Nady RSM-2

Ribbon mics have gained a strong following over the past few years, and for good reason — most models offer natural sound reproduction; the top end isn’t hyped, and the dynamic response is “real.” But ribbon mics tend to be costly. Except for the Nady RSM-2, which carries a list price under $250 — amazing for a ribbon. But can it compete with more expensive models?

The RSM-2 is a big, beefy microphone, with a “captive” 8' XLR cable. The mic is mounted in a swivel yoke. It’s available with either a platinum- or gold-finished grille. The mic has a low-tension 2" long, 2-micron-thick aluminum ribbon. Nady claims SPL handling up to 165dB. But a word to the wise: there’s no warranty on the capsule (beyond initial inspection) so if you blow the ribbon you’ll pay to have it replaced. The polar pattern is figure-8, as with most ribbons. The mic slips into a padded carrying case for storage and transport.

The RSM-2 specs out well; 30Hz-18kHz frequency response (±3dB). A-weighted noise is 18dB. Signal-to-noise is 18dB. I tested the RSM-2 using a Focusrite ISA-428 preamp, which provides four different impedances — like most ribbon mics, the RSM-2 is sensitive to load impedance. As expected, changing the impedance noticeably changes the mic’s output and noise level.

Sonically, the mic has a fat, full sound. Proximity effect is prominent. There’s a radical difference in the sound of this mic at 3", 6", and 12". I tested it on male vocals, and got the best results with the mic pulled back at least a foot. At that distance (or farther), the bottom end drops back to a natural level, the mids even out, and the top opens up. This isn’t a bright, hyped mic — nor is it supposed to be, but even so, the top is fairly dark. The highs work well for overly bright or fizzy electric guitars — especially when coupled with the present, punchy mids — but don’t hold up as well when used for delicate acoustic guitar or vocals. Fortunately, the RSM-2 takes EQ well, so you can dial in top end if necessary.

At its price, the RSM-2 is a great value. With careful placement, it delivers natural, dynamic results. While I wouldn’t choose it as my only mic, as an additional “color” for a mic locker, it shines.