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Best Ribbon Microphones

Smooth, natural vocals are imperative to any podcast. You want your listeners to feel as though you’re in the room with them and that they can hear every word you and your guests are saying.

Many different microphones can help you achieve this. However, the King among 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 could replicate.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of the best ribbon microphones available. Each of these will help you record a natural, unique sound pleasing to the ears.

We have also supplied you with a helpful buying guide packed with information on what to consider before you decide which is the best ribbon microphone for your needs.

1. MXL R144 Ribbon Microphone

MXL R144 Ribbon Microphone with Shockmount
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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 an excellent mic for recording instruments, making it highly versatile.

The bidirectional, figure-8 pickup pattern records sound from either side of the mic. It does this with equal sensitivity, meaning that one microphone can easily be shared between two people without sacrificing audio quality.

It’s a compact little microphone, too, so 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.

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Pros:

  • 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 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

Cons:

  • Is highly sensitive and will take some working out alongside your mixer to get your levels sounding perfect

User experience

Reviewers widely praise this product. According to one user, it is one of the best bargains available if you have the proper setup. They also said the mic provides a fantastic sound you can further work with and shape into a truly professional output.

Another user stated the microphone sounds bright and clear and feels sturdy. The output level is decent, and there’s little need for preamps.

Overall, most users agree this product is excellent value for the money.

2. Rode NTR Premium Active Ribbon Microphone

Rode NTR Premium Active Ribbon Microphone
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The Rode NTR Premium Active Ribbon Microphone is designed to produce high-quality audio while being aesthetically pleasing. It’s a stunning microphone to work with and features a heavy-duty matte black finish that adds to its durability.

It’s not all about looks, though. This ribbon microphone records with the traditional figure-8 bidirectional polar pattern, focusing on sound 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.

You’ll also be able to create a secure connection with your chosen recording device through the 3-pin XLR port.

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Pros:

  • 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 sides 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

Cons:

  • Needs to be connected to a 48V Phantom power supply to function

User experience

According to various positive reviews, this microphone is worth the money. One user has been satisfied with the sound of the mic, describing it as broad and beautiful with minimal coloration.

Another user went so far as to say this is the best microphone he’s used, and there’s not much to say about improvement. They would have been happy with an aluminum carry case, though.

3. Royer R-10 Ribbon Microphone

Royer R-10 Ribbon Microphone
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With a flat frequency response and a maximum SPL of 160dB, the Royer R-10 Ribbon Microphone is ideal for recording various sounds.

You can get close to the microphone without worrying about 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, making it an excellent choice for round-table podcasts. This microphone is designed with a side-address style that makes speaking into it feel more natural and comfortable.

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Pros:

  • 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 various microphone stands with the included adapter.
  • The side-address design ensures a natural, comfortable recording experience.

Cons:

  • Sits at the higher end of the price scale, so it isn’t the best choice for anybody on a budget.

User experience

According to many positive reviews, the Royer R-10 is a highly durable, affordable microphone.

One user emphasized how great it captures every little thing you say, and others have described it as comfortable, familiar, and easy to use. This user also stated they would choose the Royer over any condenser mic in its price range.

Another reviewer praised Royer as being exceptional and “knowing what they’re doing,” so this mic could easily be pricier than it is because of the quality.

4. SE Electronics X1R Passive Ribbon Microphone

sE Electronics X1R Passive Ribbon Microphone
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Featuring a handcrafted ribbon element enclosed in top-grade Neodymium magnets, the X1R Passive Ribbon Microphone from SE Electronics is amongst the best for recording clear, natural sounds.

It also has a robust, durable feel from the all-metal construction. This makes it perfect for recording in the studio and means it will be able to withstand anything life on the road has to throw at it.

The figure-8 pickup pattern records sound 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 compromised audio quality.

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Pros:

  • 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 fantastic clarity.
  • Can be easily attached to any recording device with an XLR cable
  • Comes complete with a microphone stand clip

Cons:

  • It doesn’t come with a pop filter or shock mount; however, these are available to purchase separately.

User experience

The SE is an excellent choice for podcasters judging by all the positive ratings.

Users loved this mic’s incredibly accurate sound quality, and one user said it “sounded exactly like it should.” Furthermore, you might not like the microphone’s accuracy at first, but you can easily add effects in postproduction to enhance the sound.

One reviewer stated that there is no need to worry about noise levels, and you can feel free to record even loud noises close to the mic.

The microphone is also heavier, so customers suggest using a stand with wide legs.

5. MXL R77 Ribbon Microphone

MXL Ribbon Microphone - XLR Connector
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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 stunning piece of recording equipment, and indeed, one that will look professional in any recording setup.

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.

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Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • The integrated stand adapter may limit your variety of mounting options.

User experience

If you’re looking to cut on editing time, this microphone is for you. Users testify that this mic is great for singers, and you barely need to edit anything after recording. One trombone player tried it for recording purposes and said it produces a soft, natural, and compact sound.

Overall, many reviewers emphasize how good this product is, considering it comes at an affordable price.

Buyer’s Guide

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!

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.

Polar Pattern

Dynamic and condenser microphones usually offer 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. This polar pattern also gives the ribbon microphone its 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 you and your guests with equal clarity and have no detrimental effect on sound quality.

Frequency Response

Alongside your microphone’s figure-8 polar pattern, it will use a frequency response to pick up various vocal tones. And the more comprehensive this frequency response is, the more vocal tones it will be able to produce with a natural resonance.

Look for a ribbon microphone with a frequency response range of around 18Hz-20KHz. This will cover a wide range of voice types and leave your final recording sounding warm, smooth, and conversational.

Design

There’s no denying that ribbon microphones are amongst the most stylish pieces of recording equipment you could ever wish to own. But when looking at their design, try not to focus too much on aesthetics alone.

Look at the material 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.

Connection

Almost all ribbon microphones connect to recording devices through an XLR cable. With this in mind, checking what connection type your current setup supports is a good idea.

This is unlikely to be an issue if you’ve got an audio interface or a mixer. 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.

Mounting Options

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 various microphone stands. Integrated stand adapters are also great, and you’ll be less likely to misplace them.

Price & Warranty

Finally, it’s essential to set yourself a budget before you start shopping for a ribbon microphone. Their remarkable sound-recording capabilities give them a fairly steep price tag, with some ranging up to hundreds of dollars.

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.

Some warranties will even let you extend from 12 months to 10 years of extra coverage after registering your product, so it’s worth checking out.

Final Words

When shopping for a ribbon microphone, there will be many things you will want to consider. Your budget, recording purpose, sound quality, and additional features are all things you should consider before making a decision.

In general, ribbon microphones are a solid choice for podcasters as they produce a beautiful, unique sound. And whichever model you choose will surely become a valuable addition to your recording setup.