Manchester, England… English musician, singer, and songwriter Johnny Marr, a founding member of the British rock band the Smiths, which he played in from 1982-1987, recently completed the United States leg of his tour, known as Playland—in support of his 2nd solo album of the same name. In addition to Marr’s high caliber performances, part of that magical sound is the result of solid engineering and technical support, which includes the use of R-121 Mono Ribbon Microphones from Burbank, CA-based Royer Labs.
Manchester-based Russ Miller, also known as Russthesoundguy, serves as the FOH Engineer for Johnny Marr. Over the course of the past decade, Miller has engineered live sound for numerous acts, including artists Alison Moyet, Curtis Stigers, Lacuna Coil, Spiritualized, and From Autumn to Ashes to name but a few. To capture the sound of Johnny Marr’s Fender Deluxe guitar amp, there can be only one mic—the Royer Labs R-121.
“I’m currently using two Royer R-121s,” Miller reports, “and have been using them since the start of the Playland tour. I position the Royer on the Deluxe about 1 inch to the left of the dustcap/centre of the speaker, then place a DPA2011c right next to it—making certain that the R-121’s ribbon and the diaphragm of the other mic are lined up to ensure phase coherence. I’m also using an R-121 on a Marshall 4x12 enclosure used by one of the other guitarists in the band.”
When queried about those characteristics that make the R-121 a solid choice for Marr’s live performances, Miller offered the following, “The SPL handling capabilities of the R-121 are incredible! Johnny is a loud guitar player, and that’s fine, because the R-121 doesn’t even break a sweat. The frequency response of the mic compliments his sound so well—it’s really smooth and void of any nasty peaks in the presence range that other mic’s usually exhibit. The R-121 captures sound the way the human ear does. You can have tons of it in the mix without that ‘ice pick’ effect and without having to use EQ. We run a very tight setup. Everything is butted up to each other physically, so the nulls at the top, bottom, and sides of the R-121 are a Godsend. Johnny’s guitar is angled towards his position in the middle, so the null is ‘looking’ at the hi-hats on the riser. If I didn’t have the R-121’s null, it would be a bloody nightmare!”
For any touring act, knowing that quality, responsive customer and technical support is available is of paramount concern. Here, too, Miller gives Royer Labs high marks. “The people over at Royer have been amazing to deal with,” Miller says. “The company’s turnaround time is consistently very quick. With Royer, you know that you’re important as a customer and that you’re entering into a good working relationship, as opposed to being just another transaction. I’ve been very pleased.”
Before turning his attention toward upcoming projects, Miller offered a very positive assessment of his experience with Royer Lab’s microphones. “The Royers have been fantastic,” he said. “I can’t say enough good things about them—they definitely have been a gig changer for us. Johnny is a great producer and engineer and is real savvy when it comes to tone. He came out front during a soundcheck and was pretty darn impressed with the reproduction of his signature sound through the PA. The R-121s are a major element of that sound delivery.”
“The reaction we get from crowds since we switched to the Royers has cemented the ‘right tool for the job’ mentality for me,” Miller continued. “I’ve never had so many compliments. I would never ask someone like Johnny to change his sound to suit my microphone. That would be insulting. So it’s most important to listen to your source and choose a mic that’s going to compliment it. If you have to resort to tons of EQ and compression, then it’s not the right mic for the job. With the Royer R-121, that’s never an issue.”
About Royer Labs
Located in Burbank, California, Royer Labs’ microphones are a staple of leading recording and broadcast facilities. For additional information about the R-121 and all Royer microphones, please visit the company at www.royerlabs.com.