Beyerdynamic M-160 Ribbon Mic Review (for Harmonica)

Is This Tone Level-Up Worth $800? :moneybag:


I’ve been spending a lotta time talking about distorted harmonica recently - mic shootouts, amp shootouts, pedal shoot-outs

But don’t ya love a PRISTINE CLEAN harmonica TONE too? :blush:

And for that you just play in front of whatever mic the house happens to have on hand, right? Or do you?….

Well, not according to one of the KINGS of TONE, Lee Oskar.

Check him out in the studio here, and on stage here and on the street here.

Whether it’s live or in the studio, as seen in the 3 clips above, Lee Oskar ALWAYS plays into his favorite Beyerdynamic M-160 Ribbon Mic (which is a whopping $800! :flushed:)

Lee was originally turned on to this microphone by Mickey Raphael, the harmonica player for Willie Nelson - another player with superb TONE, who also uses it both in the studio and live on stage.

:question: So what’s the deal? Could it possibly be worth shelling 8 big ones for a clean mic? Does it really make a difference? To save you the pain, I bought one so we could find out together.

The results may surprise you…

:point_right: The first thing that surprised me about this mic is its size. From retailers’ photos of it, it seemed to be roughly the size of a Shure SM58. Wrong! It’s much smaller!

:point_right: AWESOME, the ball and the shaft are both smaller, and therefore much easier to hold! We’re off to a great start here…

:point_right: Next I plugged it and an SM58 into a PA system with each channel EQ’d the same. You can hear the result here.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you can’t hear a significant difference between the 58 and the 160 in the YouTube video, except for maybe that the 58 sounds a bit “brighter” or a bit “harsher”.

I can’t say there was a HUGE difference. We are talking about subtleties for sure. I’m a mixing and mastering engineer, so I appreciate the subtleties that the 160 gives me: more body, and smoother and silkier top end.

I’ll say for me playing it in the room, I just felt more inspired when I was playing the 160. Hard to say how much of that inspiration was coming from the SOUND of the mic, and how much of it was coming from how COMFY it is to hold! :rofl:

I’m DEFINITELY stoked to have bought this, and I’m looking forward to trying this mic on gigs and in the studio in the near future. If you recently won the lottery, it might be worth it for you to pay $800 to have a mic that’s comfy to hold sounds a little sweeter.

But if you’re a beginner or intermediate player, I think for the time-being you can just play whatever mic the venue provides, and thank me later for saving you $800. :wink:

BTW- A harmonica player named Harp Ninja Mike told me he thinks the Audix Fireball is fairly close (with some EQ adjustments) to the Beyerdynamic M160 for a fraction of the price. Think I should pick one up and shoot 'em out?