Pro Audio

Royer Labs Ribbon Microphones: We Tested Three of Their Latest and Greatest in the Studio

We shot out three ribbon microphones from Royer Labs in our studio Noise Machines — the brand new 25th Anniversary Limited-Edition R-121 Distressed Rose, the 25th Anniversary R-10 Hot Rod Limited Edition, and the R-10.

If you’re into recording you should (and probably do know) about ribbon microphones. As well as being one of the earlier microphone designs, they capture a sound source in the most natural way with most ribbon microphones having a frequency response that’s described as warm — something that’s ever so important in this digital recording age.

Royer Labs are celebrating their 25th anniversary, and they arguably make some of the best ribbon microphones available — so we decided to listen closely to three of their best selling products. 

With a Fender Strat, a vintage Fender Champ amplifier and identical channels on our API 2448 recording and mixing console we tested out the R-10, the 25th Anniversary R-10 Hot Rod Limited Edition and the brand new 25th Anniversary Limited-Edition R-121 Distressed Rose side by side — making sure each microphone was in the exact same position, with the preamps set at the same level.

Royer Labs is a company out of Burbank California that started 25 years ago back in 1998 when David Royer took his first ribbon microphone design to his friend and now president of Royer Labs — Rick Perrotta. That design was the R-121, that is now one of the most revered ribbon microphones in studios and sometimes on stage.

royer labs ribbon microphones

Its elegant design did away with the classic large profile and fragile approach to ribbon microphones, instead using their patented offset ribbon transducer — which won them awards and was the first ribbon mic to handle high SPLs. A more rugged cousin was released in 2017 in the R-10 — it comes in at a third of the price and was also intended for live use due to its solid build.

Celebrating the classic R-121, Royer Labs recently made an iconic distressed rose with only 500 units available worldwide. For the purists who wonder if there’s any modifications — there is no change in sound and internal design, just the dark bourbon-inspired colour and the chance to be part of history.

To continue the celebrations of 25 years of great work, Royer Labs released the R-10 Hot Rod Limited Edition. It’s got a custom edition transformer that gives 5 dB more output than the standard R-10 and it’s not that much more expensive, offering a bump up in sound and style with it’s neat black trim and black logo.

r10 hot rod

Just like the original R-10, It’s weighty and small profile design is great for getting in close to guitar amps, underneath snares and getting close to the fret or finger boards of stringed instruments and they both handle SPLs of up to 160 dB @ 1 kHz.

Don’t just take our word, use your own ears and watch the video where you can hear the three microphones in all their glory, using all the same audio sources.

royer distressed rose

The 25th Anniversary Limited-Edition R-121 Distressed Rose comes in at $2,775 AUD, the 25th Anniversary R-10 Hot Rod Limited Edition comes in at $1,468 AUD and the R-10 Studio/Live Ribbon Microphone comes in at $1,142 AUD.

You can get them all from Mixmastersproaudio.com.au, find out more at Royerlabs.com