When you’re planning to create your own studio, the question of choosing the microphone is crucial. Did you think about the ribbon type? If yes, in the following article we will give you a guide to the best ribbon microphones in 2023 that are currently available on the market:
Our Top Picks:
|Item||Main information||Polar Pattern||Connector type|
|Classic and one of the most powerful mics in this category for the professional use|
|See Best Price|
|Authentic looks, rugged construction, top quality materials and high responsiveness|
|XLR||See Best Price|
|One of the thinniest ribbon mics, extra sensitive and easy to transport|
|Wired||See Best Price|
Royer Labs R-121 Large-Element Ribbon Microphone
We must warn you from the beginning, this model is one of the most expensive ones in this segment. However, for numerous musicians, this is the most desirable model of the ribbon microphone that has tempted many.
Its advantage is that it’s suitable with any present setup and unlike many other ribbon microphones, Royer is protected against accidental phantom powering. What is more, the rugged construction of this microphone is built to resist excessive SPLs.
This microphone is versatile enough to be compatible with any instrument. It has a flattened tuning response that will be constant from any distance. Royer Labs R-121 also includes the replaceable ribbon that you should use to say something with a life-like quality.
This microphone is capable of capturing the lower frequencies with additional brightness that will add a gorgeous analogy to your recordings. At the same time, the microphone doesn’t distort the sound at higher frequencies.
Do we even need to say that Royer is engineered by experts in their craft? The trendy parts of this microphone are integrated into a retro-looking design and the overall thing is constructed to last.
This legendary microphone breathed new life into the abandoned technology. I know it has a value that may make you wince, but you won’t remorse the addition to your studio.
It can provide the recording with the tiniest details of the voice and it has an idyllic sensitivity for any type of their according. It says the sound waves without capturing the unnecessary background noise.
- Directional characteristic: Figure 8
- Extremely low inherent noise
- Ribbon element insensitive to heat and moisture
- Frequency range: 30 Hz – 15 kHz +/- 3 dB
- Sensitivity: -54 dBv re. 1 V/pa +/- 1 dB
- Output impedance: 300 Ohm @ 1 k (nominal)
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The KSM313 has what is named a dual-voice design as a result of the 2 sides of the figure-8 polar pattern being exploited to supply two distinctly different frequency responses and sound.
You will figure out that the front side of this microphone includes the traditional fake and creamy ribbon sound.
And the rear side of this microphone sounds considerably brighter and it’s similar to the rising high-frequency curve that you can find in any good vocal condenser microphone.
This microphone by Shure is made of metal parts and it’s painted black. Its red mesh screening covers the machine’s sound entry ports. When you hold the microphone it feels hefty and a threaded nut here is attached to the swivel bracket in the shape of a monocle.
Shure KSM313 functions on the direct point-to-point wiring with the gold ribbon connectors and also high efficiency, custom wound transformer. It is available in several colors and shapes, including the form lines mahogany “cigar box”.
This model is constructed professionally and it’s handcrafted. This microphone is not similar to the typical aluminum ribbon microphones. In fact, it is a stronger model and it immediately responds precisely to excessive frequencies.
It will also return them to the shape after being distorted by wind blasts, plausive, phantom power jolts, and maybe high SPL sources.
This is a rugged built and reliable ribbon microphone that is built for professional usage. The sound that it delivers is warm and clear and that’s a well fit no matter if you’re planning to use this microphone for Studio or for Life stage concerts.
- With different sounds depending on the talking side
- Specially designed for stage use
- Directional characteristics: Figure 8
- Frequency range: 30 – 15,000 Hz
Surprisingly, the Rode company is also known for producing good ribbon microphones. The manufacturer says this microphone was created to dispute the criticism of the whole ribbon microphones in general.
And seriously, each component of the Rode NTR is a masterpiece. It was designed and created in-house and in fact, it’s one of the thinnest ribbon microphones in existence. What is more, it is the transformer model.
It works at one point eight microns and it has been laser cut. It eliminates microscopic phrases along the sides that would decay over time and they make this microphone by Rode extra long.
This shape of a microphone also makes Rode is it a place anywhere in your studio. In addition to that, the microphone comes with a 10-year warranty. It provides the great sound of any vocals and it works especially great for their acoustic guitars.
All in all, the microphone looks amazing, it’s really convenient to use and easy to transport and it provides an excellent sound.
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Beyerdynamic M 160
It’s hard to believe that the manufacturing of this microphone was actually launched in 1957 and it actually stays popular until nowadays. It has brought its own elements to the classic ribbon type of microphone.
The most prominent feature of Beyerdynamic is that it’s extremely versatile and it carries the historical past of being used by a few of the most legendary singers of the world, for example, Led Zeppelin.
And another cool advantage of this microphone is that it’s suitable for both musicians and singers. These microphones usually use thin electrically conductive ribbons which are usually made of aluminum, dura aluminum, or nanofilm.
The ribbon is usually positioned between the poles of a magnet to supply a voltage by electromagnetic induction. These ribbons that it has are usually extraordinarily delicate because all materials are super thin and delicate and have the width of a human hair.
Therefore, the road sensitivity of Beyerdynamic provides extra pure sound. For some reason ribbons mics are usually associated with dynamic microphones and they should be usually paired with a microphone amplifier if you want to extend the output quality.
It means that you cannot use the ribbon microphone with a pop shield, because it’s already super resistant to some explosive and loud noises, for example, mighty wind. It’s achieved due to the excessive sound pressure levels.
Therefore, it’s one of the best microphones for vocalists because it has a lot of different large-diaphragm condensers. Keep in mind that its vertical axis may be extremely slim at the higher frequencies.
It has a wide-range frequency response rate of 40Hz – 18kHz, sustaining a rich, heat sound on the lows and crystal clear high-end.
- Pure aluminum membrane
- Polar pattern: Hyper cardioid
- MS stereophony with the M 130
- Frequency response: 40 Hz-18 kHz
- Nominal impedance: 200 Ohm
Golden Age Project R1 Active MKIII Active Ribbon Microphone
Golden Age is a traditionally looking ribbon mic. R1 employs a two-micron thick, 50mm corrugated aluminum ribbon, tensioned inside a magnetic subject.
An interesting part here is that the both ripping and magnet assembly are hidden inside the shock mount. But don’t be scared by this because this shock mount does very little to guard makes delicate mechanisms from rough treatment or abuse.
We also need to mention that this microphone can provide the purest sound but it’s also more fragile than the other makes on this list. Be careful with its exposure to speedy movements, strong winds, or breathing plosives.
Additionally, even the horizontal storage might harm the rhythm alignment. But this all can be forgiven by the quality of the sound that you will get in the end. The overall sound would be really tender with deep lows and bright high frequencies.
The limited size of the ribbon here implies that shorter wavelengths can be partially ignored in the event that they’re not channeled straight into the microphone.
We also need to mention that this is one of the most affordable models on our list.
- Directional characteristic: Figure 8
- Frequency range: 30 – 18000 Hz +/- 3 dB
- Sensitivity: -40 dB (0 dB=1V/Pa) @ 1 kHz
- Max. SPL (<1% THD @ 1kHz): 150 dB
- Recommended load impedance: > 1000 Ohm
Audio Technica AT4081
This particular model claims to be a new word in the world of ribbon microphones and brags about having 18 polar patterns. The motor here has a dual ribbon design.
The advantage of that is that the usage of those two ribbons can significantly improve the sensitivity of the transducer because they are wired in sequence.
Those two ribbons are mounted front to back with one barely in front of the magnetic pole and the other one slightly behind it. Here you will find out the ribbon motor was mounted behind a resonator plate. That plate is perforated metallic.
Supposedly, that should Elevate the microphone’s HF response. Therefore, each side of this ribbon motor is kept with identical resonators.
And in a classic manner, this microphone uses pure aluminum foil in order to be resistant to corrosion that can be caused by moisture in the air and that results in the aluminum hydroxide coating upon the surface of the ribbon.
The bimetallic junction of the aluminum ribbon with its mounts can result in electrolytic corrosion, rising the resistance of the circuit and leading to decreased sensitivity and elevated noise – take into consideration that this mic needs extra care.
If you coat the ribbon and its junction plates with a skinny film of gold, it can stop corrosion, without adversely affecting the mass or resonant frequency of the ribbon.
The overall looks of this microphone are really authentic and if you want to have an exquisite ribbon microphone model in your studio, you can go for this exceptional microphone by Audio Technica. It has decent characteristics and good sensitivity to capture all the tender sounds.
- Frequency Response: 30Hz-18kHz
- Max SPL: 150dB
- Output Impedance: 100 ohms
- Signal to Noise Ratio: 69dB
- Self Noise: 25dB
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Last but not least we have this interesting microphone by AEA that has recommended itself quite well among musicians because of its significantly expensive frequency range full of sweep and highs and booming lows.
In addition to all of that, this microphone includes the balanced and manageable proximity effect that stays away from the supply boxers at the low end of vocals, drums, and brass.
Therefore, it is a multi-purpose make. In addition to all of that, it has a lightweight and it’s highly maneuverable. You can even use it as the ASMR microphone. Unlike its processor, this microphone has an extra 12 DB of output and a stable impedance as a bonus.
This factor provides a constant frequency response with a higher flexibility of totally different preamps. One essential fact about this microphone is that it’s compatible with all kinds of audio interfaces and you can easily work with it.
It is also a nice choice for musicians who are constantly on the road and they need to use a different preamp every day.
And coming back to that additional 12 DB of output, they will be especially useful when you will need to record the sound from some quiet sources like vocals and so on.
The thing is this microphone includes energetic circuitry that prevents noise and interference on lengthy cable runs. It actually prevents all types of possible noises from the background.
This microphone will require a standard 48-volt phantom power to work. And as for the looks of this microphone, it includes an 18-karat gold-plated grill that feels really lavish.
It has a beautiful mid-range that can capture the distinctive qualities of a number of instruments and make them sound even better than they do in the real life.
It’s dying low and is perfect for flattering the sound of the drum kits or enhancing the base in thin vocals. If you want to work virtually with any type of voice this microphone is quite effective and it also affects its musical instruments.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
- Max SPL: 141dB SPL (1% third harmonic > 1kHz)
- Output Impedance: 92 ohms
- Self Noise: 17.5dB (A weighted)
- Power Source: 48V phantom power
FAQ for Ribbon Microphones Buyers:
What is a ribbon microphone?
A ribbon microphone, also known as a velocity microphone or ribbon velocity microphone, is a type of dynamic microphone that uses a thin piece of metal (the “ribbon”) suspended in a magnetic field to convert sound into electrical signals. It is one of the oldest types of microphones and is still widely used today in many professional recording studios.
Ribbon microphones are particularly well-suited for capturing the nuances of vocals and acoustic instruments, due to their natural sound characteristics. They also have a higher sensitivity than other types of microphones, allowing them to capture softer sounds at greater distances from the source.
What are the benefits of using a ribbon microphone?
Using a ribbon microphone can help create a warm and full-bodied sound that other microphones may not be able to achieve. They also have an extremely low-noise floor, making them ideal for capturing quieter sounds like acoustic instruments or vocal performances.
Ribbon microphones are particularly good at capturing the nuances of performance due to their ability to accurately capture subtle changes in sound pressure. They also have a wider frequency response than other types of microphones, allowing for more accurate reproduction of the entire audio spectrum.
Finally, ribbon microphones tend to be very durable and require little maintenance.
How does a ribbon microphone work?
Ribbon microphones work by converting sound into electrical signals. The ribbon, which is usually made from aluminum or similar material, is suspended in a magnetic field created by two magnets.
When sound waves hit the ribbon, it vibrates and produces an electrical signal due to its interaction with the magnetic field. This signal is then sent to an amplifier where it is amplified and sent to a speaker.
How do I choose the best ribbon microphone for my needs?
When choosing a ribbon microphone, consider the sound you are trying to capture as well as the recording environment. Generally speaking, ribbons with higher sensitivities and wider frequency responses tend to be more versatile and can be used in a variety of situations.
Also, consider any other features that may prove helpful for your particular application. For example, some ribbon microphones feature dampening or active noise cancellation for a more focused sound.
Finally, it is important to consider your budget when selecting a microphone. Ribbon mics can be quite expensive, so make sure you are comfortable with the investment before making your purchase.
How do I care for my ribbon microphone?
Ribbon microphones require very little maintenance. To keep your ribbon mic in good condition, be sure to store it in a safe and dry environment when not in use. Avoid exposing the microphone to too high or low temperatures as this could damage the ribbon material.
Additionally, try to avoid dropping the microphone or subjecting it to any kind of shock as this could also damage it.
Finally, keep the microphone away from any strong magnetic fields as they can wreak havoc on the delicate ribbon material.
What are some common issues with ribbon microphones?
Ribbon microphones are generally reliable and require little maintenance, but as with all types of audio equipment, they can occasionally run into some issues.
One common issue is the ribbon being stretched or damaged due to shock or exposure to strong magnetic fields. This can cause the microphone’s sound quality to suffer significantly.
Another possible issue is the ribbon material becoming brittle over time, which can lead to cracking and distortion. Lastly, if the microphone is not adequately shielded from outside noise sources, this could result in unwanted background noise being picked up by the microphone.