Ribbons and Off-Axis Response

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Using our imaginary line from the section above, a sound pressure wave arriving at the transducer at an angle greater than 0 degrees is said to be off-axis. Off-axis response is a tricky subject because there is no standard of measurement for the phenomenon, yet it comes into play every time you use a microphone. Sound engineers can only say that a microphone has "good" or "bad" off-axis response after hearing it in action. Whether in studio or on stage, sound pressure waves bombard your microphone from every angle: some from other instruments in the room; others from reflections off walls, ceilings, control room windows, and stage floors. Due to their natural figure-of-8 polar pattern, ribbons exhibit significantly better off-axis response than do condensers or dynamics. The big problem with poor off-axis response is that it produces sound that is very difficult to "fix." Imagine that all off-axis frequencies have been tweaked with the worse possible EQ: The only way to deal with these frequencies is to either move the mic or remove them with EQ. Both tactics present the sound engineer with their own set of problems. Because of their smooth, natural off-axis response, ribbons significantly reduce or even eliminate much of this frustration. The result is simply better overall sound and far fewer headaches.

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