DIY Ribbon Mics Hit the Front Page of WIRED January 12, 2011 22:01 1 Comment

Today the San Francisco-based technology magazine WIRED posted a photo essay about ribbon microphones and the people who love and make them. The writer, Matthew Shechmeister, covers the progression from revered vintage rarities such as the RCA 44 and Coles 4038 ribbons, to the influx of Chinese-made cheapies, to the DIY scene which (as we all know) combines quality components with a lower price tag.

In the DIY world, Shechmeister covers Rick Wilkinson who sells kits and instructions for his DIY Austin ribbon mic. The Austin ribbon kit receives some very kind words from Michael Joly of OktavaMod, who claims that a mic built from Wilkinson's plans could go up against his own Apex 205 mod, which he in turn compares to the Coles 4038.

Not everyone holds their peace, however, at the supposed union of thrift and quality provided by modded and DIY mics. John Vanderslice, producer of many awesome records, has this to say: ""There’s no bargains in audio. You have to bleed to get a good microphone. It’s going to be expensive."

While I agree with Vanderslice up to a point (how many "bargain" pieces of gear end up costing us dearly through down time and premature repairs?), I've used modded and DIY mics myself that outperform competitors far out of their price range. I suppose, however, that the time spent modding or building could count as "bleeding"--in which case I would have to agree that one doesn't get a great mic without spilling some blood. But that's the beauty of DIY: the time spent on a project isn't a cost, it's part of the reward.

You can read the full article on WIRED's websiteCongrats to everyone from the DIY and recording communities who were featured!