As we know, most ribbon mics roll off from around 12 – 15kHz and can require a reasonable level of gain, which in turn can introduce noise. Ocean Way’s Director of New Technology, Cliff Henricksen, says he has found a way to combat both these traits with the RM1-B. The trick, it seems, is the use of high-intensity NeO-powered magnets in heavyweight enclosure. They also offer other benefits, too, apparently.
Ocean Way Audio RM1-B Ribbon Microphone
Ribbon microphones have always had a unique place in the hearts of engineers and producers. This is often because they have a very natural and smooth sound. Unfortunately there has always been a limit to this technology when it comes to bandwidth and noise. They are also quite delicate. However, Ocean Way believe they have found the way around these limits, claiming that the frequency response on this microphone extends up to 25kHz.
This has been achieved by using high-intensity NeO-powered magnets, which have been becoming more accessible. Besides the extended bandwidth, there are apparently some other benefits to using these magnets. The noise floor is said to be much lower and the tone is comparable to vintage Neumann valve or condenser mics. See Allen in the video below talking about silky ‘esses’.
Due to the strong magnetic forces, Henricksen built a rigid enclosure for the microphone with a built-in pop filter. Both the enclosure and the pop filter were designed to allow high-frequencies through to the ribbon with as little interference as possible. I really like the concept that this mic weighs quite a lot too, not just because it should look and feel ‘awesome’, but it’s likely to not have any resonance frequencies in the enclosure.
I love ribbon mics and really hope to see this new model do well, as it seems to answer the limits that ribbons typically face. I’d love to hear one and not only listen for the HF response, but how it sounds with a variety of sources. I suspect that this will be a highly versatile mic, but I can’t find a maximum SPL measurement. I’d be scared to place it in front of a guitar cab until knowing this value, for example.
For more information visit the RM1-B webpage on Ocean Way Audio’s site. As mentioned in the video below, prices are expected to be around 2,600 USD.
Here is a YouTube video from Sound On Sound’s channel, filmed at AES 2016. In this interview with Allen Sides, the owner of Ocean Way Studios, he explains the key points of the RM1-B.