Ribbon Mic recording [CLOSED]

Audacity Version: 2.3.0
OS: Windows 10.0.17134
Computer: Dell Inspiron 15-5547

Hi Audacity Staff,

I just bought a copy of the plans for the Austin DIY Ribbon Mic and want to use it in Audacity. Being a ribbon mic, it requires a high gain, and the preamplifier designed to be compatible with it has an input impedance of 33k Ohms. Is there a usb soundcard that can work temporarily in place of the original preamp, as the original costs $250 dollars and I don’t have that kind of money to throw around? I’m trying to record professional voiceovers and this was an inexpensive option.

Is there a usb soundcard that can work

No. I’m fairly confident in saying that. Most home USB interfaces have a hard time making a regular microphone pass audiobook and podcast standards.

Austin DIY Ribbon Mic

Without digging for the Google works, what did you use for the killer magnet and massive transformer? Even better how did you make the ribbon? You know the commercial ones are corrugated, right? They’re not flat.

You need to know this right at the top. You can turn a ribbon microphone into expensive garbage by blowing into it. You also can’t apply phantom power to most ribbon designs. If you do, you could launch the ribbon to somewhere over near the garage.

But ribbons do have “restrained volume.” I never had any problem with a “real” sound mixer. They usually have multiple places to set volume and you can keep cranking up until you hit good volume. That sometimes sacrifices production mixing with other microphones…

That will give you the standard 1600 ohm input, though, to match 150 ohm microphones.

the preamplifier designed to be compatible with it has an input impedance of 33k Ohms.

Maybe that’s how they got around the expensive transformer. They’re making you do it all. But I don’t think that’s quite how it works. The output impedance of a ribbon is a small fraction of an ohm. The object of the transformer is to build it up to run a sound mixer. So it’s input would be .03 ohms and the output is 33K.

The whole bottom of that thing behind the RCA meatball is transformer. That’s why you can hurt yourself picking one up.

But maybe more important, Ribbons don’t have that “Professional Crispness” that condensers have. This can be important when most work is coming out of the customer’s Tiny Device and not a Wall Entertainment System.

Thery’re also bi-directional Unless you mess with one, they have a figure of 8 response pattern. Do you have a studio or something that will pass for one? They won’t run in the average apartment.

Koz

So there is a transformer in there and it claims an 150 ohm output impedance. So it will work with a straight sound mixer. I’d probably start there. My Peavey PV6 was about $100. I don’t think they make that one any more.

Behringer makes some very respectable kit, and you may be able to get a USB version.

Koz

This should work.

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Q1202USB--behringer-xenyx-q1202usb-mixer-with-usb

You are warned their smaller mixers don’t have 48 volt standard Phantom Power and I think one of them you can’t turn it off.

Don’t let all those knobs scare you. Most of the mixer is duplicate controls you can ignore, and most of the rest of it you put at neutral position or off.

Koz

The Samson G-Track is a respectable USB microphone. One of the other worker-bees brought theirs in so I could take this picture.

It has zero latency monitoring so you can listen to yourself in real time (and do musical overdubbing if that’s your thing).

I told him if he wasn’t watching it any too close I was going to take it home with me.

Koz

He sings for the Earth At Night band. They’re putting out CDs with this thing.

Koz

The stand-alone USB interfaces only have one control and the total gain is rarely more than 40dB. This does you no good when your microphone signal is in the -70dB range.

I have a Behringer UM2 and it’s “adequate” for regular microphones but I still have to do some processing to get voice work up to scratch. There’s their UMC22 and the Focusrite Scarlett Solo, all native mono (single microphone) interfaces. All do an OK job.

Koz

I just bought a copy of the plans for the Austin DIY Ribbon Mic and want to use it in Audacity…

…I’m trying to record professional voiceovers and this was an inexpensive option.

That seems like a really bad idea to me. It might turn-out OK but microphone construction is an art. The odds are it’s not going to sound great. And like you say, ribbons have low output. And when you boost the gain of a preamp you boost the preamp noise which can damage your signal-to-noise ratio, so they need good low-noise high-gain preamps. There are special preamps made for ribbon mics or Cloud makes the Cloudlifter which is like a pre-preamp, but that’s an extra box and an extra expense.

And like Koz says they are bidirectional… They pick-up your voice from the front, along with room noise and “room sound”. The back side just picks-up room noise and room sound which gets mixed-into the recording. A normal cardioid (directional) mic picks-up minimal noise from the back.

Ribbons are also famous for rolled-off highs. In some special situations the “ribbon sound” can be desirable, especially if you want a vintage sound, but it’s not good for voice over or audio book recording. This particular mic may be different… It may not have the traditional ribbon sound… I don’t know anything about it.

Please refer to the Austin Ribbon Mic FAQ (FAQs - Austin Microphones)

Do I need a special microphone preamp? Can you recommend one?

A normal microphone preamp should suffice for most applications. For recording quiet things, you’ll need more gain, so a dedicated low-noise, high-impedance Ribbon Mic Preamp is be best.
Check out my Austin Mic Pre (AMP) Kit. An ultra-low-noise, high gain microphone preamplifier kit designed exclusively for Ribbon Microphones.

and

What do you recommend for a good ribbon microphone preamp?

Naturally, I recommend my Austin Mic Pre (AMP) Kit. An ultra-low-noise, high gain microphone preamplifier kit designed exclusively for Ribbon Microphones. However, any low-noise, high-gain, high-impedance preamplifier designed for ribbon mics - like the Grace M101, AEA TRP, or True P-Solo Ribbon - will help your Austin mic sound its best.

Also, a quick Google search brought up:

If you have questions about Audacity, please start a new topic.
I’ll close this topic as it is answered fully by the manufacturer in the above link.