Ribbon mics might not be as popular as they were once before, but Royer Labs has certainly shown they’re back on the rise. For those unfamiliar, a ribbon microphone is a type of dynamic microphone, but with some fundamental differences. Rather than having a diaphragm attached to a coil suspended in a magnetic field, the ribbon mic has a thin strip of metal— sometimes 4 microns or thinner— that acts as both the diaphragm and transducer element.
This design allows for ribbon mics to achieve a level of sensitivity and response similar to condensers, but with a character all on their own. They’re highly detailed without being oversensitive, allowing for the micing of close sounds without interference.
While ribbon mics have been around since the 1920s, their popularity in the 21st century is largely due to Royer Labs and the Royer R-121. The Royer flagship ribbon mic was soon followed by the R-101, which was eventually phased out in favor of the new Royer R-10. The R10 promises the same groundbreaking technology as the R-101, but in a more compact package and at a significantly more affordable price. Let’s see how it performs in the Royer R10 review below.
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2.5 micron aluminum ribbon
30Hz-15,000Hz +/- 3dB
-54 dBv (re. 1v/pa)
135 dB @ 50 Hz, 160 dB @ 1 kHz
Given their delicate engineering, it’s no wonder that ribbon mics have a reputation of being a little fragile. They need careful handling, and a nasty fall can sometimes spell the end for your unit. However, users will be surprised to know just how well the Royer R10 holds up. This tiny mic is part of the Royer R series, and is designed for high SPL and close-micing applications.
The Royer R-10 is a passive ribbon mic, which means that it has no pre-installed electronics for preamplification. This means that you’ll need the right kind of preamp to get the best sound out of your R-10, which might be difficult for amateur producers. Still, the R 10 has much to offer, and for musicians especially it’s worth a look.
Hand-built in Royer mics’ factories in Burbank, California, the Royer R-10 is carefully designed to bring the best possible qualities of a ribbon mic to the forefront. Designed for use in both live performances and studio settings, the R-10 offers that incredible Royer ribbon mic quality at an affordable price.
The Royer R-121 transformed the landscape for ribbon mics, and so did the R-101 that followed it. However, their delicate designs and engineering have meant that ribbon mics can tend to be pricey additions to your mic cabinet. Royer Labs have engineered the R-10 to be compact and affordable without compromising quality sound.
The R-10 includes the R-101’s 3-layer windscreen system, internal shock mounted ribbon transducer, as well as a new step-up transformer designed by David Royer. All this for only 40% of the price of the now-discontinued R-101 and 70% of the R-121.
Close-micing is an art, and there’s nothing more frustrating than having the right engineering but a bulky unit. The Royer R-10 is optimized for this purpose, at 149mm in length and 35mm in diameter. It’s compact at 368g, but despite its small size feels sturdy and durable, a great partner for live performances and onstage work. Its mount is also designed for flexible positioning that won’t get in the way of your performance.
The R-10 features a 2.5 micron-thick, pure aluminum ribbon with offset ribbon technology. The offset ribbon technology allows it to be suspended closer to the front end of the R-10’s Neodymium magnets, which with the R-series transducer allows the R-10 to mic SPLs of up to 160 dB at 1 kHz.
The ribbon is also shaped with Royer’s direct corrugation process, making it hardier and less prone to misshaping. In the event that something does happen to your ribbon, however, the R-10 has a five-year warranty, with re-ribboning free for your first year.
In terms of engineering, the R-10 is certainly fantastic, but how does it hold up in the studio or on stage? The answer is, fantastic. When used to mic acoustic guitars the raw sound of the R-10 was incredible, with smooth, natural tone and depth. There is some extra brightness when using the rear end to record, but overall it handles most sound sources with ease.
When compared with the R-121, the R-10 does sound a little less “there,” but the difference is only there if you look out for it. In general, the R-10 is well-balanced, with a rich, natural-sounding high end that’s well worth the price.
Perhaps the best use for any ribbon mic is for micing guitars, and it’s here that the R-10 certainly shines. It’s able to produce a warm, full-bodied tone that’s nonetheless faithful to the sound source. Its high SPL allows for musicians to let loose, especially on electric guitar, without fear of distortion or overwhelming the mic. Its design makes it easy to get up close and personal with the instrument, and Royer’s robust engineering means that it’ll hold up to live performances and more.
Micing instruments can be a struggle, especially when you need your mic to perform double duty by getting as close as possible to a very loud sound source. Luckily, the R-10 fits the bill exactly. With its state-of-the-art engineering and fantastic sound, there’s no mic better suited to record those long guitar runs.
Ribbon mics have been out of the limelight for decades, but Royer Labs has brought them back with a bang. The R-121 has long been a favorite for its impeccable sound and quality, and the R-10 brings that same sound to your studio at a much more affordable price. With better engineering, more compact designs, and great value, it’s clear that ribbon mics are here to stay. Find the best deals for the Royer R-10 Microphone here.