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MXL R40 ribbon microphone
Old 5th September 2016
  #181
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Question: that yellow tape holding on the wire mesh, what is it? I need to either buy some more or switch to painter's tape.
Old 5th September 2016
  #182
Just make sure you use something that won't deteriorate over time. Duct tape, masking tape, etc will turn into nasty goop. I have some electrical tape that seems to hold up pretty well over months and years.
Old 8th November 2016
  #183
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Wanted to pop back on here.

I tried another transformer the other day and was pretty stoked by it. It's the FAB 4196. Warmed up the mids and lows but also added a crispness to the highs that isn't at all harsh. Very smooth and musical. Been recording with it for several days now. Like if a ribbon and a condenser had a love child that inherited each of its parent's best traits

Other nice thing about it is the volume (1:48 turn ratio). Much louder than a T25 or Cinemag. In fact, I was able to get a usable sound without adding either a Fethead or Cloudlifter. On a vocal, it allowed me to back way off the mic to combat the R40's proximity effect.

At any rate, as the holidays approach, Musician's Friend is bound to run the R40 for $59.99 on one of its Stupid Deals of the Day (they do every year). You throw a FAB 4196 on it for about $55 more and have yourself a heck of a ribbon mic for $115.
Old 18th November 2016
  #184
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Re: FAB 4196 Ribbon Mic Transformer

Thanks for the recent review on the FAB 4196 Ribbon Mic Transformer. If anyone needs any more info on modding a ribbon mic with a FAB transformer please get in touch.
Old 20th November 2016
  #185
I decided to flick my R40 bodies with my finger and indeed I did hear a little ring. So I just crammed a bunch of foam in there and put the body back on, no more ringing sound.

I haven't done any recordings to test the difference, just wanted to quickly mention this simple, free, 5 minute mod. The body material is quite thin on the MXL mics so they respond to taps more than a heavier denser body might.
Old 21st November 2016
  #186
I went a little further today and ripped out the inner mesh of the headbasket. Then I put the foam back in the body around the Edcor transformer and did some testing.

I did a quick electric guitar and voice recording, and indeed, the sound has less ringing artifacts than what I remember in the low end, and less of a weird high peak.

Tapping the headbasket, or the body, reveals very little ringing into the recorder.

I left the thin mesh on the ribbon motor in place. Royer R121 has a similar mesh, I imagine to myself that it acts as a tiny pop screen for protection.

The low end on this microphone is still very powerful. As soon as I rolled off some lows, boosted the highs, I was left with a very musical electric guitar sound.

I had been ignoring these mics for a while, but I think they are worth attention after all these tweaks. There's still nothing like a decent ribbon in front of a loud amp, to my ears.

I think the ribbon motor on these is the "medium ribbon, long path" as noted by Michael Joly in his article, which should make it quite similar to the FatHead mics, etc, for a fraction of the price. Although they are going to need some TLC out of the box, more than likely. That seems to be the formula with MXL, in my experience. My pair of modified MXL ribbons with Edcor transformers and DIY tweaks still cost me less than one stock Cascade FatHead mic. That's a pretty good deal.

These are currently on sale at $80 all around the internet I believe. I would still recommend them. Same price range as the SM57, but a totally different, and complimentary sound. Guitar cabinet still seems the main place for these in my own use.

For a full mic collection, you would probably still want to add the "long ribbon" type of mic for other instruments that this mic is less suitable for. I think mics like the Apex 205 and Cascade VinJet are more regarded for a wide range of general uses around the studio. For things like drums, stringed instruments, and voice.

The high end ribbon mics to my ear take you somewhere special right out of the box, but at a price. DrBill and others have proved though that with the right upgrades, these inexpensive ribbons can get right up there. Just requires some attention to detail, or help from someone who knows how.
Old 22nd November 2016
  #187
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I've had mine for a little over 2yrs I believe. Never got around to replacing the transformer. Always wanted a R121 for guitar cabs. Don't see myself getting one either. So I have question...I want to use my R40 primarily for guitar cabs and wouldn't mind getting a 2nd one so I can use the pair as OH or Room mics on a drum kit. Been eyeing the Sowter transformer. Not necessarily trying to make it sound like a R121. Just want it to excel in the same places an R121 would. Any thoughts?
Old 23rd November 2016
  #188
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The FAB 4196 transformer will certainly give the R40 a massive boost in terms of quality sound. The transformer is the "engine" in any ribbon mic and should be your first port of call when modding. Let me know if you need any further info.
Old 24th November 2016
  #189
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Chris View Post
I've had mine for a little over 2yrs I believe. Never got around to replacing the transformer. Always wanted a R121 for guitar cabs. Don't see myself getting one either. So I have question...I want to use my R40 primarily for guitar cabs and wouldn't mind getting a 2nd one so I can use the pair as OH or Room mics on a drum kit. Been eyeing the Sowter transformer. Not necessarily trying to make it sound like a R121. Just want it to excel in the same places an R121 would. Any thoughts?
I just tried mine in Blumlein in the drum room position. The sound was a lot more transparent than I thought it would be, it gave me a big fat wide sound when blended in with my close mics. So thumbs up for drum rooms. We did it on an album I recored a few years ago too, and that worked well. In that instance it was either a spaced pair or a mono R40, I don't quite remember.

I did not like these mics as overheads. I think an Apex 205 would do better there. Or a Fathead, based on samples I've listened to. The R40 provides too much coloration and makes the drums sound all weird as an overhead. I would go for something with a flatter frequency response.
Old 25th November 2016
  #190
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post
I just tried mine in Blumlein in the drum room position. The sound was a lot more transparent than I thought it would be, it gave me a big fat wide sound when blended in with my close mics. So thumbs up for drum rooms. We did it on an album I recored a few years ago too, and that worked well. In that instance it was either a spaced pair or a mono R40, I don't quite remember.

I did not like these mics as overheads. I think an Apex 205 would do better there. Or a Fathead, based on samples I've listened to. The R40 provides too much coloration and makes the drums sound all weird as an overhead. I would go for something with a flatter frequency response.
I read somewhere someone mention they had cinemags in their's and really liked it as OH mics. I'm guessing the transformer will have a lot to do on where it might excell. For me Guitar cabs is where I really want it, to compliment the SM57 as the R121 does or to help smooth out brittle highs that I get with a Mesa Boogie Triple Rect. I've done all the other mods other than the transformer swap. I'm going to put the mesh that was originally on the ribbon motor back on, after reading some of the recent comments on this thread. Glad I kept it and the yellow tape.

I'm gonna do some homework on this FAB transformer. It's cheaper than the Sowter. Currently I have the MXL R77-L with the Lundahl transformer so definitely not looking at another lundhal.
Old 25th November 2016
  #191
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Chris View Post
I'm gonna do some homework on this FAB transformer. It's cheaper than the Sowter. Currently I have the MXL R77-L with the Lundahl transformer so definitely not looking at another lundhal.
I felt the FAB was very similar to the Lundhal tonally, but with extra gain.

p.s. I would advise AGAINST removing the wire mesh patches attached to each side of the motor. They're not pop filters. They're high frequency resonators.
Old 11th December 2016
  #192
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Hey guys. I modded my r40's awhile back with edcore transformers. I also reribboned them. I used them for drum rooms, but I noticed one mic has quite a bit more gain than the other. If I put my profire 2626 preamps at the same spot, one mic will be almost 15 db louder than the other, and one mic is out of phase even though they are wired the same. Before I get another transformer, is there anything else I should look at?(obviously i've switched channels and cables). Thanks Michael.
Old 12th December 2016
  #193
Maybe you wired the transformer wires with Hot and Cold reversed on the XLR? not sure where the signal loss would come from. I would definitely take a close look inside the mic and check the work. You might also check to make sure the ribbon is not shorting out to either of the magnets on the sides, use a multimeter. Should be a very high resistance reading (infinity) between the ribbon and either of the magnets. A lower number would indicate a short.
Old 12th December 2016
  #194
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Yea i've taken these things apart several times and short of ohming everything appears to be ok. I'm leaning towards the transformer because I have these mics wired identically and the only thing I cannot check is inside the transformer. I have had the headbaskets off many times and both my ribbons are good. I cut them and installed 1.8 micron foil.
Old 13th December 2016
  #195
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fngrstck View Post
Yea i've taken these things apart several times and short of ohming everything appears to be ok. I'm leaning towards the transformer because I have these mics wired identically and the only thing I cannot check is inside the transformer. I have had the headbaskets off many times and both my ribbons are good. I cut them and installed 1.8 micron foil.
This might be too much of a pain, but can you take them apart and snap a couple photos?
Old 13th December 2016
  #196
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post
You might also check to make sure the ribbon is not shorting out to either of the magnets on the sides, use a multimeter.
Good call, monkeyxx. One easy way to see if the ribbon is touching the motor is to take the grille off and hold the motor up to a light.

You should see a sliver of light on each side of the ribbon.
Old 13th December 2016
  #197
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fngrstck View Post
Yea i've taken these things apart several times and short of ohming everything appears to be ok. I'm leaning towards the transformer because I have these mics wired identically and the only thing I cannot check is inside the transformer. I have had the headbaskets off many times and both my ribbons are good. I cut them and installed 1.8 micron foil.
Correct me if I'm wrong. But why would you install a 1.8 micron ribbon when the R40 says it comes stock with one already?
Old 13th December 2016
  #198
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Chris View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong. But why would you install a 1.8 micron ribbon when the R40 says it comes stock with one already?
You are correct that they are 1.8 stock, but how would this mic work with the ribbon in two pieces!!!

I broke one trying tighten it because it was sagging badly when I got. I made two new one and installed them both. Here are some pictures I took. Monkeyxx, I'm gonna rip the guts out of these and wires them like you did yours as it is much cleaner. It looks like a rats nest in these mics. I did run around with my ohmmeter, and everything is spot on. I did not hook these up and do any checks with them plugged in, but you shouldn't check ohms with power going through the circuit, and I don't know what to look for voltage wise anyway. Again these mics are wires identically, and are out of phase. I have to switch polarity or turn one mic around. This is why I'm suspecting the transformer is wired with differently between the two.
BTW... Thanks for taking the time to look at this..
Attached Thumbnails
MXL R40 ribbon microphone-20161213_060756.jpg   MXL R40 ribbon microphone-20161213_060728.jpg   MXL R40 ribbon microphone-20161213_060701.jpg   MXL R40 ribbon microphone-20161213_060551_hdr.jpg   MXL R40 ribbon microphone-20161213_060632.jpg  

MXL R40 ribbon microphone-20161213_060542_hdr.jpg  
Old 13th December 2016
  #199
One thing I see is too much gap between the ribbon and magnets. Ideally, you should use a much more tightly fit ribbon, as tight as you can reasonably fit without touching. I think that I read you can lose some sensitivity by having these larger gaps.
Old 13th December 2016
  #200
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post
One thing I see is too much gap between the ribbon and magnets. Ideally, you should use a much more tightly fit ribbon, as tight as you can reasonably fit without touching. I think that I read you can lose some sensitivity by having these larger gaps.
I don't disagree, but one mic is perfectly fine. Dead silent with my profire 2626 preamps at about 3/4 gain which is where I would expect the ribbon gain needed would be.
Old 13th December 2016
  #201
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fngrstck View Post
You are correct that they are 1.8 stock, but how would this mic work with the ribbon in two pieces!!!

I broke one trying tighten it because it was sagging badly when I got. I made two new one and installed them both. Here are some pictures I took. Monkeyxx, I'm gonna rip the guts out of these and wires them like you did yours as it is much cleaner. It looks like a rats nest in these mics. I did run around with my ohmmeter, and everything is spot on. I did not hook these up and do any checks with them plugged in, but you shouldn't check ohms with power going through the circuit, and I don't know what to look for voltage wise anyway. Again these mics are wires identically, and are out of phase. I have to switch polarity or turn one mic around. This is why I'm suspecting the transformer is wired with differently between the two.
BTW... Thanks for taking the time to look at this..
Well...that makes sense. Didn't know you ripped yours. I would also email the manufacture of the transformer and see what they say too. You'll have to get in touch with them anyway if it turns out something is wrong anyway.

Definitely curious to what the problem is. I haven't swapped mines yet. Btw, someone should make a tutorial video on how to re-tension a sagging ribbon on YouTube. Seriously can't believe there isn't one already.
Old 13th December 2016
  #202
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So I'm gonna have all the wires off, so I'm gonna swap transformers from mic to mic and see if it follows the transformer. I'll keep you posted.
BTW awhile ago someone posted that they glued a toothpick to the end of the ribbon and simply tightened it upside down letting the toothpick tension it. I'd try that if I had to do it again. It was pita to get it all aligned with my fat fingers..
Old 15th December 2016
  #203
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So I had time tonight. I ripped the guts out of these things and wired the transformers straight to the xlr and to the ribbon. They both now match volume. They are still reversed polarity, but I don't mind as its an easy fix. Monkeyxx... was it you who ripped the inside screen out and pit foam in the body? If you were, did they change the sound for the better? Thanks
Old 15th December 2016
  #204
Quote:
Originally Posted by fngrstck View Post
So I had time tonight. I ripped the guts out of these things and wired the transformers straight to the xlr and to the ribbon. They both now match volume. They are still reversed polarity, but I don't mind as its an easy fix. Monkeyxx... was it you who ripped the inside screen out and pit foam in the body? If you were, did they change the sound for the better? Thanks
It is as simple as swapping your pin 2 and pin 3 wires on the XLR to flip the polarity (phase) of either mic.

Glad to hear your mics are in better shape.

Yes, I did rip out the fine mesh of the headbasket, and deadened the body with foam. I was just trying to get less resonance, and I did notice some improvement. From the body dampening especially, tapping on the mic is a very easy way to hear the improvement.

I left the fine mesh on the ribbon motor with the yellow tape in place, although some people seem to like to take that off too.

All of this mesh/no mesh, screen/no screen stuff is sort of up for debate if you ask me. If you want an acoustically open sound, yes, minimize the layers. If you want better blast and dust protection, probably leave them alone. I use different strategies on different mics of mine, depending on what I want.
Old 15th December 2016
  #205
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Thanks for the reply. If I rip them open again I will swap the pins around, but for right now, I can simply push a button in reaper...
Old 21st March 2017
  #206
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Hey, do any of you savvy MXL modders know where I might find screws for this mic? I dropped one and can't find it :(

Went to a computer components store (Frys), but everything was too large.
Old 17th April 2017
  #207
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Accompianist View Post
Hey, do any of you savvy MXL modders know where I might find screws for this mic? I dropped one and can't find it :(
Okay, for anyone scoring along at home, M1.6x4 panheads fit nicely.
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