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Royer R-121 Microphone Review

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Lauded by Recording Magazine as “one of the classic microphones of the 21st century,” the Royer 121 is the company’s flagship microphone. Radically reengineered to bring ribbon microphones back into studios everywhere, the Royer R121 delivers all the best qualities of a ribbon mic in a quality, durable package that’s transformed expectations all across the board. 

The Royer R-121 has a warm, natural sound packaged in a compact, high-output package that makes it ideal for tracking electric guitar and brass. Having sold thousands of units worldwide, it’s become a standard in the industry thanks to its realistic sound and user-friendliness. Royer Labs has become what many consider to be the foremost manufacturer of ribbon microphones worldwide, and this Royer ribbon mic is exactly why.

NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Shout4Music earns from qualifying purchases. This post includes Amazon links throughout.

About the Royer R-121 Microphone

 

Polar Pattern

Figure-of-eight

Frequency Range

30 Hz – 15 kHz (+/- 3 dB)

Sensitivity

-47 dBv Re. 1v/pa

Output Impedance

300 Ohms @ 1K (nominal)

Maximum SPL

>135 dB @ 20 Hz

 

In the early days of the professional audio industry, ribbon mics were a much more popular option when compared to the present. They were able to offer far better results than the moving coil microphones of the era, and as a result development of ribbon mic technology reached its peak in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Their popularity soon faded, however, when a burgeoning industry of capacitor microphone technology began to take their place.

Ribbon mic technology definitely has its advantages. A ribbon mic has a thin metal diaphragm that’s not too different in size from that of a condenser mic, which means that it’s equally capable of a wide bandwidth and dynamic range. It also has a lower residual noise floor when compared to a typical capacitor mic. The one downside they had was that their sensitivity was largely determined by their magnetic field, and early magnetic technology required larger magnets, making them incredibly bulky.

Thanks to intensive research and advancements in technology over the years, however, Royer mics are able to make use of smaller magnets for similar or even better audio performance. And thanks to a patented offset ribbon technology, the Royer R 121 is able to maintain a full frequency response during high SPL recordings.

Royer R-121 Microphone Pros

Ribbon mics have a unique sound quality that puts them somewhere between a capacitor mic and a moving-coil mic. Smooth-sounding and flattering to vocals, brass, and woodwind instruments, it’s a distinctive sound that any sound engineer would love to play with. The Royer mic design takes that one step further by working with high sound-pressure levels while still being able to deliver a sound that is smooth and suave, making it an ideal part of any musician’s studio.

Patented Ribbon Mic Technology

Royer takes its ribbon mics seriously, and thanks to its patented offset ribbon technology, the company is able to produce a mic unlike anything else in the world. The R-121’s proprietary offset ribbon transducer is able to position the ribbon element closer to the front side of the microphone, giving the ribbon more room within the prime magnetic field. This allows the mic to maintain full frequency response during high SPL recordings without “cracking.” Thanks to this patented technology, there’s no reason to go for a Royer 121 clone when the real thing is just so much better.

Studio Companion

The R-121 performs excellently in the studio. Use it with anything from a loud electric guitar amp, an acoustic guitar, a kick drum set, or a human voice, and you’ll get a sound that is smooth, complimentary, and completely natural-sounding. The mic’s figure-of-eight polar pattern allows it to sound great in a variation of positions with only minor physical adjustments. Although the diaphragms of ribbon mics are notoriously sensitive to air pressure and wear and tear, the R-121 comes with a lifetime warranty so you can rest easy. Additionally, simple fixes like installing a pop filter or wind shield will let you use your mic for longer.

What is the Directional Characteristic of the Royer 121?

Like many ribbon mics, the Royer R-121 has a figure-of-eight polar pattern. While the figure-of-eight tends to be more sensitive in picking up background noise, it also allows for a range of recording options such as a duets or full bands. The front and back lobes on the R-121 are equally sensitive and produce a consistent sound, while the side nulls are precise and sharp.

What is a Royer 121 Good On?

The Royer R-121 performs best with instruments that most microphones shy away from: electric guitars, brass instruments, and drums. It also performs spectacularly with orchestral and choral recordings, making for an all-around mic that delivers a consistently natural acoustic performance that sounds almost as good as real life. The performance level of the R-121 is such that it’s actually birthed a range of spin-offs and copycats, though none of course match up to the original.

What is the Impedance of a Royer 121?

The R-121 has an output impedance of 300 Ohms, although a 200 Ohms model is also available. The impedance is the amount of opposition that a mic will have to AC signals. A low impedance is usually the best option when looking for high sound quality.

Your Choice for Mastering Music

One of the greatest difficulties in picking out a mic is whether or not they can handle instruments the way your ears want to hear them. This isn’t a problem for the Royer R-121. Thanks to its well-balanced response, sweet high-end, realistic mids, and full low-end, you get a capture that is always full and never pitchy or sibilant. Musicians hoping to capture the best of their instruments will find that this mic is the perfect investment.

What People Are Saying

The R-121’s smooth frequency response, phase linearity, and incredible sensitivity levels produce a natural sound that brings warmth to digital recording. Royer Labs’ flagship model remains the industry standard for ribbon mics, and if you’re looking for a figure-of-eight mic with a bright response and a balanced, panoramic sound field, then this is exactly the mic that you need. Nobody does ribbon mics better.

Where to Buy the Royer R-121 Microphone

 Thanks to advancements in technology, Royer Labs has brought the ribbon mic back into the game. While the R-121 may be fairly pricey, it’s a versatile tool that’ll make a great addition to your studio set up. Electric guitarists especially will find that  the R-121 may be the mic for them, as no other mic can capture their sound quite as well. Find the best deals for the Royer R-121 Microphone here.

Sound Quality
9
Design
8
Features
8
Price
8

Summary

Royer Labs has made huge steps for ribbon mic technology with the R-121. The R-121 has beautiful sound quality with almost any source, as well as an incredible SPL capability. It may need a touch more careful handling than most mics, but definitely worth the investment.

Total Rating

8.3
Ash Burnett

Hailing from Chicago, IL - Ash made his break into journalism at the age of 23 writing music reviews for a local website. Now in his late 30's and after being pulled closer towards the technical side of the music and live gig industry, he founded Shout4Music to write thorough microphone reviews.

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