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A ribbon microphone with phantom powered circuitry, low noise and high SPL capabilities.
The Royer R-122 is the world's first phantom powered, active ribbon microphone. Yes, you need to turn phantom power on when you use an R-122! The payback is far more output than you've ever imagined from a ribbon microphone. More importantly, the R-122's electronics place a perfect impedance load on the ribbon element, greatly expanding the number of preamps that will match up well with the R-122.
Before the R-122, all ribbon microphones were passive devices, meaning that they were 15 to 30dB less sensitive than average phantom-powered condenser mics. In addition, passive ribbon mics depend entirely on the input impedance of the preamp they're mated with to set the proper impedance to the ribbon element. Simply put, even the best ribbon mics can sound mediocre if they're plugged into the wrong mic pre. With the Royer R-122 ribbon mic, gain and impedance issues are a thing of the past.
Conventional ribbon microphones need high-quality, high-gain microphone preamplifiers to record softer sound sources like acoustic instruments, vocals and room ambience. The R-122 is as sensitive as a condenser microphone, allowing you to use practically any mic preamplifier or board record even the quietest sounds. The R-122 contains a fully balanced, discrete head amplifier system utilizing a specially wound toroidal transformer and ultra low-noise FET's. This system is extremely quiet, can handle 135dB SPL, and brings the R-122's output to —38dB! Go ahead and plug an R-122 into any preamplifier with average gain — you'll get full Royer performance and you'll have enough level to drive any recording medium.
The Royer R-122's higher sensitivity does not create additional self-noise. All of the R-122 mic's increased level comes from its large, specially wound toroidal transformer — that wonderful thing called "free gain." The level at the transformer is actually hotter than the level at the output of the microphone. The phantom-powered circuitry provides impedance conversion only, adding no noise of its own. This system took years to perfect and is currently in patent-pending status.
The R-122's active electronics provide a perfect load to the ribbon element at all times, allowing the R-122 to deliver 100% of its full sonic potential regardless of the input characteristics of the following mic pre. Due to its low-impedance output, R-122 microphones can be used on extremely long cable runs with minimal signal loss.
A good impedance match is critical to getting the most from a ribbon microphone. An impedance mismatch will load the ribbon improperly, resulting in loss of low end, diminished body, lowered sensitivity and overall compromised performance. The R-122's ribbon element lives in a perfect world - it sees the optimal impedance at all times regardless of the following equipment, so its performance is never compromised by the effects of improper loading. In addition, the ribbon element cannot be damaged by phantom power, electrical glitches or mis-wired cables.
Patented Offset Ribbon Technology
The R-122's proprietary offset ribbon transducer (Patent Number: 6,434,252) positions the ribbon element closer to the front (logo) side of the microphone than the rear. 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.
Recording With the R-122
The R-122 is every bit as tough as Royer's roadworthy R-121 and it can be used on high-SPL applications with equally good results. It's a first-call mic for electric and acoustic guitars, drum overheads, brass, percussion, electric and acoustic bass, piano, strings, woodwinds, Foley, and many other applications.
Does the R-122 mic sound any different than the R-121? Due to the similarities between the two mics, it's a good question. The mics have a similar look, they both share the same offset-ribbon transducer and large ribbon, and apart from the R-122's increased sensitivity, their specs are the same. So do they sound any different? The answer is yes, depending on what you're recording.
Sonically, the R-122 has a slightly tighter and more focused low-end response, and its transient response is faster than the R-121's, giving the perception of a more open top-end. These differences are functions of the R-122's large toroidal transformer (versus the R-121's more traditional IE core transformer).
Between the two mics, we have found that people tend to prefer R-122's on drum overheads, acoustic instruments, and vocals. With electric guitars and brass it's a toss up, with some preferring the R-122's tighter low-end and more open top-end response and others preferring the straight ahead R-121 response. Our opinion is that if you're recording mostly electric guitars and/or brass, the R-121 is the way to go. The R-122 is just as good on these instruments, but you may not need (or want) the additional top-end openness, and you certainly won't need the R-122s higher sensitivity with these high-SPL applications. If you plan on using the mics for drum overheads, vocals, piano, acoustic instruments, or very quiet sound sources, we highly recommend you choose the R-122.
Note: The R-122 ribbon mic puts out a lot of level when used to record very loud electric guitars. To keep from overdriving the front end of your mic pre, we recommend the use of a Shure or Neutrik 10dB in-line pad.
Two Mics In One
At distances of three feet and closer, the back of the R-122 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.
What the pros are saying:
"I've never heard anything better in a ribbon microphone than Royer's new R-122, ever! Something happened when they put that amp and larger transformer in there and this is my new favorite ribbon microphone. I always use ribbon mics for their warmth and sweet high frequency response characteristics, but there is something truly unique about the powered R-122's sound quality. My pal Omar Hakim was bouncing off the walls when he heard the first playback with R-122's on overheads on his drum set - they just sound absolutely fantastic! Royer really nailed it with the R-122."
Bruce Swedien (Grammy Award winner, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Duke Ellington)
"I love this (R-122) microphone."
"The R-121 blew me away in 1999 and now I'm blown away again. The increased gain and the clarity of the R-122 is ridiculous - this is an amazing development in ribbon microphones!" Ross Hogarth (Grammy winner - Jewel, Roger Waters, Keb Mo, Coal Chamber, Black Crowes, REM, Shawn Colvin)
"God, I love these (expletive deleted) things!!!" Ed Cherney (Grammy Award winner, Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton)
"I used the R-122 on several critical ADR sessions. The mic's high output abilities make it preferable on critical ADR sessions to the lower gain vintage mics. This is a superbly crafted mic, with a rich, full sound and accurate top end. The off axis response is incredible, which makes my job much easier." Dan Cubert (Dialog and Foley Recording, Mixer/Editor - Dreamworks, Universal, Tri-Star, Lucas)
"I use Royer ribbons every day I record. They're like the AC-30 of the microphone world. They just have this desirable thing that works so well and gives a truly analog vibe to digital recordings." Steve Kempster (Scoring Engineer - Trevor Rabin, Mark Mancina)
"These are the first mics I've ever used on guitars that give me exactly what I want. Huge low end with no eq." Jerry Finn (Green Day, Rancid, Blink-182, Pennywise)
"Great sounding natural room ambient mics. And they won't blow up - we tried!" Andrew Scheps (Rolling Stones, Robbie Robertson)
"Extremely smooth upper midrange, perfect for solo electric guitar." John Cuniberti (Joe Satriani, George Lynch, Dead Kennedys, Neville Brothers)
"I've been looking for this sound for a long time." Jeff "Skunk" Baxter (Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan)
"I loved them on guitar amps. For both dirty and fat clean jazz-type lead sounds the Royers were great...the Coles 4038's never won in a side-by-side comparison." Chris Bertolotti
""Whenever I need a ribbon microphone, I use Royers."
Al Schmitt (20 time Grammy Award winner, Barbra Streisand, George Benson, Diana Krall, Amy Grant)
"Royer microphones bring back to digital recording what was lost in the process of going from analog tape to digital formats."
Bryan Carlstrom (Producer/Engineer - The Offspring, Alice In Chains, White/Rob Zombie, Social Distortion, Anthrax, PIL, Project 86)
"Royer has come up with a unique design that allows me to record guitar amps at full volume without compromising the sound. I love the way it allows me to put all the low end warmth onto tape."
Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Mott the Hoople, Traffic, Anthrax, Derek & the Dominos, Peter Frampton, John McLaughlin, John Mayall, Carly Simon, Johnny Winter)
"I'm using Royer's on organs, guitars, everything. I love using a mic that I don't need to make EQ adjustments to - with Royers I just record flat and get amazing tracks."
Matt Hyde (No Doubt, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Soul Asylum, Porno For Pyros)
"Royer ribbons are amazing! Big, big drums, and great bottom on guitars."
Joe Barresi (Tool, Queens of the Stone Age, Bad Religion, Melvins, L7, Weezer)
*First engineer to test (and test and test...) the R-121 in its prototype days - invaluable help!
"I have to say these are the clearest most punchy sounding mic's I've ever used period."
Gary Tole (David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, Jimmie Vaughn, Melissa Etheridge)
"A stellar microphone! During the Thin Red Line recordings and a number of Herb Alpert sessions, Royer ribbons were indispensable."
Alan Meyerson (Hans Zimmer, Bryan Ferry, Herb Alpert, Eurythemics)
"Royer mics give you the closest thing to the natural sound source on tape as any mics I have ever used before."
John Jorgenson (Hellecastors, Elton John)
Don't worry about replacing your preamp to have the famous Royer ribbon sound. Just get an R-122 and start recording.