Ribbon microphones have many advantages over conventional dynamic and condenser microphones. Some of these advantages include their unique sonic characteristics, bidirectional polar pattern and unique way of capturing sound through the microphone's ribbon diaphragm. These combined attributes mean ribbon microphones are often preferred over dynamic and condenser microphones for a variety of recording applications.
Ribbon microphones are preferred for many applications because of their sonic characteristics. They offer a warm and musical sound dynamic that condenser microphones cannot duplicate. This sound comes from the microphone's flat frequency response and rolled off high end (which keeps the microphone from sounding overly bright by de-emphasising the higher frequencies of the audio spectrum). These unique sonic characteristics provide an advantage over other microphones when you want a smooth, warm and natural sound.
A ribbon microphone’s unique sonic characteristics are also influenced by the fact that the microphone’s polar pattern is bidirectional--which means it picks up sound from both the front and the back of the microphone. This gives it an advantage over other microphones, because it delivers a very natural sound when capturing instruments and vocals. This bidirectional pickup pattern also lends itself to mid side and Blumlein recording techniques, which both require bidirectional microphones.
The ribbon diaphragm of a ribbon microphone gives it a distinct advantage over other microphones. The ribbon diaphragm captures sound differently than other microphones on the market. It has a fast response to transients (sudden increases in sound, such as the initial hit of a snare drum or crash of a cymbal) and a wide dynamic range when capturing sounds. As a result, ribbon microphones are often preferred for capturing strings, brass and percussion.