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The ribbon microphone - a superior type of dynamic?

Description and application of the ribbon microphone.


There is a variation of the dynamic mic known as the ribbon microphone.

In place of the diaphragm and coil there is a thin corrugated metal ribbon. The ribbon is located in the field of a magnet. When the ribbon vibrates in response to sound it acts both as diaphragm and coil, albeit a coil with only one turn.

Since the ribbon is very light, it has a much clearer sound than the conventional dynamic, and it is reasonable to say that many engineers could identify the sound of a ribbon mic without hesitation.

If the ribbon has a problem, it is that the output of the single-turn 'coil' is very low. The ribbon does however also have a low impedance and provides a current which the integral transformer can step up so that the voltage output of a modern ribbon mic can be comparable with a conventional dynamic.

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Examples of ribbon mics are the AEA R84, Coles 4038 and Beyerdynamic M130.

By David Mellor Saturday May 3, 2003

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