Coles Electroacoustics has been developing microphones for more than 30 years. While their first mics were broadcast models, they later branched out into ribbon mics for recording vocals. While the 4038 has been their most recognized studio model for several years, their new 4050 model is poised to take over as their main mic.
The 4050 is actually a matched pair of mics mounted on a very versatile magnetic mount. Each of these mics is a 4x2 inch cylinder that can be completely detached from the magnetic center ring mount. Thanks to the stereo/dual mono mounting system, you can use the capsules individually if you have a second mount, or combine them and use the double capsule setup. Coles actually offers a second mount if you want to use the two capsules separately. Coles even offers a combo package that comes with two mounts. The 4050s have a hotter output than a lot of passive ribbon mics, but they need a clean preamp with a lot of gain to sound outstanding. Read more
Blue Microphones makes a number of good, solid active ribbon mics that are very colorful. You won’t find boring, black mics with standard names here. The Woodpecker, for example, appears to be made of paneled wood. It’s Blue’s first active ribbon mic, but just because they haven’t made one before doesn’t mean it’s full of first edition problems. This mic is high quality and quite useful. It’s features a figure eight pattern and comes with a solid brass shockmount. The mic weighs 1.6 pounds, so it’s pretty light, and it’s also sturdy enough to take a bit of a beating.
The Woodpecker is capable of recording a very even tone, and especially well suited for acoustic guitars. While a ribbon mic generally doesn’t have the best high end recording, the Woodpecker is more open at the higher end than you’d expect. Used with male vocals, the mic really doesn’t need much preamp gain at all to capture a really clear tone. In fact, it beats out larger, dynamic mics in some cases. It can provide more low end, a lower midrange, and more when used during live recording sessions.
Blue Microphones might have never made an active ribbon before, but you’d be hard to tell it from the high quality of the Woodpecker. It renders everything with a clear tone and personality, and there’s no impedance mismatches to deal with. It works well with low and high end preamps, and the output is amazing. You get all of this for $1,299, a great price for a great mic.