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Microphone Month 5

AEA R84 Reviews

5.0 stars based on 19 customer reviews
Questions about the AEA R84?

Questions about the AEA R84?

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Sweetwater Advice

  • Bart Good

    I remember the first time that I used the AEA R84 while recording a popular jazz ensemble. The R84 was in front of an alto saxophone and I couldn't believe how smooth and real “3D” it sounded. Since then I have used this mic on acoustic guitar and vocals. I have been impressed with how smooth it captures sound. It also takes eq very well which makes it easy to sculpt in the mix. I highly recommend this microphone - if you've never used a ribbon mic, the R84 is a great place to start.

  • Forrest Powell

    I had the privilege of Wes Dooley coming over to the home studio recently, and we did some quick recordings of acoustic guitar on the R84 and R92. Wow! Compared to some mics at, well, four times the price tag, they both stood up with marvelous clarity and rich, musical character. I love ribbon mics in general, and the R84 is spot-on for vocals to reduce proximity effect and extend the frequency range dramatically. Awesome!

  • from Jackson, MO September 16, 2016Music Background:
    I've done stuff


    This mic is a gem. Hang it over a drum kit all by its lonesome and listen for the magic. Killer on electric guitars and brass. Of course vocals. If you're whispering this guy will probably generate some noise as it is a bit short on output but that's just the nature of ribbons. Other than that complaint against nature (not AEA or the mic) this guy is quite the performer.

  • from Richmond August 28, 2015Music Background:

    AEA R84

    I needed a large diaphragm mic with a smooth sound and cool look for a barbershop quartet. The smooth and uncolored sound blew me away. All we could hear was: the group, and nothing else. No artifacts, no coloring; just smooth, warm sound, as if we were standing right in front of the group!

    Ribbon mics are known for slightly low gain outputs, but it matched up well with the X-32 preamps, with plenty of gain.

    Best mic I have!

  • from Los Angeles, CA December 5, 2014Music Background:
    Pro musician/recording engineer

    Like Silk

    The R84 is one of the world's finest ribbon mics. Despite my familiarity with it I was unprepared for the gorgeously silky sound it produced on tenor and alto sax in a recent session. EQ not only was unnecessary but would have detracted from the very refined contemporary, yet familiar "old school" sound. An ideal mic for brass and sax, excellent for clarinet, too, and probably other instruments on which I have not yet used it. Yes, I give it a five star rating and I'm hard to please.

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

    Monster > Just Great

    We tried this 84 out & it is a great ribbon mic , warm & open. We are waiting for the AEA RPQ to come & use as the preamp. With this combination we expect great results.

  • from December 3, 2013Music Background:
    Pro Musician

    This beast is a beauty

    I've been recorded using some great mics (U87, C12A), but none of them sounded more like me than this beauty. I'm taking it to sessions, in case the studios don't yet have one. The bag is a little weird, but since it's a ribbon and is best stored upright, it makes perfect sense. It's a pleasant reminder in the studio to see it standing there, waiting ...

  • from Greenville, SC July 26, 2013Music Background:
    Berklee grad, Pro musician, Recording Engineer, Guitar Instructor

    Great Mic!

    Let me start off by saying I am obsessed with ribbon microphones! I purchased a Royer R 121(my first ribbon mic) about 3 years ago because of all the great things I was hearing about using them on guitar cabs. I'd say I spent two mins. tops with mic placement because I was so edger to see if it lived up too all the hype. Sure enough it did. I could not believe what was coming out of my monitors! There was no coloration to the sound it just sounded like me. It was the most incredible sensation! Same goes for the AEA R84. It sounds great on pretty much anything. Especially brass, acoustic instruments, vocals and electric and bass guitar. Just like the royer it can take EQ like a champ and has a great smooth high end. This being my fifth and also least expensive ribbon I own, by no means is that a bad thing, I had to try out the AEA RPQ with it. All I can say is you can not go wrong with that combination! You get up to 80db of clean gain and the curve shaper really lets roll off some of the low end from the proximity effect and also gives you some nice presence in high end with out sounding brittle. If you want a microphone that will give you the truth and nothing but the truth you're going to get exactly that with the R84. The sound going into this mic will be the same sound coming out of your monitors. One piece of advice. If you are planning on buying any kind of high end Ribbon Mic I suggest you get a nice pre with it that has at least 70 db of clean gain and a relatively high input impedance. One thing is for sure, you will not have buyers remorse. Wes Dooley is a genius! :) 5 stars

  • from Indianapolis, IN December 14, 2012Music Background:
    Tracking Engineer

    Love it!

    It's like putting your ears up next to the sound source. Absolutely love the R84. Will definitely be adding another to the mic locker.

  • from Boston area, MA December 8, 2012Music Background:
    Recordist specializing in jazz/improvised music on acoustic instruments

    Excellent, Versatile, and FORGIVING microphone

    If I had to start building my microphone collection from scratch, knowing what I do now, these would be the first microphones I'd buy, period. While they wouldn't be the only mics I'd buy, I suspect I could go a long while with a pair of R84s before feeling the need for another microphone.
    They are my current go-to microphones for saxophones, trumpets, and wind and brass instruments. No one mic is suitable for everyone's voice, but when this is the one that fits, it's a revelation to the singer, truly flattering and exciting. (In those cases where it doesn't work with a singer, the right mic doesn't generate equivalent excitement—I think I have to look at LDCs with nose-bleed prices to get something that is as good a fit for those folks with "non-ribbon" voices)
    Something that no one else has mentioned is how forgiving these microphone are in terms of placement. You'd think a figure-of-eight pattern would be something of a pain in rear, especially in small spaces, and yes, putting something behind this mic is the same as putting something in front of it (except w/ the polarity reversed), but putting something *to* *the* *side* of the mic is darn near putting it in an isolation chamber—the nulls are really that deep. Eliminating or reducing bleed in a small space suddenly becomes possible.
    Last but not least, get a really-o, truly-o good preamp for this baby. Ribbons need lots of clean gain and are very sensitive to input impedance, and the *higher* the input impedance, the better. If you can spring for AEA's TRP or (even better) their RPQ, that's wonderful. Alternately (and for much less money) there's Cloud Microphone's Cloudlifter which goes between the ribbon mic and the preamp.
    In sum, even though these aren't cheap mics, they are excellent values. Beginners will be surprised at the results they get, while more advanced users will appreciate their flexibility and unusually large range of problems they can solve.

  • from November 23, 2012Music Background:
    Singer Songwriter guitarist


    The way this mic smooth,s out my crusty old voice really is nothing short of miraculous (If I had this mic 40yrs ago I coulda bin a contender lol ) I am looking hard a getting the RPQ500 but the sound I am getting through my ART PROII >my apollo>pultec eq is so good I am having a hard time justifying the cost .The AEA84 really is two mic,s in one as the sound through the back is very different than through the front .(my voice sounds best through the back)on acoustic guitar the trick seems to be finding a location where it doesn,t sound good. At first I thought the sock was kind of goofy but because this mic gets used so much in my little studio the sock is very handy and practical.I have a fet head dedicated to this mic so I never have to worry about inadvertently applying 48v to the aea84(even if you don,t need the extra 20db)I will admit that I do like gear that looks good(ok I.m a tad vain) and this mic sure win,t hard on the eyes or ears

  • from Houston, TX November 9, 2011Music Background:
    Pro musician, songwriter, producer

    Love in ribbons

    I recorded my EP back in 2005 in a great studio in NYC. Of all the different fancy mics the engineer used on the record, this is the only memorable one. Tracked my baritone voice beautifully, and captured the mandola and guitars impeccably. I'll be getting one for my new songwriting studio.

  • from Crappy Town, Oklahoma August 11, 2011Music Background:
    audio engineer, musician, dreamer



  • from Brooklyn, NY October 15, 2010Music Background:

    Mic Cabinet MUST.

    In long search for that "put the mic where it sounds good in the room with your ears"-mic, the R84 does EXACTLY THAT.

    I've heard much hype about this mic, and I finally gave in. I WILL NEVER LOOK BACK. Its characteristic sound is everything you want a 'real' ribbon mic to have. Smooth highs (not dark), impecable and luscious mids, earthquake lows. So far I've used it on drums, vocals, and guitars both acoustic and electric. There is no shining star application because they ALL sound INCREDIBLE.

    If I lost it I would break the bank, go in debt, and sell organs to get another.

    Look for warmth, and look no further than this mic.

  • from USA November 29, 2009Music Background:
    Guitarist / composer, Producer, Engineer

    Classic indispensable golden sound resurrected intact in the 21st century

    This microphone is also part of of my studio. Ribbon mics, unlike condensers are ideally compatible with digital recording media. They were abandoned due to tape recorders smearing out the natural sound of the ribbon mic. Condensers were created to compensate for that by being harder and more pronounced in the high frequencies. The same principle as pre-emphasis in mastering analog tape more or less.

    Therefore I would recommend that someone starting a DAW studio today , first get great ribbons and great dynamic mics before they great condensers. It takes a lot of experience to use condensers well with DAWs and also expensive mic pres. Great solid state mic pres cost even more than great tube pres. You can't really escape that reality and a U87 will not sound too good at all with a cheap mic pre. But ribbon mics work fantastically well with many pres. and are very forgiving until you know mic technique inside out.

    Added to that, you will keep your ribbons even after you can buy costly condensers and mic pres worth your time and money. The R84 is in my experience the fullest , most classic sounding ribbon, besides the coles mics. It is not a hard textured mic or wooden sounding like most of the new ribbons made today.

    And it is made expertly by people who love with devotion what they make. Definitely not just another cool "product". This is a work of art and love.

    It is almost instant 60s big sound that never tires your ears. It is a secret weapon for retro lush orchestral sounds and thick, present vocals, drums, recording amazing violin tones...really anything as long as one pays attention to positioning, impedance, and the fact that they are figure eight polar pattern. It is true that they take eq forever. You would have to pay around 5 times more for a condenser that can take eq like the R84 an sound beautiful afterwards.

  • from Central Missouri October 23, 2009Music Background:
    Ex-Pro Guitarist, Recording Hobbyist

    Pure Heaven

    I've wanted to add a pro-quality ribbon to my mic cabinet for a while. It's pretty easy to find a ribbon for under a couple hundred these days, but most of the "inexpensive" choices seem to all sound the same and don't really have the magic that an old RCA or Coles does. Every part of a sound influences everything downstream, from my hands, pick, guitar, amp, etc. - if it's not right from the start, you can't fix it later. I was looking for something that had the qualities of the classic ribbons, but without the hassle of caring for a 50-year-old RCA 44 or 77 that had been through who knows what.

    I considered a Coles 4038, they certainly sound good, but seemed (to me, at least) to have a reputation of being somewhat more fragile than most. I also considered a Blue Woodpecker. I've always had good luck with Blue mics, and the Woodpecker is no exception. However, to me, it seemed too "modern" and not the "vintage classic" I was going for. That's also my reason for not selecting a Royer. Royer mics are incredible, especially the R121 that has become a standard, but still not quite what I was looking for. I ended up with the R84 because of Wes Dooley's experience with RCA ribbons and AEA's R84 design philosophy of keeping the sonics of the RCA 44 while modernizing the construction. If I'd had an unlimited budget, I probably would have picked the AEA R44, but it seemed like their R92 was, again, "too modern" for my tastes. While I didn't have a chance to try one of the new Shure ribbons, I think I'd likely put them in that category, too.

    So, when my R84 arrived and I was able to use it in my home studio, it's even better than I expected (and I had pretty high expectations). It's smooth; it's fast; it's extraordinarily detailed; it's warm; it can be as clean as I want it to be, but when it's driven hard, it's pure heaven. This is *exactly* what I wanted and so much better than I thought it was going to be.

  • from Gettysburg, PA USA May 8, 2008Music Background:
    Pro Musician

    Best Mic in My Locker

    Condenser mics are great but this ribbon mic is dead on tone, especially with vocals. Right now I am using my ART MPA Gold preamp to drive the R84 (believe it or not it does a great job) and I am astonished how sweet it is (sorry Jackie Gleason)! I love it, love it, love it!

  • from Los Angeles, CA February 20, 2008Music Background:
    trumpet player, musician contractor

    AEA R84 ribbon for brass and winds

    Man, this is the best sounding mic for brass and winds, hands down. And for the money, it is a no brainer. I use it on my trumpet daily doing sessions and everyone that hears it says "what is that mic?" - I have used it on a tenor sax and french horn and both results were outstanding. I liked it so much I now own two of them - purchased through Sweetwater!

  • from Central Jersey August 27, 2006Music Background:

    exactly what I needed

    I own two of these mics because the first one I bought worked so incredibly well! It was originally purchased to record a soprano vocalist on a remote session. It ran through a Grace pre and I couldn't be happier with the result. Every neuance of her vocal was captured with great warmth to compliement her extremely bright voice at a distance of 5 feet. It's great on guitar amps, acoustic string instruments, and stereo applications. I used the pair to record a chamber orchestra and with the addition of a little piano and bass reinforcement, it sounded excellent. Great for room micing drums and alright when used as overheads as long as you desensitize the rear lobe in untreated or funky sounding rooms. LOVE the AEA R84

  • from Brooklyn October 18, 2012Music Background:

    Very solid, all purpose ribbon mic

    I have yet to put this mic through all the proper paces, and I do feel a bit unfair reviewing it before using it in a few good rooms with a variety of instruments. By all means, it has been a perfect good mic with lots of character for my purpose so far, not to mention very well made.

    Having said that, I do have a few practical points to make regarding using this mic that might be helpful to some of you gearhead shoppers.

    -You will need a high quality pre capable of lots of gain. I'm sure you know this already, but it bears repeating that there will be lots of noise unless you are pretty serious about the quality of your pre.

    - You will need very good quality boosting EQ to get the best out of this mic. For things like drum/room ambience mic'ing this may not be so much of an issue, but for close mic'ing instruments, absolutely. Your average sequencer freebie EQ is probably not going to do justice to this mic. Your EQing skills really matter, a lot of things will not sound good enough the way they often do even with a carelessly placed LDC.

    - The room is very, very important with a mic like this. It will pick up a lot of ambient noise. If you record a single instrument at a time in your bedroom, I would recommend a good LDC or (if you are deadset on ribbons) a Beyer M160. This mic will pick up the neighborhood kids screaming at their mother two blocks away, and it will show up on your delicate acoustic guitar recording.

    If you are looking for "warmth", I just want to caution you that your money would be best spent in other places. IMO "warmth" is achieved by your instrument selection and musical sensibilities. Buying a mic is not really going to help you in that regards. (Rant over, but I am particularly susceptible to the "warmth" allure myself)

    Overall I see this mic as being something wonderful for recording multiple performers due to the excellent side rejection capabilities and the tonal depth. A few patient, serious musicians in a decent room, with this mic set up in the right place is an amazing thing for getting some real musical performances recorded.

  • from Toledo Ohio USA April 1, 2004

    Review of the AEA R84

    This microphone is a wonderful way to get a smooth rich sound into your sonic arsenal. I was lucky enough to be an early adopter of this mic, and in the 9 months or so that i've been using the R84, it continually suprises me with its sonic beauty.

    I often use the R84 on vocals, where it will exibit a smooth thickness in the midrange, and a soft top that is definitely not sibilant. Up close it will give you a huge low end, thanks to its extreme proximity effect.

    Not only does the R84 work well with vocals, but it also accels with guitar amps and bass amps. This mic has become my go-to mic for acoustic guitar giving me the body of the acoustic without nearly as much pick sound, unlike my schoeps microphones, which almost become too pick-ey

    I am extremely happy with my purchase and would reccomend it to anyone who needs some more colours on their sonic pallet.

    Marshall Simmons

    The Music Factory Studios

    Toledo Ohio

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