Last week we posted a Production Expert Listening Shootout to find out if the community could hear the difference between condenser and ribbon microphones. For the test, we used two "SE X" microphones from SE Electronics entry-level range, the SE X1S condenser and SE XR ribbon.
We placed the capsules as close as possible to capture a variety of example across a range of live instruments and the results of each recording were pretty obvious.
Visit the original article Test - Can You Hear The Differences Between Condenser And Ribbon Microphones? to hear these examples again.
The voting results are in and they are not that surprising. We combined all the results from the six listening tests and the numbers show that 79% of users who took part in the shootout can clearly hear the differences between condenser and ribbon microphones.
- Condenser Microphone: Acoustic guitar example B
- Condenser Microphone: Electric guitar clean example A
- Condenser Microphone: Electric guitar distorted example A
- Condenser Microphone: Piano example A
- Condenser Microphone: Drums example B
- Condenser Microphone: Lead vocal example A
Generally speaking, condenser microphones capture detailed bright open tones whereas ribbons sound less detailed with thicker lower ends. Both play to very different strengths in tracking stages.
If you took part in the shootout and identified the correct microphone in each example then why not listen to the clips again, but this time judge the examples with taste in mind instead of trying to answer the question in the title of the shootout.
Listen to the examples and ask yourself which microphone type you prefer on each of the examples. There are no right or wrong answers when it comes down to taste.
From listening to the examples I personally prefer the ribbon on the drum overhead, acoustic guitar and vocal examples. The condenser, to my ears, sounded better on everything else. That said though, it depends how these would sound in the context of a mix or tracking session... my preference may just change depending on what sounds good for the song or part.
If you would like to hear these audio clips in the comfort of your own DAW then download the audio examples here.