Royer R-121 Ribbon Microphone Details
Released in 1998, the award-winning R-121 is our flagship microphone; the world's first radically reengineered ribbon microphone and the model that reintroduced ribbon mics to engineers around the world. We did away with the large, heavy, fragile "classic" approach to ribbon microphones and went in a completely new direction. The R-121 gives all of the warmth and natural sound that experienced engineers have long turned to ribbon mics for, but in a compact, light-weight, high output and tough-as-nails package that was unheard of in a ribbon mic before the R-121. In its 10+ years in the market, thousands of R-121's have been sold around the world and it's well established as a standard for tracking electric guitar and brass.
The R-121 redefined ribbon microphones so completely that Recording Magazine wrote "...the Royer R-121 is destined to become one of the classic microphones of the 21st century."
Like many of the best classic ribbon mics, the R-121 has a figure-8 pattern, output level comparable to a dynamic mic, and a warm, realistic tone and flat frequency response. But that's where the similarities end. By using advanced materials and a blend of cutting edge and old-school, hand-build construction techniques, the R-121 is an extremely versatile and user-friendly ribbon mic that can stand up to the most demanding tasks. Cranked up electric guitars, close up brass, drums - you name it, the R-121 will help you record it with realism you have to hear to believe.
We build the R-121 solid enough to give it a lifetime warranty. We expect you to own it for as long as you record, and we'll stand behind it the whole way.
Patented Offset Ribbon Technology
The R-121's proprietary offset ribbon transducer (Patent # 6,434,252) is the first of its kind, positioning the ribbon element closer to the front (logo) side of the microphone. This arrangement gives the ribbon more room to move within the prime magnetic field while maintaining full frequency response during high SPL recordings. It's an integral piece of the magic of all Royer R-series microphones.
Royer R-121 Ribbon Microphone Recording
We've always said Royers "hear like your ears." Put one up and you'll know what we mean. The R-121 accurately reproduces what you hear at the sound source. Most microphones add their own characteristics; some have hyped highs and lows with scooped out mids, some are extremely sizzly in the highs, some accentuate midrange, some respond to nothing but low end... They all serve a purpose and have their place in the studio. But if your goal is to capture something the way it really sounds - that unbelievable electric guitar, that wailing trumpet, that full kit - and you've found that recording that sound was next to impossible, put up an R-121 and get ready. The R-121's response is flat and well balanced, with a deep, non-boomy low end, well defined and realistic mids, and a smooth and natural sounding high end response that's never edgy or sibilant.
When it's time to mix, push up the faders on your ribbon-recorded tracks and you'll see why so many of today's engineers rely on R-121's. When your tracks sound real, fitting them into the mix is a breeze.
On playback you'll find the sound is natural and alive, with a panoramic, ambient feel much like what you heard when you were standing in the room with the instruments(s) you were recording.
Need to record at insane levels? No problem! The R-121's maximum SPL rating is 135dB at 20 Hz and it can handle that for years. In practical terms, that means you can put your R-121 directly in front of a souped up 100-watt Marshall and open it up without microphone distortion or damage to the ribbon. We don't recommend trying this with other ribbon mics, but the R-121 was built to take it.
Two Mics In One
At distances of three feet and closer, the back of the R-121 records slightly brighter than the front side. This can be extremely useful when recording acoustic guitars, vocals, and other sound sources that you may need a slightly brighter response on.
Royer R-121 Ribbon Microphone Features
- High SPL Capabilities
- No internal active electronics to overload or produce distortion up to maximum SPL rating
- Extremely low residual noise
- Ribbon element is not affected by heat or humidity
- Absence of high frequency phase distortion
- Equal sensitivity from front or back of element
- Consistent frequency response regardless of distance
Royer R-121 Ribbon Microphone Applications
- Electric Guitar Amps
- Brass Instruments
- Horn Sections
- Drum Rooms
- Kick Drum
- Percussion Instruments
- Acoustic Piano
- Acoustic Guitar
- String Instruments & Sections
- Choirs & Orchestras
- Commercial Broadcast
Royer R-121 Ribbon Microphone Specifications
- Acoustic Operating Principle: Electrodynamic pressure gradient
- Polar Pattern: Figure-8
- Generating Element: 2.5-micron aluminum ribbon
- Magnets: Rare Earth Neodymium
- Frequency Response: 30 -15,000 Hz +/- 3dB
- Sensitivity: -50 dBv Re. 1v/pa
- Output Impedance: 300 Ohms @ 1K (nominal)
- Rated Load Impedance: >1500 Ohms @ 300 Ohms
- Maximum SPL: >135dB @ 20 Hz
- Output Connector: Male XLR 3 pin (Pin 2 Hot)
- Dimensions: 58mm L, 25mm W (6.13" L, 1" W) Weight: 244g (8.6 oz) Finish: Dull Satin Nickel/Matte Black Chrome optional
Royer R-121 Ribbon Microphone Downloads
What We Think - Royer R-121 Review
"The Royer Labs R-121: I really don't believe that there has been a microphone since the SM57 that has become such a necessary microphone to own for recording both guitars and drums - but ESPECIALLY guitars. There is something about the R-121 where it wants to get right in there and be right up on the grill of the speaker. It's not afraid for that's where it performs best.
"Commonly used in a trio-cluster of microphones for 'high-definition' electric guitar recording (Ross Hogarth's technique), the R-121 will get the middle of the amp sound with tons of definition and punch to go along with the body while an SM57 captures the sizzle of the top and an MD421 grabs the bottom. Frankly, it's a beautiful sounding microphone just on it's own and I'll frequently use it just by itself. Guitars sound immediate without being unintentionally abrasive. Kick drums (YES! You read that correctly) really have to come across and the mid-range is a frequently overlooked consideration. But that's where the soul of the drum lives. So, you have to give it some attention - and the R-121 placed in front of a kick drum brings up the character that is natural (there is that word again...) and allows the kick drum to sound like a kick drum - not just some type of an archetype of a kick drum. But it's important to place it about 12 to 18-inches off the front head of the drum and at a 45-degree down-angle so that the blast of pressure off of the drum head doesn't hit the ribbon flat [Bad! You'll stretch and blow the ribbon with direct blasts of moving air], but rather, the pressure should travel down and disperse across the length of the ribbon.
"Since it's a passive ribbon microphone, you'll do well to experiment to match the R-121up to a preamp that has lots of clean gain and a nominal input impedance of 1500 Ohms at a minimum (higher values are ideal) - so a ribbon specific preamp like the AEA TRP or RPQ would not be bad preamps to try out. However, people use Royers with all kinds of preamps; but for best results, it is recommended that the the preamp be of TRULY professional grade. Vintech, Chandler Limited, A Designs, Great River, Rupert Neve Designs are all great matches. Or if you want to get a little more clarity out of the top-end and do more distance recording, check out the Royer R-122: the active counterpart to the R-121 that features a phantom powered on-board impedance matching preamplifier (a pre-preamp) that boosts the level up to where those classic preamps don't become fussy (or hissy/noisy).
"The Royer R-121 is a classic microphone for the ages and if you haven't used one, then you must. It's really that simple. You won't go back."
Alan Moon - Front End Audio
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