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Ribbon microphones - Are those still around?

Ribbon microphones - Are those still around?Ribbon microphones are often deemed to be a thing of the past from the days when they were used in the broadcast world for vintage radio shows. Thanks to modern manufacturing techniques the latest ribbon microphones aren't as delicate as the original mics which is allowing them to make a comeback. They can now be found replacing both condenser and dynamic microphones for a variety of applications but how exactly do they work and what are their benefits?

The basic construction of a ribbon microphone comprises of a metal film, called the ribbon, suspended between the poles of a fixed magnet. As the air from the audio source hits the ribbon it makes it move within the magnetic field and therefore induces a voltage into the ribbon which is picked up and this is the audio feed. In older microphones this voltage was so small that little transformers were often used to boost the signal. These aren't miniature robots that turn into cars of course but just small electrical transformers that provide a simple means of stepping up voltages. Modern day magnets are powerful enough to negate the need for these transformers in some of the latest models.

Whilst vintage ribbon microphones are very delicate the construction of the microphones and basic physics behind them allow the microphones to capture a lot more high frequency detail and the response of a ribbon microphone is normally a lot flatter at those high frequencies.  These characteristics are also found in modern day ribbon microphones so if you'd like more details on how to get more detail in your high frequency pick up then get in touch with us and we'll be happy to help.

It is worth mentioning that it's worth checking about the spec of your microphone to make sure it will not be affected by the presence of phantom power. Some older ribbon microphones can be damaged by phantom power voltages but some modern microphones actually need phantom power to function so you need to check this out! One final note to add to your memory banks is the requirement for correct storage of ribbon microphones as storing them laying flat can some cause ribbon to sag slightly and this may result in damage or different performance degredation so, again check out the manufacturer instructions and do as they say.

*Thanks to AudioTechnica for the image
Created On  24 Jan 2018 9:15  -  Permalink

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