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Ribbons, what to expect over condensers and dynamics? Ribbon Microphones
Old 18th December 2010
  #1
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SoZo's Avatar
Ribbons, what to expect over condensers and dynamics?

I want to improve my mic collection and I want to have other options besides the dynamic and condensers I currently have; (KM184's, U87ai, 4033's, Audix i5, Audix D6, Senheiser e604's, AKG D112, Shure 57's). Specifically I thnink I want to use them on drums and guitar cabs. What other applications do you guys use Ribbons? What mics should I look at and what to expect from a Ribbon?
Thanks!
John
Old 18th December 2010
  #2
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Greg Curtis's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoZo View Post
What other applications do you guys use Ribbons
They kill on brass, especially trumpets. Great on flutes.

Alternative as main pairs on drums and pianos.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SoZo View Post
What mics should I look at?
Any AEA. Any Royer. Coles. Search and learn...


Quote:
Originally Posted by SoZo View Post
What to expect from a Ribbon?
Waaay smoother top end than you are used to (judging from your mic list), figure-eight pattern, unique proximity effect, fragile handle-with-care requirements. different animal from a setup standing.

Also: Ribbons demand preamps with plenty of clean gain and high impedence. Make sure you have a decent preamp before you leap.

greg
Old 18th December 2010
  #3
Gear Guru
 

Guitar amps and overheads are legendary, but don't rule out ribbons for anything:

Vocals
Quite a few of my clients prefer the ribbons on their voice. That's in a shootout even before you compensate for the HF hype of the condensers. There's something about the way a ribbon 'hears' that is independent of the mere frequency response...

Strings
ribbons can really take away the stridency of some strings, especially if you are doing non-classical type fiddles and cellos. Sometimes on big strummed acoustic guitars etc.

As said above, great on brass.

Very useful in combination with other mics in more complex setups.



The true advantage of ribbon mics is not so much that they 'excel' at recording this or that, but that they have their own character, giving you alternatives and options you didn't have with just owning condensers and moving-coils.

Within the ribbon mics themselves you are going to find a wide variation, so you will need to try some different models.
Old 19th December 2010
  #4
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PaulMac's Avatar
Look into the SE ribbons... they're pretty cheap but sound pretty amazing. I'm doing an A/B between a Royer R121 ($1600-ish) and SE ribbon ($350)... it'll be interesting to see what people think when listening blindly.

You can expect ribbon mics to sound very "there", although I'd say they're more natural in upper mids and highs than a lot of condensers. Most present great clarity, although sound more "fat" than "clean".
Old 19th December 2010
  #5
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Figure 8 on vocals is killer
Old 19th December 2010
  #6
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woodhenge's Avatar
 

If you like your 4033's, you might check out the AT4081's... I bought a pair a while back and have been really pleased. I've used them for both guitar cabs and overheads with great results.
Old 19th December 2010
  #7
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waxx's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Curtis View Post
Any AEA. Any Royer. Coles. Search and learn...
Add Beyer Dynamic to that list, the M130 and M160 are some of my favorite ribbons actually. Cascade Fatheads are also very good, certainly for that price.

And i use them everywhere, depending on what i'm after. They often get more used than condensors in a recording, because of the more natural sound they deliver.
Old 19th December 2010
  #8
Gear Addict
 

My favorite Ribbon Reasons

My experience is limited to Royer and AEA ribbons ...

1. Uniform frequency response off axis in the horizontal plane. Once you are beyond 2-3 feet from the source, this is key to how "real" anything sounds.

2. Fig-8 ribbon pair based small AB is a very good way to mic small ensembles thanks to the above capability (Faulkner array).

3. Perfect antidote to the hyped highs / lift above 3K Hz common to most condensers which digital recordings faithfully capture and reproduce. Ugh!

4. With some judiciously applied EQ I can make a ribbon sound like an expensive condenser but haven't quite figured out how to do the reverse.

5. Excellent transient response.

Nice thread,
Baithak
Old 19th December 2010
  #9
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monsieur x's Avatar
You looking to record in stereo? Check out some Blumlein stereo ribbons. Can be one of the most beautiful and elegant ways to record!

Make sure you have some high gain microphone amplification if you intend to be recording vocals with ribbons.

Lots of top-lift and low roll off will be common, but don't worry, the sound will already be so very smooth that additive EQ will be super easy.

The only time you will be unhappy you used a ribbon is if you put it way too close, and get a nasty proximity effect. Watch out for this, it can keep your low end from being punchy, and you won't be able to always fix it with static EQ.

Guitars will have depth and detail you've never heard before, and you will be very impressed by the transient response of ribbons in general.

Best,
Old 19th December 2010
  #10
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u b k's Avatar
 

Expect character and personality: ribbons have a way of getting deeper into the 'soul' of a sound in a way that is decidedly unhyped. Looking at your mic list my guess is your first response to a ribbon sound is that it's too dark, but as others have said they open up beautifully with the right eq and, if you give yourself time to acclimate, you may find things don't need to be as bright as you think.

I love the transients on ribbons too, they're easier to manage than condensers. And while their response tips downwards, they tend to be very flat, unlike cardioid condensers which have all kinds of crazy peaks and valleys from capsule resonance.

I'd go for 4038's first, it's a sound you'll instantly know and once you record a kit with them you may never go back.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Old 19th December 2010
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waxx View Post
Add Beyer Dynamic to that list, the M130 and M160 are some of my favorite ribbons actually. Cascade Fatheads are also very good, certainly for that price.

And i use them everywhere, depending on what i'm after. They often get more used than condensors in a recording, because of the more natural sound they deliver.
Agreed! One of my favourite mics for electric Guitar and have been told it kills on toms. Also Royer-122s are great if you want the output of a condenser and the quality and sound of a Royer. I have also had great experiences with a R-84, but have only really played around with one.

I suggest definitely looking into the Beyerdynamics they are a great go to mic for guitars.
Old 19th December 2010
  #12
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RCM - Ronan's Avatar
Ribbons are technically dynamics as well, but I usually reach for ribbons when I have a sound source where the high end can get harsh or strident (ribbons tend to be very forgiving in this department) and as many other have said, there is something about the character of a ribbon, how they capture mics and low that is very engaging.
Old 19th December 2010
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoZo View Post
What other applications do you guys use Ribbons? What mics should I look at and what to expect from a Ribbon?
Bass cabs! R-121 excels here, and this week I compared a stock Fat Head II and it sounds almost identical to the Royer. Only $220 and it takes up to 165dBspl. Expect a warm, vivid, 3D recording. thumbsup

Cloud JRS-34 or JRS-34-P are excellent all around mics that shine on vocals.

AEA R44 will blow your mind. It's my new favorite mic for vocals and acoustic instruments. Pricey but worth it.

.
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