The cheap ribbon mic thread on Gearslutz features recorded samples from a few of the different “cheap” ribbon mics that have appeared recently:

There are three main things that make a ribbon mic sound good or bad
– The ribbon motor
– The housing
– The transformer
With a cheap ribbon, you can easily alter the latter two, but you are stuck with the ribbon motor.

The Shiny Box ribbon mics, in particular, are often recommended in the low end gold (inexpensive equipment that outperforms) discussion. Other low end gold that most folks seem to agree on: the SM57, the Audix i5 and D6, and the Studio Projects B1.

What’s the difference between gain and level:

On a mixer, the “Gain” – which can also be called “Input” or “Trim”, depending upon the mixer brand – sets the signal level at the input, or start, of the mixer channel strip, and the “Level” (or “channel fader”) sets the signal level coming out of the “end” of the channel strip.*