Ribbon Microphones | The Revival Continues

Aug 17, 2010 4:46 PM, By George Petersen



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Royer Labs R-101

Royer Labs R-101

A dozen years after leading the modern ribbon microphone revival with its popular R-121, Royer Labs continues developing innovative new products. Debuting this month is the R-101, featuring a 2.5-micron aluminum ribbon motor based on the R-121 model, but in a 1.5-inch diameter cylindrical body with no protruding pole pieces. Retail is $895, including shockmount and carry case. Another recent entry, Royer’s SF-24V ($6,195) is a stereo mic with twin head amplifiers using mil-spec 5,840W pentode tubes (wired in triode configuration) and custom Jensen output transformers delivering a high -38dB output to dual XLRs on the external power supply. The SF-24V is two matched 1.8-micron ribbon mics placed one above the other in the classic Blumlein coincident pair configuration.

SE Electronics RNR1

SE Electronics RNR1

SE ElectronicsRNR1 is an East-West collaboration, with Rupert Neve handling the electronics of this active ribbon mic and SE’s Siwei Zou handling the transducer design and manufacturing side. The result is a ribbon mic with an extended response that’s stated to be an unprecedented 20 Hz to 25k Hz, due in part to the design that features dual custom-designed input and output transformers (before and after the active single-ended discrete electronics section) and the 2.5-micron element itself, which is set into a elongated slanted body that reduces diffraction interference. Retail is $1,995 with shockmount and case. Also new from SE are the Voodoo VR1 and Voodoo VR2 models, which feature a stated 20kHz bandwidth based on a new Zou-designed ribbon element. The latter extends response by creating a resonant cavity formed by thin, perforated high-frequency–compensation plates on either side of the magnetic structure, with the effect of reducing the time differences between sounds arriving on the front and rear sides of the 2-micron ribbon. The $799 VR1 is a passive version; housed in a slightly longer body, the VR2 ($1,199) uses the same ribbon element but is an active model with phantom-powered electronics that boost the mic’s output by 16 dB.

Shure KSM353

Shure KSM353

Shure created classic ribbon mics from the 1950s through ’80s, and high-performance ribbons are back in the company’s catalog in the form of the Crowley and Tripp–rebranded El Diablo and Naked Eye ribbon mics, now offered as the KSM353 and the KSM313. Both feature tough Roswellite ribbons, which are said to provide improved shape memory over conventional materials. The KSM313 ($1,619, with wood storage case and swivel mount) has a “Dual Voice” design. The front side of the mic has a brighter character while the rear side is darker, so users can choose from two variations when recording different sources. Retailing at $3,369 (with shockmount and wood storage box) and suited for solo use or paired for M/S or Blumlein stereo miking, the KSM353 has matched front/rear performance from 30 to 15k Hz at up to 146 dB.

Sontronics Delta

Sontronics Delta

Following its Sigma ribbon mic, Sontronics’ Delta is designed for high SPL handling, with a mid-emphasis response tailored to keep guitar cabs and horns upfront in the mix, either onstage or in the studio. Its active, phantom-powered electronics offer high output and low-noise (14dBA) performance, while its effective shockmount removes stage rumble and vibration. Retail is $899 with aluminum flight case.

Mix executive editor George Petersen is an avowed ribbon mic fanatic.

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