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Royer 121 Ribbon microphone

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Re: Royer 121 Ribbon microphone

Postby Tim Gillett » Tue Sep 30, 2014 12:26 am

On a guitar cab speaker I would guess that the LDC, the SDC and the Royer 121, would sound far more similar to each other than to an SM57 with its prominent presence peak and rolled off bass response.

Perhaps it would be good to chase up interviewees to discover why more of them use LDC's on guitar cabs than SDC's.

Out of interest what was the mic you swapped with the SDC and got much better results?

Tim
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Re: Royer 121 Ribbon microphone

Postby Sam Inglis » Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:36 am

Tim Gillett wrote:On a guitar cab speaker I would guess that the LDC, the SDC and the Royer 121, would sound far more similar to each other than to an SM57 with its prominent presence peak and rolled off bass response.

Hmmmm... I think a lot depends on whether you're talking about close or distant miking. The different polar patterns will mean that the ribbon mic has more proximity effect and a different balance of on/off axis pickup than cardioid dynamics or capacitor mics.

I don't own a 121, so can't comment on that mic specifically. For close-miking a guitar amp I'd usually use a U87, Shure SM7, Sennheiser MD409 or Beyer M201, and in that role, they *can* all sound surprisingly similar. Sometimes I use a ribbon such as an RCA BK5 or Beyer M260, precisely because they do give a very different sound from any of those mics (and indeed each other) -- but again, it's hard to generalise, because the BK5 in particular is quite an atypical ribbon design.

Tim Gillett wrote:
Perhaps it would be good to chase up interviewees to discover why more of them use LDC's on guitar cabs than SDC's.

I'm afraid this seems a bit of a non-issue to me. I would guess that most of them are happy with the sound they get from other mics and don't have the time or inclination to experiment with SDCs. That would sum up my feelings on the matter anyway.

Like I say, if it's a question that interests you, why not do your own experiments?

Tim Gillett wrote:Out of interest what was the mic you swapped with the SDC and got much better results?

I think it was an M260, but it was a long time ago.
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Re: Royer 121 Ribbon microphone

Postby Glenn Bucci » Tue Sep 30, 2014 1:16 pm

Getting a ribbon mic in your studio will answer a lot of question once you A/B them with your other mic's.

In my review I was talking about the harshness sometimes you can get in your recordings. Listen to 2:46 in this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaAA0NqIEy0 I can get a similar sound with that grating kind of sound. When you blend in the ribbon, the grating(harsh) sound is reduced greatly and the result in a better sound to my ears.
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Re: Royer 121 Ribbon microphone

Postby Tim Gillett » Tue Sep 30, 2014 2:17 pm

Glenn I dont know if you noticed that this clip was uploaded by the Royer company. To their credit they are honest about that fact. In all likelihood money was paid by Royer to these guys and to hire the studio and the video crew, to make this clip for YT. Nothing wrong with that. Just be aware it's at least promo by the Royer company for their products.

Then notice which mics they are comparing the 121 with. Only one actually. And which one? An SM57.

What are the characteristics of a SM57 that are particularly relevent here?

1. It has a pronounced presence peak which is meant to give a very "forward" sound, even a harsh sound, but one designed to "cut through" especially onstage or in a busy mix. It is not designed to be neutral - nowhere near it. That harsher sound is exactly what you would expect, at least compared to the 121.

2. The 57 is also designed to reduce bass boost at close micing. Compared to the 57, the 121 has no such bass cut. So for that reason also, the 121 will obviously sound warmer when placed at the same distance as the 57.

3. On top of that, I believe figure 8 mics have an even more pronounced proximity effect than cardioid mics like the 57,(somebody please correct me if I'm wrong) and so another reason why when used at the same distance, the Royer will sound warmer, even than a cardioid mic that has no presence boost and no bass rolloff.

They could have compared the 121 with a quality LDC or a quality SDC or even a quality dynamic NOT designed like a 57, 58 and many other stage or instrument mics, with a presence boost and a fixed bass rolloff for close work. A classic dynamic example might be the Sennheiser MD441 but there are lots of others too.

But they didnt. Why? Almost certainly because the difference wouldnt have been nearly so dramatic for the demo. The demo was clearly about making the 121 shine to sell 121 mics. So they compared the 121 with a very different mic - and without explaining how and why they are very different mics with often different applications. You might be forgiven for assuming the two mics are directly comparable for application. They arent. They're not comparing apples with apples.

The demo is predictable. That is probably how we would expect such different mics to sound under those conditions.

Also we werent there listening to the sound coming out of the cab. How much of that HF distortion was there even before it was miced up? To me it sounds heavily clipped. Maybe that's the sound they were after but regardless, neither mic CREATED most of that distortion. It was already there from the cab. The two mics just accentuated it in different amounts as they were designed to.

Again, the YT clip is as much advertisement or "advertorial" as a proper objective technical exposition. There is a perceived conflict of interest. That's OK. Just be informed. That's my motto anyway, or one of them. Caveat emptor.

Others may have different views. Fine.


Cheers Tim
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Re: Royer 121 Ribbon microphone

Postby Glenn Bucci » Tue Sep 30, 2014 6:09 pm

Tim,
You have seemed to have gone way too deep on this thread and off topic. The point of this thread was to give my impression of the Royer 121. You have gone into questions and details about ribbon mic's, if I think a ribbon mic compresses, and now knocking a video that we all know was to show the effectiveness of the Royer mic's. We all get that and know what they are tying to do. The only point of directing some to the video was to demonstrate a comparison between a SM57 (which many uses on guitar amps) and to demonstrate the Royer character. Since the word "smoother" was being talked about, and you were asking "are you saying its like a compressor" (like I don't know what I'm taking about) I was trying to help clarify things. Been working in studios since 1980 and think I have some knowledge on recordings.

I'm done. :shock:
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Re: Royer 121 Ribbon microphone

Postby Guy Johnson » Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:41 pm

Thanks for your review, Glen. I found it insightful and useful.
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Re: Royer 121 Ribbon microphone

Postby Tim Gillett » Wed Oct 01, 2014 3:25 am

Yes thanks for your review Glenn. I didnt mean to come across as super critical.

Personally, compared to the Royer YT video you cited I found this training material on the Royer website clearer and more detailed in teaching the principles of mic use on guitar cabs. Sure it has an obvious bias towards their own product line but it can be applied to lots of mics.

http://www.royerlabs.com/rectips_electricguitar.html

All the best,

Tim
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Re: Royer 121 Ribbon microphone

Postby Frisonic » Thu Oct 02, 2014 2:55 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote: It's not about fidelity, it's about flattery H

Which is why, as a guitarist and vocalist, and given the environment I generally track in I haven't bought a new mic in a while and instead have been saving my pennies for a 121. I'll be very surprised if it isn't a keeper.
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Re: Royer 121 Ribbon microphone

Postby Tim Gillett » Wed Oct 08, 2014 5:29 am

Frisonic wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote: It's not about fidelity, it's about flattery H


Which is why, as a guitarist and vocalist, and given the environment I generally track in I haven't bought a new mic in a while and instead have been saving my pennies for a 121. I'll be very surprised if it isn't a keeper.


I'd suggest flattery is a very subjective thing and varies from source to source.
There is no such thing as a mic that universally "flatters" sources. The mic, even a 121, cannot decide that for us. At some point listening skills and artistic judgement become indispensable.
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