Thrifty New Englander that I am, I often check the daily "Stupid Deal" at musiciansfriend.com. It can be pretty hit-or-miss. Usually, the item is something kind of useless, like an entry-level distortion box for twenty bucks or a ten-pack of odd-gauge guitar strings. But sometimes intriguing things show up. Recently, the new Nady RSM-3 ribbon mic was available for $129 with free shipping. Well, at that price, I figured it was worth a try.
The mic comes in a nice wooden box with a sturdy "birdcage-style" shockmount and is cosmetically similar to the Royer R-121, which I always found to be a "can't miss" ribbon choice for mic'ing guitar cabinets. So naturally, the first thing I tried the Nady on was a cleanish Gretsch playing through an old Fender Twin. I also set up a Beyerdynamic M 130 and an RCA 77 the same distance from the amp for comparison. The good news-the Nady had the highest output and was the quietest of the three mics. The bad news-it sounded terrible on the guitar amp, exhibiting an awful resonance that bordered on sounding like a rattle. Meanwhile, the other mics sounded awesome. So I moved all the mics a bit and switched cables, preamps, and console channels just in case, but the Nady continued to dislike the electric guitar. Wow, bummer. Thinking it was a classic "you get what you pay for" situation and I'd need to try to return the mic for a refund, I half-heartedly auditioned the RSM-3 on some other sources. Hello, what's this? I was pleasantly surprised to find it held its own as a drum overhead and room mic, sounding very round and smooth, yet dealing with transients quite gracefully. And no rattle. On acoustic guitar and mandolin, it was also very nice, sounding crisper than the RCA 77, if not quite as full-bodied as the Beyer. I then tried it on maracas and tambourine, and it sounded great, rounding the super-top-end off just enough so that the instruments sat well within a mix without fatiguing the ears. On vocals, it sounded pretty good-definitely usable for certain types of voices-yet it didn't have quite the midrange definition that the RCA and Beyer had.
I have yet to try the RSM-3 on any other guitar and amp combinations since finding it unusable on the Gretsch playing through the Twin, but I do think the mic is actually a nice little bargain for use as sort of a "second-tier" ribbon mic. I'm glad I didn't return mine and will continue to use it for drums, percussion, the occasional vocal, and acoustic instruments. ($130 on sale; www.nady.com)
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