This unidirectional ribbon mic has been the secret pride of the Fostex pro audio arsenal for quite some time. While at the NAMM show in January I asked if it would be possible to review one of their M-11 mics, and my wish was granted. I immediately placed the mic in front of a guitar cabinet and was pleased with the full, present tone. I proceeded to use it on guitar amps for many sessions, almost always being pleased with the sound I received. During one session with a female vocalist, I pulled it out on a lark and she ended up loving the breathy, smokey mids that the mic brought out in her voice. We used the mic on nearly half the vocals on the album, the other half using a Soundelux Elux 251, and the contrast between the different mics was very pronounced. The ribbon provided a close, intimate sound with a pointed midrange - the 251 was completely different with bright and open sounds. The cool thing was that both worked for different songs. Later I put the M-11 up against a Royer R-121 ribbon mic to see how they differed. On electric guitar the R- 121 had a deeper low end response than the M-11, and the Fostex also had a more pronounced, nasally EQ peak in the mid frequencies. This peak helped bring out certain pushy mid sounds on some guitar amps - whether you find those sounds pleasing is up to you but most of the time I did. On vocals the R-121 felt quite a bit boomier in the bottom end, whereas the M-11's mid- boost helped make the vocal sound clearer. All in all the Fostex M-11 is a distinct-sounding ribbon mic and a complement to other ribbon mics you might own, not a replacement for them. ($1199 list,

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