HomeRecording Microphones10 Best Ribbon Microphones in (Reviews)

10 Best Ribbon Microphones in 2021 (Reviews)

Ribbon mics are studio-grade mics primarily for recording voices and instruments. For the most part, you get a warm and natural sound from the sound source. So, if you like to get a warm and natural-sounding output, you need a ribbon mic in your music setup.

Getting a ribbon mic is easier if you know what you like and what you need from this type of mic. In this post, we reviewed the 10 best ribbon microphones in 2021.

We’ll also give some buying tips and suggestions to make your search easier. Shall we start?

10 Best Ribbon Microphones in 2021 Reviewed

MXL R144 HE Ribbon Microphone

We Recommend
MXL R144 HE Heritage Edition Ribbon Microphone Bundle
4.6
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A great ribbon mic for recording vocals and instruments, MXL R144 HE Heritage Edition Ribbon comes with Figure 8 polar pattern and 1.8micron aluminum ribbon.

Its polar pattern provides very efficient side rejection, giving a more precise directivity. The aluminum ribbon inside is reliable to deliver stunning natural sound.

R144 has maximum SPL capability so you can record loud sound sources without distortion problems. In the frequency range of 20Hz to 17kHz, you’ll be able to make great recordings — ideal for professional uses. It includes a mic pop filter for even better vocal filtration.

Pros
  • One of the best low-priced ribbon mics
  • Has decent frequency response
  • Provides amazing sound
  • Stunning final output
Cons
  • At low-frequency notes
  • High-pitched buzzing occurs
  • Sound output is not that warm compared to other ribbon mics

 

MXL R40 Ribbon Microphone

Also great
MXL R40 Ribbon Microphone Level 1
4.0
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A passive, elegant-looking ribbon mic with solid construction like the MXL R40 Ribbon Microphone could be a perfect add-on to your studio.

Subsequently, it’s passive, it doesn’t have any active electronics that could alter the color of your sound. R40 is perfect for voice recordings, guitar, horns, and other acoustic instruments.

It’s a straightforward bidirectional design with no switches in the circuit path, like those found in high-end mics. It has two major components — ribbon motor and transformer, which offers classic, smooth and rich-sound vocals. No wonder, this is still the choice for serious artists.

Pros
  • Solidly built with elegant design
  • Best use for acoustic guitar and vocals
  • Excellent value
  • Comparable to expensive mics
Cons
  • The ribbon could be damaged when exposed to high-SPL sources
  • Output is very low
  • Lower than most common ribbon mic
  • The sound quality is quite dull
  • Some user complained

 

MXL R144 Ribbon Microphone

Runner-Up
MXL R144 Ribbon Microphone with Shockmount
4.2
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MXL R144 Ribbon Microphone comes with both a Figure 8 polar pattern and the 1.8-micron aluminum ribbon, making it a great choice for broadcast applications.

It appears brilliant on recording acoustic instruments, strings, horns, and similar instruments. With high SPL capability, great side rejection, and precise directivity, you can get mellow sound with rich mids and roll-off top ends.

Uses an aluminum ribbon transducer, which is a bidirectional pickup pattern. This means it has a strong pickup to the front and back while maintaining around 90° off-axis rejection. The front, with the logo, is the ‘in-phase,’ while the backside is the inverted phase.

Pros
  • Solidly built with elegant design
  • Best use for acoustic guitar and vocals
  • Excellent value
  • Comparable to expensive mics
Cons
  • The ribbon could be damaged when exposed to high-SPL sources
  • Output is very low
  • Lower than most common ribbon mic
  • The sound quality is quite dull
  • Some user complained

 

Golden Age Project R1 MK2 Ribbon Microphone

Golden Age Project R1 MKII Ribbon Microphone
4.5
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Golden Age Project R1 MK2 Ribbon Microphone is a vintage-style passive mic with a Figure 8 polar pattern. It has a frequency response from 30Hz to 18kHz with 160dB SPL capability, so it can handle high-gain sources or a kick drum. It has a sensitivity of -52dB at 1kHz and has a three-pin XLR output terminal.

This ribbon mic delivers natural, smooth, sweet, and velvety sounds, whether single voice or chorus. Aside from voice recordings, R1 MK2 also excels in strings, brass, and orchestral percussion.

Pros
  • Comes with an active circuit that solves the limitations of common ribbon mics
  • With -10dB pad which increases the mic’s flexibility
  • Great bang for the buck
Cons
  • Shock mount included is flimsy
  • Hard to get a replacement
  • Limited warranty
  • Extra care is needed

 

Avantone Pro CR-14

Avantone Pro CR-14
4.1
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Comes with an elegant brass body design, Avantone Pro CR-14 is a sexy ribbon mic for your guitar amp, acoustic guitar, drum overheads, and more. At this price point, you can get smooth, classy retro-style looks even when it’s not that expensive.

It has up to 145dB of SPL handling capability, which makes it perfect for anything you have — recordings of drum kits, guitar amps, vocals,s and so on.

Made with top-notched components, it has a brass body and low-mass dual ribbon elements. It has a fast and accurate transient response with a Figure 8 polar pattern that helps you capture sound from front to back and eliminate some noise to the side.

You don’t need a power supply and no need for active circuitry to overload or produce distortion of your music. It works at the frequency response of 30Hz-15kHz +/-3dB, with sensitivity at -52 dB +/- 2dB.

Pros
  • Has better sensitivity than other passive ribbon mics
  • Very affordable and has a cool design and style
  • With a maximum SPL handling capacity of 145dB
Cons
  • May lack a few high-end details
  • Takes time to get the proper positioning of the mic when instruments recording
  • Barely gets a clean signal into a DAW

 

Rode NTR Active Ribbon Microphone

Rode NTR Premium Active Ribbon Microphone
4.8
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Designed for a wide range of applications, Rode NTR Premium Active Ribbon Microphone is yet another ribbon mic that’s been used by many.

Capable of recording high-frequency sources with utmost detail and accuracy, perfect if you are recording electric guitars or horns. This mic can also take on recordings that require highly sensitive mics.

Using the laser techniques during construction, it is precisely cut to give smooth grip and longevity of the mic. Designed with integrated internal shock, you don’t need to worry about vibrations and other disturbances.

Made with quality mesh and super-low density, you’ll get greater transparency. It can be used with various preamps without the need for additional gain, which most ribbon mics do.

Pros
  • Delivers greatness with combined ribbon tonality and high- and low-end extension
  • Affordable than most ribbon mics with all the functionalities and controls onboard
  • Well-built and visually appealing
Cons
  • A certain space is essential to achieve the best results
  • Maybe heavier and bulkier

 

Audio-Technica AT4081

Audio-Technica AT4081 Ribbon Microphone
4.5
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Most ribbon mics promise warm and natural sound quality, but Audio-Technica AT4081 Ribbon Mic delivers it well. This handcrafted mic is made with longevity in mind, especially in producing great performance and high output level for compatibility with other mic preamps.

Its low-profile design is perfect for on-the-go recordings or to be used for instrument recordings, including strings, horns, drum overheads, and orchestras.

You don’t need to worry about the protection of this ribbon mic since it comes with the intuitive MicroLinear™ ribbon imprint that guards the ribbon against damage. Dual ribbon configuration increases the sensitivity of the mic, while the Neodymium magnets bring a high-output level.

Pros
  • Great ribbon mic for instrument recording
  • Esp. horns, strings, orchestras, drum overheads, and more
  • Sounds a bit brighter due to lack of padding
  • Designed with the MicroLinear ribbon imprint to protect the ribbon from distortion
Cons
  • Not that rugged to take on the road
  • Self-noise rating is higher than other mics
  • Said a few users

 

Beyerdynamic M160 Ribbon Microphone

Beyerdynamic M160 Double Ribbon Microphone
4.9
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All Beyerdynamic ribbon mics are made in Germany, so you can assure its high-quality standard and technology. Beyerdynamic M160 Double Ribbon Microphone is, of course, another great product that offers excellent performance on top of its outstanding craftsmanship.

It comes with a unique dual hypercardioid polar pattern that has an extended frequency response.

Delivers warm and a natural sound, you’ll definitely need this mic to record the true tone of your instruments like saxophones, pianos, cellos, violas, violins, and other acoustic instruments. It’s primarily designed for remote and in-studio voice production, as well as unobtrusive use in TV and film studios.

Pros
  • ‘Tunable’ response through careful positioning
  • Gives additional warmth and depth to most sound sources
  • Excellent buy for its price
Cons
  • The quieter preamp is necessary to get better sound performance
  • Requires a specialized preamp to achieve the sound it promised

 

AEA R84 Figure-eight Ribbon Mic

AEA R84 Figure-eight Ribbon Mic
4.8
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AEA R84 Figure-eight Large Ribbon is a flexible and practical mic for a wide variety of applications. It’s suitable to be used even in the most demanding professional or personal recordings and production.

Comes with an affordable price tag, this Figure 8 mic comes with directional sensitivity and smooth transient response.

It promises pure, natural sound, perfect if you want to capture the true tone of vocals or instruments. With extended bass and treble response, you’ll get more detailed sound output. Have an R84 in your home studio set up to experience its greatness.

Pros
  • Looks and sounds fantastic
  • Delivers smooth
  • Warm and accurate sounds
Cons
  • Need extra care
  • Since it seems fragile
  • Needs a lot of preamp gain

 

Royer Labs R-121 Ribbon Microphone

Royer Labs R-121 Large-Element Ribbon Microphone
4.5
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Like most ribbon mics in this list, the Royer Labs R-121 Large-Element Ribbon Microphone also features a Figure 8 pickup pattern and output level like those in a dynamic microphone.

Capable of delivering a warm and realistic tone with mostly flat frequency response, this mic is perfect for recording applications.

However, what separates R-121 from the rest is it uses advanced materials with the old-school construction technique deployed.

Hence, you are assured that this ribbon mic is versatile and user-friendly. More to that, it can withstand the increasing demands of the recording industry. Comes with a maximum SPL of 135dB at 20Hz, you can enjoy great sounds within the 30Hz to 15kHz frequency response range.

Pros
  • With high SPL capabilities
  • Captures sound accurately
  • Equally sensitive from the front and rear side
Cons
  • Some users complained that it’s a bit expensive
  • Not a great ribbon mic for starters because of its price
  • There are a lot of alternatives

 

How to choose the best ribbon mic

Most commonly, ribbon mics are used in home and studio recordings because you’ll get warm and natural sound from its true Figure 8 configuration.

And, if you really want to pick the best ribbon mic, you might get into trouble checking each product one by one — which we did for the best 10 ribbon mics we determined. But, you have your own preferences, right?

So, we give you some ideas on how to pick your first or next ribbon mic. Among the things you need to look into are the following:

Best Ribbon Microphones

Active vs. Passive — Long before, there are only passive ribbon mics. They are known for incredible and full sonic potential, says AEA. Active, on the other hand, is the same as passive except for the electronics it has inside.

Passive mics require low input levels than active ones. They have dependent output impedance compared to the active mic’s consistent behavior. Passive ribbon mics usually have higher SPL compared to active mics.

Quite fragile — This is like the universal notion about ribbon mics. However, they are not as delicate as you think, explained Vintage King. You shouldn’t run phantom power on this type of mic unless they are active ribbon mics.

Warmth and detail — Since you’re picking a ribbon and not a condenser or a dynamic, you must look for the warmth and clarity of your recordings. If you can’t find these in your mic, you’re not actually looking at the best ribbon mic.

So, keep looking until you record sounds like the unmixed sound of the source.

Price — Don’t be surprised when you find the best to be a bit expensive. Given the fact that you can almost replicate the natural sound and detail of the source is something you really need to pay.

However, like other mics and music equipment, a higher price doesn’t always mean a quality product. But for your awareness, a ribbon mic is usually priced higher than your usual condenser or dynamic mics.

If you want to know more about ribbon microphones and why you should buy one, here’s a YouTube video discussing everything about this type of mic.

It specifically discusses its advantages and disadvantages, as well as its best application and why they need to have one. These are more details you need to know to pick the best ribbon microphones in 2021.

What is the best ribbon mic in 2021?

Editor's Pick
Avantone Pro CR-14
4.1
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While others associate ‘best ribbon mics’ with expensive mics, that’s not always the case. The products listed above vary in price — from the cheapest around a hundred to the most expensive about thousands.

But, there’s a ribbon mic that excels over the rest not just in its affordability, but also its usability. And, that is the Avantone Pro CR-14.

The purpose of buying a ribbon mic is to get the truest and most natural sound of the vocals or instruments. Hence, this ribbon mic is the perfect one for you. It’s versatile and ready for various recording applications and environments that you might want to use the mic.

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