Burbank, CA… Royer Labs ribbon microphones are widely recognized for their strengths in the recording studio side of the business and they are also finding their way onto more and more equipment rosters with touring acts. Such is the case with the rock band Matchbox Twenty and their FOH (front of house) Sound Engineer Jim Ebdon. For their current Exile in America tour, which includes engagements at the Nokia Theatre in Dallas, Madison Square Garden in New York City, Broomfield Events Center in Denver, and Staples Center in Los Angeles, the band is using Royer R-121 ribbon microphones extensively.
While close miking a guitar amp certainly isn‘t the most unique application for the R-121, the fact that these mics are also being used as the source for the guitarists‘ in-ear monitors certainly might be. Jim Ebdon, whose resume includes work at the UK‘s Surrey Studios (the place where the first three Police albums were recorded) as well as touring stints with Aerosmith, Annie Lennox, Sting, and the American Idol tours, is using six Royer R-121‘s–four of them studio versions and two, the new Live Series models–while on tour with Matchbox Twenty. Ebdon explained how the R-121‘s are being used.
“We have two guitar players, each with three guitar cabinets placed underneath the stage and facing backwards,” said Ebdon, “and there are four R-121‘s positioned on four of the cabinets. Each cabinet is isolated from one another with foam, so this gives us the ability to mic each amp independently. The mics are positioned up against the grille cloth at about a 45-degree angle. In addition to feeding these signals to FOH and, ultimately, to the audience, these signals are also the source for the guitarists‘ in-ear monitor mixes.”
During rehearsals, the band experimented with a number of mics, but it wasn‘t until Ebdon put the R-121‘s up that anyone seemed happy. “During rehearsals, we experimented with a lot of different large diaphragm mics,” continued Ebdon. “When I decided to try the Royers, we suddenly had a much better sound for the monitor mixes. It was literally the difference between chalk and cheese. The band loved the Royers and unanimously agreed ‘that‘s the guitar sound‘ they wanted. The R-121‘s sounded warm, natural, and uncolored–not at all harsh like several of the other mics we auditioned. Suddenly, the in-ear monitors sounded just like the guitar, so we‘ve been using them this way throughout the tour.”
Ribbon microphones–particularly earlier generation ribbon mics–have been considered by many to be too delicate to take on tour. When queried about this situation, Ebdon offered the following thought, “I believe that was certainly true for the ribbons of the 50‘s and 60‘s, but not so much anymore. That certainly shouldn‘t be taken to mean we‘re not careful in the way we handle them, because we are, but contemporary ribbon mics, such as those from Royer Labs, are far more robust. We have a tech with us whose responsibility is to ensure the mics are properly cared for and stored during travel, so the R-121‘s are always properly protected. While I‘m certain they get their fare share of bumps and knocks as well as exposure to some pretty drastic temperature variations, they continue to work extremely well. I listen every day the mics. Handled responsibly, they‘re fine.”
Ebdon has been equally impressed with Royer Labs‘ customer and technical support services. “I was first exposed to Royer Labs via Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, who insisted on using them,” recalls Ebdon. “After the Aerosmith tours, all the mics were routinely sent back to Royer for general inspection, where they were serviced if needed, and turnaround was always prompt. The company has always been extremely responsive and a pleasure to deal with. The Royer R-121 delivers a very natural, warm, and present sound. Everyone who listens becomes a fan of these mics!”
About the Royer Labs R-121 Live Ribbon Microphone
The R-121 Live ribbon microphone is designed for today’s live performance spaces. It exhibits a flat frequency response and a well-balanced, panoramic soundfield with the ability to withstand 135 dB SPL–making it an ideal tool for drum and guitar amp miking, as well as a variety of acoustic instruments.
About Royer Labs
Located in Burbank, California, Royer Labs‘ microphones are a staple of leading recording and broadcast facilities. Additional information on the new Live Series and all Royer microphones can be found at www.royerlabs.com.