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Is MXL R80 Ribbon Microphone Still Worth?

In this MXL R80 Ribbon Microphone review, we’ll look into the specs of this retro type mic and see how well it can perform. MXL R80 is a mid-range Ribbon Microphone equipped with an aluminum ribbon transducer. It is a very good option if you are on budget and looking for recording instruments like Guitar and Horns.

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B0125D2MAK&Format= SL400 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=specwatchers01 20&language=en USMXL R80 Ribbon Microphone

Ribbon mics were used to be very pricey and delicate, but with the modern technology, manufacturers are able to produce affordable microphones like this one.

The pickup patter of MXL R80 is bidirectional figure-8, that means it can capture sounds from front and back sides of the microphone. The sensitivity of the front and back sides of the microphone is equal.

File:Bidirectionalpattern.svg
Bidirectional Figure-8 Polar Pattern – source: Wikipedia

The bidirectional setup in MXL R80 Ribbon Microphone rejects sounds originating from 90° off-axis. That means it cancels all the unnecessary ambient sounds coming from both sides of the microphone.

One word of advice from MXL, which you might already be knowing, is that pair your MXL R80 with an adequate preamp with low noise and high gain with a minimum input impedance of 1500 ohms. This will truly bring out the best in this microphone. Though its onboard preamps does a decent job, this microphone sounds the best when you pair it with a preamp. This is not just a case with this particular microphone, any Ribbon Microphone you take they need some preamp to get best out of them.

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Also, make sure that you are using a good microphone cable because it can have a serious effect on the sounds that you record. Make sure that whatever cable you use it doesn’t allow noise to enter, which can actually cause distortion and sometimes loss of information too.

Ribbon mics do not need phantom power, and they are famous for getting blown-off if you do that. So know that your MXL R80 doesn’t require phantom power for it to work. Plugging in phantom power may severely damage the ribbon element of your device and eventually the device can become unusable.

Since Ribbon microphones use very thin aluminum material, they are very fragile and MXL warns us to use it with care. It recommends us to save it from giving vibrations and shocks droppings as that may cause transducer failures. Also, if you are taking it out for outdoor recordings, always make sure to use a good pop-filter (doesn’t come with package) to prevent exposure to the large bursts of air which can stretch or tear the delicate ribbon elements.

MXL R80 competes with condenser microphones in recording high frequency details. Though it is best suited for recording instruments like Guitar and Horns, many vocal artists also found it helpful in recording vocals too.

Contents of the Box

Expect little searching your box, as you would get very basic things along with the package. It is surprising that we do not get a pop-filter which it recommends using always. However, you can get it from Amazon. Following are the only items that are included within the package.

  • MXL R80 Ribbon Microphone – the main device
  • Adapter to mount the mic to stand
  • A cleaning cloth to keep your device clean
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MXL R80 Ribbon Microphone Specs

SpecificationDetails
TypeRibbon Velocity Microphone
Ribbon Element1.8 micron aluminum ribbon
Ribbon Length36mm
Frequency Response20Hz – 20kHz
Polar PatternFigure-8
Impedance250
Sensitivity-54 dB (0 dB=1V/Pa)
Rated Load Impedance>1500 Ohms
Max SPL for 0.1% THD>130 dB @1 kHz
Size47mm x 192mm (1.85″ x 7.56″)
Weight320 grams (0.71 lbs)
PriceCheck on Amazon

Understanding the Key Specs

MXL R80 has a very thin Ribbon Element of size 1.8 microns with a length of 36mm. The frequency response of this device is within the range of human hearing that is from 20Hz – 20kHz (as per Amazon product details page, but user manual says 20Hz – 17kHz). The Polar patter is figure-8 (see above image) which helps in rejecting the audio originating from both sides 90° off-axis.

With the output impedance at 250 ohms, you can have long running cables without any sound degradation. The load impedance value 1500 Ohms or higher is good, given that your output impedance is at 250.

The sensitivity of this mic is -54 dB, which is a little lower side of the scale for a typical dynamic microphone. The Max SPL value indicates that MXL R80 Ribbon Microphone can record the sounds that are 130 dB or higher without distortion, which is not bad in this price segment.

Pros

  • Cancel out a lot of noise with its bidirectional figure-8 pickup pattern
  • It is one of the best affordable microphone and gives you value for the money you spent
  • Doesn’t require Phantom Power
  • Best for Guitar and Horns, however, artists have loved using it for vocals too
  • Can handle high frequency recordings
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Cons

  • Very fragile, not for those who prefer rough and tough
  • No pop-filter in the box
  • Lower side of the sensitivity

Conclusion

With no doubt, MXL R80 Ribbon Microphone is a good bang for the buck you spend. It is affordable and at the same time high performing microphone making it worth to buy. The sensitivity and Max SPL values may not entice you, but suffice for general use.

Accessories for MXL R80 Ribbon Microphone

Below are some compatible accessories that you might need along with MXL-R80.

Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 Mic Activator
Knox Microphone Shock Mount and Detachable Pop Filter
TRITON AUDIO FetHead Filter In-Line Microphone Preamp
Mogami Gold STUDIO-02 XLR Microphone Cable

References

Ribbon Microphone – Wikipedia

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