In case you are on the lookout for vintage ribbon‑mic heat and smoothness at the tightest of budgets, this mic is also for you…
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Even though its casework appears similar to that of many aspect‑deal with capacitor microphones, the MXL R144 is a ribbon microphone, and even if it is one of the crucial least pricey ribbon mics lately to be had, it comes entire with a shockmount and cleansing material, in a realistic plastic garage case with a sculpted foam inside.
The R144’s passive design contains the ribbon tablet and an output transformer. The ribbon itself is product of aluminium, and is 47mm in period and just one.8 microns in thickness. The frequency‑reaction plot bears greater than a passing resemblance to the profile of the Malvern Hills as observed from the M5 toll road, however the helpful frequency vary extends from 20Hz to 17kHz, with huge peaks at round 300Hz and 6kHz. Few other people purchase ribbon mics for his or her sonic accuracy, however quite on account of their subjective tonality — and specifically their heat and skill to easy out prime‑finish element in sound assets that would possibly generally appear strident when miked with capacitor microphones.
Being an easy ribbon mic, the polar development is mounted at determine‑of‑8, and since ribbon mics don’t seem to be specifically delicate (on this case ‑56dB, the place 0dB=1V/Pa), until the sound supply is moderately loud, this mic is very best used with a good-quality mic preamp that is able to low‑noise operation.
The R144 can face up to SPLs in far more than 130dB, because of this that it must be tremendous to be used on electrical guitar amplifiers and as a drum overhead, and naturally it’s appropriate for voice, the place a mellifluous ribbon tonality is incessantly sought. Ribbon mics also are highly regarded to be used with bowed strings, as they may be able to tame a lot of the harshness that incessantly effects from shut‑miking those tools.
The R144’s glossy chrome basket contrasts with the bluish-purple paint end of its cylindrical frame, which measures 47 x 171 mm total and weighs 400g. The entrance, or in‑segment, aspect of the microphone is indicated by way of the MXL brand and the numeral 8 and, as with every determine‑of‑8 mics, there is virtually overall rejection of sounds coming from 90 levels off‑axis (in different phrases, the perimeters of the mic). Phantom energy isn’t required, and certainly isn’t beneficial, as many ribbon mics can maintain harm if plugged into or unplugged from a phantom-powered reference to the ability on. (Making use of phantom energy is on occasion unavoidable if it is switched globally on a table, but when the ribbon mic is hooked up by means of a correctly balanced cable, this should not be an issue, so long as the ability is off when the mic is plugged or unplugged.) MXL mics are produced by way of the similar corporate that markets Mogami cables, so it is no wonder that they counsel the use of the mic with a nice high quality XLR cable — and preferably one in all theirs!
The MXL shockmount grips the mic the use of a rubber‑coated spring sleeve, opened by means of a few twine levers. The suspension parts are the standard nylon‑coated elastic bands. Basically, ribbon mics are essentially the most fragile of all microphone varieties, so care will have to be taken to keep away from shedding or publicity to robust blasts of air. It is smart to make use of a pop protect with maximum ribbon mics, even if recording assets rather then vocals, and precautions must be taken to keep away from letting mud or, worse, iron filings, into the basket. Putting a plastic bag over the mic between periods and placing it away when now not in use is the most secure possibility. Injury to the ribbon isn’t coated by way of the guaranty, and there’s a rate for a alternative — however, to be honest, the entire mic prices lower than the ribbon alternative rate for many ribbon mics!
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Regardless of the prolonged prime‑finish reaction (a minimum of so far as standard ribbons are involved), my preliminary voice check showed the R144 to have the very standard syrupy best finish of a ribbon, which, even supposing it won’t swimsuit maximum lead vocalists (rather then the ones going for a planned ‘crooner’ or prohibition‑technology mild‑jazz vibe with out resorting to EQ), might be helpful to put backing vocals in the back of a lead vocal. Alternatively, the mic does reply neatly to EQ and I controlled to get it sounding very with regards to a Coles 4038, with which I when put next it, by way of boosting the highs and taming the lows. (Some low lower is incessantly wanted with ribbon mics, as their determine‑of‑8 development has essentially the most pronounced proximity bass-boost impact of the entire patterns.) Curiously, the R144 used to be somewhat much less delicate than the Coles mic, which itself is understood to have a moderately low sensitivity, so for vocal recording you want to have a mic amp that behaves neatly at with regards to its most acquire.
The R144’s tonality — which turns out virtually equivalent for the entrance and rear of the mic — is definitely‑suited for smoothing out the prime finish of bowed strings and the fizzy edge of a few guitar amps. My check with a guitar amp simply delivered very usable effects, particularly for taking pictures a fluid blues tone. With just a little of presence enhance and coffee lower, you are ready for raunchy rock or gritty steel, and regardless that the prime finish had a distinctly other color to that of the Coles (which is nominally flat as much as 17kHz), I quite appreciated it from a musical standpoint.
The Coles to start with trounced the MXL when recording hand percussion and acoustic guitar, the place it produced a nice illustration of the sound without a actual want to EQ, regardless that a bit cautious EQ tweaking of the R144 used to be once more in a position to get the sound a lot nearer to that of the Coles. The R144 wanted some low lower and a few boosting within the upper-mid vary to seize one thing with regards to the tonality of the tool as heard within the room.
Ribbon mics are undoubtedly now not your best choice for each sound supply, however upon getting one or two nice capacitor mics to handle regimen paintings, including a ribbon type on your assortment in reality expands your tonal palette. This type would possibly fall on the decrease finish of the cost scale, however it plays neatly on guitar amps, it’s best for sprucing the tough edges off bowed strings and it has some probably helpful vocal programs too. Supplied your mic amp is moderately quiet, the prolonged prime‑finish reaction of this mic signifies that the highest finish responds neatly to EQ, and that you are subsequently now not restricted to a creamy sound. On the value, the R144 in reality is one thing of a cut price, and it will be an ideal advent to the use of ribbon mics within the studio.