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R84 w/RPQ or A840 w/Cloud CL-Z and my preamps? Ribbon Microphones
Old 5th March 2014
Gear Addict
NuSkoolTone's Avatar

R84 w/RPQ or A840 w/Cloud CL-Z and my preamps?

I'm a fairly educated slutty home studio guy exploring the ribbon world as a direction for next purchase. I've been trolling the forum and it sounds like a mic in the R84/RCA camp could be the ticket.

Main application is Female Vocals. Sort of a more Modern Ella Fitzgerald who so far HATES condensers (In my case a TLM103 which I know is hardly the best example) or anything with "High end". She wants to be swimming in warmth and low end. Now obviously there's limits to everything, but that gives a view of the singer's perspective. So far the best luck I've had is with an RE20 (No PE I know, but a "smooth" mic) out of my mic locker. Recordings will be 50's to contemporary pop. Given ribbons tend to EQ well, I figure I can track her "Warm" with the ribbon's natural (lack of) high end which I think would encourage the best performance and I can add HF EQ in later.

I originally was considering the U47 type route, but thinking this may be a better option as I am digital and primarily ITB without Tape softening the condenser's high end.

So that said, I've been reading about ribbon qualities and hearing some examples where it's already softened a touch and seems to melt into the mix. Between budget and my less than perfect room(s). A 44 alone requiring 4'+ from the mic is probably a bad idea unless I have some serious shaping tools which may be defeating the purpose? So I figure an R84 medium to close mic'd with less aggressive filtering could be the way to go.

With the R84 (And Ribbons in general) I read noise and PE can be an issue so the RPQ could address much of this with quiet high gain, and a roll-off to control PE and a sweetener for the top. This is one solution.

The other option is an active ribbon such as the A840 (or maybe a cloud mic?) and something like a cloud CL-Z which has variable impedance/roll-off filter similar to the RPQ which I would run from my preamps. I suppose it also removes the need for the ribbon to be active. I see Vintage King has a nice package of an R84/CL-Z + mic cable so I guess I can't claim as an "original" idea

The preamps available are:
- SCA A12, N72, and J99
- Phoenix Audio DRS-2
Then Mixer preamps on my various VLZ Mackies, A&H 14:4:2, and Presonus StudioLive which I'd assume are less likely. I figure the J99 and DRS-2 are the most likely that would be used.

The 3rd and cheapest/least flexible option is an R84 with a FETHEAD (Though I read Cloud CL's may be better for 50% more money) into the DRS-2 with the HPF engaged for PE control.

My thinking here with the roll off is to allow closer micing (And a good popfilter for plosives), with reduced gain/noise necessary while reducing the PE from "getting on the mic". With the RPQ or CL-Z I'm thinking (hoping) I could dial that in right at tracking and get a good balance between low end depth and distance from the microphone for immediacy.

So in the real world, do you guys think this would work in practice? Also other Ribbons are a consideration such as Coles 4040, Cloud 44/44a(With Voice switch), or JRS-34 (or JRS-34P). Any others I should consider? (Preferably under $2k as I assume will at least need a CL/FETHEAD or dedicated pre)

Other applications would be Electric Guitars and Mono Drum Room/FOK.

Any help to narrow these variables down with some insight is appreciated!

Old 5th March 2014
Jai guru deva om
warhead's Avatar

The AEA R84 is definitely a fit for your request here, the FETHEAD is perfectly fine as a booster if you ever think you would need one. Your Phoenix DRS preamp has crazy gain!!!

Old 5th March 2014
Lives for gear

You want a u47 really. Lucas cs4, flea47 etc....

That said, for ribbons, the rca44bx is the trick. If you have the aea rpq you can mic quite close and tame the proximity with the filter. The r84 is good too, but the 44 is better. Based on your room, the ku4 might really be the ticket.
Old 6th March 2014
Gear Addict
NuSkoolTone's Avatar

So anyone use the R84 and/or A840 with the above options?

Also saw the Single 500 RPQ (Didn't know they made one!) package with the R84. Which is close to the A840 alone in price.
Since this levels out the two a bit, Pros/cons one over the other setup?

With the FETHEAD or Cloudlifter on the R84, does the difference to the A840 become negligible?

Any pros/cons to a CL-Z vs. the RPQ assuming you have a quality uncolored preamp? The RPQ has the high end controls, though it seems the low end controls might be comparable?
Old 7th March 2014
Lives for gear

I use an R84 with a Fethead all the time. Excellent combo, particularly on females, and the R84 will give you the dark, warm, vintage tone you're looking for. Nice that you have a singer who's seeking that, as I usually have to convince people that the lack of high-end hype they're used to is a good thing. Haven't used the RPQ, though it's high on my shopping list. I'm far from a purist and love the in-your-face character of my colored preamps, but I actually usually prefer my squeaky clean Buzz MA-2.2tx with the R84. In the situations where that's the right mic, I don't want to mess with that perfect performer/mic vibe.
Old 7th March 2014
Gear Maniac
taherbert's Avatar
I've been recording my wife really succesfully with an R84. She has a really strong projecting midrange that it rounds off nicely. We've been using it with a Shadow Hills Mono GAMA, Daking Pre/Eq, but it sounds best with our Helios type 69-500 on her. We did demo a Pheonix DRS-1, and it sounded pretty great with that too. It is too dark with our Great River MP-500.

Unless you've got a crazy long cable run, I don't think you need a cloudlifter or anything. Put a high shelf on that R84 and it will still capture a lot of detail, it just won't be strident. Also remember it's not just about gain, but also impedance matching with ribbons. Some preamps will love them, others won't, even with the same amount of gain.
Old 7th March 2014
Gear Nut
I have been using a pair of AEA rpq 500 series and a pair of cloud jrs 34 ribbons. It took a while to get this together but it sounds quite beautiful. There still is a bit of noise floor but it is minor. I also like to combine a ldc mic for some brightness . Very happy for now...
Old 4th June 2014
Lives for gear

I'm about to pull the trigger on an RPQ 500, so on a related topic, I'm wondering if people using the RPQ with their AEA or other low-output ribbons are still putting the Fethead or Cloudlifter in the chain. Does the perfectly matched impedance and high gain of this ribbon-tailored pre negate the necessity for inline help?
Old 4th June 2014
Lives for gear
carloff's Avatar
I just have the best ribbons I have ever had in my studio. Sandhill 6011a . I had aea440,still have royers122, aea r84, beyers, lewilsons . I have to say this is the most fat sound with amazing details I have ever heard from ribbon mic. No noise high output. No need of being careful , because of new composit of ribbon. It has the best of condensers and also ribbons.Im planning to make some test because it´s worth...
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