The BM9 is inspired by classic Danish microphones from the 1950s and 60s, and is made here in York, so we call it The Viking. The BM9 is a general purpose bi-directional ribbon microphone, with a symmetric figure-8 pickup pattern. It is designed to be equally at home in front of a guitar amp, or in front of an orchestra. It has a deep, rich bottom end particularly when used close to the source, and has a large bass proximity effect. At the top end the response is smooth and detailed, as one would find in a high end vintage ribbon microphone.
The Viking utilises a wide, long ribbon in a strong magnetic field to give a strong output with low noise floor. The deep-field magnets ensure linear performance as the ribbon moves from front to rear. Vertical grill slots of different size reduce diffraction and improve rejection from the sides of the microphone. All this adds up to a deep, rich tone with an amazing degree of clarity from a ribbon microphone.
Every Extinct Audio ribbon is sonically tempered for durability and extended life. This involves subjecting the microphone to audio frequency vibrations, which harden and strengthen the aluminium ribbon. The custom-wound permalloy core transformers are designed and made at our workshop to ensure high efficiency and low noise over the full sonic range.
All the mechanical parts are machined in the UK, and the microphones are assembled here in our workshop in York. Each ribbon is hand-fitted and tuned by Stewart, who has over a decade of experience repairing and building thousands of ribbon microphones.
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The important bits of the BM9 (which, like the B&O models, is a passive design) are all hand-made in the UK, including the ribbon motor and the output transformer. In fact, since the latter is made specially for the BM9, Stewart offers the option to vary the output impedance for anyone who wishes to do so. The stock transformer provides a 300Ω impedance at 1kHz, which should be well suited to the preamps in typical modern mixers and audio interfaces. The mic body is beautifully made and finished in a striking matte satin, and a lovely wooden case with ammonite logo and magnetic clasp adds to the overall impression of class. The BM9 also comes with a simple but effective shockmount, which securely holds the microphone in place through friction, making it easy and quick to set up and position. My only quibble is that there’s no room for this mount inside the case, which I’m sure will result in many shockmounts getting separated from their attendant BM9s.
Stewart is all too well aware of the pitfalls involved in microphone measurement, not least of which is the difficulty of finding a suitable figure‑8 measurement mic to act as a reference. As a result, he has been wary of publishing ‘specifications’ for the BM9 which might turn out to be unfounded, but is able to compare individual specimens to supply matched pairs. He also confirms that the mic does have a fully symmetrical figure‑8 polar pattern, and is thus suitable for use in Blumlein and Mid-Sides arrays, and says that its frequency response should be considerably more extended than that of the B&O mics it is based on, and comparable with typical modern ribbons from the likes of Royer.
The mid-range definitely has a B&O‑ish quality to it, but is noticeably smoother and more refined, perhaps with a slight thickness in the 400Hz area. This is easily tamed with EQ if it’s too rich, and whereas all of the original BM-series mics struggle to put across much information above 10kHz or so, the BM9’s greater extension is obvious, with a palpable sense of air and space at the top end. It’s a great drum overhead or room mic, but it also works well in all the other roles where you might traditionally use a ribbon. A friend put them up next to his Coles 4038s as room mics for upright piano; the Coles had even more going on below 100Hz, but the BM9s had more air, and a nice bite to the upper mid-range that would help the instrument cut through in a mix.
I had the review BM9s on loan for a couple of months, and on every occasion where I needed either a figure‑8 microphone or a characteristically ‘ribbon‑y’ sound, they stepped up and delivered the goods. Not only do they sound great, but like the original Bang & Olufsen designs, they’re stylish, lightweight and easy to position — and unlike the originals, they’re built like a tank, and usable on quiet sources. In short, the BM9 presents a very nicely judged balance of the classic and the modern, at a price level you don’t normally associate with ‘boutique’ microphones. I have bought the review pair, and at least one of my old BM5s will be making its way onto a well-known auction site very soon!