AEA R84 Ribbon Microphone
The AEA R84 Ribbon Microphone brings the same ribbon motor and transformer of the celebrated AEA R44 to a more cost effective - but no less stellar sounding - microphone chassis. This microphone has become a modern-classic in its own right and should be in the mic locker of every studio.
Vocals, drums, bass, guitar (acoustic or electric), piano, whole ensembles... this microphone does it all, as its predecessor and inspiration was designed to do way back in 1936. The R84 proves that some classics don't fade away... they adapt, improve, and strengthen with age. If you are new to ribbons, you are in for a treat! Experienced users have discovered the AEA R84 is an all purpose ribbon microphone, ideally suited for solo and accent work. It is hard to find an application where the R84 mic does not shine. The AEA R84 delivers the natural sound and figure-8 directional sensitivity a quality ribbon microphone should offer:
- Pure natural sound, just as you hear it when you're placing your mic in the studio.
- Quick smooth transients that capture the feeling of being there without sounding like a recording.
- Extended bass and treble that captures the details without shoving anything in your face.
- A figure-eight pattern that focuses your recording on the sound you want.
We believe you will enjoy the confidence this microphone inspires. It's a forgiving tool that makes your recording work easier, as it literally sounds good on everything. Try it first and you'll usually like it and find it sits well in the mix. When time is scarce and quality necessary, put the AEA R84 to the test. Our users' experience is that you'll use it more and more (in pairs too!). Then it will start to really grow on you.
The versatile AEA R84 large ribbon microphone is suitable for a wide range of instruments, including brass, strings, percussion, electric guitar and bass. Utilizing the same basic acoustic structure as the AEA R44CNE, the AEA R84 delivers that "big ribbon" sound. At just 0.00007 of an inch, the ultra-thin, low-tension ribbon element of the AEA R84 ensures a quick response, whatever the application. Capable of handling better than 165 dB SPL at higher frequencies, when used on vocals or instruments the AEA R84 offers a performance that is intimate, warm and detailed, yet never harsh.
AEA R84 Ribbon Microphone Features
- Same Big Ribbon, tuning, and transformer as the R44 series
- Classic look, but with milder proximity effect than the R44
- Easy to use and affordable
- Versatile for close-up and ambient mic applications
AEA R84 Ribbon Microphone Options
- AEA R84 DJV Ribbon Microphone: This variation is a factory modification of the R84 which makes the R84 much more protected from wind blasts and moisture that result from close-up vocal recording/performance. So, with the AEA R84 DJV, you get the same incredible tone and sound of the R84, but with an additional tuning of the proximity effect which optimizes it for broadcast, voice over and very close and intimate vocal recordings.
AEA R84 Ribbon Microphone Includes
- R84 Microphone
- Shock Mount / Mic Stand Adapter
- Hard Wired 10-foot Starquad Cable
- Vertical Carrying Case
AEA R84 Ribbon Microphone Specifications
- Pattern: Bidirectional (Figure-of-8)
- Frequency: 20 Hz to 20 kHz
- Principle: Pressure gradient microphone
- SPL: 165+ dBSPL (1% third harmonic > 1 kHz)
- Sensitivity: 2.5 mV/Pa (-52 dBv/Pa) into unloaded circuit
- Impedance: 270 Ω nominal
- Recommended Impedance: 1.2 kΩ or greater
- Power: Not required or recommended
- Polarity: Pin 2 high for positive pressure on front of microphone.
- Connector: XLR-3M wired to a 3 m captive cable
- Off Axis Response:
- Polar Pattern: Native bi-directional pattern
- Horizontal: Level changes with angle, frequency response is consistent, 35 dB null at 90° / 270°
- Vertical: Level changes with angle, reduced HF response above and below 0° / 180° axis, 35 dB null at 90° / 270°
- Transducer element:
- Ribbon Thickness: 1.8 μ (0.0000018 m) of pure aluminum
- Ribbon Width: 0.185 (4.7 mm)
- Ribbon Length: 2.35 (59.7 mm)
- Limited Warranty: One year parts and labor, shipping not included. Three year extended warranty if the product is registered.
- Physical Specs:
- Weight with Cable: 3 pounds (1.36 kg)
- Height: 11.6 (29.5 cm)
- Width: 3.9 (9.9 cm)
- Depth: 2.5 (6.4 cm)
AEA R84 Ribbon Microphone Downloads
- View the AEA R84 User Guide / Owners Manual (PDF)
- View the AEA R84 Technical One-Sheet (PDF)
- Read the article "The Bidirectional Microphone: A Forgotten Patriarch" (PDF)
AEA R84 Ribbon Microphone Reviews
- Studio Auditions
- Mix Magazine - by Kevin Becka, October 2003
- Wes Dooley and Audio Engineering Associates - Sound On Sound
What We Think
"The AEA R84 Ribbon Microphone is perhaps the perfect antidote for the sterility of recording in the digital landscape. Why? Imagine depth, a smooth yet extended high frequency response, and a nicely balanced frequency response throughout. Great at distance mic placement, the R84 began as a more cost-conscious build of the high-dollar AEA R44 microphones. However, while it still sports the same ribbon material and the same transformer as the R44, the body resonance and the grille shape contribute to a unique and highly flexible sound all its own.
Looking to record a singer/songwriter with a single microphone; old-school style? The R84 is the answer. It's never too bright and when matched with the right microphone preamplifier, it's got a balance that just isn't achievable with most any FET or tube condenser. Ribbon microphones really are dynamic microphones - only, they are high-resolution dynamic microphones. There is a unique depth of field that they capture that is impossible otherwise. This really becomes a beautiful component of this microphone when recording anything, but especially when recording vocals with an expressive vocalist. The R84 really gets you out of a jam when you have a 'nasaly' sounding singer, or one who is particularly sibilant. I've recorded several vocalists who just don't sound right on even the most expensive tube microphones - no matter how smooth the top-end. The R84 became the clearly evident solution.
Drums can be hard to record with condensers in the digital realm since cymbals can all too often sound hard or washy in such a way that cannot be corrected with eq. A pair of R84s in the room is many times all you need for an excellent recording. Try about 6 feet out in front of the kit. Work a little bit to place them just right - or take the easy way out and go with the AEA R88 mkII - a Blumlein or Mid-Side Stereo version of the R84 - depending on how you set it up on the mixer or in your DAW. What an incredible sound. BIG and rich. Smooth and detailed. It really doesn't get any better than this. It's a jazz drummer's dream microphone.
There is a special thing that happens with normally difficult to record instruments that run the risk of being too 'toppy' or 'clacky' and where the body can get lost. The mandolin is one such instrument. I'm giving away a big secret here, but use the R84 with a TRP or AEA's new RPQ500 preamp, put it through a smooth opto-style compressor (a Universal Audio LA-2A provided excellent results for me) and compress just enough to get it to 'sit' amongst the other instruments properly while still being dynamic, and you're golden. You'll be the genius engineer hero of the day, guaranteed. Any stringed instrument benefits from this microphone if you're after a full and accurate tone. It's not a good choice for ultra-shimmery and fake sounding acoustics. Who wants that, anyway? And it is stunning on piano.
Speaking of microphone preamps, ribbon microphones require a little 'special care and feeding' when it comes to what you're plugging the mic into. The R84 is no exception. Your typical on-board interface's mic preamp is probably not going to go this microphone justice. So, you need to understand that if you think it doesn't sound like I've described it in the preceding paragraphs, that it's the impedance relationship between the mic and the preamp - and no ribbon microphone is immune; and I've found this to be true of even the best active ribbon mics. Do yourself a favor - view recording ribbon microphones as recording with a system. The results will be quite evident. Obviously, the ribbon-tailored preamps from AEA, such as the Fred Forssell designed TRP, RPQ, and RPQ500 offerings are going to work extremely well. They pack a lot of good, clean, and quiet gain into affordable packages that work incredibly well for dynamic, tube, and even condenser microphones (in the case of the RPQ models that sport phantom power).
I've become a very big fan of using the R84 with the A Designs Ventura. This preamp / equalizer combo provides some of the most detailed and frequency balanced sound I've ever heard with the R84. It's a killer on vocals, and on pretty much anything else, I might add. And if you need to do a little tonal shaping, the inductor-based equalizer (think Quad Eight) is rich with character. Since the R84 takes EQ so well, this could very well be the perfect pairing.
If you've got any questions about what an AEA microphone such as the R84 or its variants, such as the R84DJV or the active AEA A840, can to help your recorded (or even live) sound elevate to the realm of the inspiring, give us a call. We're all experienced ribbon microphone users and understand the intricacies, challenges, and many, many rewards of recording with ribbons. AEA and Front End Audio will get you on the path to sounding fantastic."
- Front End Audio
Videos Hide Videos Show Videos
AEA R84 - Male Voice - Listening Library
Hear the AEA R84 on male vocals. For more info about the AEA R...
AEA R84 - Acoustic Guitar - Listening Library
Hear the AEA R84 on acoustic guitar. For more info about the A...
AEA R84 - Female Voice - Listening Library
Hear the AEA R84 on female vocals. For more info about the AEA...
AEA R84 - Trumpet - Listening Library
Hear the AEA R84 on trumpet. For more info about the AEA R84 r...
AEA R84 - Kick Drum - Listening Library
This video features an AEA R84 on kick drum. For more info abo...
AEA R84 - Violin - Listening Library
Hear the AEA R84 on classical violin. For more info about the ...
AEA R84 - Upright Bass - Listening Library
Hear the AEA R84 on upright bass. For more info about the AEA ...
AEA R84 - Drum Overheads - Listening Library
This video features a pair of spaced AEA R84s on overheads. Fo...
9 Reviews Hide Reviews Show Reviews
I do radio news for a local Public Radio Station from a home studio...and for years have been using an EV RE20. Very decent mic. Graduated to a Rode K2. Better. Finally bought the R84...it is perfection! Yes, soft, buttery, big-sound, but still detailed, and takes EQ extremely well...so much so, you can literally tailor the mic to sound almost anyway you like, without artifacts and without changing the
natural sound of your voice...it's like, organic. Excellent for singing with my guitar as well. It is also beautifully made and great to look at. Special thanks to Dave at FrontEnd who took time to answer all my questions, even called Wes Dooley at AEA to check on the DJ option(no longer available, but not really needed) and got back to me with a detailed answer. Completely satisfied with both the mic and the company!
I only take my R84 out of it's sleeve on special occasions and typically stay within inches of the mic for that lovely classic ribbon proximity effect... velvety smooth.
The R84 also sounds very detailed and natural when you back up from the mic a bit.
At first, I wasn't that crazy about the sound of this classic ribbon "emulation" (I've sung through vintage RCA 84s, and they are fairly different, overall, in sound). But then, I tried it with a couple of different preamps and found one that seemed more sympatico with the AEA. It does render a very realistic (if understated) sound when recording higher-pitched strings with fast transients, like ukuleles and tiples. Just be prepared to boost the signal to the max. It takes about 65 db of gain to be useful with even slightly quiet instruments. It gives a classic sound to horns, and can be an effective tool for more "vintage" sounding vocals, say for jazz. Overall, a very good addition to any studio's mic collection.
This is my favorite mic that I own. It is the best microphone I have found for my dynamic voice. It smooths over the gravels and volume fluctuations very nicely. I have also used it as the S in an M/S setup on grand piano with a Rode Classic in omni as the M; this mic has a more even spread in its figure-8 pattern for an application like this, moreso than the R92 for example. It also sounds great as a drum room mic and on all kinds of acoustic stringed instruments!
As a ribbon it can sound a little dull on its own, but one of my favorite things about this mic is that I can compress it and boost the highs on it to some extremes without sounding harsh at all - it just opens it up. There are many good ribbon mics out there, but I believe this one is an exceptionally good value for someone who doesn't have an extraordinary budget!
Since I got this microphone some months ago, my condensers have been hard pressed to leave their cupboard. I've used R84 on every occasion and the results are stunning. Buttery highs on glockenspiel, very present, very balanced acoustic guitar, wonderful nuances on hand drums and percussion. What can't this mic do? This must be one of my best studio investments ever!
This is my first ribbon mic and I am using it primarily for a room mic on my electrics. It really stands out with distorted sounds. I have tried with with rock male lead vox and it sat too far back however it shines on guitars. The build is fantastic. I highly recommend this mic.
I've used a pair on the contrabasses in the orchestra and was really blown away! An amazing open bottom end, not boomy like other condenser mics... and the figure of 8 is another weapon of this mic; I needed a spot mic on the piano with the opera singer next to it, placed the R84 in front of the piano with the singer in the "null" of the mic and could really get a natural balance between the piano and singer using the AEA R84 in combination with my other micorphones. And what they say is true: one pair of R84's is not enough...! These are my favorite mic's!
Just go for it; you won't regret it (if you don't like them, you can always sell them to me... I would like to have an extra pair...)
I've owned this mic for about a year and it's become my favorite for electric guitar, smooth vocals, and drum overhead. This mic captures what's going on in the room extremely well. So if your guitar/drums sounds great in a room, they'll sound great in your recording. If it sounds like crap in the room, this mic won't save you.
The mic take EQ extremely well. I like to use the mic in combination with other brighter mics to create a really uniquie sound I can never capture with one single mic.
What a wonderful mic-!! When I first pulled the capsule from its interesting looking high-end wine sack I was pleased to find it was definitely not a half pint replica, but all the girth and beauty of the ribbon mic's of yesteryear.
I placed it first on an Upright Bass. When I keyed up the monitors I could swear the bass was setting next to me in the control room. Full rich with tons of bottom, no EQ today.
From everything I have read about the R84 I can't wait to try this on brass and vocals.