Burbank, CA … Fleet Foxes is a highly regarded indie folk band from Seattle, Washington consisting of members Robin Pecknold (vocals, guitar), Skyler Skjelset (guitar), Christian Wargo (bass, guitar, vocals), Casey Wescott (keyboards, vocals), Morgan Henderson (multiple instruments) and J. Tillman (drums, vocals). With key European stopovers at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, UK and at the Green Man Festival in Crickhowell, UK where they were the headlining act, the band recently toured Europe before resuming stateside for performances in early September. Both electric and acoustic guitars are a critical element of the band’s sound and, to ensure the finest reproduction through the sound reinforcement system, two R-121 ribbon microphones from Royer Labs have become an integral part of capturing the essence of the guitars.
Audio engineer Jared Hankins serves as the FOH (front of house) engineer for Fleet Foxes. A graduate of the music production and engineering program at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, Hankins has worked with musical artist John Vanderslice, Menomena, and Pedro the Lion in addition to his stint with Fleet Foxes since 2008. Having discovered Royer ribbons during his Berklee years, Hankins has since become a firm believer in the attributes of ribbon microphones. He discussed his decision to deploy Royer R-121’s on two guitar amps with the Fleet Foxes tour.
“During my time at Berklee,” notes Hankins, “the Royer ribbons were among the few mics that required a special sign-out procedure, as they were always in demand. In working with the Royers, I quickly came to discover their warm, natural sound quality. I particularly like using them to mic guitar amps because they exhibit a very clean, flat sound with a depth of field that sits beautifully in the mix. When miking guitar, there’s no excessive build up in the low end and the ability of the R-121 to withstand high SPL’s (sound pressure levels) is a unique benefit.”
With Fleet Foxes, Hankins uses one Royer R-121 ribbon microphone on a 1966 Fender Super Reverb for the acoustic guitar playing of Robin Pecknold and the other mic is positioned in front of a 1965 Fender Vibrolux that is used for acoustic and electric guitars, as well as a mandolin. “On the Super Reverb,” Hankins explained, “I position the microphone roughly 3.5 inches from the cloth. With the Vibrolux, the R-121 is a bit closer—right about 2 inches from the cloth. In each case, the mics are 2 inches from dead center of the loudspeaker.”
With their figure 8 polar pattern, the R-121’s nulls carry the added benefit of being able to isolate stray sounds that aren’t wanted—a feature that Hankins puts to good use when the band performs. “With our setup,” said Hankins, “the amps are essentially all lined in a row, so the nulls help isolate the amps from one another. Because of the nulls on the left and right sides, I get very little bleed, so the guitar signal is very clean.”
Hankins is equally impressed with Royer Labs’ customer / technical support services. “I’ve only spoken with John [Jennings],” he said, “but based on our conversations, I appreciate his knowledge and the support I’ve received. I get the impression the company genuinely cares about their customers.”
Before heading off to the airport en route to the band’s next destination, Hankins offered this parting thought, “Every time I put up a Royer mic, I get positive results. I remember at one stop, we only had one of the Royers, so we had to use something else and, during that time, the one guitarist was heckling the other because he still had the Royer mic on his amp. The guys in the band are very happy with their sound through the Royers. Whether in the studio or out on tour, I’ve always had great results with my Royer ribbons and the musicians I’ve worked with always seem to have a positive response as well.”
To learn more about Fleet Foxes, visit the band online at http://fleetfoxes.com/.
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.
Photo Info: Image of Fleet Foxes FOH Engineer Jared Hankins (right) with guitarist Skyler Skjelset.