After testing and understanding the use of condenser microphones, alongside their peculiar features, it is time to move on to the description of other three ribbon mics : Royer R121, sE electronics Voodoo VR2, sE electronics X1R.
Test made by using an acoustic guitar.
Testing mics can have a high percentage of reliability. However, there can be some variabilities due to instrument features, positioning of the microphone ( which is linked to the instrument position ), personal tastes etc. But all these problems become the order of the day, when facing these kind of testings.
For those who are not very familiar with this new transducer, a short introduction is required. The ribbon mic is a new device that is more responsive on low frequencies than higher ones. This feature allows to display a warm and round sound. Furthermore, these devices are very delicate, thus they should be handled with care. It is not recommended to use them during live concerts, because they can be damaged by strong sound sources.
However, ribbon microphones are a great asset for drums, electric and acoustic guitars, singing or speaking voices and wind instruments. Moreover, thanks to the progress of new technologies, these devices are being built with sturdier materials, thus making it possible to use them during concerts.
Royer R121 is a passive ribbon microphone which makes of versatility its strongest point. It can be customized for different recordings. It can sustain 135dB @ 20 Hz of SPL, which gives a great sound management. Furthermore, it can be used to record a choir, a woman or man voice, an electric guitar and a wind instrument.
In addition to that, it can be also part of a mix, if the main object is to produce music for mass consumption. The Royer R121 is less suitable for “ voice and guitar “ situations, where the sound is too much thinner, but defined and sweet on middle and high frequencies.
Furthermore, its slight pitched response goes from 1.5kHZ to 7kHZ. This feature was already noticeable on the arpeggio in the beginning of test recording. Moreover, compared to other mics of the same category, the R121 has a higher output level.
Voodoo VR2 is an active ribbon microphone, which requires a phantom supply power. It is less versatile than Royer R121, but it is built with a sturdier material. In addition to that , it gives a full sound, which is less round and “aggressive”, if compared with R121. However, when the sound source is too near, a sound equalization is needed.
The Voodoo VR2 is the perfect choice for costumers who are looking for a ribbon microphone with classic features that displays a slight smooth sound on high frequencies. Its creation is based on modern ideas of design and it can be used in the situations where a classic condenser mic would be used as well. Another characteristic of VR2, which makes it unique, is the possibility to be used during a trio power guitar recording ( drums, guitar and bass ).
The X1R is a passive ribbon mic with a low output that needs a good preamp, thus showing a great S/R ratio. It has a polar diagram as Voodoo VR2; however, it is better to equalize it on low frequencies on a near distance.
When considering slight weakening on nasal frequencies, which are included in a cardioid pattern, a fine alternative to a condenser microphone is the X1R. Between the three mics described before, this device has the clearest response. In addition to that, it has a great versatility and fine best price / performance ratio.
If you want to appreciate the various shades of sound, click on the links below, where you can listen to them in high quality definition (24 bit/48 Khz).
Guitarist: Vincenzo Granato
Microphones: Royer R121, sE electronics Voodoo VR2, sE electronics X1R.
Preamp: API 512c
Sound engineer: Giorgio Durantino / Francesco Guarnaccia
Recording studio: www.thectrlroom.it
Translation by Alba Ciliberti