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Royer 121 or AEA N8 for violin Ribbon Microphones
Old 27th October 2018
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Royer 121 or AEA N8 for violin

I'm looking to purchase a ribbon mic for solo violin recording. Debating between the Royer r121 and the aea N8. I've only been able to demo the N8, not the Royer. I mostly do you multiple tracks for small ensembles, fiddle and orchestral cues.
Looking for a warm natural tone. Also, how important is a preamp with a ribbon mic?
Old 27th October 2018
  #2
In this specific comparison the N8 will be more appropriate for violin due to it’s specific thinner ribbon material design. For Royer you would want their SF-2 instead of a 121 for natural acoustic type instruments, which is a more direct apples to apples of the N8. Both are great mics!
Old 27th October 2018
  #3
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Drumsound's Avatar
I've not used a 121 on violin, but I don't think it would be the best option based on what I have heard it do. I'd like to explore the N8 more. I heard on at a conference and thought it sounded really good.
Old 27th October 2018
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

I do have the 121 and it is not my fav on violin. The SF12 is my fav on violin and a lot more acoustic Instruments.

Im waiting for the KU5A. Have one on order. The samples I heard on violin for those was great!

That said, so much of mic choice on violin depends on that players skill and how good is the instrument.

Last edited by Petimar; 30th October 2018 at 05:05 AM..
Old 27th October 2018
  #5
I have used both the SF-2 and a pair of N8's on strings. The Royer was simpler to use, but I was not sufficiently thrilled with the sound to buy it. I like the N8 sound quite a lot (with a suitable HF shelf), but I must say the shock mounts in their stereo kit are very rudimentary. I will be adding a suitable pair of Rycote mounts to my collection.


David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording
Old 28th October 2018
  #6
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thismercifulfate's Avatar
I much prefer the R84 over the N8. Don’t rule out the Coles 4038 though. It’s my favorite on string instruments.
Old 29th October 2018
  #7
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Thanks for the replies!
Old 29th October 2018
  #8
I guess you have a strong preference for ribbons...
Howeer.... when we record a Violine as a Soloinstrument i like a ms configuration with a Schoeps MK 4 or MK 22 (depending on the room) for the mid and a ribbon for the side. The s channel makes the recording more alive and the ribbon gives here some „warmth“.
From my experience a ribbon alone is to slow on the transients. I like the MK 22 a lot for this..
Old 30th October 2018
  #9
You're not wrong about the MK22: It is a truly lovely mic on strings! I use my N8's primarily in very close-up situations: spot miking, or recording an ensemble in a small room. As soon as there's enough air between the mic(s) and the string player(s), I switch to a condenser.

David
Old 30th October 2018
  #10
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fred2bern's Avatar
Of course ribbon mics sounds nice on strings, but finally - to me - the choice of the microphones has to be made when you are in the room, listening to the instrument "in situ". Then we could also talk about the repertoire and then about aesthetic. Ribbons are fig8, fig8 in some rooms are great, in some other rooms other options could sound better.

Of course it's just my opinion...

Regarding the MK22:

I just made a live symphonic recording for the radio here and tried the MK22 as spot microphones for violins 1&2...
I was a violinist before producing now.

These MK22 are fantastic. So nice tool to work with... nothing harsh, hard or whatever... simply beautiful.
Just ordered 8...

Fred.
Old 30th October 2018
  #11
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Wilburguy's Avatar
I record a lot of fiddle and violins. I've used a 121 on fiddle, works ok when blended with another mic but no alone. For the price you are looking in the AEA R84 is the clear winner. never fails. I like it better than a Coles 4038 btw
Old 30th October 2018
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fred2bern View Post
Of course ribbon mics sounds nice on strings, but finally - to me - the choice of the microphones has to be made when you are in the room, listening to the instrument "in situ". Then we could also talk about the repertoire and then about aesthetic. Ribbons are fig8, fig8 in some rooms are great, in some other rooms other options could sound better.
The new AEA KU5A is a super cardioid ribbon.
Old 30th October 2018
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by fred2bern View Post
...
Regarding the MK22:

I just made a live symphonic recording for the radio here and tried the MK22 as spot microphones for violins 1&2...
I was a violinist before producing now.

These MK22 are fantastic. So nice tool to work with... nothing harsh, hard or whatever... simply beautiful.
Just ordered 8...

Fred.

We have four them, too. As a spot mic for strings I like the tlm 193/170 or U89, too
Old 30th October 2018
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by nd33 View Post
The new AEA KU5A is a super cardioid ribbon.
... which is basically not what you want for a Violine or a string section
Old 30th October 2018
  #15
Mic Preamp is important with a Ribbon microphone, [requires high impedance input z, 60-80db of quiet gain] but less so with an Active Ribbon like the N8
Old 30th October 2018
  #16
My first choice for violin is also the afore mentioned Schoeps mk22 capsule. It really allows it to cut through an orchestra as a solo spot, and works wonderful as a stereo pair for solo work.

I have a pair of N8's also. Although I do not use them for string work very often, (my choices for those are choir, brass, and piano spots) I think they would work well as they have a classic neutral ribbon sound, unlike the Royer 121 which is rather mid-range forward. The N8's are active so they have a decent output, you would expect to use about 10dB more gain than a typical condenser, which is still easily achievable with most preamps. You have to be careful with hot plugging them with phantom power on. Unlike most condensers, where an accidental unplug will be unlikely to cause damage, doing so on the N8 will likely blow the circuit.
Old 30th October 2018
  #17
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I've used one side of an R88 (basically the N8) next to 121's a few times on single, close mic'ed violin. I've always found that Royers do an excellent job capturing things in larger rooms, backed off. I almost always prefer AEA mic's when I'm getting in closer. A 121 is by no means a "harsh" sounding mic, but can sound like that on certain violins compared to the R88. Conversely, close mic'ing larger instruments like a cello doing some deeper notes, the Royer can give a bit more natural presence than a lot of the AEA's.

Regardless, either would work extremely well and I wouldn't hesitate to use a 121 even though I strongly prefer AEA's on strings. I used 121's for years starting out and they always sounded great! I would say with the N8, it has a leg up in the competition just having active circuitry. The price difference isn't huge either, but you will save some money with the N8. Just remember that aside from doing something like strings, the N8 really is designed to be placed further back. If you need something that's going to perform other duties, don't expect the N8 to perform well on a loud guitar cab like the 121 will... In terms of universal versatility, the 121 is going to be more of a workhorse and not as fragile.
Old 31st October 2018
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruby06 View Post
... which is basically not what you want for a Violine or a string section
Obviously not a section, but why not for a spot? It sounds good on violin from the demos.
Old 31st October 2018
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by nd33 View Post
Obviously not a section, but why not for a spot? It sounds good on violin from the demos.
because a violin has a quite complex (uneven) directional characteristic. This is why you would like to have Mic with a wider polar pattern and with a very even and smooth off axis response.

Last edited by ruby06; 31st October 2018 at 08:30 AM..
Old 31st October 2018
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruby06 View Post
because a violin has a quite complex (uneven) directional characteristic. This is why you would like to have Mic with a wider polar pattern and with a very even and smooth off axis response.
Ok, well AEA seems to tout this new model for spot miking strings and also claim smooth off axis response, but I guess you’ve made up your mind!
Old 1st November 2018
  #21
No, not at all. I love trying it out new things. For our last production (Sternwald Trio playing Mendelssohn Piano Trio, (which got really great critics, especially on the musicality, virtuosity and the sound :-) (you can find some excerpts here: Productions | the quiet music company)) we spend weeks for the best violin and cello sound. We tried all kind of mics and mictechniques and positions over and over again. And even though we liked the ribbon a lot, it was difficult in the room (cause of the figure of 8 characteristic) and it was a bit to "slow". Anyways we didn't have the new KU5A nor the N8. So this might change everything. However we noticed, that a wider polar pattern helped the sound. That was all I meant.
Old 2nd November 2018
  #22
Gear Maniac
 

IF you do try the R121, remember the back and front sound different due to the offset placement of the ribbon. The back is a tad brighter, and I've used this a lot on a number of things to great advantage.
Old 4th November 2018
  #23
I’ve tried R-121, R-84, N-8, SE Voodoo, Cascade Vinjet and Stager on violin and for that particular application the N-8 was truest to the instrument. They are all great ribbons though.

Having said that the KM-84 is even better and I like using N-8 25% and KM-84 75%. Perfect.
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