If I were looking into a new pre specifically for ribbons, for under a grand, you can't beat the AEA ribbon pre.
The new Lavry Engineering MP-10 costs a little more but has a some very handy options for remote work. The digitally controlled gain really speeds things up when you're in a hurry. The MP-10 also has very good meters that help when setting levels in a hurry. Actually it seems like everything in remote work is done in a hurry.
Also, ribbons tend to have a 'large' sound and these preamps don't contribute additional size or character, which in this situation is a good thing.
I cannot recommend any stereo ribbons other than an SF-12 (because I haven't used any). SF-12's show up used occasionally though.
are there any of the chinese stereo ribbon mics that you might suggest?
There is an SF12 clone called a Stellar RM-7 that can be found on ebay for $200.00. For a few hundred more, you can send it to Michael Joly and have the ribbons tweaked and upgraded transformers installed.
Brad McGowen posted this in a recent thread:
I'm glad someone mentioned this. My buddy and I bought one of the Stellar RM-7 stereo ribbons which is essentially the same mic as the Cascade X15. My friend sent his off to Michael Joly for upgrades...re-tension of the ribbons, new transformers, Evidence Audio wiring. We spent some time this weekend comparing it to the stock mic and my Royer SF12 on drum overheads and front of kit. Here's the gist of our impressions:
Compared to the SF12 the Stellar was bigger sounding with a much deeper and heavier low end. We actually ran the tracks through the Schwa Scope plugin and you could see how the Royer started to roll off about 40-50Hz. The modded Stellar kept going all the way down. The Royer seemed to have a bit of a bump at 200Hz that really gave some weight to the snare, but the Stellar had more at 60Hz so the kick seemed way bigger. Up top the Royer started to roll off and shelf at 12k-15k. The Stellars were pretty flat until about 15k, and the modded Stellar had a lot of air in comparison. However the Stellars had a slight dip around 11k. A 3dB boost there fixed this though. The modded Stellar was definitely clearer, more 3D, and more detailed than the stock. Frequency-wise the SF12 was rolled off in the extreme top and bottom and thus sounded boxier. However, what really put the Royer in a different class was the tightness of the figure 8 patterns and it's stereo image. With the Royer each part of the kit could be pinpointed across the soundstage. The Stellar image sounded a little hazy in comparison. It was like I had on the wrong prescription of eyeglasses and couldn't point to the man's nose. It also felt like I was hearing a ghost image from things getting picked up in the adjacent ribbon's rear lobe.
The ideal mic would be the bastard child of the modded Stellar and the Royer SF12.
I have some Chinese ribbons that I've modified pretty extensively and they sound excellent. I plan to buy one of the Stellar RM-7s soon and do similar mods to it. Since I will do the work myself, it won't cost all that much to check it out.
You can listen to few simple samples here (mono and stereo) www.savitamusic.com/links/r1active.zip To my ears it produces very nice full natural sound (especially in stereo). We found it great for vocals too ...
ivo - hope all is going well for savita. perhaps you could possibly post some clips comparing your schoeps mk2 pair to the ribbons? I am a big fan of the mk2 work you do, and my experiences with ribbons have not supported the idea that ribbons are as good for chamber and acoustic material. thanks.
It is definitely not to replace MK2 but just to answer the question about "affordable (good) ribbon"
Does the MKiii version come with the aluminum carrying bag like the MKii?
Is this mic as quiet as a condenser? I have Apogee Duet 2 with plenty of clean gain. I just got the Cascade Victor with the Cludlifter CL1, but to my ears the mic is noisy! With and without the cloudlifter.
The Sontronics Apollo is a stereo ribbon mic. that is not only good quality, but very affordable.
I agree about 'good quality', not so much about 'very affordable'. More than 1100 € is not what I would call very affordable, even if it is a less than half the price of a Royer SF-12. Two takes recorded 5 days apart in the same conditions for comparing the Sontronics Apollo and the Prodipe RSL (less than 400 €).
Edit: from the same serie of tests, a third take recorded with a pair of Beyerdynamic M 130 in Blumlein.