RIBBON MICS ARE SOMETIMES USED with, or as an alternative to, the classic Shure SM57 when miking guitar speakers. Unfortunately for home recorders, ribbons usually cost ten times the price of a 57. Priced only slightly higher than the Shure, the Cascade Fat Head BE ($129 street) changes all that. It houses a hand-tuned ribbon element incorporating a classic symmetrical design that offers a true figure-8 pattern. The corrugated aluminum membrane is center-mounted to produce a balanced input signal on both sides of the ribbon. I first tested the Cascade at a recording session, where the engineer miked my amp with a 57 and the Fat Head. The ribbon mic was plugged straight into an interface, with no additional preamps. The result was some of the fattest, warmest recorded guitar tone I have ever heard. Even at home, with a significantly cheaper interface, the Fat Head delivered previously unheard low end and nuance. Not just for guitar, the final test was as an ambient mic at a drummer friend’s studio, putting it up against a ribbon mic costing ten times as much. What little difference there was we found preferable. You can order upgrades and special preamps from Cascade but all these tests were conducted with the bare essentials (hence BE). For making great recorded sound available to guitarists of limited means, the Cascade Fat Head BE rates an Editors’ Pick.
KUDOS Rich, warm, full sound. Insanely low price for a ribbon mic.