Whether you’re recording vocals or musical instruments, sometimes you need the most natural-sounding audio possible to get your finished track sounding perfect.
Smooth, natural vocals are also imperative to any podcast. You want your listeners to feel as though you’re in the room with them and that they can clearly hear every word you and your guests are saying.
Many different microphones can help you achieve this. However, the King amongst all of them is the ribbon microphone.
With a small piece of metallic ribbon suspended between magnets, they respond to air velocity changes to produce ultra-realistic vocal tones that no condenser or dynamic microphone would be able to replicate.
Yet, the ribbon microphone remains a relatively undiscovered piece of recording equipment. This can certainly make finding one a little more difficult, so we decided to do the hard work for you.
Below, we’ve put together a list of the very best ribbon microphones available. Each of these will help you record a natural, unique sound that’s pleasing to the ears.
We have also supplied you with a super useful buying guide packed with information on what to consider before you decide which is the best ribbon microphone for your needs.
Table of Contents
- 0.1 1. MXL R144 Ribbon Microphone
- 0.2 2. Rode NTR Premium Active Ribbon Microphone
- 0.3 3. Royer R-10 Ribbon Microphone
- 0.4 4. SE Electronics X1R Passive Ribbon Microphone
- 0.5 5. MXL R77 Ribbon Microphone
- 1 Buyer’s Guide
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions
1. MXL R144 Ribbon Microphone
Let’s start with the MXL R144 Ribbon Microphone. Featuring a classic figure-8 polar pattern and a 1.8-micron aluminum ribbon, this is the ideal choice for recording the most natural-sounding vocals possible.
It’s also a great mic for recording instruments, making it highly versatile.
The bidirectional, figure-8 bidirectional pickup pattern records sound coming from either side of the microphone. It does this with an equal amount of sensitivity, meaning that one microphone can easily be shared between two people without sacrificing audio quality.
This pickup pattern works harmoniously with the 20Hz-17KHz frequency response to capture various voice types and produce them into smooth, warm, ear-pleasing tones.
It’s a compact little microphone too so that it won’t take up too much space in your studio. The XLR connection port allows you to establish a secure connection to your recording device too.
It also includes a shock mount to keep the microphone steadily in place throughout your recording session.
- Features a 1.8-micron aluminum ribbon and a figure-8 polar pattern to produce natural vocal tones
- The figure-8, bidirectional pickup pattern records sound coming from either side of the microphone.
- Has a 20Hz-17KHz frequency response range that can pick up a variety of vocal tones
- The XLR port allows you to establish a secure connection to your recording device.
- Includes a shock mount stand that will hold the microphone for you throughout your recording session
- Is highly sensitive and will take some working out alongside your mixer to get your levels sounding perfect
Rode NTR Premium Active Ribbon Microphone
It’s not all about looks, though. This ribbon microphone records with the traditional figure-8 bidirectional polar pattern, focusing on sound coming from either side of the mic. This means that two people will be able to use the microphone simultaneously.
Meanwhile, the 1.8-micron element provides equal amounts of sensitivity and ensures excellent sound-quality on either side.
This ribbon microphone also features an internal shock mounting system.
This helps to reduce any handling noise or accidental ambient noise being picked up and appearing on your finished recording. You can easily connect this microphone to an existing stand with the included adapter too.
You’ll also be able to create a secure connection with your chosen recording device through the 3-pin XLR port.
This is conveniently located on the bottom of the microphone to give you more versatility over your setup and to keep the cable out of the way of the side-address design.
- A super stylish, aesthetically pleasing microphone that will look stunning in any recording studio
- Records with a bidirectional pickup pattern that focuses on sound coming from either side of the microphone
- Features a 1.8-micron element that divides sensitivity between both side of the mic
- Can be connected to any recording device with an XLR cable
- Comes with a stand adapter that allows for easy installation across a variety of microphone stands
- Needs to be connected to a 48V Phantom power supply to function
3. Royer R-10 Ribbon Microphone
With a flat frequency response and a maximum SPL of 160dB, the Royer R-10 Ribbon Microphone is ideal for recording a variety of sounds.
You can even get up close to the microphone without any worry of overloading and sacrificing audio quality.
It uses the same figure-8 polar pattern that ribbon microphones are famous for. This allows you to share the microphone with another person as it will pick up sound coming from either side.
And, although highly-sensitive, the sensitivity is split equally between both sides thanks to the 1.8-micron element.
The figure-8 polar pattern records room ambiance beautifully, too, making it a great choice for round-table podcasts. It’s easy to set up, too, and securely connected to any recording device with an XLR cable.
This microphone is designed with a side-address style that makes speaking into it feel more natural and comfortable.
It can be easily threaded to a variety of microphone stands with the included adapter as well. And, when you’re finished recording, it can be safely stored away in the included storage case.
- Has a flat frequency response and a maximum SPL of 160dB, making it perfect for vocal and instrumental recording
- The figure-8 bidirectional pickup pattern records sound from either side of the mic and is also great for recording room ambiance.
- Is easy to set up and can be connected to any recording device with an XLR cable
- It can also be secured to a variety of microphone stands with the included adapter.
- The side-address design ensures a natural, comfortable recording experience.
- Sits at the higher end of the price scale, so it isn’t the best choice for anybody on a budget.
4. SE Electronics X1R Passive Ribbon Microphone
Featuring a handcrafted ribbon element enclosed in top-grade Neodymium magnets, the X1R Passive Ribbon Microphone from SE Electronics is amongst the very best for recording clear, natural sounds.
It also has a robust, durable feel to it, and this comes from the all-metal construction. This doesn’t only make it perfect for recording in the studio but means it will be able to withstand anything life on the road has to throw at it.
The figure-8 pickup pattern records sound coming from both sides of the microphone and works with the 20Hz-16KHz frequency range to record a variety of vocal tones with superb clarity.
It’s a highly sensitive microphone too, but this sensitivity is equally distributed across both sides of the microphone. This allows you to record confidently without worrying about your audio-quality being compromised.
Easy to attach to any recording device with an XLR cable, this microphone comes complete with a microphone stand clip.
- Has a handcrafted aluminum ribbon element that is surrounded by top-grade Neodymium magnets
- Records with a bidirectional figure-8 pattern to pick up sound from both sides of the microphone
- The 20Hz-16KHz frequency range is capable of recording a variety of vocal tones with amazing clarity.
- Can be easily attached to any recording device with an XLR cable
- Comes complete with a microphone stand clip
- It doesn’t come with a pop filter or shock mount; however, these are available to purchase separately.
5. MXL R77 Ribbon Microphone
If you’re looking for a super-stylish microphone to add to your studio, the MXL R77 Ribbon Microphone more than fits the bill.
The gold and chrome design make this microphone a truly stunning piece of recording equipment, and certainly, one that will look professional in any recording set up.
It’s not all about aesthetics, though. This microphone is capable of producing some amazingly high-quality sound.
It features a 1.8-micron aluminum ribbon that captures vocals beautifully and produces smooth lows and natural highs.
This ribbon microphone also records with a figure-8 bidirectional pattern. This allows you to mic-share with a guest or co-host and talk on either side without one of you sounding quieter.
It has a frequency range of 20Hz-18KHz too, which is ideal for capturing natural sound across a wide range of vocal tones.
An XLR connection point is located on the bottom of the microphone.
This allows for quick and easy setup and also keeps the cable out of your way while you’re recording. The microphone is attached to an integrated stand adapter, which features adjustable dials on either side.
This allows you to find the most comfortable position to record in.
- Features a 1.8-micron aluminum ribbon that produces superbly natural-sounding tones
- Records with a figure-8 pattern that picks up sound from either side of the microphone with equal sensitivity
- Can be connected to recording equipment through the conveniently located XLR port
- It also features an integrated, fully-adjustable microphone stand adapter.
- Is a stunning, aesthetically pleasing piece of recording equipment
- The integrated stand adapter may limit your variety of mounting options.
A good ribbon microphone can be hard to find. However, once you’ve purchased one and set it up, you’re recording life will be forever changed!
It’s important to get one that suits your specific needs, though.
Below, we’ve highlighted some points to bear in mind when you’re shopping around. Giving a little thought to each of these will help you find the best ribbon microphone for your needs the first time around.
Dynamic and condenser microphones usually offer you a choice of cardioid, bidirectional, or omnidirectional polar pickup patterns.
This is not the case for ribbon microphones. You’ll notice that every ribbon microphone only operates with a figure-8 bidirectional polar pattern instead.
This records sound from either side of the microphone and works with the mic’s head element to distribute sensitivity equally. It’s this polar pattern that also gives the ribbon microphone it’s unique recording power.
A figure-8 bidirectional polar pattern is ideal for anybody that needs to share the microphone with another person. It will record both you and your guests with equal clarity and have absolutely no detrimental effect on sound quality.
Alongside your microphone’s figure-8 polar pattern, it will use a frequency response to pick up a variety of different vocal tones. And, the wider this frequency response is, the more vocal tones it will be able to produce with a natural resonance.
Look for a ribbon microphone that has a frequency response range around 18Hz-20KHz. This will be able to cover a wide range of voice types and leave your final recording sounding warm, smooth, and conversational.
There’s no denying that ribbon microphones are amongst the most stylish pieces of recording equipment you could ever wish to own. But when you’re looking at their design, try not to focus too much on aesthetics alone.
Take a look at the material that your chosen microphone has been constructed with. An all-metal design will be highly durable and can withstand accidental bumps without getting easily damaged.
An all-metal ribbon microphone will also be able to handle traveling better too. So, if you ever decide to take your show on the road, you’ll be able to rest more comfortably knowing that your microphone is tough enough to handle whatever gets thrown at it.
Almost all ribbon microphones connect to recording devices through an XLR cable. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to check what sort of connection type your current setup supports.
If you’ve got an audio interface or a mixer, this is unlikely to be an issue. However, if you record directly onto a computer, cell phone, or tablet, you may need to think about investing in an XLR to USB adapter to use a ribbon microphone.
Many ribbon microphones now come with special adapters that allow you to secure your microphone onto an existing stand.
This will save you money as you won’t have to purchase a new stand separately, but it’s worth checking if your current stand is compatible with the included adapter.
Some also come with special stand clips that allow for a universal mounting option and can be used across a wide variety of microphone stands. Integrated stand adapters are also great, and you’ll be less likely to misplace them.
Price & Warranty
Finally, it’s important to set yourself a budget before you start shopping for a ribbon microphone. Their fantastic sound-recording capabilities give them a fairly steep price tag, with some ranging up into the high hundreds of dollars.
Again, think about your studio set up and your personal needs and find a microphone with the features that work best for you. This will prevent you from having to spend a small fortune.
It’s also a good idea to check what sort of warranty your potential new microphone comes with. The longer the warranty lasts, the longer you’ll be covered for repair or replacement if something goes wrong.
This also gives you more value for your money.
Some warranties will even let you extend from 12-months up to 10 years of extra coverage after registering your product, so it’s definitely worth checking out.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a ribbon microphone?
A ribbon microphone is a unique piece of recording equipment. Unlike condenser microphones and dynamic microphones, it only records with a bidirectional pickup pattern. It also differs from its counterparts by responding to air velocity changes rather than sound pressure levels.
This allows it to produce natural, highly-realistic sound.