Of course, the best way to know how it sounds is to compare it to a known microphone... in this case, my constantly-in-use Audio Technica 2050 Switchable Patterned Condenser.
For the test, I recorded both the Austin Model 1 Ribbon and the AT2050 Condenser simultaneously, with the mics positioned side by side, as close as possible. I made sure to switch the AT2050 from my normal cardiod pattern to the figure 8 setting, in effort to more closely mimic the physics of the Ribbon mic (which picks up sound from the front and rear). I then positioned my pop filter evenly between the two. It looked something like this:
|L: Austin Model 1 Ribbon Microphone|
R: Audio Technica AT2050
As I do not have a treated studio room (or a vocal booth), and my go-to reflection filter or Kaotica Eyeball will fit on only one mic stand at a time, I decided to embrace the natural ambiance of my house, which I've never tried before. I will be doing so again.
The samples below are clearly noted as being recorded in either my front room (Cathedral Ceilings) or in my downstairs bathroom (Untreated Small Room). I was surprised at how manageable and even-toned the bathroom sounded. Don't knock 'til you've tried it, I guess.
I was planning to just use my normal recording space, but the neighbors were having some landscaping done, and there were power saws.... So, I tried the bathroom. You may hear the landscaping crew in the background of the Cathedral Ceilings recordings. These are not pristine, but they do show the differences quite well.
It was not at all surprising to find that the ribbon (fitted with a .8 micron ribbon) was a little quieter overall, or that the tone it delivers is a bit more rounded, more full in the low-mid range, a little muted, and sensitive to sibilance and popping. I expected all of those things. In contrast, the AT2050 is a more sensitive to higher frequencies, and has a tendency to feel a little brittle or "tinny" on the high end.
The condenser is also "louder" and it took some time to get the levels nicely balanced between the two mics for the purposes of this comparison. In truth, I had the ribbon cranked to 10 on my audio interface... I think I'll be looking for a Cloudlifter at some point, but it's not at all a deal-breaker.
However, I am quite pleased with the effect, and will find many uses for it. It has a nice, warm tone, and it is reminiscent of vintage technology (which of course, it is).
The following samples are dry, have no fx, no eq, no leveling and no compression. They were sung a cappella and without the benefit of backing tracks.
I would love to know what you think! Please leave comments below!