Royer R-121 Studio Reviews5.0/5.0 based on 11 customer reviews
Everthing. Everything. Yes, everything. Drums, piano, guitar, marimba, bass, trumpet, vocals, harp, helicopter?just to name a few things I've found the Royer R-121 works wonders on. Not to delve into the world of Quine logic here, but this is axiomatic: If you have ears and you want to record then you need this microphone.
Because I have inexpensive mics and an interface of similar quality, my recordings usually require a lot of processing and frustration in search of a decent tone. But the other night, I brought home a Royer R-121 ribbon mic. After plugging it into a True Systems P-Solo Ribbon pre, I threw on the headphones and grabbed my ukulele. When I heard the sound of the first strum come through my headphones, my jaw about hit the floor. It was so accurate, it sounded like I was standing in front of myself playing! After recording some ukulele, I had to grab my acoustic guitar because this GREAT SOUND meant I was having GREAT FUN! Lesson learned that night: You get what you pay for. And after that test, I knew the R-121 would be a permanent part of my mic collection.
I bought a pair mainly for use as room microphones for my drums and for use on guitar amps, but they're so versatile they've really become my "desert island" microphones. I still find plenty of uses for my other microphones, but I'd be comfortable using my R121's on just about anything.
The Royer R-121 sounds great on any source! I personally love them on electric cabs and for drum overheads. I use 121's on EVERY session I do and it is SO easy to get a great sound of them. You cannot make these mics sound bad!
from Crystal Lake, IL
July 11, 2012Music Background:
Singer, Songwriter, Guitarist, Home Engineer / Hobbyist
Incredible Royer R-121How many of you have spent hours tweaking your guitar tracks to get just the right sound? If you're one of many I'm sure, put the SM-57's away and pick up a Royer R-121 NOW. I've read the reviews for this thing but you just won't believe it until you've tried one yourself! We recorded an Ibanez Vai through a 60 Watt Blackstar with a bunch of effects and Holy Smokes!!! That's what has been missing all along. It sounds like Metallica or Priest sitting in my basement studio! Endless EQ.....forget it. Tweaking compressors? Why? This thing makes your guitars sit perfectly in the mix with little effort. What you put in...comes out. Highly Recommended!
June 18, 2012Music Background:
A refreshing change......Nice to have a mic that is not hyped and edgy. It represents sources very faithfully with a touch of warmth that is not stodgy or dull. As well as using it for electric guitar (which it excels at), my new favorite application is as the 'Mid' in an M/S configuration for acoustic guitar together with a Blue Kiwi in Figure 8 mode. The solidity of the Royer in the middle balances the highs of the Kiwi on the sides extremely well. I'm delighted with the Royer - a great first ribbon if you don't already one.
MEI Studio - NY
from Westbury, NY
May 31, 2012Music Background:
Engineer, musician, builder of electronic devices.
I hear what I hearEvery mic has a flavor or tone if you will. Some are bright, some are harsh, some are warm some are just plain dull. Point is, all mic's impart their own sound on a given sound source. One very easily recognizable instance of this is when micing a guitar cabinet. The 57 have upper mid-range sound, a 421 has a bright high and can have more lows than the 57 depending on positioning... with this thing... what you hear coming out of the speaker is what you hear on playback. Yes there are certain little things that the ribbon imparts on the sound, (the front of the mic has a different sound than the back at close proximity) but for the most part, especially with guitar recording, THIS IS IT!
from Minot, ME USA
April 24, 2012Music Background:
Songwriter,Studio Owner, Producer, Recording Engineer.
It's true!This mic is the real deal. I couldn't believe my ears especially when using on electric guitar. It's very cool on drums and acoustic instruments as well. Great mic that's worth the investment.
from Caldwell, NJ
January 11, 2012Music Background:
Recording Engineer, Quasi-pro Musician
Get to know it!This mic is a common sense mic. Place it where it sounds great and it will sound great. You may have to throw out your dynamic or condenser mic paradigms but you’ll soon find this an irresistible option once you’ve figure it out. It’s hard to make it sound bad. I have a unique “singer/songwriter” voice that has some harsh upper-mids that my MA-200 was picking up well (not its fault). The Royer smoothed everything out without sacrificing fast transient response, clarity, or “air” in the recorded track. Play around with it and it will not disappoint you. The more you get to know it, they more you’ll see how priceless it is to have in your mic locker.
*Do make sure you treat yourself to a mic-pre with plenty of gorgeous clean gain. I used a Daking Mic Pre One.
from Colorado, USA
December 28, 2007Music Background:
Composer for film and television
Well SeasonedI have been using my R-121 in my studio for about 2 years. It has been my consistent go to mic on almost every session. It excels on horns, and is breathtaking when close recording hand percussion. I used it on my flugel horn a few years ago, and the track won me an Emmy! One of my absolute favorite mics!
May 19, 2007Music Background:
Studio engineer, producer
The finestThe Royer R121 is the finest, smoothest mic for electric guitar. This mic is has two distinctive sounds, depending on which side you point it. It's like having two completely unique sounds that are both astounding. I own almost 30 mics, and this is the best of the bunch. I have used it for recording strings, piano, guitar, vocals, drums, accordion, wind and brass horns, and oh, my, it has sounded incredible for every last one. This mic is to die for. If it were a woman, I'd marry it, if it were an idol, I would worship it. Come to think of it, I already do.
IMAGO RECORDING STUDIOS
from Lexington, Ky
February 28, 2007Music Background:
Recording Engineer, pro musician, and Independant producer.
OH WOW!!!!GENIUS....Dave you're the man. I use these mics on everything....literally. This is my studio workhorse. It is so three dimensional that it really does put you in the mix. I have a femal artist that I'm producing that loves this mic for vocals. Very Very warm and vintage. If you have these mics I would also recommend getting the AEA Ribbon Pre. It's a great price and it compliments these mics perfectly. I also love the Presonus ADL 600 and the Focusrite Red Series on ribbons.Get a couple.
from cary nc
October 24, 2006Music Background:
recording engineer, live sound foh enengineer, guitarist
this mic puts you in the roomIf you've been searching for that perfect guitar tone but you just can't quite get there, this is what you've been missing. It's not the cheapest mic out there so it wasn't my first choice but after testing this mic for five minutes I knew I found what I was looking for. This mic puts you in the room, needs little eq and sounds great through many mic pres; avalon 737, BAE neve 1272, Trident S20 just to name a few.
from Joplin, MO
October 21, 2006Music Background:
Producer, Recording/Mixing Engineer
ButterThis is THE mic for recording electric guitars. I know it does all sorts of other things very well, but I use it on elec guitars a ton! I primarily use the R-121 on a Vox AC-30, through a UA 2610 preamp, through Apogee converters. Sometimes I'll throw an SM57 or a Sennheiser MD421 right up in the middle of the cone and stick the Royer a little off to the side and behind or on the other cone matching the distance to keep it in phase. Either way, I'm usually tracking within 5 minutes of taking the mic out of its pretty little cherry box.
In the mixing stage, the quality of this mic comes out more than you even knew it in the tracking stage. It sits in the mix better than you could ever imagine, sounds so natural, so lively, and I hardly even have to eq.
Bottom line, this mic is pure butter. It's worth every penny if you're ready to record electric guitars with very high quality.
from Seattle, WA
September 28, 2006Music Background:
full time engineer
The R stands for it Rules!If you record electric guitar, you need to have this mic. If you're used to the usual dynamic mics, you will poop yourself when you first find the sweet spot on a 121. You could be smart and get 10 sm57's or you could be really REALLY smart and get one R-121. Will "poop" get past the censors?
Ten years ago, most people, myself included, knew two things about ribbon microphones. First, they provide wonderfully detailed sound. Second, they're too fragile to be a viable option for my studio. Enter David Royer. He set out to create ribbon microphones for the working man. In 1998, he introduced the R-121, which delivers all the wonderful ribbon mic detail with the strength of a modern microphone.
The first thing I noticed was the beautiful wooden box that housed the microphone. Then, when I opened that box, there was a nice velvet-like pouch holding the microphone. While all this was a nice touch, the question still remained: how does it sound?
If I only choose one word to describe the R-121's sound, it would be "thick." The detail in the lows and low mids provides everything you need to have a sound as thick as it is clear. The proximity effect on this mic will add even more bass and still retain all the clarity. I was absolutely blown away by the sounds of this microphone. Imagine, I recorded my guitar and it sounded just the way I heard it. I never thought thick tones could come so easily. Add a standard instrument dynamic mic to bring back some more high-end, and you have instant rock guitar (thought it goes far beyond just rock). It was like I've always dreamed. I can't wait to try it on everything else I own.
I was taught that ribbon mics were for brass... "Nothing better on a square wave." Then came the 80s and 90s, and condensers became king. Brighter, edgier, raw... these were the hip adjectives. Warm? Fat? Booorrrring! Ribbon mics took their unpopular figure-eight pattern and settled for the little-used but oft talked about Mid Side miking technique. I would pull my old, tired, and out of style RCA 44 Jr out of the closet many times and suggest it, only for it to be rejected... I'm sure its feelings were hurt.
The times, they are a changin'. The new century (and brilliant, maverick microphone maker Dave Royer) brought ribbon mics back into popularity. Two companies, Royer and AEA, re-invented ribbons. AEA chose to recreate the classics. Royer made changes on old designs, and fixed the obvious obstacles of fragile elements and the need for loud mic pres. But the main thing was the sound. Keeping the best qualities of the older ribbon designs, fast transient response, and thick (please excuse the now-overused "warm" and "fat") sound. Added to the big, but now tamed proximity effect, is clarity in high frequencies and the ability to handle high SPLs. Now, trumpets and trombones sound great but so do guitar amps. Orchestras had used them for spot mics but now stereo, ultra-responsive ribbons are put out front. They are used on vocals in pop music. They found their way back in front of drum kits as mono overheads, even inside of bass drums!
I was anxious to compare the Royer R-121 with my RCA. First of all, my mic sounds small and noisy next to the R-121. It has that distinctive midrange and transient response but pushing the volume just raises the noise. The R-121 in contrast is clean, clear, and natural with an airiness that opened up the top end and let it breathe. OK, enough of the "Sideways" silly wine talk. First I put it in front of my mic-snob wife, who thinks only certain mics are appropriate. Just her and a guitar with the mic about two feet in front (just enough to minimize the dining room ambience). She liked it! Then the RCA... not so much. Then on a Wurly A-200 through an amp it was a near tie. But, the R-121 in front of the same amp with a strat sounded great. On a djembe surprising bottom and great punch. Shakers... no harshness. I heard it on a recording as a mono overhead on a drum kit and it is the best.
The Royer R-121 is on my wishlist.