please put it in black and white. what is the difference between the two? and which should i use to record what?
ok i dont know much about ribbon microphones, or condenser microphones, but i do know this, so im not just irrelevantly posting here-i just bought the Snowball condenser mic for $90. it plugs in USB, no software, no bull****. just really cheap and really good quality if you dont want to screw around with confusing programs and systems. highly recommend it.
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Condensers block out un-needed sounds

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Ribbons are much more fragile and much higher in price however they are much smoother than a condenser. They are common as room mics to get that ambient sound.

I think of them as a step up from condensers. It should be known that you should not feed phantom power to them, it will burn a ribbon mic up...

This video goes over different mics:
Last edited by moody07747 at Aug 4, 2008,
Condensers block out un-needed sounds

False. Condensers are probably the most prone microphones to picking up ambient and atmospheric noises, depending on the polar patter.

Condenser microphones are like they name implies, they rely on the condensing, or compression, of an electrically charged membrane of sorts, the the difference in pressure relates to voltage changes that show up as audio when sent down a cable.

Ribbon microphones work by suspending a miniscule ribbon of corrugated metal within the field of 2 same-polarity magnets. Each one has a charge, and the vibration of the ribbon in this field causes voltage changes in each side of the fields charge, resulting in the electrical signal you hear as sound.

Condenser microphones are usually used when you want to capture something exactly as it sounds in a room, or with natural reverb or ambient noises. Good for distant micing, large ensemble work, vocals, acoustic instruments, pianos, etc. They are very accurate mics for the most part, and sound rather 'open', sometimes 'airy' depending on the context. Very clean in the high end, round all throughout the spectrum.

Ribbon microphones, most of them anyways, are much more fragile than ribbon microphones. Although they cannot take transient peaks without risk of damage, they can withstand enormous SPL's up in the range of 160dB+, much louder than anything you'll ever throw at them. They are known as a much more warm, vintage voiced microphone type due to the high frequency response characteristics that result from the means of operation. They have a very smooth high end, with a full mid and warm low end. You should NEVER use a ribbon in an instance where the element will be exposed to blast of air. I.E, vocals without pop filters, drums, percussive sounds, etc. In fact, it is just safe to always use a pop filter with a ribbon to prevent any sudden gust from damaging the element.

Use them in whatever context you want, it's all personal taste. Test and compare them and decided which you like better where.


To Moody...

It has been proven that running +48V DC through a ribbon element alone causes no damage whatsoever as the current is negated due to the balanced transfer/single ground design of the microphone cable. However, if you have bad cables and a short happens between the 2 hot pins, or a faulty connection etc, the current will be imbalanced on one side and cause the ribbon to fluctuate, causing possibly damaging stretching or other effects.

In short, if you know all your cables and connections are good, Phantom will do no harm. But even then, I'd just be safe and make sure its off and well drained out before attaching a ribbon.
Last edited by MrPillow at Aug 4, 2008,

And there's no hard and fast way to choose which microphone to use (or which is a step up from another), especially as their sound is affected by the preamp. If there was one best microphone, then EVERY studio would have a ton of them.
And there are active versions of ribbon microphones that require phantom power, and they do output a pretty hot signal. People like the sound of ribbons as it gives the sense of being "there" with a warm and natural sound. While condensers can produce a phenomenal amount of detail and come in all different varieties (again, a classic tube condenser like a Neumann U47 can produce a thick warm sound while others can pick up the sound of a pin drop). They can also have a larger variety of polar patterns, meaning that they can be used in multiple situations (the most dramatic example is the infinitely adjustable Rode NT2000).

That said, handle ribbons very carefully. If you want an introductory model, try this Samson, and see if you like what it offers. Then you can move up with Groove Tubes and Royer's offerings...assuming you have a good preamp (at least a Mackie Onyx, if not FMR's RMP).
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