Troll Ribbon Mic

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by flatback, Nov 8, 2012.


  1. flatback

    flatback

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    Location:
    Bolinas Ca
    I borrowed the Troll Ribbon Mic for a trial the other day and have been A/Bing it with the DPA. It is Very Good.
    Someone here ought to be able to describe What a ribbon mic is and why it sounds so warm and rich and harmonically present and why its figure 8 pattern works well for rejecting the sound from your bandmates at your sides and just how fragile they are? Oh and what a Fethead is and why it really needs one.
    But it sure deserves a thread. Anybody else (sides Nathan using one? And Nathan what are your experiences? Can Brandon talk about his mic here or must he refrain?
     
  2. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Location:
    Soquel, CA
    Thanks for starting this thread... I am also super curious about this mic having read about it here on TB and seeing one in person (but not hearing it) at Gael's shop. He's graciously offered to let me try it but I don't have an appropriate gig in the near future up in the bay area.

    I would think Brandon can discuss it all he wants he just can't sell it to us.

    One additional question... is it possible to have some type of inline buffer to protect this (or any ribbon) mic from phantom power? Some of the smaller PA's are all or nothing and I know I would be using this along with a LDC that does require phantom.

    -Jeff
     
  3. flatback

    flatback

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    Location:
    Bolinas Ca
    Jeff as long as you don't use one of those goofy xlr to 1/4 adaptors there is no danger from phantom power (this was a major concern of mine because I use a Focus amp and occasionally see that little red phantom light has been bumped on...) according to Brandon.
    I am using the one from Gael. Now that cat deserves some serious praise, and we are so lucky in the Bay Area to have him. It didnt sound so great into a down firing AI combo but thru my amp it sounds so far, really @#$^%$& good.
     
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Administrator

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    He can answer questions but not initiate discussion of the product. So if you're interested, ask away!
     
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  6. Nathan Levine

    Nathan Levine

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2008
    Location:
    Anchorage, AK
    I took the Troll to a gig right after getting it and had a real hard time getting a clean sound with it plugged into a Headway. Had to really crank the master and pre to get anything and unfortunately that was pretty hissy, with hardly anything coming out of the amp. I started reading up on different possibilities for boosting the ribbons signal.

    There seem to be two excellent and fairly inexpensive options for boosting gain on a ribbon or dynamic mic. The Fethead ($100) by Triton Audio based in the Netherlands and the Cloudlifter ($150) by Cloud Microphones. The both run on phantom power and boost the signal cleanly by 20+db without sending any phantom power to the actual mic. Neither have any volume controls... just plug in and you get the boost that the ribbon mic needs to be practical outside of a studio setting.

    When the Fethead arrived in the mail (supposedly specially biased to work with the Headways 18v) I was blown away by what a difference it made. With the Headway's master set at 12oclock, I could barely get the channel1 volume past 9oclock without feedback. The sound was clean, natural and quite robust. Worth every penny.

    While I was waiting for the Fethead, I found a lightly used AI series 4 Clarus head for sale so I grabbed it and ordered a Cloudlifter at the same time. I talked with Brandon shortly after doing this and he told me that he hadn't had feedback issues with the Troll straight into an AI head. Thought I might just send the Cloudlifter back w/o trying it. Sure enough upon plugging the Troll into the newly arrived AI head, none of the feedback issues that I had with the Headway presented themselves. Weird.

    To compare the two signals I brought home a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2 channel USB recording interface from school. One channel got my DPA plugged into it and the other channel got the Troll plugged into it via the Cloudlifter. After switching on the phantom power, I was able to record two channels of the same musical excerpts to compare and contrast.

    To be perfectly fair, the DPA is not a recording microphone. Most of us understand that. It really shines in the live setting and I have had some great success with plugging it straight into the Headway and then into my amp as well as sending it to FOH systems. But its recorded sound was muffled and off when pointing it into the same area that the Troll was picking up. Upon adjusting the DPA into the normal position that I use it, I was able to get a much better sound from the DPA. But it still did not hold a candle to the Troll.

    The Troll Ribbon mic sounds infinitely warmer and more natural than the DPA. There is a rich, organic quality to the recorded sound. Brandon told me that he originally had been thinking it was to be used exclusively for recording and accidentally figured out that it would work for live situations too. What a great contribution to live double bass sound reproduction.

    Some will argue that ribbon mics are the ONLY thing to use on nearly all acoustic instruments when in the studio. I certainly believe that. The most amazing recorded sound of my personal instrument that I have heard was when a friend in the San Juan islands put a big a** vintage RCA something or other on my bass. My jaw dropped upon listening back. Still does. The Troll does not come close to that rich buttery RCA goodness, but it is amazing in its own right surely.

    So is my DPA for sale? Not quite. I'd like to try the Troll out in a number of different situations before making a commitment to it like that. I am curious about how well it is going to hold up. Ribbons are certainly known for being sensitive. I try to be careful with gear but accidents do happen and you never know when you might need a backup.

    Anyways, that's my 2 cents for now. When I get a chance I will try to record some tracks for others to listen to. Hopefully this weekend. But it was hopefully last weekend too so no promises. Life in a house with two kids under 3.5 can certainly be hectic. :)
     
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Administrator

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    Thanks for the lengthy review. Please do post soundclips when you can, and a pic would be great as well, as I haven't seen one of these things yet. I'm also becoming very curious about the FEThead, as the Headway does have this gain issue on the mic channel, and if the FEThead works for both ribbon and dynamic mics, that might be a good thing to have in the toolbox.
     
  8. flatback

    flatback

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    Location:
    Bolinas Ca
    played a trio gig last night with the Troll Ribbon going straight into the Focus III 2nd channel. I dont have the Fethead so plugging into the headway gets the gain issues but straight into the Focus I got enough gain.
    I used this mic and thought I would need to blend in some pick up for clarity. Not at all all night long. This mic (in this one not too noisy) gig was so good I was utterly amazed. Bravo Brendon.
    I was blown away by how loud it got without feedback (plenty loud enough) and the clarity depth and warmth was just amazing. It reminded me of the PR 40 but half the size and side firing.
    I was playing right next to the drummer and never noticed ANY bleed. I have a lot of mics for live including the DPA and I always hear something....
    Am I willing to drop $325.00 plus $100. for a Fethead....Well if it is robust and not to fragile, hell yes.
    I did a little bit of blending with it last night (mostly all I needed was the mic) and with blending all I needed was little bit of the mic to really alter in a beautiful way the character of the pickup.
    I think that this mic deserves a nice round trials from people in different situations. I really dnt think that you can plug this into any old amp and hope to get a sound, but into a good PA or raised cab (my wizzy 10 was on a chair)
    I'll bet FOH this thing is the Bomb.
     
  9. flatback

    flatback

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    Location:
    Bolinas Ca
    OH and one other thing. Between the bridge feet rubber banded to the legs this mic sounds great and has a super classic look that is great. But I also put it on an H clamp in a shock mount and got all the verity of different sound possibilities that you might expect. Up under the fingerboard which is a great place on my bass sounded just great....but
    between the legs is simple easy low tech and I liked it better then having the extra piece of equipment on the instrument.
    just saying...
     
  10. Clarkybass

    Clarkybass Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2010
    Here's one Brandon sent me a month or so ago (I presume he wouldn't mind the free advertising!)
     

    Attached Files:

  11. Roger Davis

    Roger Davis

    Joined:
    May 24, 2006
    Location:
    Chipping Norton, Oxon, England
    You dark horse, Clarky, I didn't realise you had one!

    Long long ago before piezos I used a Reslo ribbon mic in front of my bass. I could turn it to high vol levels before feedback kicked in.
     
  12. Clarkybass

    Clarkybass Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2010
    Sorry Roger, I should have been clearer - it was a picture Brandon sent me! I don't own one. Its something i would consider if there are more positive reviews like the one above but given us Brits have to pay shipping and then 21% import duty on top of everything its an expensive experiment if it doesn't work out. So i will be watching this space to see how US TB'ers get on with the Troll mic :)
     
  13. Nathan Levine

    Nathan Levine

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2008
    Location:
    Anchorage, AK
    First one is one that Brandon sent me about a month ago. Second is the Troll installed on my bass.

    As for the FEThead, when looking for information about it and the Cloudlifter, I found this short video and thought it was fairly informative.

    http://ronansrecordingshow.com/2012/04/triton-audio-fethead-vs-cloud-microphones-cloudlifter-cl-1/
     

    Attached Files:

  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Administrator

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    Thanks for the pics, and interesting bridge! Can't wait to hear how this sounds.

    The review was also nice, and makes me interested in the FEThead. I still don't think that my amp is a good candidate for mic mixing, but I might do it at some point in the future, and if I could get enough gain in some circumstances to do without the pickup entirely....
     
  15. flatback

    flatback

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    Location:
    Bolinas Ca
    Played a duet gig today with piano. Man does it shine so far. It might be different when the Fethead is on there but with out the mic has warm fundamental and rich harmonics without that hyper high end table sound that amps the drummer. The little phantom powered mice have that character, like the DPA and ATM 35 and others I've tried. But this is more refined and bass friendly. Really digging it. Gunna hate to give it back. May have to spring....
     
  16. Ben Rolston

    Ben Rolston

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2006
    Location:
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA
    Any chance for some soundclips?

    Also any thoughts on touring with a ribbon mic? (piled in a van, often running our own sound) Would it be too fragile?
     
  17. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Location:
    Soquel, CA
    I finally had a chance to use the Troll and it kills!! The club was a small, high staged bar with a decent PA (Amnesia in SF) and I ran the troll into a FEThead and straight into the board w/ phantom. The house sound by all accounts was fabulous. (There were at least 5 double bassists in the house and I ended up explaining the rig in detail to each one.) The monitor sound was the most inspiring mix I've ever had and the sound guy was happy 'cause it was so easy. The sound of my bass really came though strong and clear. Granted this combo doesn't have drums and my typical situations are drummerless for the most part so volumes are easier to balance but there seemed to be plenty of headroom with this set-up.

    I'll post a more detailed review soon. I have 2 more gigs in different venues next week and I want use it in these different scenarios before I blab any more.
    Brandon has a real winner in my book.
    -Jeff
     
  18. flatback

    flatback

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    Location:
    Bolinas Ca
    If I wasn't too heavily invested in bass mics already I'd of bought this straight away. I played that same mic, and even if I only rolled in 5 percent mic (blended with Pick up ), it made a huge difference. A nice duo gig or a nice room and just the mic sounds great. The Troll sounds way more like a good fat tube mic makes a bass sound in the recording studio, but with excellent rejection...I like it better then the kind of sterile quality of the DPA 4099...but I haven't gotten around to selling one and getting the other.
     
  19. BrandonEssex

    BrandonEssex

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2003
    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    Hey, all! I finally got a chance to catch up with this thread. I'm glad folks are having success with this! It's funny how two weeks can turn into 6 months about as fast as one can turn around.... Anyway, I don't see any unanswered questions here, but does anyone have anything still tugging that they want to ask? Website work is underway again. One of my main collaborators on web content had a medical issue, literally while working on the troll site. He's all fixed now, but that put a big delay on the demo videos, which are integral to the website. Please forgive me for not posting audio clips etc. here, I've been trying to focus my time and energy on getting the website ready. I'm just about to go post on the bazaar side, there are a couple little announcements to make that are more appropriate over there. Happy bass playing!
     
  20. Stereo Joe

    Stereo Joe Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2007
    Location:
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    Well, I just ordered a Troll mic. :hyper: I'm planning to plug it into my pole-mounted AI head/Crazy 8 cab rig for quiet gigs and possibly mix it with my Full Circle on louder gigs (same AI/Crazy 8 rig but with an added 10" speaker cab). I might try it into my AI Ten2 combo but I haven't had a lot of luck using a mic with the Ten2 cab (probably due to the down-firing speaker). I'll report back with the results.
     
  21. gack

    gack

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    Russia, Chelyabinsk
    Good news, Joe! Ordered EDB-1 already and waiting for your report. :D
     

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