Magazine article Guitar Player

Apex210

Magazine article Guitar Player

Apex210

Article excerpt

Imported condenser microphones have been declining so precipitously in cost that soon manufacturers will be giving them away, but a ribbon microphone with a street price of less than $250 is big news. Even relatively economical ribbon mics such as the Beyerdynamic M 160 and the AEA R92 street for about $600 and $800, respectively, and most ribbons go for a grand or two (or even three).

Ribbon microphones were staples in recording and broadcast studios between the '30s and '50s, before the bulkiness (typically due to the size of the magnet and ribbon required to produce an adequate amount of output) and relative fragility (explosive input signals such as coughing and blowing could shred the ribbon to pieces) of early models caused them to be replaced by dynamic and condenser mics. Despite the hassles, vintage ribbons such as the RCA 77A and 44B/BX are worshipped by many engineers because of their naturalness and warmth--qualities that make them especially suitable for digital recording.

The Apex210 ($329 retail/S229 street) is Canada-based Apex's first foray into the world of ribbon mics, and, after using it for a couple of weeks, I'd say they're off to a good start. The Apex210 sports a vintage look and feel--right down to its built-in standmount and non-detachable cable--and it appears to be sturdily constructed. The mic also cops a lot of classic ribbon vibe sound-wise, exhibiting a very smooth and natural response. The high frequencies are somewhat muted, which is partially due to the nature of ribbon mics in general, although some manufacturers have devised technologies that compensate for this, and I suspect that's part of what you don't get for the modest cost of the Apex210.

I used the Apex210 on several sessions. On instruments that produce limited high frequencies--such as a vintage Martin ukulele, an African kalimba, and large hand drums--the microphone captured the performances in great detail, and the recordings sounded full and rich. …

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