Old 01-07-2019, 10:10 PM   #1
Tubeguy
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Default Advice on ribbon mic?

I've never had a ribbon mic so thinking of giving it a go. For start I'm looking at the cheapest Nady RSM-5 if I can even find one here in Australia for comparable price.
Question I have is, apparently ribbon mics can't be used with 48V phantom power. My mixer phantom can't be turned off.
I could run it through some other mixers I have but they aren't as good as my Soundcraft so I guess I'd have to make up a cable without the 48V wire? I probably could go to line input but doubt I'd be getting enough gain from there. Any tips, maybe a different ribbon mic for starters?
I plan to use it on drums, (I use one mic only). I'm sick of EQuing down the bright heights all the time. I think ribbon might help with that (maybe). Thanks.
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Old 01-07-2019, 10:36 PM   #2
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Question I have is, apparently ribbon mics can't be used with 48V phantom power. My mixer phantom can't be turned off.
That shouldn't be a problem with a properly-wired, modern, ribbon or dynamic mic.

The 48V is common to the two balanced/differential signal wires so it's only 48V relative to ground. In a "properly wired" dynamic or ribbon mic there is no connection between the signal & ground wires. The ground is just a shield connected to the mic body so no current flows and the phantom power doesn't hurt anything.

An older "high impedance" mic with a 2-wire connection could be a problem or a mis-wired mic cable could be a problem.

Quote:
so I guess I'd have to make up a cable without the 48V wire?
No, it's "phantom power" because it comes over the signal wires. It could be blocked with (series) capacitors or a transformer as these don't pass DC. Cutting the ground/shield would block phantom power but of course it would leave the mic unshielded.

You can buy a phantom power blocker and I believe they are made with capacitors... I did some quick research and the instructions said to connect the blocker first and turn-on phantom power for 5 seconds before connecting the microphone. That's a hint that there's a capacitor. The capacitor would allow a changing-voltage through when power is turned-on or when the blocker is first connected, but it will block constant-steady DC.
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Old 01-07-2019, 10:46 PM   #3
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Just a single look provides a cheap Ribbon by the Thoman brand "TBone" (known for excellent Price / performance ratio) for some US $ 70 -> https://www.thomann.de/intl/the_tbone_rb100.htm

A comments says it's got "a lot of character" which might or might not be what you want.

I suppose they will ship to Australia.

They indeed state that phantom power needs to be switched off. But -> http://recordinghacks.com/2008/04/02...th-vs-fiction/

There also are "Phantom Blockers" -> https://www.tritonaudio.com/phantom-blocker.html, https://www.thomann.de/intl/tritonau...om_blocker.htm

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Old 01-07-2019, 11:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DVDdoug View Post
That's a hint that there's a capacitor.
They use serial capacitors and parallel resistors. So you easily could solder such a thing yourself. -> https://www.instructables.com/id/Pha...namic-Microph/

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Old 01-07-2019, 11:16 PM   #5
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These Aus guys get cheap ribbons and put decent transformers (cinemag) and proper ribbons (RCA type) inside.

I have The Grill - and had it up against my Royer 121 many times.
It gets 90% of the way to the Royer.
I know a few people that get great results with them too.

https://www.openplanrecording.com

Problem with cheap stock ribbons is the transformers are cheap garbage & the ribbons are so crappy the result will be loss of detail (not good for drums)
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Old 01-08-2019, 02:25 AM   #6
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Re Phantom problem you also could consider
this -> https://www.thomann.de/gb/tritonaudio_fethead.htm
or this -> https://www.thomann.de/gb/art_tube_mp.htm
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Old 01-08-2019, 09:24 AM   #7
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These guys make some nice stuff: http://www.bumblebeepro.com/

I've got two of their R-121 style mics. Hotter output than the R-121 as well. Love mine; using them for string instruments and VA/VO.
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Old 01-08-2019, 11:20 AM   #8
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I had some of the Nady ribbons... honestly you’re better off putting your money elsewhere. They are not great ribbon microphones. In today’s market, you really can’t beat the Cascade Fathead for the price and performance. I constantly use them on guitar amps, strings, horns... really nice work horses that have low self noise and a pleasing tone. They are also consistent from mic to mic, which cannot be said for the Nady ribbons.

You can get a used Fathead for a little more than the cost of a Nady and you will have a much better, more useful microphone.

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Old 01-08-2019, 11:46 AM   #9
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If you're handy you can also make your own pretty easily: in classic form, they are just a ribbon motor and transformer. (I use mine in conjunction with a cloudlifter.)

I made my own ribbon motor (which I don't recommend unless you're really wanting to geek out) but you can order the motors (and also entire kits) from here or here. I would think that price/value of those kits would be great, but I can't attest personally. My home-made mic is awesome... rolls of the highs a little, and not the lowest-noise mic, but easy to EQ.

(Pics of my mic here and here.)
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Old 01-08-2019, 12:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
That shouldn't be a problem with a properly-wired, modern, ribbon or dynamic mic.

The 48V is common to the two balanced/differential signal wires so it's only 48V relative to ground. In a "properly wired" dynamic or ribbon mic there is no connection between the signal & ground wires. The ground is just a shield connected to the mic body so no current flows and the phantom power doesn't hurt anything.

An older "high impedance" mic with a 2-wire connection could be a problem or a mis-wired mic cable could be a problem.
I consider it better to be safe than sorry because it isn't just the wiring of the mic, it's that inevitable mistake when someone uses a TRS connector/patching or something similar. I'd go so far as to say the mic being wired properly is very rarely where the risk lives. I still consider it rare but when we get in a hurry, this is something someone can easily forget. I actually use a Cloud Lifter in front of my expensive ribbon, not because I need the gain per se, but because it runs off of phantom power itself and blocks it from the mic. That way if I make a silly mistake, the mic doesn't suffer.
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Old 01-09-2019, 12:58 AM   #11
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Thanks, good info here. The TBone looks much better to me than the Nady, I've never came across it before, the price is better too. I'm going to research that one. That Phantom Blocker seem quiet expensive for what it is, I'll just make one if I'll get the mic.
I just had a thought that maybe I should hire one first to see if it will suit me. Maybe better than buying the cheapest one and than dislike ribbons for ever. But it depends how much would be the hire. Also no point hiring $1000 ribbon which I wouldn't want to buy anyway.

EDIT - I've just found this demo, could someone confirm this it actually what my drums would sound like with cheap ribbon?
This is NOT what I'm looking for
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2zCxyt0OOU

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Old 01-09-2019, 01:04 AM   #12
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Do some searching on the Apex 205. It is an inexpensive ribbon that many people say can sound as good as classic ribbons. I can only tell you that it sounds good. And it handles high spl compared to other ribbons where you have to be very careful with handling and setup with many other ribbon mics. My recommendation is to not bother with removing any mesh or transformer swapping, but immediately ditch the complete crap mount and pick up a shockmount on ebay or wherever.
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Old 01-09-2019, 01:08 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tubeguy View Post
Thanks, good info here. The TBone looks much better to me than the Nady, I've never came across it before, the price is better too. I'm going to research that one. That Phantom Blocker seem quiet expensive for what it is, I'll just make one if I'll get the mic.
I just had a thought that maybe I should hire one first to see if it will suit me. Maybe better than buying the cheapest one and than dislike ribbons for ever. But it depends how much would be the hire. Also no point hiring $1000 ribbon which I wouldn't want to buy anyway.

EDIT - I've just found this demo, cound someone confirm this it actually what my drums would sound like with ribbon?
This is NOT what I'm looking for
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2zCxyt0OOU
You have to keep in mind that is a single microphone on a whole kit, and it is not being demonstrated in a mix.
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Old 01-09-2019, 01:18 AM   #14
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Very true. One can never really tell unless it's in the mix. That's one reason I always record drums last, so I can match the rest of instruments and style.
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Old 01-10-2019, 01:14 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tubeguy View Post
Thanks, good info here. The TBone looks much better to me than the Nady, I've never came across it before, the price is better too. I'm going to research that one. That Phantom Blocker seem quiet expensive for what it is, I'll just make one if I'll get the mic.
I just had a thought that maybe I should hire one first to see if it will suit me. Maybe better than buying the cheapest one and than dislike ribbons for ever. But it depends how much would be the hire. Also no point hiring $1000 ribbon which I wouldn't want to buy anyway.

EDIT - I've just found this demo, could someone confirm this it actually what my drums would sound like with cheap ribbon?
This is NOT what I'm looking for
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2zCxyt0OOU
On the "Phantom Blocker Seems Quite Expensive..." point, it's probably more complicated than it seems.

The thing to take into account with the Fethead is that it is not simply blocking phantom power to avoid it getting to the ribbon microphone. It is converting said phantom power into clean gain so you won't have to dime what is most likely a "Lower" gain input on your mixing board.

Since ribbons are quite often lower gain microphones, the extra gain that the Fethead will provide once phantom is applied(which is seems like you are planning on doing?)will be invaluable when it comes to getting a pretty good signal out of the ribbon. Even more so in you are using it at any sort of a distance from the source.
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Old 01-10-2019, 01:18 AM   #16
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One other thing...

Think twice about buying the cheapest ribbon microphone available. Investing in something from the "Middle" of the price range will save you a lot of fussing and cussing when it comes to a ribbon microphone.
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Old 01-10-2019, 02:53 AM   #17
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The ribbon most people seem to like in the T-Bone range, is the RB500.

Like most Chinese mics, it's a bit of a "hit or miss". I've heard RB500's that were fine, but I've also seen a few where the ribbon wasn't even corrugated, resulting in a lower output and a bad sound.

These mics are sold under different brands, so it's not easy to take advice that one brand sounds better than the other. In theory, they should be identical. I've got about a dozen T-Bone condensers and it seems I've been lucky, cause they are all very close if I can compare a pair.
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Old 01-10-2019, 02:54 PM   #18
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I picked up one of these recently, comes in a neat wooden box. I bought it for trumpet as trumpets are pretty loud and the input level of this mic is pretty low...

Sounds pretty good, and the price ain't bad.

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...bon-microphone
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Old 01-17-2019, 10:03 PM   #19
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Still researching demos, I quiet like the Cascade Microphones FAT HEAD BE Grey. But there is something strange about the pricing as the go from about $160 to over $500. This makes no sense to me, is there something I'm not aware off apart from maybe ripoff merchants?
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Old 01-17-2019, 10:52 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tubeguy View Post
Still researching demos, I quiet like the Cascade Microphones FAT HEAD BE Grey. But there is something strange about the pricing as the go from about $160 to over $500. This makes no sense to me, is there something I'm not aware off apart from maybe ripoff merchants?
The "BE" in the name of that model means Bare Essentials. You get a mic, a basic clip and a pouch.

Other models have options for gold connectors, shockmounts, hard case, transformer upgrades (specifically the Lundahl LL2913), etc. In the case of the $500 mic, it includes an active mode for higher output.

But they are all based around the same basic mic design. The BE is a great deal. If I didn't already have a matched pair of Fathead II's, I'd pounce on a matched pair of BE's.

These are far, far better than anything made by Nady, Apex or MXL.
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Old 01-18-2019, 08:41 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tubeguy View Post
Still researching demos, I quiet like the Cascade Microphones FAT HEAD BE Grey. But there is something strange about the pricing as the go from about $160 to over $500. This makes no sense to me, is there something I'm not aware off apart from maybe ripoff merchants?
Yes. the more expensive versions come with upgraded lundahl transformers. The cheap ones use Chinese iron.

Does the sound justify the price difference? I don't know

Here are some great comparison sites
http://recordinghacks.com/2011/07/13...y-ribbon-mics/
Ribbon mic shootout with clips

http://recordinghacks.com/microphones
Mic reviews including many ribbons

https://www.zenproaudio.com/clipalator
The clipalator is fantastic for comparing all kinds of gear not just mics
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Old 01-18-2019, 08:50 AM   #22
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I changed the one in my Apex 205 ribbon to a cinemag, I can't say it was a huge difference. I could say more had I tested it more but I wasn't falling out of my chair per se.
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Old 01-18-2019, 09:48 AM   #23
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The ART M5 is great if you can find one; they were discontinued a couple of years ago. I use mine in conjunction with a Cloudlifter. Best close mic I've tried for trumpet and flugelhorn with a big band.
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Old 01-18-2019, 10:00 AM   #24
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Quote:
On the "Phantom Blocker Seems Quite Expensive..." point, it's probably more complicated than it seems.
I don't think so but it's a specialty item manufactured & distributed in small quantities. That pushes the cost-up. And on the pricing-side, there's not a lot of competitive pressure pushing the price down. And if you have an expensive vintage ribbon mic the extra insurance might be worth it! It could be worth it with an inexpensive ribbon.

It's a similar situation with preamps (and "audiophile" gear). Most stand-alone preamps cost more than a mixer with several built-in preamps and the internal circuity isn't that much different. (Except the components for a tube preamp are more expensive.)

Quote:
I've never had a ribbon mic so thinking of giving it a go.
I wasn't going to try and "discourage" you... With an name like "Tubeguy, I assume you like old technology... But you know... The main difference in sound character/quality between mics is frequency response and that can be adjusted with EQ. (That's the whole idea behind Antares Mic Mod EFX.)

It's easier to make a condenser sound like a ribbon than the other way around, because when you boost the highs on a ribbon (or dynamic) you'll also boost the preamp hiss whereas cutting the highs on a condenser will reduce hiss. In fact, just boosting the gain to match a condenser will boost preamp noise (although that can be mitigated with a special low-noise pre-preamp like the Cloudlifter).

Of course there are other differences... Traditional ribbons are figure-8 and they tend to have low-output. Different mics can different overload limits, the on-axis/off axis frequency response can be different, the proximity effect can be different, some mics have switches for pattern, roll-off or padding, etc.
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Old 01-18-2019, 03:54 PM   #25
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I don't have lots of experience with less expensive ribbon mics, but do have a good amount of experience with Royers, AEA and RCA ribbons (I own several of these).

I own and am very impressed with the SE Electronics Voodoo VR1. It holds its own nicely against my higher costing ribbons and sometimes makes the cut for what I want. At $400.00 it may be more than you want to spend, but it has found a home among my much more expensive ribbons.

Keep in mind, if you don't have an active ribbon mic, a higher impedance preamp really helps the ribbons sound. My go to is the AEA TRP.
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Old 01-18-2019, 10:39 PM   #26
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I have owned (and then sold) "better" ribbon mics...I swear by these exclusively now.
http://www.nohypeaudio.com/nhaproducts.htm
I have at least one of each model. I love them so much I use them for things that I used to specifically not use ribbons.... I do 90% of my recording with these mics.
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Old 01-19-2019, 02:22 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by karbomusic View Post
I changed the one in my Apex 205 ribbon to a cinemag, I can't say it was a huge difference. I could say more had I tested it more but I wasn't falling out of my chair per se.
It is unnoticeable until you start doing EQ.
There definitely is better detail on good quality transformers.
Otherwise Royer, RCA, AEG etc would put cheap crappy transformers in.
They don't.

The more detail in the tracking - the better for mixing everything together(EQ)


The ribbon in the Apex is WAY below grade, which is responding to soundwaves - so no wonder you can't hear much of a difference.

Send it to Steven Sank in the US (The Ribbon Guru) - he has the original RCA ribbon crimper, and quality ribbon material.

Then your Apex will be a "forever mic"
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Old 01-19-2019, 03:12 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by ChristopherT View Post
The ribbon in the Apex is WAY below grade, which is responding to soundwaves - so no wonder you can't hear much of a difference.
Right, my point was about changing trannies in low-grade Chinese ribbons. I already have two Royer 121s.
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Old 01-19-2019, 10:52 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petimar View Post
I don't have lots of experience with less expensive ribbon mics, but do have a good amount of experience with Royers, AEA and RCA ribbons (I own several of these).

I own and am very impressed with the SE Electronics Voodoo VR1. It holds its own nicely against my higher costing ribbons and sometimes makes the cut for what I want. At $400.00 it may be more than you want to spend, but it has found a home among my much more expensive ribbons.

Keep in mind, if you don't have an active ribbon mic, a higher impedance preamp really helps the ribbons sound. My go to is the AEA TRP.
I agree that the SE VR1 is probably the best deal going on a sub $500 ribbon. Its really underrated. The cool thing about the SE ribbons is that they have more hi end than typical ribbons.

For almost half that price ($250) you can get the SE X1R which is essentially the same ribbon motor in a different housing. I'd get that over a cascade Fathead although the fathead is half the price again..

If you're recording loud sources like drums, horns or eletric guitars you probably don't need an expensive high gain preamp (although it certainly doesnt hurt). if you want to record vocals or acoustic instruments I'd recommend the Triton Fethead inline preamp as an inexpensive way to boost the output of a ribbon mic into conventional preamps.

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Old 01-19-2019, 10:56 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristopherT View Post

The ribbon in the Apex is WAY below grade, which is responding to soundwaves - so no wonder you can't hear much of a difference.

Send it to Steven Sank in the US (The Ribbon Guru) - he has the original RCA ribbon crimper, and quality ribbon material.

Then your Apex will be a "forever mic"
Wow... Is Steven still doing mods? I have a Beyer M500 that he re-ribboned for me 15 years ago. He does great work.
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