Producers and sound engineers recommend ribbon mics for acoustic instruments, drums, wind, and vocal recordings. The warm sound signature of the ribbon mics complements the ‘cold’ character of digital recordings.
And, although ribbon mics are feared for being fragile, today’s mic is slowly exceeding most critic’s expectations.
Premium ribbon mics are no doubt the best mic you can use in your music setup. However, a $1000 budget is not a bad allocation — it’s actually excessive at some point. So, if you are looking for the best ribbon microphones for under $1000, this is the right article for you.
You noticed that we only have 10 products because we don’t want you to be confused. You have enough products to choose from, since not all ribbon mics are made equal.
We give our quick, but intelligent reviews on the top ribbon mics in the market along with a comprehensive buying guide at the end of the article.
The best ribbon mics under $1000
- Beyerdynamic M160 Double Ribbon Microphone
- Peluso R-14 Passive Ribbon Microphone
- Prodipe Ribbon Microphone (RSL)
- Blue Microphones Woodpecker Ribbon Microphone
- AEA Microphones Nuvo Series Active Ribbon Mic
- Audio-Technica AT4081 Ribbon Mic
- Beyerdynamic M130 Double Ribbon Microphone
- Audio-Technica AT4080 Ribbon Mic
- Cascade Microphones X-15
Rode NTR Premium Active Ribbon Microphone
For professional applications and recordings, a premium ribbon mic like the Rode NTR Premium Active Ribbon Microphone is essential. Why the Rode NTR? Simply because it delivers more than what it promises and unlocks some capabilities that cannot be done by other high-priced mics.
It’s a well-designed mic with an intricate blend of art and science, which allows it to record loud sounds with accuracy and detail — no distortion.
It’s also capable of recording sound sources that require highly sensitive microphone elements. With a bidirectional polar pattern, a 1.8-micron ribbon element, and a custom-designed transformer.
Hence, it’s very responsive and sensitive to the frequencies within its frequency range. Designed and engineered for longevity, your investment in this mic will never be wasted.
- Visually appealing and well-constructed
- Affordable than most counterparts, given the features onboard
- Combines with ribbon tonality and new levels of versatility
- Might be bulkier and heavier
- Needs some distance from the source to achieve better results
Beyerdynamic M160 Double Ribbon Microphone
Made in Germany, Beyerdynamic M160 Double Ribbon Microphone is another excellent ribbon mic from this company. With the latest technologies and high-quality standards, you can only expect the best performance and output from this hypercardioid polar pattern mic.
Since it’s a dynamic dual mic, it’s very effective in a wide variety of applications, whether in-studio or onstage.
It’s a versatile mic for amps, drums, vocals, and instruments like violins, violas, cellos, saxophones, even hi-hats, and toms.
It has an excellent transient response to its extended frequency range (40Hz to 18kHz), producing warm and natural sound. Used by the legends, wouldn’t it be wise for you to use this as well?
- Perfect in adding warmth and depth to sounds of most sources
- ‘Tunable’ response through careful positioning
- Hypercardioid pattern is fantastic in some applications
- Requires quieter preamp for best performance
- Mic without added things — can be better
Peluso R-14 Passive Ribbon Microphone
If you want a versatile microphone, go for the vintage-style Peluso R-14 Passive Ribbon Microphone. Made with classic long ribbon geometry, it comes with a corrugated aluminum ribbon suspended between two Neodymium magnets.
The ribbon moves with ambient acoustic air pressure variation, producing current — the output of the mic.
The ribbon is placed slightly forward from the magnet center to provide that slight low-end roll-off to counter proximity effects. Hence, you’ll be able to get a clean and balanced output through its output transformer. With rich, warm, and smooth recordings, who doesn’t want R-14 in the music setup?
- Sound’s fat and smooth
- Great product for its price
- Can get a very nice mono recording for voice and acoustic guitar
- Has proximity effect issues you might encounter
- Need to find the perfect positioning of the mic to solve the proximity issues
Prodipe Ribbon Microphone (RSL)
Used for home and small studio recordings, Prodipe Ribbon Microphone (RSL) is an affordable mic that boasts both modern technology and the modern design of ribbon mics. It comes with an aluminum 2.8-micron response speed, so you’ll achieve natural reproduction of sounds.
It’s only among the few products in the market that lets you have stereo and simultaneous recordings. You can pick up the mood of the room from behind and completely capture the isolated sound of the source on either side of the mic. You can record high-pitched and high-sound levels with no worries of signal distortion.
- Nicely made
- Yet affordable
- Accommodates a wide variety of sources
- High SPL-handling ability
- Brighter than most ribbon microphones
- Currently not available for purchase
Blue Microphones Woodpecker Ribbon Microphone
Blue Microphones Woodpecker Ribbon Microphone is a handcrafted mic with active Class-A custom electronics onboard. It has a low-noise and superb bold sound of an aluminum ribbon mic. Its design and look are quite appealing, eye-catching even on stage.
It delivers ultra-smooth high, focused mids and great bass response. Woodpecker is durable and reliable with a wide frequency response to meet the demands in modern recordings. Also, excels at ambient recording and captures room tone in detail.
- Excellent build quality
- Active electronics help eliminate impedance matching issues
- Great sound quality with nice bass response
- Smooth highs and focused mids
- No issues if the ‘hybrid’ mic is suitable for your needs
- With the shock mount
- Can’t be attached directly to the mic stand
AEA Microphones Nuvo Series Active Ribbon Mic
Crafted from California, USA, AEA Microphones Nuvo Series Active Ribbon Mic is a handcrafted mic ideal for distant-miking applications. It’s the most open- and natural-sounding ribbon mic from AEA. It renders acoustic spaces, therefore, excellent for drum overheads, strings, and orchestral recordings.
Additionally, even for up-close recordings for guitar and bass amps, this mic can still deliver clear and warm sounds.
It comes with phantom-powered JFET electronics and a customized transformer to achieve optimal performance in a wide range of preamps. You can also use this ribbon mic along with your USB audio interface at home.
- Excellent quality build and versatile tonality
- The active mic is great in avoiding impedance matching issues
- Delivers an open and natural sound
- The shock mount is not that reliable
- May still capture some vibrations
Audio-Technica AT4081 Ribbon Mic
Audio-Technica AT4081 Ribbon Mic delivers the warm and natural classic sound of a ribbon microphone. It is a handcrafted ribbon mic, designed for long-lasting performance and high input for compatibility with mic preamps.
It has a low-profile design that allows maximum placement options and is perfect for horn, strings, drum overheads, and orchestra recordings.
Designed with the maker’s MicroLinear™ ribbon imprint that guards the two ribbons against distortion or lateral flexing for superior durability.
The dual ribbon is designed for increased sensitivity, while the Neodymium magnets are perfect for high output levels. You can easily achieve warm and natural sound reproduction using this ribbon mic.
- Great ribbon mic for instrument recording
- Sounds a bit brighter due to lack of padding
- Delivers warm and natural sound
- Not that rugged to take on the road
- Has noticeable self-noise
Beyerdynamic M130 Double Ribbon Microphone
Like the Beyerdynamic M160, Beyerdynamic M130 Double Ribbon Microphone is also a double ribbon mic with Figure 8 polar pattern and compact design. It has a transient response to produce detailed and accurate sound production with transparency.
With its pickup pattern, it produces balanced and uncolored sounds across a wide variety of applications where this mic is used.
Ideal for making stereo images through the MS (Mid Side) technique, it’s perfect to record or broadcast a true stereo image. The rugged design is more capable to take on rigorous recording sessions along with transport and some storage challenges.
Made in Germany, you are assured of the technologies and high-quality standards used to craft this beautiful ribbon mic.
- Sophisticated design with classic status
- Excellent sound quality
- Great craftsmanship
- Quite a small profile and seems fragile
- Has low output
Audio-Technica AT4080 Ribbon Mic
Get that warm and smooth classic ribbon sound with Audio-Technica AT4080 Ribbon Mic. Built with robust construction for long-lasting performances, this provides higher output for maximum compatibility with most mic preamps.
Like the Audio-Technica AT4081 Ribbon Mic, it also comes with the innovative MicroLinear™ ribbon imprint for added protection from lateral flexing and distortion.
Great for professional recording, broadcast, and sound reproduction, AT4080 could be the next ribbon mic you want to have. Like the other Audio-Technica mic here, this one also has a dual ribbon design for increased sensitivity. Neodymium magnets are perfect for high output levels.
- Very detailed and ‘polished’ at high ends
- Useful in a variety of applications
- Quality build
- Well-engineered at its price
- The shock mount is nice
- But maybe difficult to mount and unmount
- Might not be good when you transport mic often
Cascade Microphones X-15
The Cascade Microphones X-15 comes with two hand-tuned ribbon elements in the legendary symmetrical ribbon design. It’s a true Figure 8 mic with the corrugated aluminum membrane at the center (from front to back). This means you can get a balanced output signal from both sides of the ribbon mic.
It has an excellent sensitivity of -51.7 dB +/- 2dB and a maximum SPL handling capacity of 135dB. Includes a premium suspension shock mount, aluminum case and a 20ft five-in XLR cable with a splitter cable for the left and right channels.
- Delivers smooth sound
- Excellent quality construction
- A stereo recording in one package
- Some users complained that the cap fell off
- Front and back output is uneven
Maybe you have all the money you need to buy a new ribbon mic. If you’ve set your mind on a product, perhaps, these tips can help you strengthen your choice or help you find the best product that fits your needs.
We aren’t making these to change your mind, but to better your choices, especially when it comes to buying a critical gear in your music setup — ribbon mics.
Shapes of Ribbon mics — There are two most common shapes of a ribbon mic — pencil and round. The former has a long and narrow body, while the latter has a round or open shape.
Pencil type only accepts sounds in one direction, so it’s better to position the mic directly towards the sound source you want to record. Given this setting, you’ll be able to isolate your sound source from the background noise.
This is particularly useful in a recording setting which is not well soundproofed or has excessive ambient noise.
Round type is the most common among the two. This works in the exact opposite of the pencil type, wherein it captures the sound source along with the ambient noise in the surroundings. This is typically used in a well-soundproofed studio to pick up the resonant and organic sound of the target sound source.
Figure 8 or bidirectional polar pattern — For those who don’t know, by design ribbon mics are bidirectional, says The Music Kitchen. This pattern allows the mic to pick up sound evenly from the front and rear of the mic. It’s great for in-between instrument recordings.
We include this here since you might want to find your favorite cardioid pattern in a ribbon mic. And, again, most, if not, all ribbon mics come with Figure 8 pickup pattern.
Frequency response — Ribbon mics often capture less high-frequency than condenser mics, says Recording Hacks. And, if you put the mic closer to the sound source, it’ll capture more low-end notes.
Hence, you may have noticed that some ribbon mics have extended frequency response info and low-frequency filter to avoid proximity effects.
SPL Handling — You should know that this very important specification of a mic, not just a ribbon mic. This refers to the amount of pressure level the mic’s transducer can handle. And, since ribbon mics are particularly sensitive to high pressure, you must always bear this in mind.
This YouTube video uses a ribbon microphone for under $1000 and it demonstrated how ribbon mics can be used in recording vocals. In addition, you’ll learn some basics on how to maximize this type of mic. At the same time, you’ll also know about the application of this type of mic in your home studio.
We are more than eager to share with you our best bet from the 10 products above. And, without further ado, it’s the Rode NTR Premium Active Ribbon Microphone. It’s perfect in both professional and personal applications.
Actually, it is a great ribbon mic since it’s designed to perform what other mics – of the same price tag – can’t make.
Engineered to take on even the most complicated recording application, Rode NTR is a great addition to your mic locker, or to your music setup. So, if you feel what we are feeling, you know you’re on the right track. And, you’ll definitely be supporting our claim as well.