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Beyerdynamic M 160
4.85 (5 Reviews) Hyper-cardioid double ribbon mic, good for guitar cabs, or warm and fat drum sounds. Can be combined with the figure-8 pattern M130 for MS stereo, which sounds great on choirs or strings.
These have an unusual shape for ribbon mics, with the diminutive ball end not seeming large enough to contain one ribbon, let alone two.
There is no mistaking the warm ribbon sound however. But unlike some cheaper ribbons I have tried, they don't sound muffled or stodgy: these mics roll off the high end gently as you would expect, and present a much warmer sound than a typical condenser in the same position, but the high end takes EQ well, and a smooth "air" boost can often bring out a beautifully soft and understated top end that you can't really get from condensers. I like to think of this as a matt finish instead of the glossy sheen of a condenser.
The M160 has a slight presence boost in the upper mids, which probably helps it sound sound so great on electric guitar cabs, or drum overheads. This has also worked really well on tricky sources such as a banjo: it captured a perfect balance of transient attack and woody tone, with no unpleasant harshness whatsoever.
In some situations such as solo violin I find I am not so keen on the presence bump, and I tend to reach for the slightly darker sounding M130 instead.
Speaking of the M130, the combination of M160/M130 in Mid/Side is a thing of great beauty on sources such as choirs, string or horn sections... even a full orchestra on a couple of occasions. The small size and light weight is another bonus when positioning them over the conductor's head!
Of course being ribbon mics they have a pretty low output, and will place more demands on your preamps when used at a distance or on quiet acoustic sources. But they are not much harder to drive than many classic dynamic models, and most decent preamps should cope fine. To put it into context, I have often used my M160/M130 mics on location plugged into the Mackie Onyx pres on my firewire interface, and while I have sometimes needed the gain pots up all the way I have never had any issues with noise.
Highly recommended: these mics are a great bargain, and something of an industry secret.
Honestly, these mics are used on every recording I do. I use them most as drum overheads, and for jazz they are the sound. I run them through some api 3124's and it has everything you are looking for. Just that sound. Everything is there, with none of the harsh top or mud bottom. They are articulate with out being obnoxious. They have a very linear off axis response that really makes the difference when miking multiple sound sources, like drum OH's and ensembles.
Recently I have been using them with a Hamptone stereo tube pre and been getting some new results. They actually go a little warmer with this pre, which is not always my experience with that pre.
This is truly a mic for every session, something will always sound right through these. I have used them on drums, gtr cabs, acoustic gtr, female vox, banjo, mandolin, violin, trumpets, sax, piano, and i'm sure more. If you record jazz drums or med/close mic'd piano, I highly recommend trying these for a session. I have heard multiple offerings from royer and AEA, and these give a different option to those.
I've been using a pair of m160's for about 12 years now-I was lucky enough to get a couple off of German ebay around 2000 for about 100 bucks each!Those days of inexpensive mics from ebay.de are gone though.They're a little older-perhaps from the mid 70's and have tuschel connectors so I made some adapter cables to convert them to xlr.My studio at that time had only 7' 6" ceilings which I dampened quite a bit with 703 panels-still, far from ideal for recording drums and full bands which is what I did at that time.I mention the space because when I switched from using inexpensive small diaphragm condensers to the m160's my drum and acoustic grand piano recordings improved a lot.Because of the hypercardioid pattern and limited frequency range,as well as the "smoother" sound of a ribbon mic, The lameness of my room was much less apparent! Instead of worrying about mic placement (with the condensors) that would avoid ugly reflections, I was able to move mics to optimise the sound of the instrument being recorded.Much easier and satisfying!.A stereo pairs works great on a relatively small drum kit as overheads(small meaning bass drum, snare, 2-3 toms,2-3 cymbals and hh) Bigger kits could require more 160's or a different stereo set, as the relatively tight pattern can leave "holes" in the picture of the kit, or you can raise a pair of the 160's higher-especially if you plan on micing the toms for a more spread image.I've done a number of live all in one room band recordings of mostly acoutis instruments(drums, acoustic bass, piano, sax and trumpet) and you can use this mic on any of these instruments.I'm a sax player and even though I have more expensive mics I love the m160 for a jazz or classical recording .It also works great on grand piano especially if the instrument is alittle bright-I had a yamaha C3 in that studio and it worked really well.Preamps I like to use with the m160 include the Hamptone fet pre, the groovetubes supre, and the FMR RNP but any pre with decent gain would work.I even used with built in pres from interfaces(Yamaha mlan rack unit-can't remember name) and a steinberg mr816.There will be more noise than using a condenser mic so super quiet sources may be difficult for this mic but other than that give it a go!
This is a hypercardioid miniature ribbon microphone suited for studio vocals, acoustic strings, acoustic guitar, toms, hi-hat, pianos, saxophone, and many other sources. It is one of the very few ribbon microphones that is unidirectional, not figure 8. As ribbons go it is quite rugged, and hence is suitable for stage use if used with care.
The sound quality is excellent, providing classic smooth, detailed ribbon tone in a compact package. As with all ribbons and nearly all directional microphones it has significant proximity effect; when using it as a vocal mic I sing farther off the mic than I would normally for a standard dynamic vocal mic.
I've got a vintage grey version of this mic (3 pin tutchel) made in west germany and it sounds very well balanced in frequency range, but never harsh, always sounding natural even on really loud sources and extremely loud guitar cabs.
I mostly use this mic for electric guitar cabs, especially when heavy saturation is involved and harsher sounds, so it's perfect for rock, metal e.t.c but to be honest works well on clean sounds too. Great combined with an sm57 and mixed together, but often the m160 sounds FAR better.
this is my 'go to' mic for all electric guitar sounds even over an sm57, it has an uncanny way of removing the frequencies that you never want to hear in electric guitar whilst boosting it in just the right place, it also has an incredibly '3D' sounding midrange which no other mic I've heard can match, it's velvety rich and makes thing sound bigger than it really sounds.
I'd happily use this mic for serious jazz recordings as well, so brass sections and anything overly bright, would work very well as mono overhead when you want that classic sound.
The mic also takes EQ remarkably well, you can boost the high end 10dB or more without any harshness to emphasise the harmonics, just wonderful.
I highly recommend using a cloudlifter with the mic as well, it takes it to another level and as it's quiet it makes a big difference to the quality you can achieve.