicking here.

(Jules, if this crosses the line into crass commercialism, then just delete it.)
Old 16th November 2007
  #5
Gear Addict
 
Tim Abraham's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grizzly View Post
R-84 all the way !!!...

Way more versatile than the R-121 and this this thing's got the magic touch !...

I must admit that I'm using the R-121 on guitar amps and on the HH though, but for most other applications I'll pick up the AEA...

Good luck,

Olivier.
This is exactly how I use the R84 and R121.

I dislike the R84 on guitar amps (too wooly) and the R121 on acoustics (too honky).

The R84 is amazing on most instrument sources (horns, strings, woodwinds, acoustic guits), and the Royer seems to shine on more rock and roll applications (amps, hats).
Old 16th November 2007
  #6
Gear addict
 

I have an R84 and R92. Don't record electric guitar, but a fair amount of acoustic guitar. R84 is great for distant micing. If you want to get a little closer R92 has less proximity effect. Both are great, but I lean to the R92. Easier to work with in my untreated room.
Old 16th November 2007
  #7
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
 

Hmmmm... maybe you can help me a little. I'm looking for a flavor of ice cream that will tickle my palette with a combination of a sweet and somewhat sour taste simultaneously in a harmonious manner... whaddaya think might do that?

In terms of your dilemma... I've used all of them except for the B.L.U.E. and found distinctly different and equally excellent results. A lot of it had to do with the sonic arrangement of the song on which I was working... my goals [and/or the "production team"s goals] for the overall texture and vibe of the project... as well as what we had around at the time vs. what we had already used on the project.

All the tools you talk about [with the exception of the B.L.U.E. which I have yet to try], I have found to be quality tools that render quality results... the question then becomes application and aesthetic specific.

FWIW [and I hope that's not much], my three favorite ribbon mics of the moment are the Coles 4040, the Royer R-122V and the Crowley and Tripp "el diablo M-E"... but that doesn't mean my BK-5's and 77-DX's don't get used on a regular basis as well.

Try a bunch... decide what's right for you at the moment... adopt that unit... remember your experience(s) and add more later as cash flow and projects permit/require.

Peace.
Old 16th November 2007
  #8
Gear Head
 
Goldtop's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Gentlemen,

Thank you for the insight!
Old 16th November 2007
  #9
Blue Woodpecker active ribbon on acoustic guitar and vocals, ribbon smoothness with more high end presence. much love.
Old 17th November 2007
  #10
Gear Nut
 

Old 17th November 2007
  #11
Lives for gear
 
themaidsroom's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher View Post
Hmmmm... maybe you can help me a little. I'm looking for a flavor of ice cream that will tickle my palette with a combination of a sweet and somewhat sour taste simultaneously in a harmonious manner... whaddaya think might do that?
Peace.

fletcher, WD50 in manhattan makes their own ice creams......they make amazing
wasabi and mustard ice creams that explode with fire and then suddenly chill into
sweet, delicate, traditional icre cream places


be well

- jack
Old 17th November 2007
  #12
Gear Addict
 
SpiderM69's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post
Shameless self=promotion: FYI there's one of these on ebay right now if you need to really save $$ At least should be on the list. How many MUSA ribbons are there under a grand? I mean USA parts, the works.

Naked Eye :: Crowley and Tripp Ribbon Microphone

IMHO, much more versatile, lower cost, USA, better tone and more rugged than the ones previously mentioned.

Bob

Latest News from Crowley and Tripp's Lab
That's exactly the mic that came to mind, before coming to your post.

Fletcher, I know you've been gushing over El Diablo, but wanna weigh in on this mic as well, as I beleive you've had experience with it?
Old 17th November 2007
  #13
Lives for gear
 
lpkyer's Avatar
 

The Blue one sounds a lot like a great condenser more than a ribbon mic. Weird I know.
Old 18th November 2007
  #14
Lives for gear
 

it might be worth it to check out one of the fatheads w/ the upgraded transformer...not as "slutty" as the ones you listed, but there's a good chance that it'll do what you're looking for, and for a lot less $$
Old 18th November 2007
  #15
Gear nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldtop View Post
I'm planning on purchasing a ribbon mic as I continue my quest to capture a great guitar sound.
I understand sonic satisfaction is subjective. What I'm looking for is a brief opinion on quality and characteristics. The application is primarily electic guitar and acoustic with possibly some vocal applications.

Here are the candidates:
Royer 121 (Obviously the clear front runner but the $$ hurts )
AEA R84
AEA R92
Blue Woodpecker
Beyer M 160
Beyer M 130

Thank you ladies and gentleman for the feedback!
Have you heard some or any of the mics on your list? If so, which did you favor and why? The R84 has a bigger bottom than the 121, and it costs far less too. The R92 costs even less and was optimized for close-up applications, ie, it was designed to have less bottom. And also more top end. Which would you like? Obviously what one person digs might not do a lot for somebody else. Your best bet is to listen to some mics in your price range and go with the one that you prefer.
Old 18th November 2007
  #16
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lpkyer View Post
The Blue one sounds a lot like a great condenser more than a ribbon mic. Weird I know.
No, I think it's the perfect combination of characteristics from both. The Woodpecker is a great mic for anyone not wanting to get away from the upper range of detail that condensors provide, yet the smooth mids and full bottom of a ribbon. The Woodpecker is simply an excellent mic, but not the most ribbon-y sounding ribbon out there either.

War
Old 18th November 2007
  #17
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Abraham View Post
I dislike the R84 on guitar amps (too wooly) and the R121 on acoustics (too honky).
Agreed. The 84 is way to "wooly" to coin your phrase for my tastes on Elec.. Why not look at a Fathead and a 84. I think that would cover you pretty well and not cost much more (if any) than a 121. For E.Gtrs at high volume though, the 121 rules the ribbon roost.
Old 18th November 2007
  #18
Gear nut
 
Psy-Crow's Avatar
 

+1 for the Naked Eye!

It's the best mic for electric guitar ever and blows away royer & co hands off. And I really love it on steel-string accoustics...
It's also great for drumroom, overhead, killer on accoustic bass, sax, flute... the list is endless!

And no, Bob won't get a bill from me for writing that heh
Old 18th November 2007
  #19
Lives for gear
 
druhms's Avatar
I'm a recent Royer convert, but don't leave out the Beyer M260. I'm a ribbon junkie, but I still find myself reaching for the ol 260 for electric gtr.
Druhms.
Old 21st November 2007
  #20
Gear interested
 
epower's Avatar
 

I see Fletcher likes the Coles 4040. Any comments on that mic would be very appreciated.
I'm looking for a stereo pair to record unplugged acoustic, especially classical and jazz, also some pipe organ in a large wet church.
The Royer SF-12 is also high on my list. I'm attracted to the 4040 because it would offer more positioning options than the SF-12, and I like the fact that it goes up to 20k.
I'll be using a Millennia HV-3D as the mic pre.
Old 21st November 2007
  #21
Gear nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by epower View Post
I see Fletcher likes the Coles 4040. Any comments on that mic would be very appreciated.
I'm looking for a stereo pair to record unplugged acoustic, especially classical and jazz, also some pipe organ in a large wet church.
The Royer SF-12 is also high on my list. I'm attracted to the 4040 because it would offer more positioning options than the SF-12, and I like the fact that it goes up to 20k.
I'll be using a Millennia HV-3D as the mic pre.
Give a listen to the Crowley & Tripp Recordist Ensemble stereo kit, very natural, un-hyped tone. The complete set is under $2k, a bargain given the quality.
Old 22nd November 2007
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by tidepool View Post
Give a listen to the Crowley & Tripp Recordist Ensemble stereo kit, very natural, un-hyped tone. The complete set is under $2k, a bargain given the quality.
I see someone else beat me to this answer. I've not recorded with them, but after auditioning them at a show I think they might be an excellent choice.
Old 22nd November 2007
  #23
Gear addict
 
darkwavo's Avatar
 

I own the royer 121, sf-12, Fathead II, R92, and Coles 4038.
The Coles is the only one I would NEVER get rid of. It is the best all around for me, and has a very rich and elegant sound. But for Guitar amps, the AEA was designed specifically for recording electric guitar, and it is better than the 121 to me. I actually like the royer best on Bass amp, drum spot mics, and upright piano. It has a pokey midrange, and reacts very differently to different pres. The cool thing about a ribbon that requires so much gain is that it allows you to reall open your preamps...
The Sf-12 is also a great ambience and overhead mic, not a "my first ribbon".
ALso the AEA ribbon mic pre really does bring out the best in this stereo mic., and sounds great on the coles as well. The Fathead II is pretty cool, but you really get what you pay for, and it shows- it has that sound, but in actual performance in the studio falls short for me. It doesn't handle different sources with the agility and class of the bigger dogs...which just work.
Do not be cheap, start with a coles 4038 , R84 , or maybe the Naked Eye... the cheaper **** is really just that...
Old 22nd November 2007
  #24
Gear interested
 
epower's Avatar
 

The Crowley and Tripp products have caught my eye, but I haven't found anyone I know who uses them. The company does have a terrific policy of letting you try out the mics for 10 days. If you don't like them, the only thing you're out is shipping and insurance.
They haven't posted specs on their website yet for the recordist. Seems odd. I did check the specs on other C&T mics
http://www.soundwaveresearch.com/technotes.html
All the posted specs have severe dropoffs just above 10 K.
Also, I wonder about their "Soundstage Image" (multi patterns) and "Proscenium" (figure 8 pattern) models. They also claim to be made for orchestral recordings and are more expensive than the "Recordist Ensemble".
Old 22nd November 2007
  #25
Gear Nut
 

Yes they are truthful specs, also keep in mind the vertical axis not compressed as it is in other specs you may see.

If you measured the others using the same setup you would see similar drop off. We had to make the decision to conform, or not, to what we feel are artfully presented curves. As usual, we chose not to conform. There is considerable output past even 20k and not noisy so if you had the equipment and the ears to hear it you could use that range too.

All of the mics are designed for sound, not to a specific curve. Once the curve is established, each mic matches that curve exactly. This is a little different approach to the inherent timbre in all transducers: There seems to be a lot more to tonal usefulness than amplitude and frequency and there is more on that subject at length at Latest News from Crowley and Tripp's Lab if you have a little time. Please visit and comment!

The Recordist spec just hasn't been updated. It is very similar to the curve of the Soundstage Image, except, we have extended the top some more, in order to compensate for long cable runs. Cables of 30M in length can be used with the Recordist Ensemble Kit and a field recorder. We'll get around to the updates. Drop an email and someone will send it.

Most of the Recordist Ensemble Stereo Kits go mobile and they have a fairly high output that suits battery operated field recorders, so they don't tax p-power. That increases recording time.

Bob


Soundwave Research Laboratories / Crowley and Tripp Microphones :: Ribbon Microphones
Old 23rd November 2007
  #26
Gear interested
 
epower's Avatar
 

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your informative reply. Looking again at soundwaveresearch.com it appears that I was mistaken in saying that the Soundstage Image was a multi pattern mic.

I see that your Soundstage Image is down -22 db at 20 kHz and the Proscenium is down only 10 db at 20 K. In fact, the Proscenium is down almost 15 db at 12500 and then "recovers" as the frequencies rise. I don't recall seeing that before. Which one of these does the Recordist more closely resemble?

Thank you for the links for more info.
I am a musician first and an engineer second (or third), so without making apologies, let me ask some questions.

Regarding your blog of Nov.20.07 ("Typical "20 to 20" response curves").
I don't understand the concept of "compression" in a response curve.

Am I correct in saying that Blumlein technique will pick up more of the sound of the room than will X/Y ?

I own 1 TLM 103. Would you think that mic and one of the Recordist mics would work well for M/S?

I have not recorded in M/S, but understand it's primary use is to provide options during post-production.
Can M/S be effective in taming an overly reverberant space?

It would be much easier to choose a set of mics if one could easily assemble all the possible choices and A/B/C/etc them.

I know Lynn Fuston produced the amazing 3D Mic CD, but I'm looking for mics to be used in a ambient church setting (among other things).

All that to say, since it is not practical to assemble the mics I'm considering, and A/B'ing, how would you recommend I evaluate written specs to determine what will best suit my needs.
Old 23rd November 2007
  #27
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by epower View Post
Hi Bob,

Thanks for your informative reply. Looking again at soundwaveresearch.com it appears that I was mistaken in saying that the Soundstage Image was a multi pattern mic.

Typos aren't a concern - I realized that so didn't comment on it

I see that your Soundstage Image is down -22 db at 20 kHz and the Proscenium is down only 10 db at 20 K. In fact, the Proscenium is down almost 15 db at 12500 and then "recovers" as the frequencies rise. I don't recall seeing that before. Which one of these does the Recordist more closely resemble?

Neither. We will publish the Recordist plots asap. Are you looking at the FFT data or the moving average? Typical (very well known) ribbon mics have a response "notch" which is the point at which the pressure is equal on both sides of the ribbon. This is very common, but not well published or described in the specs I see. It is impolite to show the measurements we make of other mics, but do know that most of the ribbon mics have that dip

Thank you for the links for more info.
I am a musician first and an engineer second (or third), so without making apologies, let me ask some questions.

I am a tinkerer first an inventor second and musician and engineer not at all, so I will do my best!

Regarding your blog of Nov.20.07 ("Typical "20 to 20" response curves").
I don't understand the concept of "compression" in a response curve.

All that means is the vertical axis - the spacing of lines - may be shown compressed or expanded. Let the Y axis is the vertical axis. Let X be the horizontal. The ratio of X to Y can vary according to how you want to represent the data and the resolution of your steps. The previously linked to example was handy, so I used it. Obviously, that example is "flat" compared to our published specs, if you can compare the two. Sorry I can't just put it up here easily - we need a chalk board!

Am I correct in saying that Blumlein technique will pick up more of the sound of the room than will X/Y ?

Hmmmm. "more of the sound". I would cautiously day yes. I can say more certainly that in Blumlein you are using the full 360 degrees of information

I own 1 TLM 103. Would you think that mic and one of the Recordist mics would work well for M/S?

One of any of figure 8 mics used with your TLM 103 would serve for M-S stereo. There is a school of thought that says that the tonal characteristics of the cardioid and the fig 8 should match, so knowing that the timbre of the 103 is quite bright then there may be some mismatch in tone. On the other hand, I think you should try it, if you already have that mic. The 103 is a very low noise mic and requires P power. The ribbons may or may not require p power, and some clearly have lower noise than others. Try it.

I have not recorded in M/S, but understand it's primary use is to provide options during post-production.
Can M/S be effective in taming an overly reverberant space?

I don't do mixing and would ask someone like Lynn Fuston to chime in on the PP mix issues with Blumlein vs M-S. There is a problem mixing Blumlein to mono that is not inherent with M-S. As far as room acoustics go, especially in a resonator like a hard boxy church, I suspect that mic placement and perhaps some careful EQ might be the more important considerations.

It would be much easier to choose a set of mics if one could easily assemble all the possible choices and A/B/C/etc them.

Yes it would! Wish I could!

I know Lynn Fuston produced the amazing 3D Mic CD, but I'm looking for mics to be used in a ambient church setting (among other things).

Ah yes, the boomy church. Use your ears, play with mic placement. We have many recordings sent to us that were done in churches. One done by Herb Singleton is spectacular, to say the least! The realism, spatial qualities (not to mention the performance) and the overall levels are superb. Then, on another day and place with a similar setup, the sound was boomy, and the orchestra not so great either.


All that to say, since it is not practical to assemble the mics I'm considering, and A/B'ing, how would you recommend I evaluate written specs to determine what will best suit my needs.

This is a huge question, one I cannot answer. It is in my opinion difficult to tell much about the character of the sound from the curves and the polar patterns unless you have a lot of experience doing so, which I do not. People like Micha Shattner (WGBH Radio Boston) seem to be able to do it well. We learned a lot from him.

This is getting long. Here is a comparison of the Proscenium with the 77DX in our setup. What does it tell you?


Latest News from Crowley and Tripp's Lab: Comparison: 77DX vs Proscenium

Here is an interesting mic measurement showing pressure vs free field curves. Pressure = close air coupled, free field means "at a distance". Notice how the top drops off in pressure field, which is the way the above measurements are made.

http://www.sencore.com/products/sppmic/sppmic_curve.jpg

and here is a link to NIST, where they define the testing standards.


NIST Calibration Services: Acoustic Measurements

I hope this isn't too long and tedious a post. We are always learning, your questions are pertinent, and we are at a loss for a good way to describe how our mics sound with graphs, charts or even online samples. By analogy, the difference between an MP3 and a DSD is vast, and yet neither are substitutes for being there and trying things out.

Please keep asking, and we will keep trying to answer.

Last edited by Crowley; 23rd November 2007 at 03:31 PM.. Reason: typo typo typo
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