ROYER LABS are such an integral part of the modern recording industry that many are unaware that the company is a relative baby in mic manufacturing terms. Funky Junk came across them by a circuitous route in the late 1990s when I wrote a piece on the Endangered Species section of our legendary Bazaar magazine about SPEIDEN stereo ribbon mic I’d recently bought from an opera singer and fell in love with. A customer got in touch and pointed me towards David Royer and John Jennings at Royer Labs in the US and that was the start of what has been a twenty year relationship. Royer have consistently broken ground in areas of design and after sales support becoming the first mic manufacturer I know of to offer a lifetime first owner warranty on their microphones (with the first re-ribbon free).
Funky Junk are the official service agents for most Royer Microphones. Click here for a repair enquiry.
When Royer started making their ubiquitous R-121 mic, ribbons were about as unfashionable as my haircut. I was a fan as were other old school engineers. What David Royer did to make the R-121 acceptable to a mainstream market was produce a mic with a higher output – more suitable for modern gear – and a tougher (but extremely sensitive) ribbon element, less susceptible to damage when used with high spl sources. In particular this made the Royer R-121 ribbon microphone ideal for micing guitar cabs and some drum applications – sound sources that are usually shredders for traditional ribbons. Suddenly engineers found they could get the full three dimensional warmth typical of a ribbon mic without risking terminal damage. The great advantage of the Royer R-121 design is that it also coped beautifully with acoustic guitars, overheads, pianos, brass, sax and ambience making it perhaps the most versatile microphone on the market. Little wonder it has become an industry standard and close to the top of the list of microphones ‘must haves.’
Check out this video to learn more about the Royer R-Series Ribbon Transducer:
Royer broke new ground when they produced the R-122, an active version of the Royer R-121 which also offered an improved transient response by virtue of the larger transformer housed in the body. The first designer to appreciate the value of housing a preamplifier in a ribbon mic rather than sending low level signals to a control room mic preamp, David Royer led where countless imitators have followed. In 2015, Royer updated the R-122 with the addition of a switchable -15 dB pad and a switchable bass cut filter. The updated version is called the Royer R-122 MKll and is Royer’s most versatile ribbon mic. With the pad switched in, it’s virtually impossible to overload the mic even when recording super-heavy guitars, and the bass cut filter is in the proximity effect rage, letting engineers easily reduce bass build-up frequencies associated with close mic’ing acoustic instruments and vocals. Needless to say, the Royer R-122 MKII remains the leader in the active ribbon field, admired and used by classical, jazz, rock and acoustic musicians, engineers and producers alike.
The Royer SF 12 Stereo Ribbon Microphone was the mic that first took me to Royer. Originally manufactured by hand in New York by designer and recordist Bob Speiden, I gather only around 100 or so were made before the design was licensed to Royer. The ribbons are more sensitive than the Royer R-121/R-122 making the mic ideal for ensemble or orchestral recording and piano and drum overheads; early purchasers included the BBC who hung some in the roof of the Royal Albert Hall to record The Proms (I believe they’re still in use) and the Scottish Jazz Orchestra who bought three for pianos. A beautiful microphone.
The Royer SF-24 was the first active stereo ribbon coming from Royer Labs and, needless to say, a truly stunning mic combining the detail and fullness of the Royer SF12 with the greater output of an active mic.
David Royer led the pack again with the introduction of the first tube active ribbon mic, the Royer R-122V. I remember Coldplay were amongst our first customers for this fabulous mic and Rik Simpson was full of praise for the full bodied yet clinical drum sound they provided. Countless other leading producers and engineers have since agreed.
The jewel in Royer’s crown and the favourite ensemble/orchestral mic of recordists such as multi-multi award winning classical recordist, Tony Faulkner, the Royer SF24V allows the listener to sit in the middle of an orchestra or band by bringing the sound effortlessly to life. Definitely worth trying and definitely worth buying.
Tony Faulkner: http://greenroomproductions.biz/