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The Fostex M 80 RP (Regulated Phase), is a lesser known microphone, from loudspeaker manufacturer Fostex, a company that also makes headphones and multi trackers. In 1980 the Japanese firm decided on a revolutionary concept for their RP microphone series: a printed ribbon, a design which combines the best features of a condenser- and a ribbon-microphone, with very little distortion at high sound levels.

The basic construction consists of a diaphragm sandwiched between two sets of concentric ring magnets. The diaphragm is made of an extremely thin plastic film, onto which an aluminum ribbon coil is deposited. Sound waves arrive through openings between the inner and outer ring magnets and through the centre hole, the construction is symmetrical, just like traditional ribbon elements, resulting in a bi-directional (figure-of-8) polar pattern mic.

This design is much more sturdy than the older ribbons, but the sound resembles them closely, with a smoothe response, velvety highs and a very accurate sound quality. For these characteristics they are loved in recording studios, used for radio voice overs, and even on stage.

This model M 80 RP can be used for vocals, strings, horns, percussion and overheads. There were also a few uni directional types: the 55 RP, for vocal use in the studio and on stage, and the 77 RP, specially for bass instruments, like kick drum, cello, and double bass.

Fostex re-issued some of the models around 2000 (M 11 RP uni- and M 88 RP bi-directional), these were hand built and pretty expensive, with prices of over a thousand dollars. Both the originals and their remakes seldom surface on the market; they remain popular and are often pricey. More information on these microphones can be found on Professor Stanley Coutant's excellent website:

The company also uses this technique for their professional headphones, but alas not for their microphones.

Fostex M 80 RP