Condenser and ribbon microphones have very different tonalities and characteristics because their designs couldn't be more different. Both these types of microphones have very different strengths that are great to take advantage of when it comes to tracking instruments and vocals in the studio, so it's good to have one of each in your microphone collection.
This post does not go into technical differences between ribbon and condenser microphones as that would be a boring article to write... and read. instead, we've produced a shootout between both ribbon and condenser microphones that on the face of it look the same, are both from the same microphone brand and are similarly priced: The SE Electronics SE X1 R ribbon and SE X1 S condenser.
Both these microphones are what we consider to be affordable, so we thought it would be best to stick with the affordability theme and not use a high-end interface but instead use a low cost audio interface, the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 second gen.
You will see from the pictures above each blind listening test how each example was recorded. Each A & B example are the same performance. Both microphones recording at the same time. There were, inevitably, some level differences between the two microphones, in the interest of fairness we normalised the recorded audio clips so that your ears can make informed decisions without any irritating level differences between A and B examples.
We have produced six listening test using instruments typically used in band lineups. The examples are embedded below for you to listen to but if you would like to hear these examples in the comfort of your own DAW, and at a higher sample rate of 88.2kHz, then you can download the audio examples here.
So, can you hear the difference between condenser and ribbon microphones?
Electric Guitar Cab - Distorted
Electric Guitar Clean
Mono Drum Overhead
Did you find that easy? Were there any that you found hard? Keep your eyes on Production Expert for the results of this test next week.