Sunday, July 16, 2006

The end of the aluminum ribbon?

It's not quite time to do away with aluminum as the moving element for good quality ribbon microphones. Or is it? Aluminum has been the traditional material used in virtually all ribbon mics since the beginning. It has good conductivity, is relatively low in mass, and can be formed into thin sheets, which is essential. Nearly all ribbon mics made today use aluminum leaf about 1/2 to 2 1/2 microns in thickness.

But aluminum isn't an ideal material. Its mass is still considerable, and that contributes to inertia in the ribbon assembly. Although it has good tensile strength, it tends to bend easily and lacks an ability to return to its desired shape after being deformed by pressure, wind blasts, and other forces.

With Roswellite fast becoming the ribbon of choice, I think the writing is on the wall.


Sunflute's Blog said...

Thank you Bob for such informative and educational Blogg.

Bob Crowley said...


Glad you enjoy it. Tell others, and please send pictures of you and gear, and I will post it.

Anonymous said...

Aluminum is toast. You killed it.

K G said...

11 years later, aluminum still rules. Rowellite? Well,it's day never came. Too bad, so sad.

Bob Crowley said...

Today, Shure Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of microphones, manufactures KSM series ribbon mics exclusively with Roswellite. Shure's large global distribution dwarfs competing brands well beyond the tiny confines of the gearslutz/tapeop/AES universe. While sales figures are confidential, the establishment of the use of patented acoustic nanofilm in microphones and medical devices is a firm one. Smaller makers and minor brands do continue to use aluminum foil out of necessity and can be anticipated to enjoy the manufacturing ease and the additional 20-40 dB of dynamic range once the patents run out and the techniques are obtained through further investment.