Our Review of the Best Professional Ribbon Mics for Vocals in 2022

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Phantom Power -Make sure you have the right amount of Phantom power for your ribbon microphone. Not all ribbon mics use phantom power, but if yours does, it’s important to have the appropriate amount available to keep your microphone in tip top shape as ribbon mics can be somewhat delicate.

Kate Brunotts

Kate Brunotts FOR MUSIC CRITIC

Ribbon Microphone Buyers Guide

Ribbon VS Condenser Mic

Ribbon vs Condenser MiThis is a common question that arises when people search for a new microphone to add to their already existing arsenal of gear. How are ribbon and condenser mics different?
It’s a bit like comparing an orange and an apple, or comparing a brush to a pen. Both are in the same category, but are usually used very differently and for vastly different purposes.

A ribbon microphone usually has a warmer and smoother sound than a condenser microphone. They also don’t give out a high-frequency bump that USB condenser mics tend to do to enhance their clear and crisp sound. If you want a piece of your music to sound classic, vintage or extra warm, the ideal solution is to use a ribbon microphone. They are able to cut out harsh sounds and make them sound more pleasant and attractive to the listener.

If you are looking for a more clear sounding microphone that has more frequency depth, the ideal choice here would be to choose one of the condenser mics available out on the market.

What are the Advantages of Ribbon Microphones?

The biggest benefit of using a ribbon microphone is the compact size of it! They are not heavy and are usually made of very durable and sturdy materials that can take quite a beating despite their size while still retaining their sound. If you are looking to record music that should have very clear high notes and accurate low tones, it’s close to impossible to match a ribbon mic in that regard. They are a device that records a very detailed range of sounds, which can sometimes make them sound a bit dark.

Thanks to the pattern that is used with them, they are the ideal products when it comes to recording music that should have a vintage yet clear sound. They are a very flexible recording and performance device that can be used for many things if you know how to set it up!

Do I Need a Ribbon or Condenser Mic for Vocals?

Do you need Ribbon or Condenser Mic for VocalsEach voice has its own and distinct sound, which makes it hard to choose any obsoletes in this case, but recording studios will direct their lead vocalists to go with a condenser microphone simply because it’s an industry standard and these devices do the best job when it comes to capturing subtle nuances that a singer exposes their voices too, and they promote a defined high end too.

They are truly mics made for in-studio vocal recordings, while dynamic mics are better on-stage thanks to the durability of their build. As for ribbon mics, they can be a bit fragile, but if you are looking for a mellow and warm sound to enhance your voice, it’s also one of the top picks.

What is the Top Ribbon Mic for Vocals?

It’s almost impossible to suggest one certain microphone to work for all vocals since everyone’s voice is different, ranging from tenors and sopranos, and those minor differences could require a different microphone entirely for each person. However as a general choice, one of the top ribbon mics for vocals has to be the Golden Age R1 MK2. 

It will help you explore your voice range and keep your tones warm and rich without dragging them down. You will be able to record your vocals accurately and with great detail with this microphone! If you are into jazz, swing or soul, this mic will do wonders with the recordings and performances you will give out and produce.

How does a Ribbon Microphone Work?

How does a Ribbon Mic workRibbon mics have had a reputation for being rather fragile, although many brands have already addressed that aspect and tried to make some of their products more durable and sturdy when used in harsher environments. Regardless, they are made of a very thin strip of aluminum material that is suspended within a magnetic gap.

This is usually a very thin layer, and a strand of hair is more than 40 times as thick as that layer. It’s easy to see now as to why these microphones have to be generally handled with care and should be kept protected from extreme winds or plosives that are common when singing. This layer then reacts to the speed of the air particles, which in turn generates a small kick of voltage that is proportional to the speed of the particles that just hit the layer.


What is a Ribbon Microphone used for?

Ribbon mics are used for a wide variety of reasons, usually, they can handle brass and student trumpet instruments very well since they already give out a deep, rich sound and these microphones can enhance and warm up these sounds to make them sound even better.

They can also be used for recording vocals and guitars, providing that under the bullet points it says that the ribbon microphone has high SPL capabilities. If it doesn’t state this under the product, be careful, since it can damage the delicate outer aluminum layer. They can handle high-pitched sounds, but they are very fragile to large gusts of wind or plosives and need to be kept at a reasonable distance from the vocalist/instrument.


Top Choice

Golden Age Project R1 MK2 Our Top Choice spot has to go to one of Golden Age’s best products, their R1 MK2 ribbon mic. Not only is it available at a wonderful price, but it has kept the customers so satisfied that they have constantly kept it within the Top 10 list on Amazon when it comes to ribbon mics. To add to that, Golden Age also supplies all of their customers that purchase this ribbon microphone with a travel case and mic cable. 

It’s a microphone that keeps the classic and vintage appeal that is usually not present in ribbon mics anymore. It allows you to record almost any instrument and vocal while reproducing it faithfully as well as enhancing it with a warm, clear and crisp tone. If you are also looking for something a bit more durable, this is definitely it. It has been proven that this ribbon mic can withstand quite a lot of accidental damage while still retaining its sound and quality intact.

Golden Age’s ribbon mic has proven to be a great investment out in the market today, not only because of its price but because of its outstanding performance that has it be compared to mics much more expensive!

Premium Choice

Royer Labs R-121Our Premium Choice spot goes to none other than Royer Labs! Their ribbon mic has managed to be in the Top 30 of Amazon’s ribbon mics even though it prices well over 1,000$, which is a worthy achievement. Some name it as one of the top mics out there, and it can be easily used to record and reproduce nearly all sounds and tones that you could ask for. 

If you want to take a deep plunge and be impressed by one ribbon mic, this is it. Many customers go out and buy more of these faithful devices to supply all the rest of their instruments and bandmates with quality products.

This mic will give you no trouble and keep you fuss-free when setting it up and have all of your instruments and vocals be faithfully reproduced with a crisp, clear and classic sound that is second to none.

Royer Labs has one of the top mics at a fantastic price when it comes to products of this category- they make sure to keep your ribbon mic experience a positive one. There is absolutely no doubt that this microphone is worthy of all of the praise that it has been getting since 2009!

Great Value

MXL R144 Our Great Value spot simply has to go to MXL’s microphone. It’s the top product if you are looking to try out a ribbon mic for the first time or if you just need an additional microphone in your arsenal to liven things up. Whichever reason, this microphone will give you a unique set of sounds that cannot be compared to any other mic. If you want to expand your horizons when it comes to music gear, this is the place to start. The rich tones of this product will keep you entertained for hours on end and the compact design will allow you to take this little device anywhere you want.

The additional feature of shock mount that can be added to the product at a fair price is also a great feature, since usually, you have to go out of your way and buy these separately and that sometimes leads to sizing and fitting problems. MXL has combined quality with comfort and doesn’t shy away from providing its customers with options other brands refuse to.

All these points combine to make this microphone one of the top listed products here. It definitely makes its away as our Great Value choice, simply because you get a great bundle for a fantastic price!

Conclusion

Whichever ribbon mic you will end up choosing, it’s a sure thing that you will have hours of endless fun trying to experiment with what this little device can do. You will be surprised also at the warmth that it can bring into the music you produce and how it can customize harsher sounds to sound warm, mellow and inviting. Either way, whichever microphone will end up being your go-to, we wish you all the best with your performances and recordings (click here for recording technique advice) with your new purchase! You can learn how to adjust your singing voice for different microphones in this study. While there are many, many different types of mics on the market, it can get confusing trying to figure out which type is best for you – use this study on mics to help you out.

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