A ribbon microphone is a unique type of dynamic microphone that is based around a thin, corrugated strip of metal (often aluminium) or film suspended between two magnetic poles. As the ribbon vibrates, a voltage is induced at right angles to both the ribbon velocity and magnetic field direction and is picked off by contacts at the ends of the ribbon. [15], Around 2002, relatively inexpensive ($80 – $200) ribbon microphones manufactured in China and inspired by the RCA-44 and older Soviet Oktava ribbon microphones became available. That is why it is also called “velocity microphone”. The natural way that it captures sound is very transparent in the final audio; while other microphones offer a very accurate sound, capturing nuances that you didn’t even heard or might not even want. It doesn’t saturate high notes; in fact is the opposite: it has high dynamic range, enriching the performance. When the sound source produces pressure, the ribbon moves inducing electric impulse due to the magnetic field. DAWs without an audio interface! The KSM313 used by guitarist Slash in live shows. The metal ribbon works as a diaphragm and transducer, capturing sonic vibrations and turning that vibration into electrical signal. The RCA Photophone Type PB-31 was commercially manufactured in 1931, greatly impacting the audio recording and broadcasting industries. Ribbon microphones were once delicate and expensive, but modern materials make certain present-day ribbon microphones very durable, and so they may be used for loud rock music and stage work. It has a “harder” sound, less sensitive to high frequencies. When well used, those resources bring brightness and emphasize high frequencies, enriching the captured sound. So be very careful when using this resource, because many ribbon microphones can be damaged by it. In ribbon microphones, a light metal ribbon is suspended between the poles of a magnet. Its name originates from its main piece: a thin metal ribbon. Since the traditional ribbon microphones are equipped with an internal transformer – the T-power –  it doesn’t need phantom power. KSM313 model, made by Shure, it’s used live by guitarist Slash. The typical resonant frequency of those microphones is within the range of human hearing. If the ribbon microphone is improperly wired, which is not unheard of with older microphones, this capability can damage some ribbon elements;[9] however, improvements in designs and materials have made those concerns largely inconsequential in modern ribbon microphones. One of the most known uses of ribbon microphones is stereo recording, following the Blumlein pair technique. Instruction manuals of most ribbon microphones recommend taking out of its case only when using it and that it always be kept in the vertical position, otherwise the ribbon can stretch on it own and damage the microphone too. In ribbon mics, a light metal ribbon is suspended between the poles of a magnet. As many mixers are equipped with phantom power in order to enable the use of condenser microphones, care should be taken when using condenser and ribbon microphones at the same time. The ribbon microphone has no coil or diaphragm but instead it has a thin metal ribbon. The piece is placed vertically between two poles of a magnet, creating a magnetic field. So you can understand how careful you will have to be handling your ribbon microphone. In studio, he uses an R-121 with a Shure SM57. On the other hand, the ribbon accepts well and even reduces slightly high frequencies, generating a plain response to that type of wave. If you are looking for a full bodied sound that captures as much feeling as it can, the ribbon microphone is the way to go. Tip: the incompatibility between impedance and the electrical circuit of this kind of microphone, can result in an apparently muffled, low volume sound. A few years later, Dr. Harry F. Olson of RCA started developing ribbon microphones using field coils and permanent magnets. The ribbon microphone came before the dynamic microphone. Condenser microphones at the time could not compare to its frequency response. The main difference between ribbon microphones and all the others is the transducer mechanism, that influences it use, its construction and the characteristics of each model. And when we talk about type of sound, the ribbon microphone comes up as one of the most charming and peculiar of it’s kind. The magnetic field transforms acoustic signal in electrical signal when it captures movement. Temperature, position, contact, wind and almost anything around it can also damage the microphone. Today you can find, in smaller scales, ribbon microphones with different polar patterns than a cardioid microphone, hypercardioid or an omnidirectional microphone. What differs ribbon from other in this case is the intention. In comparison, the metal ribbon of a Royer has 0,004 mm; whereas a piece of human hair has 0,1 mm. How Ribbon Mics Work. [16], In 2007, microphones employing ribbon elements made of strong nanomaterials became available, offering orders of magnitude improvement in signal purity and output level.[17]. Modern ribbon microphones do not suffer from this problem due to improved magnets and more efficient transformers and have output levels that can exceed typical stage dynamic microphones.[2]. Ribbon microphones are typically bidirectional, meaning that they pick up sounds equally well from either side of the microphone. [18] The acoustic complexity of ribbon microphones is comparable to other types of air coupled transducers. Is it better than regular XLR? The sound of the ribbon microphone But that sound, elegant and soft, continues to sustain its personality. Unlike traditional moving-coil dynamic mics, the ribbon element responds to variations in the velocity of air particles, rather than the pressure. Inside studios it has always been present, even in times of fast evolving technologies. Even if more recent models present robust structures and bigger outside protection, the metal ribbon, the main part of this microphone, is extremely fragile. All those tips may increase the lifespan of your device. The moment of choosing a microphone to your home recording studio involves two big questions. Its tone and pattern control helped reduce reverberation. Ribbon microphones are also called "velocity microphones" because the induced voltage is p… A selection of the best articles on this topic. So even the very early commercially available ribbon microphones had excellent frequency response throughout the nominal range of human hearing (20 Hz to 20 kHz for a young adult). If you clicked on the above link above the legendary RCA R44BX, you might have noticed the unfriendly prices of a professional microphone like that. This coil moves when pressured by air coming from the sound source. Ribbon microphones are also called "velocity microphones" because the induced voltage is proportional to the velocity of the ribbon and thus of the air particles in the sound wave, unlike in some other microphones where the voltage is proportional to the displacement of the diaphragm and the air. One important advantage that the ribbon microphone had when it was introduced is that its very lightweight ribbon, which is under very little tension, has a resonant frequency lower than 20 Hz[1]; in contrast to the typical resonant frequency of the diaphragms in contemporary high quality microphones which used other technology. Passive Ribbons. As the ribbon vibrates, a voltage is induced at right angles to both the ribbon velocity and magnetic fielddirection and is picked off by contacts at the ends of the ribbon.

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