New Music Gear Monday: AEA KU5A Directional Ribbon Microphone

AEA KU5A on Bobby Owsinski's Production BlogMost engineers love ribbon microphones for their natural sound and the ability to take EQ. Many wouldn’t use anything else in many recording situations like miking brass, percussion or electric guitar amps. Since modern ribbon mics are no longer as fragile as they once were, they’ve found their way into even more applications than ever, but there’s still one limiting factor that keeps the genre from more widespread use – the bi-directional nature of the ribbon mic design itself. There have been a few good attempts to make a more directional ribbon mic in the past (the Beyer M160 comes immediately to mind), but the new AEA KU5A takes it to a whole different level with its supercardioid directional pattern.

Long have engineers wanted a point and shoot type of ribbon mic free of bleed from the sides or rear and that’s just what the KU5A provides. Not only that, the mic overcomes the low output shortcoming of most ribbons by incorporating active electronics and a custom transformer to not only boost the output level but also keep the impedance stable so the sound doesn’t change when used with different preamps.

Unlike other ribbon microphones, the KU5A provides a nice proximity effect common with other directional mics that gives a vocalist that low-end heft that they’re used to. An integrated high-pass filter smoothly rolls off some of that low-end with a 6db/octave shelf at 283Hz, and also activate the mic’s near-field mode for optimal close-range performance, which provides the ability to tolerate SPL levels up to 141dB at 1kHz.

AEA has been a leader in ribbon mics for long time, not only for building clones of the legends but new models as well. The KU5A marks a new level of design for the company that will take the ribbon mic to new applications where it couldn’t be used before.

The KU5A retails for $999. More info can be found here, or watch the video below.

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