In this microphone shootout, we’ve focused on four of our favorite and most commonly used ribbon microphones. The Shure KSM 313, the Royer R121, the Coles 4038, and the AEA R84. A reminder, these microphones are eligible for our free Try Before You Buy, demo program. Contact us for more information on how to experience one of these great ribbon microphones for yourself.

In our studio, the sound source we’ll be using is one of the most common recording applications for ribbon mics, an electric guitar amp. Using this Suhr Badger 30 Head and matching 1×12 cabinet we’ll be using both clean and overdriven guitar tones to compare these four microphones. With these shootouts, the placement of the microphones is absolutely key to maintain consistency and minimize as many variables as much as possible. We can then focus on the individual sound of these microphones.

This setup is a little different from what we’re used to on the speaker cabinet. What we decided to do is divide the speaker into four sections and place one microphone in each quadrant all equidistant from the center of the cone. Utilizing this mic arrangement, we know that the sound arriving at all the microphones is going to be identical, or at least as close as possible for this comparison. Additionally we’ve got the speaker cabinet in the center of the room, and as far away from the walls as possible. Especially since we’re working with all figure 8 microphones, we want to minimize the amount of potential wall reflections that’s going to be picked up by the rear lobes, which eliminates as many variables as possible.

We have the microphones placed just about 6 inches off the speaker cabinet, that way it’s a more neutral position, and the mics won’t be as heavily affected by proximity effect. In the control room, we will level match these microphones and compare them to make sure that all of the microphone levels are identical, which is incredibly important for these kinds of shootouts. Then we’ll check out the level matched ribbon mic samples to determine which tone suits our ears or musical taste.

Shure KSM313/NE Dual-Voice Ribbon Mic with Roswellite Ribbon

As is the case with all of our shootouts, this one shows that there really is no answer to that question. Instead, we have four fantastic sounding ribbon mics each with their own unique vibe to them. The real question then is, which vibe is best for you. 

If you need some help with figuring out what mic would best suit you, or want to set up a demo period to hear one of these mics first hand, give us a call at 919-682-5552.

If you’d like the results of the shootout and full length hi-res audio clips, or just want to talk more about gear or plan your next studio upgrade, feel free to shoot us a quick email at or give us a call.

Additional Gear Used in This Demo

Royer Labs R-121 Ribbon Microphone Matched Pair 

Coles 4038 Factory Matched Pair Ribbon Microphones

AEA R84 Stereo Matched Pair of Microphones