Royer R-121 Studio

Dynamic Ribbon Microphone with Figure-8 Polar Pattern, Comes in Beautiful Wooden Box - Nickel
Royer R-121 Studio image 1
Royer R-121 Studio image 1
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Royer R-121 Studio
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Capture a Pure, Natural Sound!

NEWS: Royer Labs has been given a GRAMMY award for their outstanding ribbon mics! In the words of the Academy, these mics "were revolutionary and moved the art of recording forward."

Royer ribbon microphones are simply wonderful! Here at Sweetwater, many of our Sales Engineers own and use these microphones due to their flexibility and versatility. The R-121 is a Sweetwater best-seller and hundreds of our customers agree that you can use it on everything from guitar amps and percussion to woodwind and acoustic instruments. Vocals? You bet. The R-121 is a wonderful studio must-have whether you're looking for just one microphone to do it all, or another flavor to add to your locker.

Royer R-121 Dynamic Ribbon Microphone at a Glance:
  • Warm, realistic tone with a flat frequency response.
  • Works well on just about everything.
  • The R-121 can take on high SPLs!
  • Sonically substantial: 2-in-1!
Ribbon-Velocity Studio Microphone

The Royer R-121 is a radically redesigned ribbon microphone and Royer's flagship product. Like most ribbons, the Royer R-121's pattern is figure 8, its sensitivity is roughly equal to a good dynamic mic, and it exhibits a warm, realistic tone and flat frequency response. But when it came to design time, Royer threw out the molds and took a fresh approach to ribbons using advanced materials and cutting edge construction techniques. The Royer R-121 redefines ribbon microphones, leading Recording Magazine to say "the Royer Royer R-121 is destined to become one of the classic microphones of the 21st century." It's a sleek, light, extremely versatile microphone that is easy to use, wonderfully musical, and extremely sturdy.

Recording With The Royer R-121

An Royer R-121 ribbon microphone hears things the way your ears hear them. If you've ever heard that incredible guitar, melodic trumpet, sweet flute, deep kick drum, (pick your sound), and found that getting that sound to tape or hard drive was impossible, you owe it to yourself to try a Royer ribbon. On playback you'll notice that the recorded sound is natural and alive, with a panoramic, ambient feel much like what you heard when you were standing in front of the instruments you recorded.

An Royer R-121's response is flat and well balanced; low end is deep and full without getting boomy, mids are well defined and realistic, and the high end response is sweet and natural sounding, never edgy or sibilant.

Need to record at insane levels?

No problem! The Royer R-121's maximum SPL rating is >135dB and it can take that all day long. In practical terms, that means you can put your Royer R-121 directly in front of a souped up mega-watts Marshall and turn it up to 11 without microphone distortion or doing any damage to the ribbon. We don't recommend trying this with other ribbon mics, but the Royer R-121 can take it, no sweat.

2 Mics In One

At distances of two feet and closer, the back of the Royer R-121 is brighter than the front side. The difference in the sound is somewhat like blending 10% of a condenser mic in with your ribbon mic signal. This can be extremely useful when you record acoustic guitars, vocals, and other sound sources that you may want to hear a little more top end on.

Royer R-121 Dynamic 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
  • Field replaceable ribbon transducer
Capture any sound the way you hear it with a Royer R-121 dynamic ribbon microphone!

Additional Media

Cut Sheet
The Making Of An R-121
User Tips & Tricks!
Studio Microphone Buying Guide

Tech Specs

Microphone Type Ribbon
Ribbon Type 2.5-micron Aluminum
Mono/Stereo Mono
Polar Pattern Figure-8
Frequency Response 30Hz-15kHz
Max SPL 135dB
Output Impedance 300 ohms
Connector XLR
Weight 0.54 lbs.
Manufacturer Part Number R-121

Customer Reviews

Based on 25 reviews
Write your review


I was reluctant to spend a good portion of my studio budget on this mic, but I am very happy I did. It has taken my guitar recordings to a whole other experience. I am using a Sennheiser 421 adn e609 up close with the Royer about 3 foot in front of the cabinet. I could never get the sound I was looking for until I began using this mic. It captures the room sound extremely well. I am using it with the Grace m101 preamp and I could not be happier. It sounds great with my Sternberg 824 preamp running at 4k but the Grace preamp on ribbon mode sends 20k to the Royer which optimizes the performance of the mic. The detail is and quality of the recordings are AMAZING!

Incredible Royer R-121

How 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!
Music background: Singer, Songwriter, Guitarist, Home Engineer / Hobbyist


This 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.
Music background: Producer, Recording/Mixing Engineer

this mic puts you in the room

If 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.
Music background: recording engineer, live sound foh enengineer, guitarist

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.
Music background: Recording Engineer, pro musician, and Independant producer.

Sweetwater Advice

AJ Becerra

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!

Scott Augustyniak

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.

Ryan Ashby

Over countless hours tracking amps in the studio, I've come to prefer standard dynamic mics on guitar cabinets. I decided to give the Royer R-121 ribbon a try anyway, and I was amazed by the accurate tone I was able to get. The recording sound just like the amp does in the room, which makes it easy to dial in the tone. I've also used the R-121 on drum overheads and brass instruments, where its transparency provides a honest and organic sound.

Ted Hunter

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.

Michael Goodrich

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.
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Alan Finkbeiner

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.
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See also: Ribbon Mics, Royer, Royer Ribbon Microphones