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Royer SF-12 vs AEA R88 Ribbon Microphones
Old 26th February 2009
  #1
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Royer SF-12 vs AEA R88

I've just read other posts on this subject but was hoping for more, and more recent info - also perhaps some thoughts on some specific questions I have.

I'm buying a used SF-12 (well am a day away from buying) (which I could re-sell if necessary) as I've been recommended highly the R88 recently - though I'm not sure the comment I heard about it reaching lower and higher frequency wise than the SF-12 is true. Also a new R88 seems about $400 less than a used SF-12 in good condition.

Both being figure eights will naturally bring in some room tone which is ok as my rooms are semi-treated, semit-live - but they are also far from perfect rooms - would either of these mics be more or less forgiving?

My applications would be as a second pair for Grand Piano (in addition to LDC close miced) and as drum room (in a smaller room though only 14x12x7) and possibly ac gtr.

Thoughts greatly appreciated.
Old 26th February 2009
  #2
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pianokeys View Post
I've just read other posts on this subject but was hoping for more, and more recent info - also perhaps some thoughts on some specific questions I have.

I'm buying a used SF-12 (well am a day away from buying) (which I could re-sell if necessary) as I've been recommended highly the R88 recently - though I'm not sure the comment I heard about it reaching lower and higher frequency wise than the SF-12 is true. Also a new R88 seems about $400 less than a used SF-12 in good condition.

Both being figure eights will naturally bring in some room tone which is ok as my rooms are semi-treated, semit-live - but they are also far from perfect rooms - would either of these mics be more or less forgiving?

My applications would be as a second pair for Grand Piano (in addition to LDC close miced) and as drum room (in a smaller room though only 14x12x7) and possibly ac gtr.

Thoughts greatly appreciated.
I've used an R88 for several years on mostly choral music. It is an outstanding mic but I'd consider getting an SF-12 if I wanted a stereo ribbon to mic guitars closely because the R88 is big and bulky by comparison. The SF-12 is visually and mechanically less imposing which matters you if you're going to put it right in front and up close to a performer.
Old 26th February 2009
  #3
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andersmv's Avatar
 

The royers are a bit more versatile I think. I worked with a stereo pair of 122's and it was nice having the front of the mic for blues and jazz stuff as drum overheads, and then if you needed something more modern to pop out in a busy mix, turn them around and use the back side. I loved the Royers and was thinking about buying one since I don't have access to the studio anymore, but I decided to go for the R84 just as a change. If you have already purchased the Royer, go to mercenary audio and order the AEA from them, they will let you give it a test drive and return it if you don't like it as much as the Royer.
Old 26th February 2009
  #4
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by andersmv View Post
The royers are a bit more versatile I think. I worked with a stereo pair of 122's and it was nice having the front of the mic for blues and jazz stuff as drum overheads, and then if you needed something more modern to pop out in a busy mix, turn them around and use the back side. I loved the Royers and was thinking about buying one since I don't have access to the studio anymore, but I decided to go for the R84 just as a change. If you have already purchased the Royer, go to mercenary audio and order the AEA from them, they will let you give it a test drive and return it if you don't like it as much as the Royer.
Good point.

I have a Royer R-121 that's just great. In the Royer line I think the R-121 and 122 are the only mics that have a front-to-back difference. In the SF series front and back sound the same.
Old 26th February 2009
  #5
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The SF-12 is extremely elegant. I can't imagine you not liking it for the applications you mentioned. Since you're buying it used, someone else already took the hit on it. You have little to lose.

Good luck
Old 26th February 2009
  #6
Gear Addict
 

thanks everyone - royer ok on moderate rooms - or at least similar to aea

would keeping the back of the sf-12, or r88 for that matter near treated walls (2 inch foam) reduce room tone if desired?
Old 26th February 2009
  #7
Gear Addict
 

i should mention i also own a beyer m160 as it is hypercardiod - thought is would be a great way to enter the ribbon without too much room tone - but it breaks up soooo easily - even though i bought it new i have felt for the last few months while it sits on the shelf that is needs work. also - it was cool 3 feet from guitar amps for a dark tone - but never beat a good LDC on saxophone, or trumpet as I was hoping it would.
Old 27th February 2009
  #8
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andersmv's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelPatrick View Post
Good point.

I have a Royer R-121 that's just great. In the Royer line I think the R-121 and 122 are the only mics that have a front-to-back difference. In the SF series front and back sound the same.
Well that was a dumb assumption on my part. I always figured the SF was just a stereo pair of 122's. I guess if you want them to do MS or Blumlein they are going to have to be a true figure 8 with both sides sounding the same. DUH
Old 27th February 2009
  #9
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opegas's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by andersmv View Post
Well that was a dumb assumption on my part. I always figured the SF was just a stereo pair of 122's.

THe SF12 is a stero pair of SF-1. if you wanted the stereo pair of the 122 i think you need to buy 2, and thats the active mic.

Anyway from the AEA standpoint I think the R88 has plenty of lows. Not sure about the high end in comparison of the SF-12. I think by about 20k they are both down about 5dB from compared to 1K.

I don't seem to see a versitality diffence between the 2.

I wouldnt recomend getting closer to a wall with either, treated or not. You will still get a reflection. I would just try the mics closer and further from the source untill you get the right balance of instrument to room. That will also affect the stereo spread you get of the piano.

Both mics would also work great on acoustic git, and you can try m/s too.

Paul
Old 8th March 2009
  #10
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DanRock101's Avatar
 

Great thread here! I've been wondering about the diffs between the R88 & SF12 as well! I have a Coles 4038 (soon to have a second!) and a Royer 121. I don't know I how I lived without these mics all my life (without ANY ribbon mic for that matter!)!

I've been told that the SF12 doesn't really have the ribbon mic "character" that my others have and if I want a stereo ribbon, then I should get a stereo that has the "ribbon character". The only have I could find out is buying BOTH the SF12 & R88.....so yeah, buy a use 1996 Nissan Truck or buy these mics!
Old 20th April 2010
  #11
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I am very interested too! So if anybody has experience with both (R88, SF-12): Which one do you prefer for a specific application (piano, acoustic guitar, overheads, percussion, strings...) and why (besides of the size and weight)?

I had the R88 here for testing a few years ago but didn't had the "right" preamp at that time and got too much noise. I liked the sound very much but sent it back because the noise (hiss) was to much for me. But meanwhile I have the TRP (and a R84) and no noise problems anymore :-) I record mainly acoustic stringed instruments.

Oliver
Old 20th April 2010
  #12
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spectacular g's Avatar
 

R 88 and RPQ combo is great on many thing's but you really MUST have a nice sounding room.

Best purchase of 09 for me no doubt, sounds huge when needed also can be very pretty and open with the RPQ.

RPQ review,

AEA RPQ ribbon microphone preamp review in Mix magazine

Take note of how the preamp has fantastic eq abilities. To me it is kind of like a great sounding "presence" knob on a great guitar amp, dial it in and be amazed!!! And yes it also sound great with non ribbon mic's.



G

Last edited by spectacular g; 20th April 2010 at 10:26 PM.. Reason: added link
Old 23rd April 2010
  #13
Here for the gear
 
Albertagada's Avatar
 

R88

Quote:
Originally Posted by pianokeys View Post
I've just read other posts on this subject but was hoping for more, and more recent info - also perhaps some thoughts on some specific questions I have.

I'm buying a used SF-12 (well am a day away from buying) (which I could re-sell if necessary) as I've been recommended highly the R88 recently - though I'm not sure the comment I heard about it reaching lower and higher frequency wise than the SF-12 is true. Also a new R88 seems about $400 less than a used SF-12 in good condition.

Both being figure eights will naturally bring in some room tone which is ok as my rooms are semi-treated, semit-live - but they are also far from perfect rooms - would either of these mics be more or less forgiving?

My applications would be as a second pair for Grand Piano (in addition to LDC close miced) and as drum room (in a smaller room though only 14x12x7) and possibly ac gtr.

Thoughts greatly appreciated.
I've used a R88 on a grandpiano, it worked verywell; verynice mic but be carefull, not so versatile, i prefer a couple of Calrec on Overheads.Otherwise
i like this Mic on Trumpet and Flugelhorn. Good luck.
Old 23rd April 2010
  #14
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didier.brest's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Albertagada View Post
I've used a R88 on a grandpiano, it worked verywell;
What was its placement? 'very well' does it mean that it could be better with another mic ?
Old 23rd April 2010
  #15
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Albertagada's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by didier.brest View Post
What was its placement? 'very well' does it mean that it could be better with another mic ?
In front of the Piano it sounds very natural for my ears, without pedal noises.
I tried some mics in my grandpiano (Sauter 2m77) : AKG 414; Groove tubes;
Neumann tlm 193 ; and the R88 is the best for me .

Philippe
Old 23rd April 2010
  #16
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nobtwiddler's Avatar
Only the SF-12 on Ahmads record.

Pianokeys...
I used a SF-12 on a record i did here at my place a few years ago with Ahmad Jamal.
I did have to Geffels up also, but the one Stereo Royer, at the bend of his Steinway D piano was all I used!
Old 23rd April 2010
  #17
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didier.brest's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Albertagada View Post
I tried some mics in my grandpiano (Sauter 2m77)
I got the chance to play a bit on this piano. Excellent but too large for my home. I hesitated a while between the Sauter Omega and the Steingraeber 205. I finally took the latter one.

I tried Beyer M130 and Coles 4038: they work well but I always come to preferring some condenser mic.

Didier
Old 26th March 2012
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
Ryan Earnhardt's Avatar
 

R88 Rocks

I've never had the pleasure of trying the Royer stereo mic, but I can offer a sample of the R88 in use. I love that mic!

AEA R88 for recording drums
Old 26th March 2012
  #19
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syra's Avatar
Love the Royers but if I could pick one of the 2 for stereo sources, R88 gets my vote.
Old 27th March 2012
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by pianokeys View Post
thanks everyone - royer ok on moderate rooms - or at least similar to aea

would keeping the back of the sf-12, or r88 for that matter near treated walls (2 inch foam) reduce room tone if desired?
Not trying to start an argument with opegas, but your basic premise is correct. This is how most of us do it, and maybe it's not ideal, but it works. An SE reflexion filter is also quite effective.
Old 27th March 2012
  #21
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Faderix's Avatar
 

I've used both for drums. To me the AEA R88 is just super balanced. I thought the SF12 had some more of a higher midrange sound compared to R88 but also sounded incredible nice. I ended up buying the AEA R88. Both the sound and price mattered for me.
Old 15th August 2012
  #22
TML
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Guys-
Do you think the r 88 will collapse on overs in a hard rock situation.. say 2-3 feet above the drummer. I'm between a sf-12/24 decision and a aea 88. Thanks.
Tim
Old 15th August 2012
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by TML View Post
Guys-
Do you think the r 88 will collapse on overs in a hard rock situation.. say 2-3 feet above the drummer. I'm between a sf-12/24 decision and a aea 88. Thanks.
Tim
No, I have used the R88 many times on loud sources and it handles it extremely well. But, you'll have to move_da_mic[s] around to find the sweetest spot
Old 15th August 2012
  #24
Gear Addict
 

I'll add that if the size and imposition of the R88 is in some cases a liability, it is also, in some cases, a real asset: walk in to a room with that mic hanging from a big boom, and it's kind of breathtaking. It kind of sends a signal to the talent that now it's time to get really serious. Before I ever heard one, that was my first exposure outside of pictures.

I wouldn't put it or an R84 up against a wall, although I have attached light damping baffles to a stand behind it in some cases where space was tight, or larger gobos behind it in larger rooms. In a good, open, airy sounding room, I feel like the AEA large format ribbons are nearly peerless mics. There is pretty much nothing I won't put them on.
Old 16th August 2012
  #25
TML
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Thanks for the input. I'm still in the SF-12, SF-24, AEA r88 land. Why is the aea so much less.... that's what I keep asking. Quality? Sound? Tim
Old 16th August 2012
  #26
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I can say the sf12 and the trp is a great combination. It is scary how far that mic reaches into silence. In a word, elegant.
Old 16th August 2012
  #27
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dave gross's Avatar
 

Why don't you try them both out? Haven't used the R88, but do use my R84's in blumlein for a very similar result. The sound is incredibly detailed, rich, deep and 3 dimensional. Nothing about the quality is to be concerned about. AEA makes substantial, excellent microphones that will hold their own against any other ribbon microphones out there. Whether or not they suit your personal taste is up to you to decide.
Old 16th August 2012
  #28
Lives for gear
First off: this is hearsay. I have not owned either (although I've used the Royer before).

However, I'm recently in the market for a stereo ribbon, so was asking my buddy in Nashville (ex Blackbird - he's used just about everything) about SF12, R88, and Sontronics Apollo (short money). He said (and I quote): "Both the Royer and the AEA are nice - the AEA sounds a little more "meaty"; the Royer, a little more "refined"; (the Apollo, BTW, doesn't sound bad, but doesn't stand up to what (I remember) the Royer sounds like.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by digitrax; 16th August 2012 at 02:29 PM.. Reason: forgot "paste B4 post"
Old 16th August 2012
  #29
Gear Addict
 

For anyone wishing to try an AEA, if you weren't before, now you are aware that they offer a demo program:

http://www.ribbonmics.com/pdf/AEA_Na...mo_Program.pdf

I'll add that in all the various companies I've dealt with in my life in various industries and fields, from grossest consumer to most refined boutique, AEA is, to me, an example of just about the perfect company.

Tim, regarding cost, why does the fact that an R84 costs less than a Royer make you nervous? It costs what it costs. It isn't exactly cheap. Maybe AEA's overhead is low. Who knows? Who cares? It's not a compromise mic. Not at all.

Insight: for those who pay attention to such things, the classical label Telarc has adopted the R88 as one of its primary mics. If you don't know about Telarc, it's a label whose reputation stands on the supreme quality of its recordings. Artists and performances are another subject, but no one disputes that Telarc's recordings are pretty much reference material for audiophiles and the like.

Buy an AEA with confidence. I'm also not taking anything away from Royer--I just have no experience with their mics or the company, but on reputation alone they've got to be great.
Old 23rd August 2012
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by TML View Post
Thanks for the input. I'm still in the SF-12, SF-24, AEA r88 land. Why is the aea so much less.... that's what I keep asking. Quality? Sound? Tim
Tim,

Where are you located?
If you're in SoCal, give me a call or send an e-mail and I'd be happy to set up a demo of the R88 for you! Or have a look at our dealer demo program.

Why the AEA R88 is so much less expensive than the SF-12, I can't tell you. What I can tell you though is that the R88 costs just a little less than two R84s that it shares some parts with (e.g. the transformer). But you're only dealing with one mic body, final assembly, etc. We work really hard to sell our products at a competitive price point even though it's all hand-assembled in our little shop here in Pasadena. In fact, matching the transducers of the R88 takes quite a bit of time and effort. We didn't even bump up the price when we released the mk2 version, which improved the integrated shockmount system (which some companies sell as an expensive accessory).

Our mission is to make the best ribbon mics we can and not to achieve the highest margin at any cost. Makes sense?

BTW, the R88 is Joe Chiccarelli's go-to "front of kit" mic on drums!

And here's a quick clip of the R88 on a baritone acoustic guitar:


Best regards,
Julian
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