Hello folks. I'm pretty sure this was discussed many times, but here it is again. Last friday I was in Wien, and I played a rockabilly club there. I had the opportunity to play on a vintage RCA 44 ribbon microphone. That was my first time to ever try a ribbon microphone, and being the vintage nut I am, I really enjoyed it, and would like to learn more on the subject. Flatt & Scruggs used these RCA 44's, and I remember seeing RCA DX77's on some of their their TV shows. I know AEA is making some rather good ribbon mics these days.
The question is: in a traditional bluegrass band setting, looking for the "vintage sound", which mic would you suggest? Of course, I'm talking about a poly-directional one... Are newer ribbon mics all that different from early ones?
I'm not really considering buying one in the near future, just want to make up my mind on what I should be looking out for. Thanks in advance, Matt.
The recording wonks I hang out with from time to time love the sound of ribbon mics but caution that they're too fragile for roadwork. The newer ones are better in that regard than the classics, which could be destroyed simply by the air pressure of moving it across the room. Even so, they're quite delicate and one might question whether they're really any better for live sound than a good large diaphragm condenser - especially when one considers that for good sound reinforcement you need to adjust for the room; by the time that's done, how much goodness is the ribbon really giving you, anyway?
But hey, follow your bliss. These puppies do tend to be expensive...good ones seem to start around $800 and go up from there. There's an outfit called Sweet water that has a good selection of them, and you can see the pricing - sweet water.com (it's all one word and I originally posted the link but when the word is run together the Hangout's cuss filter thinks bad things are being said).
I have two Ribbon Microphones;one Crowley & Tripp Naked Eye...C & T sold out to Shure,so my mike is related to the Shure in Steve´s link...the other one is an Oktava ML-52...Ribbons are great,but very fragile and sometimes discriminating about the preamps they´re to be plugged into...but,by all means,try a few ribbons,they´re quite addictive...McUtsi
Eagleisland is correct, these are very fragile...the ribbon element is usually 2.5 microns thick. If you have to tour with one of these make sure it is transported in a durable box with good padding. Some of the newer ribbon LOOKING mic's would probably be a much better choice. When a ribbon mic dies, it always dies ugly=expensive. If you decide to tour with one, have something with you as a backup. Because of the various dimensions of venues I don't think a ribbon mic will really give you a better sound than a dynamic or a condenser. There is a large number of RCA 77 style mic's on the market that don't use a ribbon. I have a CAD 3000 and an MXR Stereo that are nice but fairly durable. What I really like on stage, though, is the old EV 664...great, exotic look, usually under $100, and built like a tank. Even ZZ Top still uses them, but some have had condenser capsules put in them. They have very good sound. If I remember correctly, the RCA 44 is almost 5 pounds, at least the outside is very durable... Although I would be tempted to use a ribbon mic onstage, I would probably not. Not only fragile, good used ones are usually extremely expensive. I don't believe the little sound advantages you will gain are worth the risk of a fragile, expensive (and steal-able) vintage microphone. Hugs....
I have a Cascade "Fathead" ribbon mic that I sometimes use for recording. It is a great sounding mic for some applications. I've not tried it for live sound. Cascade offers several ribbon models...check them out.
I would say if you don't mind the expense Royer makes roadworthy ribbon mics. Great sound but still a little bit fragile. I love ribbons my self but have been a little shy about using them live as I did not want to baby sit them. A 44 on a banjo is what I like a lot.
RCA ribbons are extremely cool, the B.E.S.T. for studio work with a really good banjo, but fragile and VERY prone to feedback issues in public address systems. Vintage ones are also EXPENSIVE and attract thieves. There's an online community for their owners, just like the BHO for us banjer pickers.
A certain well known bluegrass band uses an old RCA "shell" with a modern condenser mike inside it!
I've always felt if I had plenty of money to blow on a microphone, I'd get an AKG 414 like Hot Rize used for vocals. Around $1000, and probably worth it.
Matteo, there IS a reason why very few pros use ribbon mics on stage. Actually more than one, as quite a few people here pointed out. they are: - expensive - fragile - prone to feedback - prone to feedback - prone to feedback
Did I mention prone to feedback? This means that all the good tonal qualities of a good ribbon mic go down the sink when you have to EQ the signal to avoid squeals and screams and so on.