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ribbon mic's


maud 'dib
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I'm a big Albini fan, and Tom Waits fan, and all the rest. I have a fair few mic's in my collection- currently gathering dust due to a maniac two year old. I'm interested in these mic's- anybody used them- and do they give you that sweaty claustrophobic sound for vox? My current mic's need a lot of fiddling to get a good grotty sound- usually with overdrive and amping, will ribbon mic's save me time and make me happy and warm inside...?

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I'm a big Albini fan, and Tom Waits fan, and all the rest. I have a fair few mic's in my collection- currently gathering dust due to a maniac two year old. I'm interested in these mic's- anybody used them- and do they give you that sweaty claustrophobic sound for vox? My current mic's need a lot of fiddling to get a good grotty sound- usually with overdrive and amping, will ribbon mic's save me time and make me happy and warm inside...?

I'm a big fan of ribbons, I use them on overheads, guitar cabs, acoustic guitar, out front of kick and occasionally on vocals. They typically tend to be shyer on the top end (many start roll to off around 8-10k) and bigger on the bottom, but there is so much variance between different brands that it's hard to be more concise.

I don't know if a ribbon mic's really going to do what you want it to do, they're pretty cool for a vintage vibe on vocals. I don't know what you mean exactly by a sweaty claustrophobic sound, what examples? If you're talking Albini, he uses dynamics on vocals a hell of a lot.

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My current mic's need a lot of fiddling to get a good grotty sound- usually with overdrive and amping, will ribbon mic's save me time and make me happy and warm inside...?

You'd probably never know until you try one. A ribbon may be a crap choice for your voice and style of singing and genre of music etc. But then, you may end up realising they're the dog's bollocks on guitar cabs, triangles and digeridoos.

I'm not sure that what you're doing with your "overdrive and amping" describe what most think of as being desired ribbon mic characteristics. Ribbons are usually considered warm and exactly as Toiletbag described. A half decent large diaphram condenser, judicious use of EQ and a compressor (with a tubes or transformers - or both) may take you where you wanna go. Possibly a tape saturation plugin too.

I have a pair of Cascade Fathead II ribbons with the Lundahl transformer upgrade but I woudn't say they get me into the Tom Waits ball park.

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Cool man, let us know how you get on and what mic you went for in the end. I've used both Royer R-121s and cheapy CAD ribbons and they both have their uses in certain applications.

I have a pair of Cascade Fathead II ribbons with the Lundahl transformer upgrade but I woudn't say they get me into the Tom Waits ball park.

How are your Fatheads? I've considered them at one point or another.

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How are your Fatheads? I've considered them at one point or another.

Ah just noticed from your profile you're from Dundee and possibly in Pensioner? If your the same guy who once bought one of Mr Lizards UAD cards, I'm the guy who gave you guys a shitload of pdf recording books a couple of years back on the now gone UGS forum. You might be a different dude?

Regarding the FatheadIIs. I doubt anyone would be disappointed for the money. However, I'm keen to find out what a royer would be like and my pair of fattys took me up over £700 after duty etc and I've never had to use both them together. Therefore, a few hundred more and one Royer 121 might have been a more sensible purchase. What I will say, is that the fattys require a fair bit of gain. You would have to get very up close and personal with them to do a soft vocal. Nice none-the-less.

I don't use them for vox and never really got round to doing so due to having a u87 and SM7b which always seem to be spot on for vox. Before I bought my U87ai (new) I nearly bought one of the three old U87s which 'Sound City Studios' in California were selling. However, they were wanting the same price for early '70s U87s as what the new u87ai price is. Due to this, and despite getting someone in LA who I know and trust to check their authenticity out, I swerved them in favour of a new one. The old Sound Studio u87s would have undoubtedly been used on lots of great albums by the likes of Nirvana, Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac to name a few. I've always slightly regretted not getting one of them and guess what?....Dave Grohl is currently making a documentary about Sound City Studios which would have pushed their relsale value up. Just my fecking luck !!

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Ah just noticed from your profile you're from Dundee and possibly in Pensioner? If your the same guy who once bought one of Mr Lizards UAD cards, I'm the guy who gave you guys a shitload of pdf recording books a couple of years back on the now gone UGS forum. You might be a different dude?

Regarding the FatheadIIs. I doubt anyone would be disappointed for the money. However, I'm keen to find out what a royer would be like and my pair of fattys took me up over £700 after duty etc and I've never had to use both them together. Therefore, a few hundred more and one Royer 121 might have been a more sensible purchase. What I will say, is that the fattys require a fair bit of gain. You would have to get very up close and personal with them to do a soft vocal. Nice none-the-less.

I don't use them for vox and never really got round to doing so due to having a u87 and SM7b which always seem to be spot on for vox. Before I bought my U87ai (new) I nearly bought one of the three old U87s which 'Sound City Studios' in California were selling. However, they were wanting the same price for early '70s U87s as what the new u87ai price is. Due to this, and despite getting someone in LA who I know and trust to check their authenticity out, I swerved them in favour of a new one. The old Sound Studio u87s would have undoubtedly been used on lots of great albums by the likes of Nirvana, Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac to name a few. I've always slightly regretted not getting one of them and guess what?....Dave Grohl is currently making a documentary about Sound City Studios which would have pushed their relsale value up. Just my fecking luck !!

Man, those recording pdfs were a total godsend, I don't think I properly thanked you! So, thank you! I just wish I still had them. They were all on my old computer which died a fiery death, and UGS is obviously no more... Mr Lizard himself is moving to Finland in a few months to open a mastering facility, it's funny how things change! I distinctly remember your isolation technique using the tennis balls too.

I'd be intrigued to hear the Fatheads. I reckon they'd probably sound pretty swell. The main disparity I've found between my CAD ribbon and the Royers is that the Royers have a much more pleasant off-axis response, so they sound better for applications like drum overheads. The CAD can make cymbals sound pretty trashy in that department, as is often (but not always) the case with inexpensive microphones. The Royers still need a hefty amount of gain, whereas the CAD requires less so (I guess that could be down to the dual element). The CAD sounds great on guitar cabs though!

I've never actually heard a U87, but they are typically the bee's baws aren't they? That's a bummer about the Sound City mics, but they probably smell pretty bad after 20 years of cumulative breath hitting the grill :) Swings and roundabouts...

I spend so much time chucking up dynamics on vocals because I record a lot of shouty stuff, and the SM7 or RE20 typically work well in the way. The SM7 even works well for quieter stuff, it's a proper workhorse!

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I thought it was you.

You're welcome by the way. I lost the pdfs on my last PC too which I'd started backing up. I was watching streamed episodes of the Walking Dead when the hosting website cause a critical error on my hard drive (Grrrrrr). I can't recall if I backed up the pdfs though. I'll have too look through the backup DVDs when I'm off work not next week but the week after. If I find them, I'll look into uploading them for you.

I sure miss the UGS as it was a bit more Dundee ish. I like this place too though. Perhaps a Dundee music is in order. I'm not convinced social networking sites (Facebook etc) are a one-stop-shop for music things. They're good but encourage too much filtering and cherry picking of want which can prevent exposure to new things. I still favour forums like this in addition to them. Places like this are much better for discussion.

Can't believe Mr Lizard's going to Finland. Good on him. I think opening a mastering facility is great idea, expecially given his wealth of experience. It'll be a blow for Dundee and surrounding area's bands who used to work with him though. Hopefully he'll get back to do 'some work'. Is he selling his UAD cards? ha ha ha - only kidding.

I would say that what you're describing with the CAD applies to the fattys. To anyone thinking about it, I'd say save up and get a Royer and be done with it as it would always bother you about what you're missing. That's why I got my U87 instead of a TLM 103, AT4050 or AKG C414. By the way, don't let anyone tell you that the pre-1986 U87's are better. I've tried both at the same time and although there are very slight differences, anyone who can't make one sound like the other is themselves the limiting factor. The newer ones are cleaner and have more headroom. The Sm7b is a staple. You just need to compare the wave forms in your DAW to any other dynamic such as a 57/58 and see. The audio is lush.

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Nah...I was in the process of building one but I don't have the time just now to commit to what may result from anyone wanting to work with me. I was working with a solo artist from Dundee for the last 3 months of 2011 and I found it hard to fit him in at various points as I have a fairly full on full time job and other stuff to contend with.

I'd love to open a place up some day but this may be 5-10 years down the line due to me still requiring lots of gear to do this. I don't know if I ever will though. It may not be economically viable in the current and envisaged future economic climate. As the future unfolds, I reckon we're gonna see lots of professional and semi-professionals working from well equipped home based studios (with adequate space). The market is about to bugger us all up like it did in the 1980s and I think bands may struggle to afford recording costs with studio owners struggling to make ends meet - unless they're really at the top of their game.

I was in a band in the late 1980s and we were all either unemployed or in crap jobs and I think young folks in general are headed this way again nowadays. Recording in a studio was a distant dream for us. Mind you, we drank a lot and recorded to 4 track tape at home. Mind you, we eventually did record something at the Seagate Studio in 1989 when they ran a modestly priced recording course in conjunction with Dundee City Council. That was a good experience and we learned heaps about engineering.

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