Best Ribbon Microphones

Best Ribbon Microphones

Ribbon microphones are unique and great for accuracy in recording vocals and instruments. They usually come in splendid and professional looks.

Ribbon mics are efficient and convenient for recording vocals, acoustics, broadcasting in podcasts and radio shows, as well as any other type of strings including drums and guitars.

While ribbon mics come at a higher price, manufacturers have now produced more affordable and still great ribbon mics. Having a quality ribbon mic is worth as it will give you the most accurate recording.

However, different ribbon microphones are with different models.  They come in different configurations and some may be better than others. Thus, it can be a challenging task to choose the best ribbon microphone.

In this text, we will discuss each of the above ribbon mics to help you know why we think they are the best. So, here we go;

Royer Labs R-121

Royer Labs R-121

This is one of the most classic microphones in the 21st century all over the world. 

Since its release in 1998, the Royer Labs-121 has been the award-winning and leading ribbon microphone from Royer Labs.

The R-121 is designed by experienced engineers who ensure that it gives you a real natural sound and all the warmth you need. It is a compact and lightweight device yet with a very high output.

It has high and convenient SLP capabilities with very low residual noise. The ribbon element in this mic is handy as it is not affected by heat or humidity. 

As expected from a top-performing ribbon mic, Royer 121 comes with high sensitivity for signal amplification.

Its consistent output impedance guarantees you a smooth and impressive recording even when used with different gears. It does great with vocals as well as instruments.

Specifications

  • Frequency response: Flat frequency of 30 to 15,000Hz
  • Polar pattern: Figure-8
  • Sensitivity: -54dBV (2Mv/Pa)
  • Maximum SPL: 135dB (20Hz)
  • Stereo: Mono
  • Connector: XLR
  • Output impedance: 300 ohms
  • Weight: 0.5 lbs.

When it’s being made, hand-construction techniques are usually incorporated to ensure that the product will be user-friendly.

Pros

  • Delivers beautiful, warm and smooth sound
  • High maximum SPL capability 
  • It does not require phantom power
  • Low residual noise
  • Extremely high-frequency response
  • High-quality and replaceable ribbon
  • Sensitive on both sides

Cons

  • It requires a windshield and a shock mount
  • It is expensive
  • They exist in many alternatives

If you can afford this ribbon mic, then I assure you that it will be a long-term investment.  

Check Royer Labs R-121 Price

Golden Age Project R1 MK2

Golden Age Project R1 MK2

The Golden Age Project R1 MK2 is a high-quality recording ribbon mic that has been thriving in the market over the years. 

Despite that it’s not very pricy, R1 MK2 by Golden Age receives a high rating. This is simply because it can deliver a natural and clear sound just like the most expensive ribbon microphones.

It comes at an average price of around $200 and yet it is top listed on the Amazon list.

Golden Age Project R1 MK2 is best fitted to record all kinds of vocals, acoustics, and instruments. It is designed with many advanced features that allow it to stand out among other microphones during performances. 

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 30Hz to 18,000Hz
  • Polar pattern: Figure-8
  • Sensitivity: -52 dBV/Pa
  • Maximum SPL: 160dB SPL (1000Hz @ 1% THD, 1 Kohm)
  • Output impedance: 600 ohms
  • Stereo: Mono
  • Connector: XLR
  • Weight: 0.8 lbs.

Pros

  • It conveys an outstanding sound with both high and low-frequency extensions.
  • It is affordable
  • A travel casing and charger

Cons

  • It cannot be used with cheap mixers.
  • It is very heavy, and it is packed in an oversize case.
  • Its price is dependent on the build quality.

Are you looking for a superb classic microphone to record smooth sounds? Well, the R1 MKII does great recording and can be your perfect option. The reason why we rank this mic as one of the best is based on the quality of the sound it produces and its affordable price.

Check Golden Age Project R1 MK2 Price

MXL R144

MXL R144

The MXL R144 is yet another wonderful ribbon microphone that is significantly affordable.

It comes with a purple metal finishing and an aluminum ribbon of 1.8 microns. Its color makes it to be remarkable in looks and it can be great especially if a pleasing color is your interest.

It performs best when used to record electric guitars, vocals, horns, and any other instrument that gains from the features of ribbon mics.

Another sweet thing with MXL R144 is that it is small and compact hence easily portable. You can bring it anywhere as long as you want to use it.

The R144 also comes with other accessories such as a silver carrying case, shock-mount, and a microfiber cleaning cloth.

If you intend to enlarge your limits in music gear, then my recommendation is that you begin by getting the R144 by MXL. Its price is suitable even for those in tight budgets.

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 17000Hz
  • Polar pattern: Figure-8
  • Sensitivity: -56 dB (0 dB= 1V/Pa)
  • Maximum SPL: >130dB @ 1 kHz
  • Output impedance: 250 ohms
  • Load impedance: >1500 ohms
  • Weight: 0.85 lbs.

Pros

  • It is very affordable
  • It is versatile
  • Well designed with shock mount.
  • Compactly engineered

Cons

  • It requires good quality mixers so for best results
  • Low-frequency notes

This ribbon mic is also the best for beginners seeking to experiment with a ribbon microphone

Check MXL R144 Price

Rode NTR

Rode NTR

The Rode NTR is Rode’s best leading ribbon microphone available in the market today. It is phantom-powered and comes with extended frequency response.

The ribbon in this microphone is made of aluminum with a length of about 1.8 macrons. This ribbon has improved longevity and it can last even longer when handled with care.

In addition, the ribbon is crammed between two gears to ensure that it’s ribbed properly and enhance accuracy in performance. This is also a smart way of reducing the manufacturing cost of a ribbon microphone.

The sound produced by the NTR ribbon mic is relatively bright as compared with that of other microphones. This due to its high capabilities in frequency balance.

Besides, this mic does not rely on the quality of the amplifier used since it has high sensitivity and truncated impedance.

As a high-quality mic, Rode NTR comes with a bidirectional polar pattern. Its excellence is amplified especially when used for drums, guitars, or brass instruments.

With this mic, proficient and skilled users are likely to benefit more than beginners. Thus, NTR is best for live performances and professional recording.

The shock mounting in this mic is usually inbuilt and this is an excellent feature for many.  It is also built with durable and advanced materials to ensure that longevity is guaranteed.

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz
  • Polar pattern: Figure-8/ bidirectional
  • Sensitivity: -30.5 dBV/Pa (30mV/Pa)
  • Maximum SPL: 130 dB
  • Output impedance: 200 ohms
  • Connector: XLR
  • Weight: 2.31 lbs.

Pros

  • High-frequency response for accuracy and detail
  • Delivers rich and clear sound
  • It is affordable as compared to its alternatives
  • Well designed and attractive

Cons

  • It is heavy and bulky
  • Requires to be distanced from the source for the best results

If you are searching for a more professional-looking ribbon mic, Rode NTR may be your right choice.

Check Rode NTR Price

Royer R-122V

Royer R-122V

This is an exceptional vacuum tube ribbon microphone. It has brought striking progress in Royer’s concept of active ribbon mics technology.  For those who insist on superlative performance in ribbon microphones, the R-122V is the ultimate choice.

This mic integrates vacuum tube electronics to the concept of active ribbon microphones.

With such combination, the vacuum tube can offer an improved headroom which is better than that provided by a normal phantom power supply.

This microphone operates on high power as a lot of current is supplied to the vacuum tube circuit.

The transformers in this mic are highly advanced. One of them is large and comes in a toroidal shape. This increases the output in this ribbon microphone.

The other transformer is positioned in the exterior power supply. Its work is to avert induced electromagnetic interference noise and balance the mic’s output.

This mic is rated high for delivering an outstanding transient response that no other ribbon microphone can provide.

In terms of performance, the R-122V delivers a rich, detailed, and profound sound. Its sound quality remains the best even when related to that of other decent ribbon mics on the planet.

When it comes to applications, the R-122V is incredible for recording vocals, solo strings, and all kinds of instruments. 

A limited lifetime warranty is provided in this mic and also a 1-year warranty to its ribbon.

Besides, this mic comes with a collection of accessories which includes;

  1. Power Supply
  2. Shock mount
  3. Carrying case
  4. Connecting cable
  5. Microphone sock
  6. Documentation

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 30Hz-15kHz
  • Polar pattern: Figure-8
  • Sensitivity: -36 dB (1v/pa +/- 1 dB))
  • Maximum SPL: 135dB
  • Output impedance: 200 ohms
  • Connector: XLR
  • Weight: 0.66lbs.

Pros

  • Low self-noise
  • High maximum SPL capabilities
  • Its ribbon is not affected by heat and humidity
  • Equal sensitivity from both the back and front sides
  • Extremely low magnetic leakage
  • High-frequency response
  • Designed for a wide variety of applications

Cons

  • Costly

This mic is great and suitable for anyone who wants to record a warm and detailed sound.

Check Royer R-122V Price

Beyerdynamic M160

Beyerdynamic M160

Most ribbons microphones are undergoing a renaissance in an attempt to improve performance and productivity. However, Beyer M160 is a 50+-year-old ribbon mic and is still doing great in the industry. 

This mic is a powerful device, especially when used with a good drumming and well-tuned equipment. It can deliver a deep and warm sound when used as a close mic on double skin drums. But of course, it can also do great for horns and strings.

Although this may have lower sensitivity as compared to pricy mics like the Royer 121 and 122, Beyer M160 still scores highly in performance. This can be credited to its versatility and capabilities in commanding a comfy sound.

Unlike other ribbon mics that use a polar pattern of figure-8, the Beyer M160 comes with a hypercardioid pickup design.

So, if some recordings are not suitable for other ribbon mics, M160 can always save the day.

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 40 – 18,000 Hz
  • Polar pattern: Hypercardioid
  • Output impedance: 200 ohms
  • Connector: XLR
  • Weight: 0.8 lbs.

Pros

  • Extensive frequency response
  • Best transparency and transient response
  • It is compact and rugged
  • Natural and warm sound

Cons

  • Require a quiet prompt for best results

If you want to do mid-side recordings, you can use it together with the Beyer M130 that has a figure-8 polar pattern.  

Check Beyerdynamic M160 Price

Avantone Audio CR-14

Avantone Audio CR-14

This is a 14-ribbon microphone that also provides a warm and smooth quality sound. Just like most ribbon mics, CR-14 comes with a figure-8 polar pattern.

It offers a high SPL handling and is brilliant for instruments and studio vocals.

While CR-14 has great tech specifications, its price is relatively fair as compared to its alternatives. The price normally ranges from $250 to $600.

This mic is light and comes in a metallic wine-red color. If its appearance does not catch your eyes, then the quality of its performance will.

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 30Hz-15kHz
  • Polar pattern: Figure-8
  • Maximum SPL: 145dB
  • Output impedance: 600 ohms
  • Stereo: Mono
  • Connector: XLR
  • Weight: 1lb.

Pros

  • High sensitivity
  • Affordable
  • Fantastic design
  • High SPL handling

Cons

  • The ribbon is prone to corrosion
  • Positioning takes time during recording
  • Lacks a few high-end details

If you use this mic with guitar, you would not be happier.

Check Avantone Audio CR-14 Price

Audio Technica AT4081

Audio Technica AT4081

The Audio Technica AT4081 is an active double ribbon microphone. It comes with a unique design on its ribbon whereby the 4081 is placed sideways and does not damage the mic. This is essential in maximizing its placement options. 

It comes with a double-ribbon design to enhance sensitivity. The two ribbons are positioned on the front and back.

This mic is designed with 18 patents which to some extend enhances the durability. The intuitive MicroLinear imprint is meant to prevent the ribbon from getting damaged.

With N50 neodymium magnets, Audio Technica AT4081 has a high output level making it more compatible with several mic preamps.

It comes with shock mount, carrying case, and windscreen as its accessories.

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 30Hz-18kHz
  • Polar pattern: Figure-8
  • Sensitivity: -42dB (7.9 mV) dB re 1V at 1 Pa
  • Maximum SPL: 150dB
  • Output impedance: 100 ohms
  • Connector: XLR
  • Weight: 0.34lbs.

Pros

  • It can be used with many mixers and audio transmitters
  • A high end classic polished ribbon
  • It can be used for a variety of functions
  • Designed nicely

 Cons

  • Sometimes its performance is determined by the AT4081

Check Audio Technica AT4081 Price

Cloud Microphones JRS-34-A

Cloud Microphones JRS-34-A

The Cloud Microphones JRS-34-A is yet another great active ribbon mic. It is designed with a blend of the most advanced and desirable properties to ensure that it deliver a high-quality sound.

This mic is created with an integration of the characteristics of modern technologies available for ribbon microphones. It requires phantom power and comes with a high output level that is compatible with all kinds of modern preamps.

Although this mic is somewhat costly, it very reliable and can give you a cool recording.

  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Polar pattern: Figure-8
  • Sensitivity: -27dBV /Pa
  • Output impedance: 150 ohms
  • Maximum SPL: 138 dB SPL (1 kHz)
  • Stereo: Mono
  • Connector: XLR
  • Weight: 0.3lbs.

Pros

  • Can be used with a variety of preamps
  • More durable
  • Good noise rejection
  • More convenient and flexible for any type of recording

Cons

  • Expensive

Check Cloud Microphones JRS-34-A Price

AEA R84

AEA R84

The AEA R84 is a flexible ribbon mic that performs well in a wide variety of applications. It can be used for both personal and professional recordings.

With an improved frequency response in the AEA R84, a natural and warm sound for vocals and instruments is guaranteed.

This mic is also extremely light and thus easily portable in case you want to carry it from one place to another.

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Polar pattern: Figure-8
  • Sensitivity: 6.3mV/Pa (-44 dB)
  • Maximum SPL: 141dB SPL (1% third harmonic > 1kHz)
  • Output impedance: 92 ohms
  • Stereo: Mono
  • Connector: XLR
  • Weight: 3 lbs.

Pros

  • Delivers fantastic sound
  • Nice carrying bag
  • Beautifully designed
  • Enhanced for close working
  • Smooth delivery

Cons

  • Low output level
  • Needs high preamp gain

If you want to buy a mic with a big and outstanding sound, this mic will fulfill your needs just exactly the way you need it.

Check AEA R84 Price

Top Pick Ribbon Microphone

The top pick goes to Royer Labs R-121. This mic is of high quality and compatible with any kind of set up.

The reason why I chose it is that its general features are amazing and unmatchable. Although this mic is a bit pricey, it never disappoints as it can handle very SPLs and is protected against phantom power accidents. Once you acquire it, you’ll never look back.

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