When I just want to record my voice and guitar into one stereo microphone I get an R88 and a Ribbon Pre, set the gain, close my eyes, and track all day. I have found my instrumentation and vocal technique have improved because Wes Dooley's masterpieces captured my performance with such detail and precision. If you can handle the truth, the R88 is for you.
Why didn't I get this sooner?! I love this mic!
Just buy this mic right now
I thought I knew how this microphone was going to complement my mic locker. Figured it would be brought out on special occasions, because how often do I really want to mic up most sources in stereo? Boy, was I wrong. Safe to say this mic is the closest thing I've heard to recording any source perfectly. To illustrate, I just finished two days recording a film score project. The only mics I used for piano, organ, rhodes, percussion, bodhran, tubular bells, gong, thunder sheet were my R88 and my AEA A440. This went so well that I will be repeating this combo forever. As good recordings as I've ever done in my professional career of 30 years.
Smooth and Forgiving
I love the way this mic helps a small, bright recital hall sound less... small and bright! It's great as a stereo blumlein pair with a 40-voice choir or tenor soloist with piano accompaniment. I've used just one output for a mono signal on sax and jazz vocals, and it's really warm and smooth. It reminds me of a warmer version of the old Sony C-38B, which was so wonderfully forgiving on vocals. At least the one I had was! I think anyone who is looking for something that won't exaggerate the high end on sources that may already be harsh or edgy ought to take a good look at this mic. Looking forward to using this on some brass very soon! My only complaint is that two screws on the main body of the mic were quite loose right out of the box, but this didn't seem to cause any problems.
It rarely gets better than this.
I have been convinced for some time that the human ear can hear differences in sound that hardware cannot effectively measure. We then see words like butter, smooth, graceful and so on as people describe what they hear. Can we judge how "smooth" a mic is by looking at specs? I don't think so. In the end, we must rely foremost on our ears to judge what makes a great microphone.
Like most engineers, I have a number of different mics in my bag, for different applications. I find that recording pipe organs or acapella choirs in reverberant spaces can be extremely challenging. The sound field can be profoundly complex. I recently took delivery on an R88, and immediately used it on my next field recording assignment. I set it up along with a pair of DPA4006, as a backup or potentially as another source to mix together with the R88. When I put the recording through post, I chose to use nothing but the R88 for the final product.
I am very eager to use this mic again. I'm thrilled!
It looks impressive, too. It is not what I would call "heavy" but it's not a small mic and not weightless. I like the fact that the mounting is directly under the center of gravity, so I feel safe using in on very tall mic stands.
It can be used in M-S, too, which I use for certain applications.
Treat it with respect, and I am sure it will impress you.
Thanks to Bart Good for suggesting this mic!
Can 1 Mic Do A Drumset Justice?
Yes. Maybe add a kick mic for perfection, but the R88 is truly amazing at capturing an entire kit. You can solo the R88 in a mix and have a drum sound that can often make it right to the final mix. AEA's magic enhances cymbals, toms, etc. What the R44 can do for vocals, the R88 can do for drums & other room/overhead applications.
I need to own one! ...and I will
Wes and his crew have always done a wonderful job. This mic is what I've wanted from them for years.
I recently had a few days using one and it exceeded my high expectations. The Blumlein method for recording acoustic instruments is my preferred place to start especially for guitar, piano and background/choir vocals (given a good sounding room). The minimal phase problems and the honest room tone that this mic provides give a wonderful dimension to the recordings when using this mic.
Try using in MS mode if you wish to alter the stereo image after the fact. I have yet to do this but my experience with the R88 leaves me with no doubt that it will excel in a MS application due to the superior off axis response.
Enjoy! I know I will as soon as my wallet allow me to purchase one.
I spoke with Wes Dooley at AEA around Christmas time in 2012 about the R88 and how it might be the right mic for my business. I picked mine up in March 2013, SN 0266.
I've used it to record opera singers, a jazz trio, a string quartet, a violin duo, and a bunch of other musical groups all over NJ and, recently, in Alaska. The padded case it comes with protects it during the passage through airport security.
Artistically, the R88 is already producing the "wow factor" I was looking for, having that faithful-to-reality-yet-beautiful sound I'd always heard in my head but couldn't get without lots of effort from other mics. The reality of the sound stage is amazing. From a business standpoint, using the R88 also cuts huge amounts of time out of the mixing and mastering efforts as it already sounds so right from the start.
It looks big and heavy but, in fact, it's very light; it sets up very quickly. I patch mine directly into my Sound Devices 702 and the signal strength is excellent.
This mic will smooth out every harshness of acoustical instrument without losing detail. The stereo imaging is amazing. Highly recommended!
On Cello I prefer this over a Royer (if I compare ribbons)
I've used the R88 on: harp, acoustic guitar, percussion, drum overheads, drum room, choir and recently dropped it in the middle of a string quartet (cello, viola, 2 x violin). We close mic'd the string quartet with a: U57, C12, Sony C800G and R92. The mix engineer chose to use the R88... it absolutely blew us away. As the artist said after hearing it... that's pure butter!
smooth. great stereo sound.
i've been using it on piano.