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Royer R-121 Studio Reviews

5.0 stars based on 25 customer reviews
Questions about the Royer R-121 Studio?

Questions about the Royer R-121 Studio?

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Sweetwater Advice

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • from Baltimore June 14, 2017

    Amazing!

    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!

  • from NW Ohio May 3, 2017Music Background:
    Full Time Musician/Studio Owner

    Accurate smooth horn sound

    I also have the R-122V, and my personal opinion is the R-122 gives trumpets a somewhat smoother sound. Love this mic!

  • from Provo, Utah December 2, 2016

    Guitars, Go To...

    I am using this mic in my small personal studio on a weekly basis. I've tracked enough songs now with this mic, on guitar amps, that I simply do not start a session without it set in dead center of the cone about 2 inches back from the grill to start. I add other mics, like a C414 or SM57, but the R121 has become the 'center image' when I mix. The other mics are added for taste. . The R121 adds a warmth and detail that other mics simply cannot touch. I've also used it for male harmony, for getting a nice room sound with drums and for drum overheads from time to time. . I cannot agree more that this mic comes the closest to ' what you hear' and it is certainly a go to mic.

  • from August 30, 2016

    royer

    wery good microphone

  • from Austin, Tx November 10, 2015

    Ribbon Convert !

    I have never been a believer in ribbon mics. I thought they were for indie rock guys who confuse muffled and crappy sounding with warm and vibey. I was wrong. When I compared my go to mic ( A Neuman or Lawson U47 fet ) with the 121 I was astonished. Fantastic articulation with a beautiful big open sounding mid range that remained focused in the track. I very different sound than the fet 47. After really listening to the R 121 while on the job I decided I should have one around. I use it now in my home studio.

  • from Thomson, GA August 27, 2015Music Background:
    Producer, engineer, label owner

    Best mic I have ever bought

    My Sweetwater sales engineer, Mike Godlove, told me this would be the best microphone purchase of my lifetime. I think he has right. However, I must admit this mic is four times more expensive than the next most expensive mic I had previously purchased. I should have expected great results. I had always been hesitant to try a ribbon mic in the past, but all my research into the Royer ribbons kept telling me not to worry so much about the fragility of these modern day ribbons. The other thing my research kept pointing out was that these mics reproduce sound so accurate it is unreal. I think this is true. Although I have only had this mic a short time, everything I have tried it on has blown me away. Acoustic instruments absolutely shine through this mic. The female vocalist I tried it on sounded amazing. The only thing not to like about this mic is the cheap stand clamp that comes with it. Royer does make a very nice shock mount. That is the next thing on my list. I can't say enough good about it. I am so glad I finally made the move to a ribbon mic.

  • from Oklahoma City May 29, 2015Music Background:
    lots o' stuff

    Amazing Microphones

    I hooked this up to a 4-710d with an sm81 mic'ing my fender tube tweed twin amp and it was beyond words. Don't worry about SPL - you aren't recording this behind an F-16 fighter jet besides 141 dB you'll go deaf anyway. But really this is an amazing mic. I can't really articulate accurately how much of a difference it makes but use a condenser mic with a ribbon on cab's and amps and you will be blown away. BTW - tried the R101 it is really nice as well. Royer is used exclusively in Abbey Road Studios from what a confidant told me. Anyway, I guarantee that this will rock your world. Get two of them seriously you would love these ribbon microphones. Just make sure you have at least 71 dB of gain. If you can't get more, get a cloudlifter which I believe will boost the dB by 24 or 20 I forget which. As for me it will be used on a Heritage Audio MPA73 preamp with 80 dB of gain.

  • from May 26, 2015Music Background:
    Studio Recording / Live Sound / Guitarist

    Royer R-121

    This microphone will be a classic for years to come.
    Such great character!
    It is truly a companion, not just a microphone.

    One of my top two go-to mics.
    Works great on all of my sources (acoustic guitars, vocals, guitar cabs, drums, percussion).
    Reacts very nicely to simple EQ curves, making it very easy to work with and achieve the sound you want within a short amount of time.

    I enjoy using the R-121 for the "sides" during mid-side recording setups.

  • from February 19, 2015

    Royer R-121 Studio

    Excellent mic. No need to think twice.

  • from January 26, 2015Music Background:
    Composer, Producer, Engineer

    Bought One, Planning on a 2nd

    This is a beautiful mic. It's incredibly natural and lovely-sounding.

    I haven't had a chance to put it through it's paces yet, but I've recorded an acoustic guitar with a near-coincident R-121 aimed at the neck and a U87 aimed at the body and holy cow that's a stunning combination. I also threw it up in a grand piano lid up and did a shootout with this, a 451, and an SM81. To me, it stood out, and those other mics are not too shabby, so I was pretty impressed.

    I'm still nervous about damaging the ribbon, as there are many warnings about that in the manual. And be prepared, it needs a ton of gain, and I mean a ton. But pair it with a Millennia HV-3 and wow, it's pretty otherworldly.

    My only regret is I probably would've bought either the stereo version or a matched pair had I realized how much I was going to like it. I can totally see why one would want a pair, especially if you're doing any recordings of orchestras, choirs, drum overheads, etc. I'm certain I will be buying a 2nd at some point.

  • from upstate N.Y. May 25, 2014Music Background:
    guitar teacher & producer / engineer

    Outstanding

    Great ribbon mic , we used it to mic an electric guitar amp (along with a Shure 57) & we got a great sound. Will use it on acoustic guitars as well as vocals.

  • from GREENVILLE, PA May 15, 2014Music Background:
    OPERA SINGER

    AMAZING SOUND

    IT IS HARD TO DESCRIBE THE BEAUTY OF THIS MIC. I BOUGHT A PAIR AND TRIED IN A SHOW WITH SMALL ORCHESTRA ORCHESTRA AND SOON AFTER BOUGHT ANOTHER PAIR. THEY ARE THAT GOOD. THE DETAIL YOU PIC UP WITH THESE MICS IS UNREAL. THEY PARTICULARLY EXCELL WITH AN ORCHESTRA. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THEM

  • from Hazard, KY May 28, 2013Music Background:
    Recording engineer, professional musician, teacher

    A must have for acoustic music

    I am very critical of gear I purchase from Sweetwater, since I want good quality and the advertisements all say that every piece of gear is wonderful. However, this is one of my favorite mics I've ever used in the studio. It is now my favorite mic for tracking mandolin, even over the c414 or the Neumann U 87. I use this at the school recording studio we have but would recommend it for home/private studio use.

  • from Crystal Lake, IL July 11, 2012Music Background:
    Singer, Songwriter, Guitarist, Home Engineer / Hobbyist

    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!

  • from Cincinnati June 18, 2012Music Background:
    Hobbyist

    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.

  • from Westbury, NY May 31, 2012Music Background:
    Engineer, musician, builder of electronic devices.

    I hear what I hear

    Every 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 Seasoned

    I 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!

  • from California May 19, 2007Music Background:
    Studio engineer, producer

    The finest

    The 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.

  • 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 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.

  • from Joplin, MO October 21, 2006Music Background:
    Producer, Recording/Mixing Engineer

    Butter

    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.

  • 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?

  • from Linden MI June 3, 2017Music Background:
    45 years performing, and about 20 years recording.

    Roger R-121

    It's warmer than my Neumann U87 and I'm now recording vocals blending both mice together. Very rich soubd. It's great on my guitars with a.n AKG 414 and SM57. Lots of Chanel's to control but once I have the sound, I bounce them all to a single track. Fun experimenting with sounds and the Royer has added another dimension to my sound. Great addition.

Reviews

  • Michael Goodrich
    8-03-2008

    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.

  • Alan Finkbeiner
    5-25-2007

    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.

Questions about the Royer R-121 Studio?

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