The 10 Best Ribbon Microphones

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This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in October of 2018. If you are looking for a different sound from that you've been getting from your condenser mics, it may be time to invest in one of the ribbon microphones on our list. They're particularly good at capturing deep bass tones from instruments like drums and brass horns, and are known for taming the shrill highs that can be produced by cymbals, electric guitars, and even some people's voices. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Royer Labs R-122

2. Rode NTR Premium Active

3. Shure KSM353/ED Premier Bi-Directional

Editor's Notes

September 23, 2020:

A few small changes have occurred since our last visit to the ranking, including the addition of the Royer R-10, which may offer the best value for its quality out there, though it can be a bad choice for vocalists without a lot of natural power, as its output is somewhat low and can cause you to push the mix and reduce the quality of the voice track. That said, it makes an excellent choice for tracking instruments, particularly guitar cabinets and combos, though the SE Electronics X1R Passive gives it a run for its money in that aspect.

Most vocalists would do better with something like the Rode NTR Premium Active. Its frequency response makes it ideal male vocalists in the bass, baritone, or low tenor ranges who aren't looking for that classic high-end ribbon cutoff you get with the more traditional MXL R77 SPL, or for female vocalists who find they need that upper register above 16 KHz to capture their entire resonance.

Built quality should be an important factor here, as well, as that SE Electronics model and the Royer Labs R-122 may be among the few options you could easily consider taking out of the studio and onto the stage, while the Beyerdynamic M160 Double can also be comfortably used by live artists if they take a little bit of care with it.

November 29, 2018:

The best of these mics are inevitably expensive, though companies like MXL and Rode are doing really nice jobs driving the cost down with high-quality goods. Some brands, like Coles and Royer Labs, may not be as familiar to some, but they are among the most lauded manufacturers in the industry.

Special Honors

Coles Electroacoustics 4038 Studio This model may not have a conventional appearance going for it; some might even call it ugly. But you're liable to forget that when you hear how it performs, as it can create one of the warmest, deepest low-end responses of anything in its price range. It's particularly loved by broadcasters, making it a smart choice for podcasting, though its carrying case is a bit flimsy.

4. AEA R44CE Big

5. Beyerdynamic M160 Double

6. Audio-Technica AT4081

7. Royer R-10

8. Golden Age Project R1 Active MKIII

9. SE Electronics X1R Passive

10. MXL R77 SPL

Daniel Imperiale
Last updated by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel Imperiale holds a bachelor’s degree in writing, and proudly fled his graduate program in poetry to pursue a quiet life at a remote Alaskan fishery. After returning to the contiguous states, he took up a position as an editor and photographer of the prestigious geek culture magazine “Unwinnable” before turning his attention to the field of health and wellness. In recent years, he has worked extensively in film and music production, making him something of a know-it-all when it comes to camera equipment, musical instruments, recording devices, and other audio-visual hardware. Daniel’s recent obsessions include horology (making him a pro when it comes to all things timekeeping) and Uranium mining and enrichment (which hasn’t proven useful just yet).

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