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are there old ribbon mics as desirable as old tube mics like 67, 47 etc...
Old 7th July 2006
  #1
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ine-kpro...'s Avatar
 

are there old ribbon mics as desirable as old tube mics like 67, 47 etc...

just wondering whether there are ribbon mics out there that are well sought after like old neumanns for their sound.

do they have that so called magic that only the older models have that the newer models try to copy. is there a a neumann 67 or 47 of ribbon mics. would the older models still be useable in todays ribbon mics standards and do they have the high price tag that the old neumanns have.
Old 7th July 2006
  #2
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Phil Cibley's Avatar
 

RCA 44s and 77s, with the 44s being the more sought after of the 2.
Old 7th July 2006
  #3
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max cooper's Avatar
 

Well, I'd like to find an old Bang and Olufsen.
Old 7th July 2006
  #4
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frans's Avatar
...errr ...I'd like to find an old ribbon mic that was not damaged...
(just my 2cents warning)
Old 7th July 2006
  #5
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danasti's Avatar
 

An ultra mint RCA 44.

AEA is selling replica 44 mics at $3500 to $4000 which actually have nos (new old stock) RCA ribbons.

http://www.mercenaryaudio.com/aear44cx.html

If you could find this item in really good shape it would be worth quite a bit today.

http://www.coutant.org/hmv2300/index.html

ribbon mic - tube pre-amp - vinyl cutter ------- and portable! ah.. the good old days!

"your recording clients will be eager to talk about their recordings and play them for their friends. Every record will carry your personalized label.."

"a small room in your own premises can be equiped quite economically as an efficient studio. But as the equipment is so easily portable you can record anywhere--for outside work it is usual to make an extra charge."
Old 7th July 2006
  #6
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Greg Curtis's Avatar
 

Gotta use it correctly: I was in a session (as a contactor) at Capitol Studio A in which an original RCA 44 was placed by the outside engineer (didn't know him, and don't remember his name) as a room ambience mic. We were recording a string section for a pop album with an unkown local female artist. The thing was incredibly UGLY sounding: Huge gain was required, and the signal was so damn niosy and grainy that I felt it was useless, except maybe for some effect he had in mind later.

But the U67s through the Neve and the Fairchild sounded golden!

Gotta know how to use it, and use a preamp with enough gain and proper impedence.

Greg

.
Old 7th July 2006
  #7
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pineyb's Avatar
 

I have several ribbons.... both new and vintage. Many of the vintage ribbons that I bought were in need of complete overhauls.... watch out for ebay stuff. Generally, if you are going to buy vintage, make sure that you can return it if it is not working.... or that you buy dirt cheap.
I have an AEA R44 that I like much better than a friend's RCA 44. The real 44 was way too dark. I have a Royer 121 which compares to my B&O BM3... great for a guitar amps, horns, strings. I have a Royer SF12... which is often cool for acoustic guitar, piano, room, or overhead. I have several Shure ribbons....330, 315, 300... which are good for guitars etc. I have a very unusual EMI ribbon that is perfect on background vox...... All of these ribbons can be great on lead vox... or they can be not great.
Another thing to consider is the room that you are working in... most ribbons are figure 8 .... so if the room is bad, you probably won't be really happy.

Check out
http://www.coutant.org/contents.html

There are frequency response charts for a lot of mics there.... You will find that most vintage ribbons top out between 8,000 and 15,000 HZ.... a lot darker that LDCs. This charateristic can be cool when tracking to digital as it smooths out the sometimes cranky high end on some DAWs. This lack of high end response can be a problem for getting "modern" sounds from a ribbon.
As a result of some of these issues, I don't know if vintage ribbons will ever command the prices that vintage LDCs do....
Old 7th July 2006
  #8
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softwareguy's Avatar
 

From your question, it sounds like you are looking for an investment. I would agree with what has been said so far that the old ribbons, with the possible exception of a really well maintained RCA 44, 77dx or KU3A is not going to be a collectible in the same league as a classic neumann or AKG.

However, RCA made a lot of mics that are still very valuable tools if they are maintained well. In particular, the BK-5 and BK-11 have excellent transformers, very useful frequency responses and mojo to burn. For more specific applications, especially those like kick or electric guitar that are hgh volume (better S/N ratio) and that really do effectively top out at 6-7K in terms of their useful signal, there are a lot more options.

While the old ribbons don't have the wild appreciation potential of the Neumann's, there is a pretty stable demand for them, so you probably wouldn't get hurt too badly buying one and re-selling it if it wasn't useful to you. Even a re-ribbon and check out by AEA, Kane, etc., should be about $150 or less, and if you keep your receipt it would be reflected to some degree in your resale price if you still don't like the mic. I would recommend that you try a few in different situations. They really are a cost-effective way to add a lot of color and vibe.
Old 7th July 2006
  #9
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Altec 639
Old 7th July 2006
  #10
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David R.'s Avatar
 

Coles 3038 are great. Some of the old Sure mics, I forget the model #, but they are refered to as the Johnny Carson Mic.

RCA 44 is the prize. Greg, perhaps the mic used at Capital was shot, but all the great old records were made with these mics.

I have 3 77dx mics, love 'em.
Old 30th August 2007
  #11
Gear Head
 

Nina Simone was recorded on the RCA 77 model on the early stuff, Rags & old iron, He needs me, etc... sounds great to my ears but it does have a lot of character, not to everyones liking, i reckon you gotta try a lot of mic/pre combinations to get the best out of all ribbon mics, most old models are not working well until serviced up, my RCA 77 sounds cranky and has low output, it was compared in another studio side by side with their one and it turns out mine is fuc***. Saying that 9 out of 10 vocalists were freaked out by the sound of it to the point where i thought i was going to be mugged... I Have found an old pair of Tannoy ribbon mics the same size as the RCA 77 models, no model numbers and extremly rare, I think they came out of the houses of parliament but not sure, they are very old 1940s i think! and vibey, one of them when put through the Tubetech mic pre sounded like heaven, i never had the chance to record properly as yet i but have them cased up still & waiting for the time when i am ready with my studio next year...
Old 1st April 2010
  #12
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extremely rare vintage mic's

I also have an old Tannoy ribbon mic the same size as the RCA 77 models, again, no model numbers and extremly rare, very old, possibly earlier than 1940s. The sound is amazing, definitely vibey and like heaven, I also have an Bakelite mic, 'as new' looks like a small brown billiard ball with an oversized circular flat chrome grill. Again the sound is to die for. it's still got the original polythene sleeve & both mic's use the original cables (although I have put an xlr on them in order to use them). I have had them for over 30 years and only used them on special occasions, I would consider selling.
I have no idea what they're worth though, any Ideas?
Old 1st April 2010
  #13
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rare vintage mic's identified

I have managed to identify the 2 mics:

Tannoy, English Ribbon transducer (1930's) - Fig 8 - Live stage, PA. Recording & Broadcast

Western Electrics 630A (Original RCA) (1930's) - Dynamic, Non-Directional - Recording & Broadcast

Both microphones are immaculate & work perfectly (especially the 630A which looks brand new) & are with the original cables & fittings.
They both sound amazing

Any ideas on values as i am considering selling them?
Old 1st April 2010
  #14
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Well, it's horses for courses.
I spent a fortune on a mint condition, re-ribboned RCA77DX and it's taken me a long time to learn how to use it. They're a bit different to condensors. More temperamental.
It's the best thing ever on violin and hand percussion such as shakers and tambourines. Great on guitar amps about 18 inches out right in the middle of the cone with a bunch of high shelf boost. So it takes work but when you get there you'll know it.
It's even trickier on vocals but I recorded an acapella female vocal duo on it (a la Andrews Sisters) about a foot out. Touch of high shelf and you're straight back to the 1950's. Awesome sound and the singers loved it over all sorts of other mics.
Just took a bit more thinking on my part.
Tips: Proximity effect - watch it. Boost 6-8k and up a bunch.
Watch that you're not in a crappy room.

That done, enjoy the best sound ever.
Old 1st April 2010
  #15
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Crash's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluesman714 View Post
Altec 639
There is an Altec or Western Electric 639A and a 639B, the B is the more sought after as I recall.
Old 1st April 2010
  #16
Gear Addict
 

I've head a pair of 77DX's for 25 years. They worked when I got them but I ended up having Clarence Kane re-ribbon them, which was a vast improvement.

Having said they are their own animal, by that I mean they usually need to be positioned much differently than other mics. The extreme proximity effect and the fact that you can overload the ribbon means in a lot of instances they need to be placed back from the source. They are on the dark side to begin with but not pulling them back from the source usually makes them much darker sounding. A good, quiet mic. pre with lots of gain is necessary. Pre's that aren't too colored seem to work better. I have been using mine with a custom built tube pre with Jensen trafos in the front and they really sing.

In addition, preamp loading makes a big diffrence (if you have any control over this). And they take EQ very well.

I have gotten some great results on piano and they are magic on mandolins. As mentioned before they can also work very well on electric guitars (not in front of a Marshall stack though!) and percussion.
The only caveat would be that you might as well count on having them re-ribboned when you get them, unless someone has done this recently. There are at least a couple of places reputed to do a good job.

So, learn the mic and they will hang with the best in many instances. If you plug it in and expect it to function like a u87/414/57 etc. right off the bat you will be disappointed.
Old 1st April 2010
  #17
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Pred80r's Avatar
 

Reslo Ribbon Mic

Rebuilding a 50's model RV with the promise that it will be something special...see the thread here:

Reslo Ribbon Mic


Having said that though I can't imagine using any ribbon mic over my U47 for female vocals...but what do I know?

Jack
Old 1st April 2010
  #18
Well!

My personal fave is the RCA BK11 its quite like a 44DX but sounds a little less wooly it was designed by John R Sank so when you find one send it to Steven (his son) as he has all the original corrugation tools and his work is superb.
Cloud mic's are his own brand and are very much a homage to the BK 11's
also he makes a clever phantom power'd transformer replacement circuit that has to be heard to be believed.
Pro Audio Heaven! Vintage Ribbon Microphones, RCA, Shure, Neumann, Neve, B&O and more... - index
Old 28th March 2011
  #19
RCA
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RCA

Quote:
Originally Posted by ine-kpro... View Post
just wondering whether there are ribbon mics out there that are well sought after like old neumanns for their sound.

do they have that so called magic that only the older models have that the newer models try to copy. is there a a neumann 67 or 47 of ribbon mics. would the older models still be useable in todays ribbon mics standards and do they have the high price tag that the old neumanns have.
Definitely the RCA KU3A
Old 28th March 2011
  #20
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Greg Curtis's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RCA View Post
Definitely the RCA KU3A
Gotta agree.

Only 500 made. Completely hand made by one guy. Each one sounds different than the rest because of the nature of their design (cow hair, intense machining, 2 different glued-on mesh inner screens, the usual tolerance issues, etc...). Sold only to Hollywood sound stages.

I'm really proud to have 4 of them, 2 with consecutive serial numbers. So sweet on brass and saxes.

And a ribbon with a cardiod pattern, which required a crazy labyrinth behind the ribbon (notice tube in pic #3? It leads down, into the labyrinth which is in the body of the mic) stuffed with cow hair! Giant magnet (watch those screws and other mics get pulled in), and a nice motor.









AEA remake, the AEA KU4A is a superbe reproduction, and truly a labor of love to make, considering the precision hand-made aspects. I'm sure they are losing money at over $4k each.

GC
Old 4th March 2017
  #21
Lives for gear
Here are how I think about the ribbons.

44. The classic room mic. great drum overheads.
4038 The current best overhead that exists for a high freq controlled sound.
Royer (121,122,SF series) Best compliment to a dynamic on guitar cab. The SF series work about like the 44 and 4038.
RU4 The ultimate talking book mic, the only ribbon that can live inside a kick
AEA 84 Well rounded ribbon sound, more applications than the rest

That's many of the high end ribbon mics.
AEA TRP series of preamps are great w/ all of them.

There value is not like LDC, because ribbons are not stable like metallic LDC caps. LDC's pick up faster transients and more high freq than ribbons. So from a technical standpoint LDC's blow ribbons out of the water. However the sound of ribbons is very desirable when the track counts are low to fill out the mids and lows.

The sound of a ribbon mic's vary less from mic to mic than LDC's however Ribbons only get worse over time and have to be re-ribboned. But LDC's can sound better over time I think manly from oxidation embrittlement. M50's w/ aluminum caps, and 414's w/ copper caps are highly prized.

Ribbons mic's will vary only because of how old/tensioned the ribbon is.

W/ a ribbon replacement running up to $300 the only thing you are buying is a magnet and a circuit. I can't see there being special $5K ribbons in 5- years. cheaper to design new w/ better magnets or just get the current stuff.

The main thing is each studio should have at least one pair of the staples: 4038, 121, 84
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