Feeling tired of the same old condenser mics?
It happens to us all eventually.
The romance we once had with our mic collection grows tiresome…
And we want nothing more than a new toy to spice things up.
Well as any engineer will tell you…
A shiny new ribbon mic could be just the answer you’ve been looking for.
To help you choose one, in this post I share with you my list of:
The 7 Absolute Best Ribbon Mics for Home Recording.
So let’s get to it. First off…
1. Royer 121
If there is one company in the world whose name is synonymous with high-end ribbon mics…
It’s Royer Labs.
Recently they were honored with a Technical Grammy Award in 2013, for their amazing contributions to the recording industry over the past several decades.
In their ENTIRE line, the Royer 121 is no doubt their flagship microphone.
Even folks new to ribbon mics have likely heard of it before. Because it’s undoubtably the most famous ribbon mic on the planet.
If you can afford it, there’s no ribbon mic I recommend more than this one.
If these mics are too pricey for you, here’s one you’ll like better:
2. Avantone CR-14
It doesn’t take long to realize…
Ribbon mics are DAMN expensive. Most are $1000 and up.
But for someone who has never even used a ribbon mic before…that’s a tough sell, isn’t it?
Lucky for us, there’s the Avantone Audio CR-14.
Among the small handful of ribbon mics in the under $500 category, it’s the only one that boasts nearly all positive reviews.
For your first introduction to ribbon mics…I highly recommend it.
Now the CR-14 might be tops among affordable passive ribbon mics…
But in the active category, there’s no better deal than…
3. Audio Technica AT4081
Back when Royer Labs first built the Royer 122, it was the FIRST EVER ribbon mic with active electronics.
Soon after, ribbon mics became the cool new thing among many microphone connoisseurs.
The problem is…the active ones are even more expensive than the passive ones.
The Audio Technica AT4081, at less than HALF the price of a Royer 122, is one of the only active ribbon mics even semi-affordable to the average person.
Luckily for us, its reviews are almost universally positive as well.
Next up we have…
4. AEA R84
Belonging to a special subcategory known as “large ribbon mics“…
The AEAR84‘s “pill-like” capsule design, closely resembles that of a large diaphragm condenser.
As you might guess by its looks…
It’s an especially popular microphone for vocals…despite being intended more a multi-purpose mic.
Like most ribbon mics, it has a standard figure-8 polar pattern, which for vocals, can work especially well for singing duets.
If a reliable, great sounding mic, with a classic vintage look is what you’re after, I highly recommend it.
- Click to compare current prices – (Amazon)
Up next on the list, we have not ONE, but TWO mics…
5. Royer 101 Matched Pair
If you’re already familiar with figure-8 mics, then you know…
There’s no better way to use them…
Than for Blumlein Pair stereo recording.
To perform this technique, you need not ONE, but TWO figure-8 mics, angled at 90 degrees from each other.
You would assume that most figure-8 ribbon mics would be available in matched pairs, correct?
As it turns out…one of the only mics commonly sold as a matched pair is the Royer 101’s.
But I suppose, since its a Royer…one option is really all we need, huh?
Now, I know we’ve seen quite a few Royer Mics already…
But for this next pick, I’d like to share just ONE MORE…
6. Royer SF-12
Royer went ahead and created a revolutionary new mic design to make it even easier for us.
The one-of-a-kind Royer SF-12 is actually a combination of TWO mics housed within a single body!
Each mic is positioned at 90 degrees relative to the other, making it perfect for either Blumlein Pair or M/S stereo recording.
No more fiddling around with two separate mics. With the SF-12, you just plug and play.
At last, we’ve reached the final mic on the list…
7. Beyerdynamic M160
As I’m sure you’ve already noticed…
For some reason, virtually all ribbon mics use figure-8 polar patterns.
But what happens when the situation doesn’t call for a figure-8? Surprisingly, there are VERY FEW alternatives.
Luckily for us, Beyerdynamic M160 is here to save the day.
It is perhaps the ONE and ONLY ribbon mic offering a hypercardioid design…making it the only viable option for dozens of recording situations unsuitable to any other ribbon mic on the market.
As a bonus…when you combine it with the similar Beyerdynamic M130, you have the perfect pair of ribbon mics for M/S recording.
In any versatile collection of ribbon mics…this one is a MUST-HAVE.