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BidirectionalKarma Audio K6

Bidirectional Active Ribbon Microphone

The Karma K6 is a bidirectional ribbon mic with active electronics. The mic requires 48V phantom power, and provides significantly higher sensitivity (~9 mV/Pa) than do passive ribbons.

Karma K6 Ribbon Mic circuitKarma K6 Ribbon motor

The circuit board is constructed with surface-mount components.

The mic’s output is transformerless; the transformer embedded in the PCB is between the ribbon and the amplifier circuit. The transformerless design contributes to the mic’s relatively low self-noise; in use, the K6 is likely to have a lower noise floor than the preamp signal chain required by a passive ribbon microphone.

The headbasket is chromed steel; it is lined with two layers of metal mesh to protect the ribbon from blasts. The inner layer of mesh is finer than the outer layer.

The ribbon transducer is covered front and back with a 3rd layer of metal mesh (note: it was removed for one of the pictures above), which is clipped to the sides of the motor assembly with spring-steel clips.

The single ribbon element measure approximately 36mm in length. It appears to be centered (front to back) between the magnets; this would lead to an equal figure-of-8 response, suitable for mid-side or Blumlein applications.

The magnet length is approximately 33mm. This motor design most closely resembles the “medium ribbon, long path” design documented by Michael Joly (but note that all the microphones discussed in that article are passive, not active).

The K6 has a reputation as a “color” mic rather than as a neutral-sounding or “pristine” mic; reviewers tend to use words like “dark,” “gritty,” even “low-fi.” It has been described as a useful addition to a well-stocked mic cabinet, but perhaps not as appropriate as a first mic or even a first ribbon.

Tape Op

…[A]s a utility, effect, or primary mic, the K6 is a great addition to anyone’s mic locker. It can go head-to-head with almost anything on quiet sources where extra body is desirable. Instead of reaching for the EQ on harsh sources, the K6 imparted a soft color in these situations. It’s dark, giving a recorded-in-a-wooden-room or tubey-haze-like sound.

Electronic Musician

One of my favorite uses for it was as a room mic for an electric guitar amp. Its low-end boost and top-end rolloff were perfect for that application. I also had success with it as a secondary mic next to a high-end tube condenser, adding “chest” to a reedy male vocal and some nice “clunk” to a shaker track.

The Karma Audio K6 is also known as: K-6.


Frequency Response - BidirectionalClick Graph to Compare!
K6 Bidirectional Frequency Response Chart
Pickup Patterns Pads & Filters
Bidirectional (8.9 mV/Pa; 40 - 15,000 Hz)
Ribbon Construction Impedance SPL/Noise
2-micron corrugated aluminum ribbon, 36mm long 200 Ohms (Low) Max SPL: 135 dB
Self-noise: 16.0 dB(A)
Weight Length Max Diameter Interface(s)
n/a 168mm (6.61'') 51mm (2.01'')
  • 3-pin XLR male (1)
Power Specifications
  • Requires phantom power
  • Phantom voltage: 48v

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