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So far unhappy with Royer R-121 Ribbon mic......just me?

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by J-3, Dec 4, 2004.

  1. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    Hey guys, just picked up a Royer 121 mostly for elec gtrs and so far I'm pretty unimpressed. Anyone else have this experience? Now, I have only used it for a very short time so I havn't got to experiment much. (that's my disclaimer) I had a band in today doing elec gtr and percussion overdubs and the Royer got the boot on all the percusion and some elec parts. I set up a sm57 and the Royer (forward facing) in the same placement (60's BF fender deluxe, moded TS9, 3" off grill, b/t middle and edge of speaker) both going thru my MP2NV.....the results...57 kinda sizzle-y highs the 121 less highs (on the verge of dull) and more pronounced mids. Turn the 121 around backwards same set up and I nor the members of the band could tell a difference b/t the two.

    What gives?

    Bad mic, bad placement, bad hair, bad ears?

    Can anyone say that the 121 stomps the poo out of a 57 or should they sound quiet similar on elec amp?? Any other great mics or micing approaches to look at.........MD 421 etc...

    Rock On!
     
  2. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    If you look at the response curve for the Royer there is a small bump up at 50 Hz a slight scoop out between 100 and 1000 Hz a small bump up at 3500 Hz and a gradual roll off above 10KHz. Pretty much a flat microphone without any real character. The Shure SM57 on the otherhand has a very large peak starting about 8500 Hz and also has a very noticeable proximity effect when used up close which would give it a big bass boost. The Royer is a figure 8 or bidirectional microphone the Shure is a cardioid microphone which means that the Royer will be picking up what is in the room out of phase with what it is picking up form the amplifier (but the room will still be picked up) and the Shure will only pick up the amplifier and mostly null out the room. The Royer is basically a flat microphone that will pick up sound from your amp and make them sound "natural" or "neutral" which may or may not be what you are looking for. The Shure will impart its own charcter to the sound which sounds more like what you are looking for.

    The Royer will allow you to do more tweaking with the sound post mic preamp and will allow you to design the sound of your amp and guitar with effects without having an already modified frequency curve like the Shure SM57. Both are good microphones and I am sure you will love the lack of coloration from the Royer after you get use to using it and find out all it can do.

    Hope this helps.....

    -TOM-
     
  3. EricK

    EricK Guest

    I definitely thinks the Royers kick the crap out of an SM57. I absolutely love them on electrics. I can't see myself ever using an SM57 for E-GTR again.

    I do think you may have jsut had a bad hair day. I would suggest to give it another shot. If you still don't like the Royer, let me know. I ahve an SM57 that I'll trade you for the Royer. :wink:
     
  4. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    Hell, I have a brand-new-never-plugged-in 57 I'll trade ya' for it. :roll:
     
    audiokid likes this.
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Did you buy the mic new? I too would be willing to trade something(s) (better than a 57) for the 121 if you would be open to it ... reply here and I will drop an email to you ..
     
  6. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    Thanks for the offers.....I think? I was able to use it on male vox today with good results. I also tracked a 12 string acoustic and a taylor 6 string. I used it backwards each time and bosted a little highs. It kinda gave it all a vintage-y warm vibe wich is cool. Perhaps I'm just really used to hearing the nice top end on the Neumann 103. I'm tracking more elec's tommorow so I'll get to mess with mic placement etc. Also, before I was running it thru the EL8x distressor, perhaps that makes it a little darker. (still trying to get a handle on it as well).

    and Kurt, yes I did buy it new from GC Pro here in Austin. The guy said he special ordered it from Royer. I was wondering if it got damaged in shipping or something. Probably not but perhaps.
     
  7. wwittman

    wwittman Active Member

    Here's one other sort of opinion:

    to ME, the difference between ribbons and other types of mics lies not so much in their frequency response as in their attack response.

    in other words, try this:
    Put up the 57 (which by the way I wouldn't PERSONALLY use on anything, other than as a hammer, but I digress...<g>) and the 121 on the same speaker.
    Now, in the control room, EQ the ribbon until in a quick A-B you have matched the TONE of the mics as much as you can. If that means rolling lower mids, or boosting highs, do it.
    Match the post-EQed apparent levels as well.
    Now that you've matched the TONE of the mics... A-B and really try to listen to the difference in the sound.
    This is especially noticeable if you're overdubbing into an existing track... but I find, and most people when shown this demo do as well, that the ribbon and dynamic moving coils and condenser mics SIT in very different apparent places in the mix.
    It's for THAT reason that I choose a mic type, not for its frequency response.

    I did this demo at Hyde Street Studios during the AES show, and everyone in the room could hear the difference.
    Some might describe it differently, but there was a definite perspective or textural difference to the ribbon.

    Having said that, you might NOT like the Royer on guitars... who says you have to?
    But it really, in my opinion, shouldn't be because of its frequency response.
    You DO have EQ's, right?
     
  8. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    Hey wwittman thanks for the reply. I'll do as you mentioned and see what becomes of it. No, I don't have any nice outboad eq's only a Allen and Heath Mixer for tracking (mostly just use the pre's). I try to run as many overdubs thru my Great River MP2NV and Distressor. Once in Nuendo I use Waves Paragrahic eq's or my UAD cards Pultec's. I really like the Waves Paragraphic it sounds so much better than the other Waves plugs I have.

    More experimenting today. I'm wondering if a Tube Pre would have got me closer to what I'm looking for. Warm, yet sweet. For instance guitar tones on Van Halens first record.

    Thanks
     
  9. Scott S.

    Scott S. Guest

    Due to the figure 8 pattern, there is a large proximity effect on the R-121.

    I like mine about 12-18" from the speaker, I get a sound that is very close to what you hear in the room.

    I agree that the Royer definitely has a softer "texture".
     
  10. John Jennings

    John Jennings Member

    We've run into this before with relative newcomers to Royer. It's common to put a mic close on a guitar cabinet, but a ribbon likes a bit more distance, depending on the amp, volume, tone, etc. An R-121 at 8 inches off the cabinet will sound a lot closer than that, and almost always sounds better than it would at 3 inches.

    Most ribbon mics have a strong proximity effect, so if the mic is closer than 5-6 inches from the cabinet it'll get thicker sounding. I know a lot of engineers who like to blend close R-121's with other mics, taking advantage of an artificially big sound (the close R-121) and blending it with a brighter, more aggressive mic. I'm more of a "purist" - if my amp is putting out a sound I love, I want THAT sound and I usually get it with an R-121 anywhere from 6 to 12 inches from the cabinet and wherever on the speaker that amp records best (usually halfway to the edge of the speaker with the mic logo pointed at the center of the speaker).

    The backward method is subtle and only for lower SPL applications. You wouldn't hear the difference on loud amps, but on vocals and acoustic instruments, flipping the mic around is often the difference between "have we got another mic?" and "ahh, there it is."

    Hope that helps!
     
  11. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Hey John-

    Nice to see you here. For those of you that don't know him, he's one of the public faces of Royer Labs and a hell of a nice guy.

    For those that are used to dynamics and condensers, ribbon mics in general have a very different sound. They tend to be ultra-smooth and as others have mentioned, because of the proximity effect, they can have a pretty monster low end. Because of this, they will sometimes require a bit more work to get the sound that you are looking for, but once you achieve that sound, it can be absolutely devine.

    Royers also take very well to EQ and compression/limiting and tend to sit well in a mix.

    My favorite uses are for acoustic guitars, brass and saxes. The can also sound great on upper strings (I once mic'd an entire jazz violin section with 5 Royer 122's... Made for the lushest violins I think I've ever heard).

    --Ben
     
  12. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    Ahhhhh.......Now I've had time to hole up and do some experimenting on electric gtrs. You're all right! I usually put a 57 right on the grille at the edge of the speaker so that's what I did with the royer. 2 different mics require 2 different placements! duh. I moved the Royer back 6" off the grille pointing between the dust cap and edge of speaker and WOW! Pretty much sounds like my amp, no eq needed for the fist time in my life on electics. It does sit in the mix easier too. I had the mic backwards but now I'll try it facing the other way. I like things bright but don't want to hurt the mic. My amp is a 22 watt tube deluxe reverb volume around 4 or 5 with a tube screamer. Anyone know if that volume 6" off could hurt a backwards 121?
    The vocals, acoustic and 12 string acoustic I tracked with the backward 121 sound great, a real vintage-y vibe. The percussion I think I like better with the Neumann unless your going for that kinda smooth old school sound.

    One other question for ya. On the Great River MP2NV I have input impedance and output loading buttons. I know the output loading is a flavor thing but with the royer I was wondering which input impedance would work the best? Or is it a flavor thing as with other mics.

    thanks guys
    I have seen the light and the light sounds like kick ass guitar tracks!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  13. DanKennedy

    DanKennedy Guest

    It's a to taste thing.

    The preamp is technically more correct in the "out" position, but it may sound better "in". Especially if there is too much bottom, the lower impedance will roll that off.

    Hi to you too John!
     
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Old thread fun to read.
     
  15. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    LOL.. yeah, Chris...this thread does go back a ways, doesn't it?

    The only other thing I would add - and this would be aimed at those who have never really used ribbon mics before - would be that you almost need to "untrain" your ears from what you've grown used to over time while primarily using condensers.

    I know that the first few times I used a ribbon, it took a little getting used to, in terms of both the levels and the sonics - and that to my ears initially, ribbons sounded, well, for lack of a better term, "shy" and "dark".

    Truthfully though, I came to realize that it was really because I had always worked with condensers and dynamics; and so many of those models had an inherent top-end presence boost, so my ears had kind of become "accustomed" to those mics over time, and when hearing a ribbon for the first time, I was thrown off a little because of what I;d grown used to.

    After working with the ribbon(s) for several hours though, it became very apparent to me that what I was hearing as "dark" was actually not that way at all.

    It took a little bit of time, but after clearing my head of what I'd grown used to with condensers and dynamics, the ribbon mic actually sounded much more natural and more organic, and much smoother than many of the condensers I had used up to that time.

    (side note.. I'm not knocking condensers or dynamics here... I'm just just explaining what you may find on your initial trial of a ribbon mic. Your experience(s) may differ from my own).

    After spending some time with the ribbon, I found that they responded to EQ sculpting and gain reduction in wonderful ways... I also found that the more I worked with them, the less I had to actually do to the track in terms of EQ or GR.

    It takes a little time to play around and experiment with ribbon mics - and using them in different miking applications. As noted by the other users here, experimenting with using the ribbon as an ambient/room mic - in addition to a dynamic or condenser - on things like guitar amps, brass, group vocals, etc., can result in fantastic tones and spatial textures that just sit sooo nicely in a mix, and without a whole lot of surgical processing involved.

    So, for those of you who are looking at using ribbon mics for the first time, understand that it might take you a few hours to acclimate your ears to the sound of a ribbon vs. what you've been used to in the sound of condensers... but trust me, once you get accustomed to them, you're gonna start to hear some really fantastic sonics.

    fwiw
    -d.
     
  16. niclaus

    niclaus Active Member

    That's odd! I read this thread yesterday!
    I'm renting a r121 next week (30/31) for tracking drums and Egtrs.
    audiokid made me want to Try it!
    i'll let you know how i liked it!
    N.
     

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