Gear reviews

Shinybox – 46MXL ribbon microphone

Generally speaking

The shinybox MXL46 is a Lundal-output transformator modified Chinese-ribbon. Actually the guy buys them, takes out the ribbon, takes out the electronics, install new (custom built by Avenson) ribbons and electronics and modifies them (custom) with output transformers.

The case/spider is pretty cheap Chinese stuff but works. It was not intendend to survive a nuclear weapon assault on your studio but it can last under normal studio-conditions.

The mic itself looks pretty solid. Because I can not live without knowing how it looks on the inside, I opened a mic and the construction makes a trustworthy impression.

For a price of 400 US$/street I do not complain 🙂 I am more or less surprised with what he achieves and at the same time how he can keep the mic in the very low prices-range.

Problems & Technicalities

I blew up a ribbon. Yes it was me. I hooked it up and forgot that I had phantompower on the cable. I then got resent a spare ribbon (with the mounting kit) and replacement was done in 15 minutes. Lovely! Great customer support.

The spider provides a solid hold, but has the disadvantage that you can not ultra closemic a guitar-cab (which is not necessary with ribbons but there is always something inside me who want to get closer and closer to the source). The mic itself use a lot of gain (espacially with the relativly low ouput Lundal-transformer). While it works with loud sources without problems (drum mono overheads, distorted guitar-cabinets from hell) I got a report from a friend who also records quiter stuff, that gain is an issue with those mics (with all ribbons). Make sure you get the right preamp.

I mostly use a shadowhills mono gama these days and it’s not really a problem.

Sound

When I recived the mics I put them first as overheads (stereo and then on another try I used them as mono) on metal drums. That means loud snare hits, incredible loud cymbal playing.. the usual stuff. I was pretty impresse when using it as mono overhead right above the drummers head pointing to the snare. Due to a ribbons figure8 characteristic, I had a lot of room sound, still it was tight and punchy. Really loving it. Actually I use a shinybox on every drum recording now.

I put the shinybox on kick drums, snare drums, it handled the high SPL without problem or crackling.

Then it was time for guitars. Mesa Dual Rectifier with a 4×12″ Engl box, recording some deathmetal style guitars, as you might remember, heavy metal is loud, so the stack was super-loud. No problem. The sound remained tight, the bottom end was big, the midrange not as pushy as with a royer and I had a lot more of the high sizzling coming right into my DAW. I use a Daking Micpre4 for this kind of application. Very nice. In combination with a SM57 it blends super cool. Great mic for guitar cabs.

I put the MXL46 on female vocals. Again, it shined on that sort of application. Having much less of that closemicing pops/lowendbump then an RCA-ribbon, it was very useful and it didnt cut as much air as a Royer.

The only thing that I’ve heard which could be a no-go for this mic is that it has a quite longer sustain. You hear that on palm muted guitars. The ribbon seems to add a sustain to the sound. Imagine the ribbon sings a bit. I love that, but it might not be everyones favourite.

Conclusion

Buy that mic. It’s 400 US$ (shipped to my place with all customs it was 650US$ when the dollar was quite a bit stronger). You can’t get wrong. I tested other ribbons such as Thomann T-bone ribbons and the cheap Royer 101 and they all fail compared to the shinybox.

Jon (the shinybox owner) does a great job. You get the Tripple-wooper package with a gallon coke for the price of a cheeseburger.

buy it. now. hurry. they are usually out of stock.

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