What is Ribbon Microphone and Why it got obscure

A Ribbon Microphone is a name you might not have heard before. In this blog we are going to tell you about Ribbon Microphone and why it got obsolete.

Ribbon Microphone

A Ribbon Microphone is the type of Microphone which uses a thin aluminium, duraluminium or nanofilm of electrically conductive ribbon which is placed between poles of a magnet to produce a voltage by electromagnetic induction.

This type of microphone catches sound from both sides really well thus you can speak into any side and be totally void of tension.

When were they invented?

In the early 1920s Dr Walter and Erwin Gerlach invented the first ever Ribbon Microphone. They also invented the first ever Ribbon Loudspeaker too.

After their invention they were the talk of the town and were used for Radio broadcasting and many other purposes.

How it works?

Ribbon Microphone

In a ribbon Microphone, a light metal ribbon is suspended between the poles of a permanent magnet. As the ribbon vibrates, a voltage in induced at right angles to both the ribbon velocity and magnetic field direction and is picked off by contacts that is at the end of the ribbon.

This might seem a bit difficult to read and understand but this picture will make it easier.


Ribbon Microphones are really similar to dynamic microphones but instead of having a moving coil there is a thin strip of metal suspended in a strong magnetic field.

Characteristics of a Ribbon Microphone

The main Characteristic of a Ribbon Microphone is the thickness of its Ribbon. The cable is 0.6 microns. To put up a comaprison for it, the Human hair is 100 microns long making it almost 50 times as thick as Ribbon Microphone.

Advantages of Ribbon Microphones

Ribbon Microphone

The biggest advantage of using Ribbon Microphone is really simple. It provides highly dynamic, fidelity sound. It records very accurately and has really clear highs and good lows. Noone can match the goodness of Ribbon Microphone.

The bi-directional polar patterns also makes them great at capturing recordings which have a very vibrant, natural feel and a great sense of spatial sound.


Now let's discuss about why the Ribbon Microphone which was very famous and used in the golden age of Radio got somewhat less in use!

Why it got obscure?

The reason why Ribbon Microphone have gotten less in use is because of creation of Dynamic Microphones. Ribbon Microphones have to be dealt with huge care because of the thin metal ribbon inside them while Dynamic Microphones had no such setback.

Also, Ribbon Microphones did not handle large amounts of energy as good as Dynamic Microphones did.

The most famous among Ribbon Microphone are the RCA44 and the RCA77.

Are they still in use?

Ribbon Microphones have properties which benefit instruments like guitars, horns and drums. If you want to what its benefits are, here it is.

Ribbon Microphones can smooth out the harsh sounds which are produced by these devices thus providing benefit to them.

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