Anyone record using a ribbon microphone

Topics regarding life as a professional
Post Reply
johnfuente
bugler
bugler
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:09 pm

Anyone record using a ribbon microphone

Post by johnfuente »

Hey all. I'm looking to upgrade on my primary microphone. I currently use an https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... microphone microphone. I'm thinking about investing in a ribbon microphone. Any suggestions on manufacturer/model? I like the AT2020 because it picks up my pedal A's. What's out there for ribbons?
User avatar
AHynds
3 valves
3 valves
Posts: 296
Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2010 10:36 pm
Location: Lexington, KY

Re: Anyone record using a ribbon microphone

Post by AHynds »

Hello, John!

I'm a bit of a mic nerd, as well as a professional audio engineer, so I'd be glad to answer this question for you!

Ribbon mics are great, and with some good positioning, they can make the tuba sound wonderful. This is due to the natural characteristics of the ribbon mic--most of them tend to be fairly flattering on acoustical sources, because of their ability to cleanly record transient material (the things that give your sound its attack and definition) as well as a frequency response that trails off in the far upper range of human hearing (thus tamping down harshness and other bad sounds up there).

That being said, there are a few caveats to be aware of. First of all, you have to be careful with ribbon mic placement. All microphones with a directional pattern (like your cardioid mic and the figure-8 pattern ribbon) exhibit something called the proximity effect, which, to make a long story short, means that placing these mics closer to a sound source will boost the low range response of the mic. Sounds good, right? Well, this can be problematic with naturally-strong low register instruments like the tuba. Place the mic too close, and you are liable to get a sound that is overly-boosted in the low range, and that might not be the sound you're looking for. Additionally, most ribbon microphones are going to put out a very quiet microphone signal, and unless you have a higher-end interface or preamp with plenty of clean gain (volume), you might struggle to get enough sound out of the mic in a typical setting.

For the reasons listed above, I recommend instead of purchasing a ribbon mic that you first prioritize getting a better all-purpose mic. For this, I heartily recommend getting a multipattern condenser mic. Having an omnidirectional pattern would be great for the tuba--unlike the cardioid, the omnidirectional pattern does not exhibit proximity effect, and can be placed as close to the instrument as you like without unnatural boosting of frequencies. For this, I recommend any of the following: AKG P420, AKG C314, Warm Audio WA87 R2, Rode NT2A, Audio-Technica AT2035, AT4050, sE Electronics sE44110a.

Hope that helps, and feel free to send me a message if you have any other audio questions!

Aaron Hynds
Aaron Hynds, DMA
Lecturer, Music Business & New Media - University of Kentucky
I like to make and record sounds with metal pipes and computers.
Tubaguy5
bugler
bugler
Posts: 38
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:09 pm

Re: Anyone record using a ribbon microphone

Post by Tubaguy5 »

I personally use an Apex 787 microphone for my recording. Was recommended by my teacher who has been working with his symphony all through the pandemic. I love the sound and when I recorded my friend (who has only ever recorded with his Zoom) he was shocked at how great he sounded (this tape also did well for him in an audition).

TL:DR- apex 787 is an amazing choice and though expensive, well worth it.
Sam
University of British Columbia
YFB-822
Meinl Weston 6450 "Baer"
Tubaguy5
bugler
bugler
Posts: 38
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:09 pm

Re: Anyone record using a ribbon microphone

Post by Tubaguy5 »

I personally use an Apex 787 microphone for my recording. Was recommended by my teacher who has been working with his symphony all through the pandemic. I love the sound and when I recorded my friend (who has only ever recorded with his Zoom) he was shocked at how great he sounded (this tape also did well for him in an audition).

TL:DR- apex 787 is an amazing choice and though expensive, well worth it.
Sam
University of British Columbia
YFB-822
Meinl Weston 6450 "Baer"
User avatar
iiipopes
Utility Infielder
Utility Infielder
Posts: 8554
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2005 1:10 am

Re: Anyone record using a ribbon microphone

Post by iiipopes »

Other aspects of ribbon mics, especially the venerable RCA 77 in all its iterations:

1) some have an impedance switch to tailor the response;
2) some have an internal shield positioning switch to change the pattern response;
3) the frequency response can also be tailored by angling the mic. Angled back @ 30 degrees provides a presence that isn't boomy. Look at all the old pictures of recording a double bass: the mic is tilted back to give more presence in the response.

The last one I did when I was a member of a big band that recorded its own album some years ago. I was set up on stage with a small isolation baffle. When the tech couldn't see me, I bent down like I was adjusting something on my bass and tilted the mic back. It recorded great. At the end of the session, I put the mic back the way it was before I was noticed. I received compliments on my tone on the record - CD.

Yeah, I know: Wiki is really no better than the internet version of the old World Book Encyclopedias that were in every elementary school classroom. but like the World Books, it provides some links to go get more detailed or in depth information on the subject:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RCA_Type_77-DX_microphone
Jupiter JTU1110, RT-82.
User avatar
tylerferris1213
3 valves
3 valves
Posts: 483
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:53 pm
Location: NW Ohio

Re: Anyone record using a ribbon microphone

Post by tylerferris1213 »

I've used ribbon mics for recording in the past, but I much prefer using a Shure SM57 now. They are very honest and dry microphones, and they pick up the tuba well. It's very easy to record in a dry room and add the reverb in post.
Tyler Ferris
Wessex British F
York Monster Eb
Getzen CB-50 CC
Cerveny CBB-601 BBb
"Yamayork" Frankentuba Contrabass FF
davidbharris
lurker
lurker
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:28 pm
Contact:

Re: Anyone record using a ribbon microphone

Post by davidbharris »

Not probably worth getting a budget ribbon, but I love the Beyer m160 double ribbon. Super clean, hyper cardioid 9rare for ribbon). You’ll need a mic pre with a lot of gain if using a ribbon- be sure not to use phantom power
User avatar
BrassedOn
bugler
bugler
Posts: 115
Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:00 am
Location: Texas

Re: Anyone record using a ribbon microphone

Post by BrassedOn »

Also consider bass drum mics. For me, in combination with another mic, blend in post.
"Do less, better."
19xx? Blessing Sousaphone BBb
1970s King 3b Silver Sonic
1976 Fender Precision bass
BopEuph
pro musician
pro musician
Posts: 656
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2005 10:51 am
Location: Orlando, FL

Re: Anyone record using a ribbon microphone

Post by BopEuph »

AHynds wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 8:50 amHaving an omnidirectional pattern would be great for the tuba--unlike the cardioid, the omnidirectional pattern does not exhibit proximity effect, and can be placed as close to the instrument as you like without unnatural boosting of frequencies. For this, I recommend any of the following: AKG P420, AKG C314, Warm Audio WA87 R2, Rode NT2A, Audio-Technica AT2035, AT4050, sE Electronics sE44110a.
This is great information! It's hard to find a mic theory expert who also knows something about the tuba. I have a lot of passing knowledge here, which is what brings me to my question.

All these mics you listed are LDC mics, and in my experience in my home studio, seem to be too good for the space when it comes to the small room and lack of acoustic treatment. Even close-mic'd, they pick up a lot of the room sound, and ambient noise seems to sneak into the recording to boot. Of course, in a mix, it's not awful (I still use my Microphone Parts RK87 to record my double bass), but I haven't really seemed to get a decent enough sound for the tuba. For an untreated room, I've really appreciated the SM57. I've been mounting it on the bell with a Kelly Shu kick drum mount, and it puts the microphone in the exact perfect spot for recording and live work.

Could you talk a bit on this? Is the LDC not the best for an untreated room? Admittedly, I have it set to cardioid pattern, but that seems to be the best option in a home studio in a 10x10 bedroom, and especially for commercial music where minimizing natural reverb for a bass instrument is a good idea.

It seems the LDC would be best in either an acoustically treated studio, or in a concert hall where the hall reverb is very pleasing.

Thanks!
Nick
User avatar
Dylan King
YouTube Tubist
YouTube Tubist
Posts: 1601
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2004 1:56 am
Location: Weddington, NC, USA.
Contact:

Re: Anyone record using a ribbon microphone

Post by Dylan King »

I’ve tried a lot of different mics on a lot of different horns, and my favorite for the tuba (in a closed recording environment) is the Blue Mouse. They’re so good with bass instruments that I bought a second one to experiment with stereo pairing. They aren’t cheap, however.

On a budget, I really like the Aston Spirit; you can change polar patterns and they’re practically indestructible.
Mira 291 CC
Yorkbrunner CC
Eastman CC
YFB-822 F
YFB-621 F
PT-10 F Clone
MackMini F
YBL622 B-TB
YSL891Z TB
Xeno Bb/C Trps
Taylor Bb/C Trp
Eclipse C Trp
Yamaha C Pic
Lawler C7 Trp
Osmun Corumpet
Carol Pocket Trp
Schagerl Gansch Horn
Monette Ajna Trumpet
User avatar
iiipopes
Utility Infielder
Utility Infielder
Posts: 8554
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2005 1:10 am

Re: Anyone record using a ribbon microphone

Post by iiipopes »

Dylan King wrote: Fri Jun 30, 2023 4:17 pm I’ve tried a lot of different mics on a lot of different horns, and my favorite for the tuba (in a closed recording environment) is the Blue Mouse. They’re so good with bass instruments that I bought a second one to experiment with stereo pairing. They aren’t cheap, however.

On a budget, I really like the Aston Spirit; you can change polar patterns and they’re practically indestructible.
I looked up the Blue Mouse. GULP! It had better be good in a studio for that price!!!
Jupiter JTU1110, RT-82.
Slamson
bugler
bugler
Posts: 163
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2005 9:36 am
Location: Western Illinois University
Contact:

Re: Anyone record using a ribbon microphone

Post by Slamson »

There is some great advice here, especially from Aaron Hynds. I've retired from teaching audio engineering but still record and have an extensive locker of mics, and my favorite, unfortunately is a very pricey ribbon (the Royer ST-24). As Aaron said, a "nice" multi-pattern condenser is a lot more practical, usually cheaper (I have a pair of GAPs that set me back about $250 each and like them a lot), and less prone to proximity problems. the one thing i'd add is that I have one simple rule about recording any CONICAL brass instrument with condenser mics, and that's if the microphone can "see" (as in imagining your eye in the place of the diaphragm) the center of the bell, it's in the wrong place! There's simply too much "mechanics" going on down there and the mic will tend to highlight those sounds, and there's plenty of resonant sound around the bell. This also allows the mic to be a little closer without boosting the low end, and helps to minimize dual transduction issues. That being said, for PA gigs like polka bands, the Shure SM-58 still rules!
sorry, I don't do signatures.
DylanTuba
bugler
bugler
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2018 1:03 am

Re: Anyone record using a ribbon microphone

Post by DylanTuba »

Not sure if the user who posted this still needs suggestions but figured I'd post anyway, I prefer 2 ribbon mics in a Blumlein Pair setup for recording solo tuba. I've tried quite a lot of ribbon mics, mostly Royer (Royer 121, SF-24, R10, etc) and just really don't like how dark the sound can get, can sound almost muffled at times, especially in a bigger space. My go to Ribbons are the Samar Audio AL95s, for a ribbon mic they have really great clarity and are slightly brighter than anything Royer, but still have that Ribbon warmth (plus not to mention a affordable price tag for an extremely high quality Ribbon). This combo really helps in my opinion bring out the best in the tuba sound, which is already very heavy in lower frequencies. Going with anything that you can create a stereo sound with (whether it be a stereo ribbon, 2 matched ribbons in whatever pair setup, omni condenser, etc) will be exponentially better than one bi directional, or any type of cardioid mic (especially a hyper cardioid as mentioned above).
Post Reply