The Blue Woodpecker ribbon microphone

My Ribbon Microphone Shoot Out

I recently had the opportunity to test out four different ribbon microphones. It was pretty fun because I’ve been recording for a long time, but I never had a chance to properly use this kind of mic.

These are the microphones I tested:

The Blue Woodpecker

The Audio-Technica AT4080

The Audio-Technica AT4081

The Shure KSM313

Here’s the recording I made with them (I play all of the instruments). I made notes in the waveform below that will point out the different microphones being used:

All in all, I strongly recommend using ribbons. They sound different than condenser and dynamic microphones. At first you might think they sound a bit more muffled than what you’re used to hearing, but once you start using them in your recordings, you’ll start to hear their rich character in the mid range, their smooth highs, and round low end. Plus, they look really cool! You can’t lose with ribbon microphones.

If you have any questions about ribbon microphones, feel free to ask them in the comments section of this post.

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Writer, musician, photo taker and video maker. When not writing somewhat longish articles for this blog, I write incredibly short things on Twitter: @SamMallery

3 thoughts on “My Ribbon Microphone Shoot Out”

  1. hi very interessing

    i wonder if a modern portable device like the zoom h4n can take ribbon mics like those.
    ribbon mics are also famous because they need more gain to reach a proper recording level,
    so there are appropiate preamp that give a little more gain without background noise..

    thanks for reply in advance

  2. Hi David! You could probably use a Zoom H4n with some ribbon mics, however, like you pointed out, most ribbon mics require a lot of gain from the preamp to get a good signal, which could be problematic with the H4n. You would have better results if you used something like the Sound Devices Mixpre as the preamp for a ribbon mic, for portable recording purposes.

  3. Many thanks Sam
    Sound Devices Mixpre got the numbers…
    66 Db of pre in Sound Devices Mixpre
    -10 to -42dBm ( milliwatt ) for the zoom H4n

    i remenber that even 60 Db ( very common value for a gain in my experience )
    where considered not so powerfull for a ribbon , always not for the gain itself but for the beckground at the end of the gain scale..

    thanks for the reply and the suggstion …
    in fact i didnt know about that pre before..

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