Cascade Fathead II Active/Passive Review

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Cascade Fathead II Active/Passive Ribbon Microphone
Price: $599.00
Function: Ribbon microphone
What’s New: The Fathead II Active/Passive is the newest ribbon microphone from Cascade microphones.  Building on the highly successful design of the original Fathead and Fathead II microphones, the Fathead II Active/Passive is a first of its kind.  Like the original Fathead, the Active/Passive model is a hand-tuned, figure 8-pattern ribbon microphone.  An internal switch allows the user to switch between active and passive mode, making it the first ribbon microphone to have both options.  The active side requires phantom power and adds up to 25 db of gain, perfect for quieter preamps or live use, while the passive side (similar to the original fathead II design) is great for high gain preamps.  Between the two settings, the Fathead II Active/Passive can be used with an extremely wide variety of preamps.  The active side is especially useful on quieter pres, providing extra gain so the preamp doesn’t have to be turned up so loud that the pre starts making a lot of noise.  A high quality Lundahl transformer comes stock in the Active/Passive, contributing to the wonderful warm, full-bodied, classic ribbon sound.  The high roll off in the response of the Active/Passive gives it a terrific vintage vibe and sounds extremely open while retaining a warm and clear tone.  As an owner of an original Fathead microphone, I was curious about how the active electronics would affect the tone of the microphone.  Using a few different preamps, I tried the Fathead II Active/Passive on electric guitar, mono drum overhead, vocals, and room mic.  I was really blown away by the active side of the microphone, the gain boost did not make the microphone noisy at all, and the ribbon responded extremely similar to the way the passive fathead sounds.  On electric guitars, it is smooth and up front without being harsh or brittle at all and the low-mids were absolutely perfect. Vocals on the Fathead surprised me as being full, warm, and clear.  The mic was especially wonderful on male vocals, providing a rich, full-bodied, classic ribbon sound.  As a drum room/overhead mic, the Active/Passive performed extremely well, providing body and space without too much bright high-end sizzle of cymbal noise.  With the addition of active electronics on an already brilliant microphone, Cascade has stepped into groundbreaking territory to accommodate a huge variety of mics, pres, and compressors.  Excelling in a multitude of applications, the Cascade Active/Passive is an absolutely terrific ribbon microphone for a great price.  
-Andy Toy
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