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DIY ribbon mics
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
Gear Head
 

DIY ribbon mics

Made a pair of ribbon mics, in pine boxes, essentially little mouse or bird coffins:



Here's a clip with doumbek and acoustic guitar. Both were recorded with the pair of mics: http://www.ubertar.com/creot/guitar_doumbek_ribbon.wav
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
Here for the gear
 
LineSicks's Avatar
Fascinating! Very cool build! Sounds... different.

I gotta know... where does one find these "little mouse or bird" coffins???
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Head
 

I got a bunch of them a while back from a pet funeral home that was going out of business. Actually, no... a pack of vampire mice lived in my old apartment and left them there before I moved in. Well, no, really I'm pretty sure it was from American Science and Surplus. They have lots of wacky things like that. I've had 'em for a few years at least, so I'm not entirely sure.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
The pic didn’t post. I’d really like to see them. I build mics all the time and ribbons have eluded me. I’ve modded some and have some active models, I’m very interested in where/how you built the ribbon motor.

Brian
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
Gear Head
 

The pic is there... I can see it. Are you blocking javascript?
Here's a direct link: http://www.ubertar.com/creot/new_ubertar_ribbon.jpg

That doesn't show you the motor, so not so useful for what you want to know. I'd consider making a bunch of these if people were interested, either full mics or just the motors. The where is my basement workshop. The how is a bunch of steps... I'm thinking about maybe doing a little DIY ribbon class, in the Baltimore area so people can learn to make these.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
I put a Lindell transformer in an MXL R144 and it makes for a decent snare mic. I’d like to take it a step further and put a new ribbon motor in it. I haven’t been able to find a drop in replacement. I don’t think I can DIY a better motor than MXL.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ubertar1 View Post
Here's a clip...
Love it. I could definitely find uses for it. What's the metal thingy above the XLR? And what did you use for a preamp and how high was it cranked? The recording isn't as noisy as I expected it to be.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
What's the metal thingy above the XLR?
that´s the clasp holding the "coffin" shut, I believe... :D
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
Gear Head
 

That's correct. This clip was done with the coffin open. Closed is a different sound, which could be useful when you want it, or to fit in a particular mix, but generally I like the open sound better. Closed is kind of, well, boxy.

The preamp is ATI M-1000. Turned up pretty high, about half-way I guess. Not badly noisy, but enough that I did a little noise reduction on this clip.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ubertar1 View Post
Closed is kind of, well, boxy.
More likely to get "buried" in a mix?

As for the preamp gain, just as a point of comparison I'll run an API nearly wide open (80 dB?) with an RCA 77 on a quietish source like an acoustic guitar. It won't be at all noisy, though.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
Gear Head
 

Yeah, the output on these is a little lower than with other ribbons I have. I don't think the preamp is the issue... I could do a similar recording with a pair of Grundig (made by Beyer) ribbons and there would be no noise issues. The foil I used for the ribbons is 2.5 microns. I'm going to order some 1.8 which I expect will make a significant difference, not just in higher output due to higher sensitivity, but more clarity and detail as well. If I do end up making some of these to sell, I'll stain and finish the wood, and make some other improvements as well. What do you think would be a fair price?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
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Al Rogers's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ubertar1 View Post
Yeah, the output on these is a little lower than with other ribbons I have. I don't think the preamp is the issue... I could do a similar recording with a pair of Grundig (made by Beyer) ribbons and there would be no noise issues. The foil I used for the ribbons is 2.5 microns. I'm going to order some 1.8 which I expect will make a significant difference, not just in higher output due to higher sensitivity, but more clarity and detail as well. If I do end up making some of these to sell, I'll stain and finish the wood, and make some other improvements as well. What do you think would be a fair price?
You can buy a ribbon mic as a kit from Austin Microphones for about $250.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
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12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Rogers View Post
You can buy a ribbon mic as a kit from Austin Microphones for about $250.
Have you used any of their products in actual production?
...If so, how do you think the end results compare to the "real stuff"?
.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Head
 

What would be the fun of that? I've bought a number of good, working, vintage ribbon mics for less than that. If I do make a batch of these to sell, I'm thinking 50 bucks a piece. I've found some good info for an easy tweak to the design that will give higher output, and I'm also ordering some thinner foil (1.8 vs. 2.5 microns). I'll even stain and finish the boxes. If there's demand for at least ten mics, I'll do a run of them.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Head
 

Sorry, I thought you were suggesting I use a kit, when you were just referencing the price similar kinds of things go for. 250 is way more than I want to sell for. Unless cutting the thinner ribbon turns out to be a major headache, 50 bucks a pop seems fair to me.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
Gear Addict
 
Al Rogers's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 12ax7 View Post
Have you used any of their products in actual production?
...If so, how do you think the end results compare to the "real stuff"?
.
Nope, I haven't tried the Austin Microphone products. I referred the their microphone because the OP asked for info about pricing for his own DIY microphone.

If someone here builds an Austin microphone I'd be interested in reading a review.

Last edited by Al Rogers; 3 weeks ago at 04:26 PM..
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
Did you make the motor yourself or get it somewhere? I've made one ribbon so far but it's pretty dull and with low output. I think the magnets are too weak. Where does one get a decent, high quality long ribbon motor for less than a hundred? I suppose one could buy a used Apex 205 or 210 and take out the motor but that seems silly. I know BeesKnees sells a ribbon motor but it's too expensive for what I want to do.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #18
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Coates View Post
Did you make the motor yourself or get it somewhere? I've made one ribbon so far but it's pretty dull and with low output. I think the magnets are too weak. Where does one get a decent, high quality long ribbon motor for less than a hundred? I suppose one could buy a used Apex 205 or 210 and take out the motor but that seems silly. I know BeesKnees sells a ribbon motor but it's too expensive for what I want to do.
This is the struggle. These mics are literally a ribbon motor, a transformer, and an XLR connector in a mic body. The ribbon motor is the secret sauce. Looking at some of the more expensive motors it looks like they may use resonators to brighten them up. They’re not just ribbons between magnets.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
Gear Head
 

I make them.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #20
Gear Head
 

I'm not sure what mics you've seen resonators in, or what a ribbon mic resonator would consist of, but I've looked inside mics by RCA, Electrovoice, Shure, Amperite, Altec, Universal, Beyerdynamic, and I've never seen any kind of resonator. Most ribbons aren't bright sounding, and aren't expected to be. The Beyer is brighter than the others I've listed, and it's what the ones I'm making most closely resemble, as far as motor design. In some mics there is a kind of labyrinth that can be altered by moving a lever or selecting with a switch, which alters the pickup pattern. These have a pignosish version of that, in that you get a very different sound with the back open or closed, and you can set it partly open to whatever degree.

I'm pricing these at fifty bucks, for something handmade and unique which should be useful to any engineer worth their salt but will certainly not be anybody's workhorse mic. Why compare them to $1000 microphones?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ubertar1 View Post
I'm not sure what mics you've seen resonators in, or what a ribbon mic resonator would consist of, but I've looked inside mics by RCA, Electrovoice, Shure, Amperite, Altec, Universal, Beyerdynamic, and I've never seen any kind of resonator. Most ribbons aren't bright sounding, and aren't expected to be. The Beyer is brighter than the others I've listed, and it's what the ones I'm making most closely resemble, as far as motor design. In some mics there is a kind of labyrinth that can be altered by moving a lever or selecting with a switch, which alters the pickup pattern. These have a pignosish version of that, in that you get a very different sound with the back open or closed, and you can set it partly open to whatever degree.

I'm pricing these at fifty bucks, for something handmade and unique which should be useful to any engineer worth their salt but will certainly not be anybody's workhorse mic. Why compare them to $1000 microphones?
Are you saying you will sell the motor for $50? Are these long or short ribbons?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #22
Gear Head
 

The motor or the mic, your choice. Yes.
The ribbon is one inch in length.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #23
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ubertar1 View Post
The motor or the mic, your choice. Yes.
The ribbon is one inch in length.
Post some pics of the motor. I’d be interested in swapping one into my modded R144 if it can be mounted. That seems to be the problem I’m running into, if the ones I’ve found, they're either too long are can’t be mounted.

On a different note, it was AEA’s website I saw pics of motors that looked like they had a wing like resonator incorporated in. I’m not an expert. It was an uneducated observation. You have much more experience than I do so I’ll default to your expertise.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #24
Here for the gear
 

Please post mic of motor, i may be interested in purchasing one as well. I've built a few but I've struggled with getting the magnets to sit correctly. For me, building the frame to hold the magnets was the most difficult part. I used two pieces of plexi but i think i'm going to try and use 1/4" cedar and build a jig for my router.
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