Ribbon microphones are specialist pieces of recording equipment. They aren’t commonly found in modern studios, due to their fragile and expensive nature. They’re typically utilised for their ‘natural-sounding’ sonic characteristics. The Mesanovic ribbon microphones, however, use some custom internal electronics to extend their frequency response. Whilst this seems like a good idea, does it warrant the investment in a ribbon microphone rather than a slightly cheaper condenser?
Mesanovic Microphones are ‘handcrafted’ in Detroit, USA. They describe this new Model 2A as an active version of the Model 2, which they launched only a couple of years ago. Their concept is to bring ribbon microphone technology to the modern recording environment with ‘custom enhancements’. Inside the 2A is a newly designed transformer and phantom-powered electronics, which also act as an impedance buffer. This new configuration has increased the sensitivity by 13db’s, apparently without altering its sound.
Ribbon Microphone – Enhanced
I often use ribbon microphones for certain classical and jazz applications, as well as electric guitar cabinets. Ribbon microphones typically present a very natural sound, because it’s believed they replicate the human hearing closer than any other style of microphone. A side effect of this technology is often a roll-off in the ultra-high frequencies. Mesanovic, however, have decided to combat this by electronic means, altering the response of their microphones.
Here is the frequency response of the 2A ribbon microphone, which incidentally is the same as the original model 2:
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure this microphone sounds great and the example recording below is very clear. However, I can’t help but believe this detracts from the purpose of buying a ribbon microphone. The hyped high-end is certainly an American influence, which I don’t doubt sounds really detailed. I just don’t see the attraction over a more robust and potentially cheaper large diaphragm condenser. I would love the opportunity to test the 2A on a variety of sources, perhaps there are some other benefits that Mesanovic haven’t yet made clear.
Visit the Mesanovic Microphones channel for more information. Prices in the UK appear to be around 1,100 GBP, which is about 200 more than the standard Model 2. This seems about right, but now you’re not far off a Royer Labs, which is a very typical and well-respected ribbon mic.
Check out this YouTube video from the Mesanovic Microphones channel, introducing the 2A and how it’s made:
Here’s a video of Tim Callaghan recording with just the 2A and not using processing. (also on their channel)