Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Audio-Technica High Sensitivity AT 4080 Ribbon Mic

Two Audio-Technica AT4080 in Blumlein
Ribbon microphones have been in service since the 1930s. RCA mics like the 44B and 77DX are now considered vintage. You can spend $1200 to $1500 or more for one. The trick is finding one in good shape because the original ribbons are relatively delicate. Not because of age. That’s just the way they were originally designed. Or, you can try a new Audio-Technica AT 4080 bi-directional (figure of eight), dual ribbon mic that streets for about $999. Seven years in the making, it boasts a 150dB SPL level and the sensitivity of a studio condenser.

Why bother with a ribbon? Well, for one thing, it sounds fundamentally different than dynamic or condenser mics. That’s why recording engineers have continued to use ribbon mics all along. Ribbon mics use a different principle of physics to capture sound than dynamic and condenser mics. Ribbons are rectangular strips of metal, usually aluminum, in a magnetic field.