A matched ribbon microphone pair with phantom powered circuitry, low noise and high SPL capabilities.
The R-122 is the world's first phantom powered, active ribbon microphone. This matched R-122 pair will produce recordings of unsurpassed stereo imaging. Yes, you need to turn phantom power on when you use an R-122! The payback is far more output than you've ever imagined from a ribbon microphone. More importantly, the R-122's electronics place a perfect impedance load on the ribbon element, greatly expanding the number of preamps that will match up well with the R-122.
Before the R-122, all ribbon microphones were passive devices, meaning that they were 15 to 30 dB less sensitive than average phantom powered condenser mics. In addition, passive ribbon mics depend entirely on the input impedance of the preamp they're mated with to set the proper impedance to the ribbon element. Simply put, even the best ribbon mics can sound mediocre if they're plugged into the wrong mic pre. With the R-122, gain and impedance issues are a thing of the past.
Conventional ribbon microphones need high-quality, high-gain microphone preamplifiers to record softer sound sources like acoustic instruments, vocals and room ambience. The R-122 is as sensitive as a condenser microphone, allowing you to use practically any mic preamplifier or board record even the quietest sounds. The R-122 contains a fully balanced, discrete head amplifier system utilizing a specially wound toroidal transformer and ultra-low noise FET's. This system is extremely quiet, can handle 135 dB SPL, and brings the R-122's output to —38 dB! Go ahead and plug an R-122 into any preamplifier with average gain - you'll get full Royer performance and you'll have enough level to drive any recording medium.
The R-122's higher sensitivity does not create additional self-noise. All of the R-122's increased level comes from its large, specially wound toroidal transformer - that wonderful thing called "free gain." The level at the transformer is actually hotter than the level at the output of the microphone. The phantom powered circuitry provides impedance conversion only, adding no noise of its own. This system took years to perfect and is currently in patent pending status.
The R-122's active electronics provide a perfect load to the ribbon element at all times, allowing the R-122 to deliver 100% of its full sonic potential regardless of the input characteristics of the following mic-pre. Due to its low-impedance output, R-122s can be used on extremely long cable runs with minimal signal loss.
A good impedance match is critical to getting the most from a ribbon microphone. An impedance mis-match will load the ribbon improperly, resulting in loss of low end, diminished body, lowered sensitivity and overall compromised performance. The R-122's ribbon element lives in a perfect world - it sees the optimal impedance at all times regardless of the following equipment, so its performance is never compromised by the effects of improper loading. In addition, the ribbon element cannot be damaged by phantom power, electrical glitches or miswired cables.
Patented Offset Ribbon Technology
The R-122's proprietary offset ribbon transducer (Patent Number: 6,434,252) positions the ribbon element closer to the front (logo) side of the microphone than the rear. This arrangement gives the ribbon more room to move within the prime magnetic field while maintaining full frequency response during high SPL recordings. It's an integral piece of the magic of all Royer R-series microphones.
Recording With the R-122
The R-122 is every bit as tough as our road-worthy R-121 and it can be used on high SPL applications with equally good results. It is a first-call mic for electric and acoustic guitars, drum overheads, brass, percussion, electric and acoustic bass, piano, strings, woodwinds, Foley, and many other applications.
Does the R-122 sound any different than the R-121? Due to the similarities between the two mics, it's a good question. The mics have a similar look, they both share the same offset-ribbon transducer and large ribbon, and apart from the R-122's increased sensitivity, their specs are the same. So do they sound any different? The answer is yes, depending on what you're recording.
Sonically, the R-122 has a slightly tighter and more focused low-end response and its transient response is faster than the R-121's, giving the perception of a more open top-end. These differences are functions of the R-122's large toroidal transformer (versus the R-121's more traditional IE core transformer).
Between the two mics, we have found that people tend to prefer R-122's on drum overheads, acoustic instruments and vocals. With electric guitars and brass it's a toss up, with some preferring the R-122's tighter low-end and more open top-end response and others preferring the straight ahead R-121 response. Our opinion is that if you're recording mostly electric guitars and/or brass, the R-121 is the way to go. The R-122 is just as good on these instruments, but you may not need (or want) the additional top-end openness and you certainly won't need the R-122s higher sensitivity with these high SPL applications. If you plan on using the mics for drum overheads, vocals, piano, acoustic instruments or very quiet sound sources, we highly recommend you choose the R-122.
Note: The R-122 puts out a lot of level when used to record very loud electric guitars. To keep from overdriving the front end of your mic pre, we recommend the use of a Shure or Neutrik 10dB in-line pad.
Two Mics In One
At distances of three feet and closer, the back of the R-122 records slightly brighter than the front side. This can be extremely useful when recording acoustic guitars, vocals, and other sound sources that you may need a slightly brighter response on.