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Oktava ML-52-02

Ribbon microphone



Buy original Oktava ML-52-02


The ML52 is the first ribbon mic produced by Oktava for some years, however the expertise that they have gained throughout the years that they were Russians sole manufacturer of ribbon microphones has been used and expanded upon to produce a truly unique microphone.

The stunning looks of this microphone combined with the classic sound of the double ribbon filament and the reliability expected of today's modern equipment make this a very desirable microphone.

The Oktava ML52 is suitable for use in any situation where a warm and rounded sound is required, The ribbon sound lending it an air of nostalgia whilst competing with modern condenser designs in terms of frequency response. The virtually non existent noise floor means that, used in conjunction with a good pre-amp. it is an ideal mic for digital recording.

As a true cosine or figure of eight microphone the ML52 has many advantages and uses in broadcast and installation due to the negligible sound it picks up from the sides, as well as 90 degree stereo recording. The figure of eight pattern is almost completely uniform at all frequencies.

The ML52 is eminently suited to string and brass instruments giving a sparkling but never harsh overall sound and also gives a particularly pleasing smooth sound to vocals.

The advent of the condenser microphone helped to make the world forget how good ribbon microphones could be. The ML52 has been designed to show once again that the ribbon should never have been ignored or forgotten.

Oktava ML-52

Technical specifications

Polar Pattern Figure of eight
Frequency Response 20hz to 20kHz
Sensitivity 1,6mV/Pa
Aluminium Ribbon 2.5 micron
Nominal Output Impedance 300 Ώ
Rated Load Impedance 1.5 k Ώ @ 300Ώ
1 k Ώ @ 200Ώ
Maximum SPL @ 1kHz > 135dB
Maximum Output Voltage 1,2V
Weight, g 590
Relative Humidity 85% (25°C)
Accessories included Mic holder
Accessories optional Shock mount

Frequency response

Oktava ML-52-02 frequency response


Mention “ribbon mics” and the word “expensive” usually comes to mind. However, due to the recent resurgence of interest in ribbon mics, Oktava — the 55-year-old microphone company that was once Russia's sole supplier of ribbon mics — has now returned to building affordable ribbon models. Housed in a large body with an open “birdcage”-style top, the new Oktava ML52 uses a double 2,5-micron-thick aluminum ribbon element with a classic figure-8 pickup pattern. Including foam-lined carry case and standmount, the ML52 lists at $799. One drawback common to all ribbon mics is their low sensitivity, which in the case of the ML52 is no exception, coming in at 1 mV/Pa. As with dynamic mics, there are no onboard electronics, and hence no self-noise. However, like other ribbon mics, the ML52 needs a clean preamp with lots of gain, and preferably a preamp that's as close to the mic as possible to avoid long cable runs. I paired the ML52 with an Aphex Model 1100 tube preamp, which has plenty of gain and ultra-clean, -135dB EIN specs — a great combo for use with ribbon mics. With the ML52's low price, there are some tradeoffs. The standmount feels cheap, and when the mic's coarsely threaded attachment ring is removed, paint overspray on the threads makes them harder to manage. Fortunately, Oktava offers an optional shockmount, which does a far better job of holding the mic in position. Because the mic is quite susceptible to stand-borne vibrations, the shockmount is a necessity. The same goes for a pop filter, as the mic is highly sensitive to breath noise; here, a standard Popper Stopper™ stocking filter was just right. First up for the ML52 was cutting male vocals on an R&B tune. The mic has a very flat, mostly uncolored response, so just a hint of upper-HF EQ added a nice sparkle to the track. There's a nice, thick proximity boost up close, but with the Popper Stopper in place, popping plosives presented no problems. On female lead and background vocals, the ML52 really jumped, yielding an ultra-smooth, velvety track that was warm and unhyped. Next up was tenor sax overdubs, a task that ribbon mics typically excel at. Here, again, the ML52 didn't disappoint, offering a lush close-in sound that, with 60 ms of delay and a medium-room reverb, was exactly what we were looking for. I also noticed that the ML52's pickup pattern was tight and highly controlled, with excellent side rejection. The mic's front and back sides are nearly identical in sound — perhaps just a twist more present on the front (logo) side. This opens up some possibilities, offering a bit more variation from a single mic. Retailing at $799 (the street price is much lower), the Oktava ML52 offers an affordable introduction to the ribbon microphone world. Anyone looking for something “new” should give this one a listen.

— George Petersen for Mix Magazine

Oktava ML-52 Ribbon Microphone - a Russian ribbon mic brings this classic technology to a new price point
Hugh Robjohns / SOUND ON SOUND

ML-52 review in Tape Op magazine

User comments

Fantastic! This mic is now my ABSOLUTE first choice for electric guitar. And every guitar player I've used it on so far has noticed the difference. Put your ear in front of the speaker (noting distance and direction), find the sweet spot, and put the mic there. I've been hanging mine upside-down in a carpeted room, completely perpendicular to the floor (to avoid the bright coloration inherent in angling ribbon mics). The sound quality is amazing. The control room sounds just like the amp. Patched into an API 512C mic pre, I've been running these signals straight to tape. No EQ, no nothing, unless I need something like 1176 electronics for a little tonal coloration. Guitar players have been going nuts over these sounds. I've also had good luck recording tenor sax with it and it had an interesting quality with one male vocalist. (He liked it, I didn't.) I went out and bought another one. I'll probably get to try it on upright bass soon and I can't wait.

Even before you consider that it's only $300. I purchased this mic after buying four of the Oktava MC-012s and loving them. I'm a big fan of ribbon mics and have considerable experience with the RCA 77DX, RCA 44, Coles/STC 4038, Royer 121, and Beyer M160. I find this mic to be sonically similar to the RCA 77s that I've used, with slightly higher output. Not a really brilliant top end and nice, smooth low mids. I've always loved the Coles mics, too, but I always try ro buy mics in pairs and I just haven't been able to shell out $2000 for a pair of 4038s yet. As I said I love it on guitar and my favorite setups so far have been a pair of ML-52s about 8" off of each speaker of a 2x12, one ML-52 and an AT 4047, or an ML-52 about a foot back and a pretty audacious room mic (U87, AT 4050, & AT 4047 are faves). This mic is truly a winner. Can't wait to try the tube mics!

Chris Garges at 09/05/2002

What can I say other than it sounds exactly like an RCA 77DX. I've had stellar results in using it on guitar amps. I wouldn't use it for louds hard rock or metal but I don't play or record that kind of music. But...for 30-50watt amps for country, rockabilly, jazz and blues it recreates exaclty what you hear and you don't have to use nay comprssion or EQ, it's a dream. I also use it on female vocals beacuse it rolls off the highs very well, the same for males with a higher range. If you are into doing modern rock, metal or rap music this probably isn't mic for you. It also makes a great room mic, I used it for a live recording and use the Oktava as the main sound source only using the individual mics to fill up the gaps.

If you can't afford a coles, beyer or an old rca ribbon then this is the mic that won't set you back in dollars or that much quality. One thing I would warn anyone interested in buying one of these is that they don't all sound the same. I was todl this before I bought mine and went to guitar center and made them fire all four of them up and listed to each one which were all a little diffrerent.

Johnny Mercury at 05/26/2003

Application notes ML 52

General Comments: Ideal for digital recording as the noise floor is virtually non-existent. The ML 52 is also particularly useful in broadcast and installation due to the negligible sound it picks up from the sides, as well as 90 degree stereo recording

Female vocal: The ML52 had a very warm and soft sound which is perfect for jazz vocals. It gives a rich sound perfect for over sibilant performers. There is an abundance of rich bottom end at very close spacing.

Steinway baby grand piano: The ML 52 produces outstanding results on all pianos particularly Grand and Baby Grand.
Piano is most commonly recorded in stereo with two mics, one capturing the upper musical range and the other the lower, and with the piano lid propped open. Set up the mics inside the raised lid. The first mic 8-10" above the upper strings closer to the keyboard end of the piano. The second mic is placed above the lower strings toward the back of the piano. The first mic track is panned hard right and the second hard left, so that as the player plays from the low notes to the highs, the sound moves across the stereo field from left to right

Solo singing guitarist: The ML 52 sounds great on both vocals and acoustic guitar and its figure of 8 pattern allows flexibility when recording two sound sources at the same time in the same space.
Set up the mics one for the guitar angled to reject to voice and one for the voice angled to reject the guitar.

Electric Guitar: This mic is perfect for electric guitar cabinets. The mic run through a good mic pre amp straight to tape with no EQ gives amazing sound quality
Set the mic up about 8 inches from the speaker, if you are using a 2 cone amp use two mics each the same distance away. Alternatively use the ML 52 in conjunction with the MKL 5000, in this instance place the ML 52 about a foot back from the speaker and the MKL 5000 as a room mic set several feet back and above, depending on the size of the room

Brass: The ML 52 is very adept at recording brass instruments where the warm character of the sound is captured very well by the mic

Trumpets and trombone: These can both be captured with fine clarity and detail using the ML 52, which is harder to achieve with budget condensers
Set-up the mic anywhere from 6-12 inches away from the bell so it doesn't get overloaded.
For trumpets position the mic 45 degrees off axis and about one foot away. This will produce a sound that will mix better with the rest of the instruments.

Bongos: The ML 52 gives bongos a clear and unadulterated sound capturing the punchy attack and warm ring of the instrument
Set up the bongos with the mic in between the two skins at about 6-10 inches away. Alternatively set-up as room mic, placed above and about 5 foot away will leave bongos sounding particularly natural and clear when placed in the mix

Double / Upright Bass:
Set-up the MK 319 6 inches above the bridge and aimed slightly (to taste) toward the sound hole

Toms: see drum kit applications
If the drum set you're miking has six or more toms, individually miking each tom may not produce the clearest sound (due to phasing). Instead, place an ML 52 microphone between each pair of toms, using one half of the figure of 8 pattern directed towards each tom

Clarinet and flute

Steel strung acoustic guitar

Nylon classical guitar


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