Our top picks at a glance
- ART AR5 ACTIVE RIBBON MICROPHONE
- Nady RSM-4 Ribbon Microphone
- Golden Age Project R1 MK2 Ribbon Microphone
- MXL R144 Ribbon Microphone
- Cascade Microphones 98-G-A FATHEAD Ribbon Microphone
- MXL Mics R-150 Ribbon Microphone
- Peavey RAC1 Ribbon Microphone
- Samson VR88 Velocity Ribbon Microphone
- MXL R80 Ribbon Microphone
- Superlux R102 Ribbon Microphone
Like other types of microphones, there are also low-cost ribbon mics which are still pretty decent. But, if you don’t have much knowledge about mics, it’s hard to point the one solution to your recording needs.
So, we made a research on some budget-friendly, yet, reliable mics that you can buy with your $200. There are lots of them, and we had a hard time picking the 10 products we have here. But, here they are, and we are eager to share our reviews with you.
We include pros and cons — our own words combined with user’s review — to give you general information, as well as to warn you for some drawbacks that these cheap products may have. But, overall, they are great for the money you can afford to lose.
Top 10 Best Ribbon Mics Under $200
ART AR5 ACTIVE RIBBON MICROPHONE
Engineered to deliver open and natural sound recordings, ART AR5 ACTIVE RIBBON MICROPHONE is classic and active ribbon mic. With its classic ribbon diaphragm design, you’ll be able to achieve that sound quality, not accessible by other types of mic.
It has fast and accurate transient response — perfect for today’s demanding digital recordings.
It has an integrated active preamp module that takes advantage of increased output with a stable and dynamic response to various input channels.
This mic has a high SPL handling of 150dB and with low-tension 2-micron aluminum ribbon for smooth and natural audio reproduction. Figure 8 pickup pattern accurately reproduces the natural sound and the ambient reverberation of a studio room.
- Has an ample output, given its ribbon type
- It’s a nice-sounding mic
- Smooth and not too dark-sounding with good high-end
- Has some pops
- Like recording some electric charge
- Shock mount is tight
- Unable to fit the mic
Nady RSM-4 Ribbon Microphone
It’s perfect to add a ribbon sound to your home studio setup with Nady RSM-4 Ribbon Microphone. Figure 8 pickup pattern mic, it gives an unmatched fast and accurate transient response with high 165 dB SPL capability for more recording versatility.
Large ribbon geometry type, it has a versatile physical and acoustic design, great for vocal and instrument recordings.
Crafted with high-quality materials, it comes with an advanced internal shock mount for stability, structural integrity, and reliability. Its low tension aluminum ribbon design delivers large, mellow sound with smooth lows and high ends.
It has -55dB sensitivity at 30Hz to 18kHz (± 3dB) with 1000Ohms maximum recommended load impedance.
- Sound is warm and natural with usable low end
- Very dynamic
- Needs a lot of compression
- Better for drum overhead use
- Not punchy as the condenser mics
- Need to store vertically to reduce stress to the ribbon
- Internal vibrations may cause noise
Golden Age Project R1 MK2 Ribbon Microphone
Golden Age Project R1 MK2 Ribbon Microphone is a Figure 8 passive mic that offers naturally smooth, sweet and velvety sound. It has -52dB at 1kHz sensitivity in the frequency range from 30Hz to 18kHz.
With maximum SPL capability of 160dB, it can take on loud source recordings, including horns and kick drum.
This ribbon mic has 3000 ohms of load impedance and has three-pin XLR output connector. Overall, it’s a perfect tool for recording percussion, strings, and brass. With all these features, the mic deserves a place in your mic locker to be used when the right time comes.
- Delivers excellent detail of your sound recording
- Gives full and rich tone in a wide range of applications
- With -10dB pad makes the mic more flexible
- Weak and unreliable mount
- Need to be extra careful
- Shock mount is not easily replaceable
- Warranty is limited
- Again handle this mic with care
MXL R144 Ribbon Microphone
Comes with Figure 8 pickup polar pattern and 1.8-micron aluminum ribbon, MXL R144 Ribbon Microphone is great for vocals and instrument recordings.
It’s a perfect mic to be placed between instruments to have an efficient signal pickup and 90° off access noise rejection. With its compact design, it’s very easy to set up, no matter what recording setting you want to use this mic.
Made by the leading manufacturers of quality audio products, this ribbon mic is widely embraced by producers, engineers, artists and many more. The front of this mic (with the MXL logo) is the ‘in-phase, while the reverse side is the inverted phase.
For this mic, it’s highly recommended to use a high-gain preamp with the input impedance of 1500ohms.
- Really nice on vocals
- Spacious and classy
- Responsive to EQ adjustments
- Good build quality and has an attractive design
- Has low and muddy output
- High pitch buzzing occurs when recording low notes
- Lower sensitivity
- So you need a nice preamp to get better results
Cascade Microphones 98-G-A FATHEAD Ribbon Microphone
Cascade Microphones 98-G-A FATHEAD Ribbon Microphone incorporates the legendary Figure 8 symmetrical ribbon design — the true Figure 8 pattern. It comes with a corrugated aluminum membrane at the center to produce a balanced audio input signal consistent on both sides of the ribbon assembly.
This design and configuration is ideal for recording mid-side or Blumlein setup or live stage performances.
You can expect a full-bodied signature with increased sensitivity up to -56 dB in this mic. With the reliable 2.5-micron aluminum ribbon, you’ll be surprised at how great this mic is. It’s perfect to be used on guitars, strings, vocals, drum overheads and so much more.
- Great mic ribbon for the price
- Sound and response is surprisingly better
- Ideal for studio applications
- May not be a good mic for professional use
- Produces noise
- Though it blends with the sound
MXL Mics R-150 Ribbon Microphone
Another Figure 8 ribbon mic, MXL Mics R-150 Ribbon Microphone is ideal for all types of recordings. Producing rich and dimensional sound, it’s a perfect ribbon mic for all recording demands.
Since it has higher SPL capability, you can record loud screams and electric guitars without distortion issues even at higher frequencies.
This is a Figure 8 mic as mentioned, which means that it offers front and rear recordings — capture vocals/instruments in the front with room sound at the back. Or, you can have two instruments and put this mic between them. Maybe it takes practice and some time, but, this mic is really a good add-on to your setup.
- Gives nice and natural sound
- Great price for a ribbon microphone
- With low output and bassy sound
- Interior is a bit unreliable
- Proximity effect is very pronounced
Peavey RAC1 Ribbon Microphone
A large ribbon microphone, Peavey RAC1 Ribbon Microphone comes with 2.5-micron aluminum ribbon with a Figure 8 polar pattern. Its unique tubular shape is perfect to deliver rich, warm and classic ribbon sound.
With its transient response in the frequency range from 30Hz to 18kHz, this mic is suitable for various recording situations.
It has an excellent sensitivity of -53dB with the legendary Peavey reliability. Don’t let a poor-quality mic stop you from making a great craft. With maximum SPL handling capability of 140dB, you are really worry-free even when recording loud sound sources.
- Produce warm old-style sound
- Slightly distorted sound
- Better for blues music
- Not very versatile with all vocals
- No other noticeable disadvantage for this mic
Samson VR88 Velocity Ribbon Microphone
Combined both traditional ribbon technology and active electronics, Samson VR88 Velocity Ribbon Microphone is a great ribbon mic under $200. With its strong Neodymium magnets and precise electronics, it paves the way to increased sensitivity, low self-noise, and better sound quality.
Like most ribbon mics, it has Figure 8 polar pattern, which is excellent in off-axis rejection to capture the natural sound of the source.
It has low-mass, 2.5-micron aluminum ribbon, perfect to capture warm, natural audio in a wide variety of live and studio applications. So, whether you are making vocals, recording acoustic instruments or electric guitars, you can rely on this ribbon mic.
You’ll get a shock mount and carry case when you buy this mic.
- With a reliable hard case and a nice shock mount
- It’s active
- So no need for a high-gain preamp
- Have a strong proximity effect
- Less mechanically robust compared to other types of mic
MXL R80 Ribbon Microphone
Great quality inside and out, MXL R80 Ribbon Microphone has everything you need including the modern elements. Comes with high maximum SPL capability of 130dB, it’s suitable to record guitar cabinets, horns, and electric guitars. This mic excels on stage and studio recordings with XLR connectivity.
With its Figure 8 polar pattern, sound rolls from both sides, creating full-sound recordings. Additionally, the mic picks up sounds from the front and back sides, maintaining a large amount of rejection to the sides. Overall, it’s durable with metal construction, so it can withstand regular use.
- Good for loud singing
- Made for recording/capturing high output instruments
- Produce warm and nice sound quality
- Need preamp with a lot of gain to record vocals
- Definitely not symmetrical capturing of sounds in front and rear
- Mic is not working as advertised
Superlux R102 Ribbon Microphone
Superlux R102 Ribbon Microphone is an active aluminum mic primarily designed for studio recordings. It comes with the high sensitivity character of a condenser mic, yet gives smoother and transient frequency response. Compared to other active mics, R102 has the most optimal speed response.
It consists of two parts — an electromagnetic transducer and an impedance converting circuit. The former applies a unique magnetic circuit field with Nd magnet. The ribbon is 2.5 microns suspended between two poles that vibrates when a sound source is detected.
With its low-mass diaphragm, it boasts a premium transient response to convert acoustic energy to electronic signals. Whether low or high pressure sounds, this mic is reliable in capturing the most natural sound of the source.
- Well-built and has a rigid construction
- Sounds great on piano
- Brass and guitar amps
- Great value for a ribbon microphones
- Not that versatile
- Can’t take on with those premium alternatives
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST RIBBON MIC UNDER $200
For starters, you might just pick up any ribbon mic in the market. However, there are still a few things that might be helpful in your hunt. Among them are the following:
Passive vs Active Ribbon mics
In the beginning, there are only passive ribbon mics. This type of mic is easily destroyed with the introduction of phantom power.
However, there are actually active ribbon mics that are the same with the passive mics, except that they have electronics onboard and may tolerate (even need) phantom power.
Active ribbon mics have higher input levels than passive. They have a more consistent output impedance, comparing to passive’s dependent impedance. And, active mics have lower SPL handling capability than passive mics.
As you draw the mic near the main sound source, it will be more sensitive to low frequencies. Although the high frequencies are roughly the same, the low frequencies get boosted, that’s why there’s high-frequency roll-off in most ribbon mics.
For optimal use, you have to move the mic to position it properly. You can get a more detailed explanation about this from Royer Labs.
This feature helps achieve the smooth and warm sound typical for ribbon mics, explained AEA. Unlike condenser, which boosts the high frequencies, ribbon mics gets the natural and honest sound of the source. Additionally, for ribbon mics, rolling off high frequencies are gentle and not drastic.
This gives you the information on the frequency range the mic can transduce. Human hearing spectra ranges from 20Hz to 20kHz. Get a ribbon mic with a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz if you want to record drums and other instruments. However, for optimum vocal recordings, you need a mic with 80Hz to 15kHz frequency response.
From this YouTube video you’ll see how important ribbon mic is, especially in recordings. You will also learn more about how it differs from condenser and dynamic microphones. So, take time to watch the video as you’ll surely learn so much from it.
OUR CHOICE FOR THE BEST RIBBON MIC UNDER $200
Now that you understand why you don’t need to spend too much for a ribbon mic, it’s time for you to reveal your best bet. Actually, it’s time for us to reveals ours.
We think both the ART AR5 ACTIVE RIBBON MICROPHONE and the Superlux R102 Ribbon Microphone are great in terms of overall capability. Though their price tag isn’t also that distant, they are also not that expensive.
But, if we are to dig deeper, the ART AR5 might have something that the other may lack.
Additionally, it’s also designed to really achieve the most natural-sounding recordings, hence, it’s our best ribbon mic under $200. What’s yours?