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Author Topic: Royer R-101  (Read 3887 times)


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Royer R-101
« on: September 28, 2010, 08:53:15 am »

Standard Disclaimer:  I'm a home studio guy.  I am not a pro.  I spend a lot of time playing and recording music and take on the occasional paying project but I don't have anything close to the experience a lot of guys here have.  So, as always, take this review as what it is - my opinions and impressions.  Feel free to disagree with any or all of it.

Now, the review...

I recently purchased a Royer R-101 ribbon mic.  It arrived in an aluminum case containing the mic and shock-mount plus the standard padding, along with a mic bag, a CD with the full instruction manual and a printed quick-start guide.  On taking the mic out of the case, the first impression was ... well, it feels like a mic.  Solid, weighty, with what appears to be solid construction and a nice finish.  I noticed that the grille of the mic is much more solid than on other ribbons I own.  You can't see through the grille, even when holding it up to the light.  The literature with the mic indicates that this is to help protect the mic from harmful wind bursts.  Interestingly, the quick start guide also lists kick drum as a potential use for this mic, but I chickened out at the thought of putting this mic on the kick so I'm afraid you'll get no review of that usage here.

First, I tried the mic on an acoustic scratch track.  I set up with a Fender acoustic, the mic about 12" away, around the 12th fret and aimed slightly away from the body of the guitar.  I plugged the mic into a Groove Tubes SuPRE, then into my Apogee Rosetta 200 converter into Pro Tools LE via S/PDIF and my Digi 002R.  The results were reasonable, but not outstanding.  The mic lacks the top end that I tend to like on acoustics.  It had a very mid-heavy sound.  It takes EQ well but in general this is not going to be a mic I reach for quickly when an acoustic part is needed.  I would much rather get the sound I need through mic selection and placement instead of having to do a lot of EQ work, and for this guitar in this room the sound needed a pretty fair amount of EQ carving.  But, the only ribbon I have that I really like on acoustic is the BLUE Woodpecker, which has much more top end than any other ribbon I've heard and a more condensor-like sound than what I normally think of as a "ribbon" sound, so I wasn't really expecting to love the Royer here.

Next, I used the Royer as a room mic on a Pearl Export Series drum kit with a Ludwig Supraphonic snare.  I used the same preamp and pushed the SuPRE a bit to add a little tube bite to the sound.  This time the converter used was the A/D card in my Focusrite ISA-428, into Pro Tools via optical cable.  The rest of the drum mic setup was as follows:

Kick - EV RE-20 - Chandler Germanium - Apogee Rosetta 200
Snare - SM-57 - API 512c - Apogee Rosetta 200
Toms - Sennheiser MD-421 II - Focusrite ISA-428 - Focusrite converter card
Overheads - Mojave MA-101fet (pair) - Great River MP-500NV (pair) - Focusrite converter card

Here, with a little experimenting with the placement, the Royer did just what I wanted - it captured a full drum kit with a large cymbal sound that did not have a hyped high end.  The Mojave condensors are not extremely hyped in the high end but they catch a lot of cymbals due to the placement, so I wanted the room mic to be more full-bodied and to have more girth (I HATE trying to explain sounds with words, so hopefully this is making some sense).  I added a little compression and wound up with a good rock and roll drum sound, which is just what I was going for.  Now if only I was a decent drummer...

Next, I used the Royer on a scratch vocal track, through a Neve Portico preamp into the Apogee.  I have a sort of odd baritone voice.  It gets muddled easily, and lost behind the guitar.  The Royer was not flattering.  Of course, you don't expect a ribbon mic to be flattering (or at least, I don't).  I can see where this would be a useful mic on a singer with a very clear voice, especially a female vocalist, but for my voice it required too much EQ work to get a sound that fit in the mix well.  As I mentioned earlier the mic does take EQ well, but in this application it simply required too much EQ for me to be reaching for this as my first choice in a vocal mic with my voice.  I will be bringing in a female vocalist later this week to record some parts for me, though, and may try it with her.

Finally, electric guitar.  I plugged the Royer into one of the Great River preamps and the Apogee, then grabbed my Ibanez dual-humbucker guitar and plugged into my Orange Tiny Terror amp, into an Avatar 2x12 cab with Celestion speakers.  I placed the mic about six inches in front of the cab because I like the way the different speakers combine, and used a 50' speaker cable to keep the head in the other room with me.  Then I turned up and dialed in a sound I liked.  Electric guitar cabs are one of my favorite uses for ribbons so I was looking forward to hearing what the Royer could do.

What it could do is, it could smoke.  The mic has a little bit of a midrange bump and then it falls off in the highs, and in short, it may as well have been designed for tube-driven guitar sounds.  I'm not sure how well it would capture clean and jangly tones because it doesn't have a ton of highs, but when you crank up the gain on the amp the mic delivers crunchy, rock and roll tone straight to your preamp.  This was by far my favorite application for the mic.  I may try it on cleaner sounds with my Tele later this week; we'll see.

All in all, I think the mic is very solid.  It's especially useful for electric guitars but it certainly has its own niche.  To compare to other ribbon mics I own:

Cascade Fathead II w/ Lundahl transformer - the Royer has more mids and the top end falls off quicker, giving it a slightly darker sound.  It seems to have more presence in the low-mids especially.

ShinyBox 46MX - the Royer has more highs than this mic, actually, and that bit of midrange bump.  It's a little more forward in the mix due to the midrange, while the ShinyBox is a bit more subdued.  There I go trying to describe sounds again...

ShinyBox 46MXC w/ Cinemag transformer - this mic has a more extended top end than the 46MX, and I think the top end presence is similar to the Royer.  All in all I'd say these two mics have a pretty comparable sound, with the Royer having a little more of a midrange bump.

BLUE Woodpecker - OK, technically it's a ribbon, but this mic sounds really much more like a condensor with a lot more top end and not nearly as much midrange as the Royer.  The BLUE is one of the first mics I reach for on an acoustic guitar; the Royer is probably going to be one of the last.  They're pretty far apart from each other, sound-wise.

Groove Tubes Velo 8 - This mic sounds very similar to the ShinyBox 46MXC.  Again, a little more high end than the Royer (just a touch, but pretty comparable) and not quite as much in the mids, but both very good and useful mics.

So far so good for the Royer.  I'm looking forward to getting more used to it and using it more in the future.  It's a useful mic and one that should fit comfortably into a mic cabinet if you're looking for a good ribbon mic or a good mic for guitar cabinets.  If you are the type of person who is going to spend a lot of time EQing your sounds anyway, the Royer becomes even more useful because it does take EQ very well.  I just prefer to be sparse on the EQ and use mic placement and selection to capture the sound the way I want.  Personal preference.

Hopefully this is useful.  If anyone has any questions or any of my descriptions are unclear just let me know and I'll do what I can to clarify.  Smile
Joshua Lovvorn
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