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SM 57 vs. high-quality ribbon mic for recording...yer thoughts?

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by RoscoeElegante, Feb 28, 2020.

  1. Biffasmum

    Biffasmum Tele-Meister

    May 12, 2019
    Honestly, a good quality ribbon can set you back and not give a great result. Dynamic mics work well on amps and cabs. Shure SM57/58 work well. Try using condenser mics with pads applied to pick up overtones that’s neither dynamics or ribbons handle well. For acoustic it’s condensers all the way.
    RoscoeElegante likes this.
  2. Martin R

    Martin R Friend of Leo's

    Jun 26, 2008
    I don't want to hijack the thread but since there are a lot of other folks using ribbons watching this...Anybody using a Cascade Fat Head?
    RoscoeElegante likes this.
  3. Jakeboy

    Jakeboy Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 26, 2008
    Sedalia, MO
    I use both and think you should get both. I like a 57 or Audix i5 or Senn 906 right on cab and back a foot or two place a Cascade Fathead 2 ribbon with Lundahl xfrmr. FH is darker and softer than the 57 dynamic types but they combine very well. I also use a Cascade VinJet long ribbon which is more Royer like and brighter too. I like using the ribbons on everything. But a dynamic on the grill can get you a great recording all by itself. I like variety.
    The FH2 is MY guitar sound for recording.
    RoscoeElegante likes this.
  4. Steve 78

    Steve 78 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Oct 27, 2015
    Melbourne, Austraila
    I recently bought a Cascade Fathead (the cheap version that doesn't come with a case, shockmount, etc.). I haven't used it much but I am a little disappointed. The main issue is it seems to require a lot more pre-amp gain than my 57 so ends up capturing a lot of room noise.

    Having said that, I really prefer the sound of it on a guitar amp compared to a 57, which I find a bit harsh sounding. The ribbon is missing a bit of top end clarity so I think combining both (or with another dynamic, Sennheisser e606 perhaps) would get the best of both worlds. I haven't tried this yet though.

    (edit to add - given that there are a lot of good reviews of the Fathead around, I'm a little concerned it was damaged in transport - it was just packed in a cardboard box).
    Martin R and RoscoeElegante like this.
  5. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

    May 11, 2007
    Ribbons tend to require more gain and most are also figure 8. So, they will tend to capture more room. They also tend to roll off on the highs earlier than most dynamics even. The good news is they tend to take eq really well, so a quick twist of a 10 or 12 kHz shelf should bring back the high end without sounding harsh.
    Let us know how it goes.
  6. cobaltu

    cobaltu Tele-Meister

    Feb 19, 2010
    New York, NY
    Actually, that is a common misconception! Ribbons actually have better transient response (quicker/accurate attack) and more treble extension than dynamics do - though their attack is usually a little more diffused than a punchy dynamic. The reason they sound duller is they have WAAAAY more bass extension and proximity effect (the artificial bass boost you get as a directional mic gets closer to a source). Ribbons are almost universally bi-directional which has the most proximity effect. Ribbons usually sound better/balanced at least 4 or more inches off the grill.

    Added to this the SM57 is a pretty gutless mic, and has a very boosted low treble region ~6KHz. Ribbons - by contrast - usually have a pretty flat response until ~5KHz (ignoring the proximity effect). It is true that ribbons don't have the boosted treble and mids of many dynamics; however, many dynamics do this to offset how dull they would sound without the upper frequency boost.

    The point is: There is much more to the sound of mic than just their EQ. Texture and transient response are also very important to how mics/pre-amps sound.
    Jakeboy, Euphonica and RoscoeElegante like this.
  7. ScottTunes

    ScottTunes TDPRI Member

    Mar 14, 2014
    Newbury Park
    SDC for acoustic guitar, cheap dynamic for electric guitar (especially for rock/blues). Ribbons are fine for vocals, IMO, and jazz guitar. But, I'm not a ribbon fan - expensive or not.
    RoscoeElegante likes this.
  8. Chipss36

    Chipss36 Tele-Meister

    Feb 20, 2020
    An sm57 and a fathead ribbon work well together for me on guitar cabs.
    The fathead is a good cheep short ribbon.
    And has many upgrade paths for the transformer to extend the high end.

    acoustic I use a scm km184 and a lcm that uses a km84 mic amp and a beezknees m7 lcm capsule, works well with my acoustics and a classical.
    Sometimes the ribbon fat head works as well, depends on what I am after...
    And on any given day none of this may work...if I am tracking I just Bring out all my mics and get cracking till something clicks.
    Mic placement is king...
    And pretty much no set in stone way of doing it, other than start a 57 at the seam of the dust cap, close and work from that point..
    Or km184 offset from but pointed at the 12th fret ..
    Jakeboy, Martin R and RoscoeElegante like this.
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