Audio-Technica AT4081 ($699)
Ribbon mics have seen a resurgence over the past few years, with numerous models coming out in a variety of price ranges. From miking guitar cabinets to recording drums, vocals, and more, ribbons give you a more round tonal response than condenser and dynamic mics, offering a different flavor for capturing audio sources. Audio-Technica released the AT4081 at the same time last year that it released the larger and more expensive AT4080 ($999), which is also stellar. However, we particularly liked the 4081, not only compared to its sibling but to the other mics released last year. Our reviewer found the AT4081, which is phantom-powered to give it higher output, to have “extended high end, accurate midrange, and a lack of muddiness or proximity effect bass boosting.” He loved using a pair as drum overheads, and found that it held its own with more expensive ribbon mics.