The Royer 121 is the new age microphone that does not need any phantom power, and the best part about them is that even if phantom power is on by mistake, it does not damage the microphone.
For ages, the professional audio industry has been using ribbon microphones that required phantom power. But with the advancement of technology and the advent of the latest capacitor microphone technology, things have changed drastically.
The R121 is a pretty conventional ribbon microphone similar to what the traditional microphones used to be. But with many subtle differences that make them the best professional microphones around.
So Does Royer 121 need phantom power?
The answer to that is obviously in No. But how does it manage to do so? To better understand how this outstanding microphone from Royer works, we would need to look at the technology behind it.
Let us quickly see how the technology behind the R121 makes it one of the best microphones around.
R121 – the Physical Design
The basic design of the R121 is pretty much similar to the traditional ribbon microphones. It does use quite a lot of sophisticated materials that make it different from the conventional ribbon mic.
Between the poles of a robust magnetic assembly made up of a neodymium magnet, there resides a 2.5ï¿½m-thick ribbon made up of pure aluminum.
The motor has been meticulously designed to ensure the flux field remains where it is required, thereby minimizing any unwanted external fields that cause static or disturbance.
The model is pretty lightweight and is 243g and is around 6.13 inches long with a diameter of 1 inch (156 x 25mm). Apart from the pure-aluminum made ribbon and the rare earth magnetic assembly, the third component that provides some impedance matching and voltage step-up facility to the output unit is a miniature transformer.
This transformer is the distinguishing factor that makes it different from the other ribbon microphones and is why it does not need phantom power.
Even if phantom power is applied to the mic mistakenly, the transformer does its job to isolate the ribbon to prevent any damage or adverse impact on the mic.
The microphone’s interior is padded with dense cotton wool wads that provide ample padding to prevent resonance or stop the wires inside the mic from rattling.
The microphone comes in a super stylish wooden box with a mic clip and a user guide with essential accessories such as the foam windscreen and shock mount.
You may also opt for a pair of mics for professional stereo applications that can be supplied with a five percent premium.
The physical arrangement of this mic makes it a side-address type microphone. 12 slots run across each side of the mic.
The Royer logo marks the positive pole of the pickup pattern. A pair of vertical metallic fins run on either side of the grille area that serves and marks the side nulls.
The model name and serial number are etched near the microphone base, and an XLR connector provides the output.
R121 – the Technical Specifications
R121 can accommodate sound levels, which can be as high as 130db SPL. This makes it fit to be placed in front of brass instruments, electric guitar units, and even percussion instruments without any worries or too much difficulty.
Being a bipolar ribbon mic, the Royer 121 is remarkable in terms of its consistency with frequency. The side nulls are perfectly precise, and it is very hard to beat this microphone’s accuracy.
This microphone’s technical specifications are pretty impressive, especially when you compare it to the ribbon mics that have been used over the last few decades.
The frequency response is around ±2dB between 30Hz and 15kHz. The microphone sensitivity is at -54dBV. This is equivalent to 2mV/Pa and is only 1 dB greater than that of Coles 4038.
If you want to compare, a Beyer M88 would closely match R121 in terms of sensitivity, whereas a capacitor mic such as the AKG C414 would be around 10 dB more in terms of sensitivity. The output impedance is available at as low as 200(omega). The equivalent noise figure is approximately at 14 dBA, which is pretty quiet compared to much higher up models and mics, and that means it allows a dynamic range that is in excess of around 120 dB.
R121 – the Usage
While in use, the R121 feels somewhere between a moving-coil and a capacitor type mic. It may not be as precise as a capacitor mic but it is also not so sluggish as that of a moving-coil mic.
This mic’s sound is pretty smooth and responds well to flat sounds like that of woodwind, brass, and voices, in a way any other mics with large capacitors can do.
The R121 has all those qualities, but certain things stand out. Most ribbon microphones are pretty fragile and the ribbon may tear pretty easily even if you dropped the lid of the box or speakers blow air into them rapidly or simply being exposed to loud sound sources.
However, the R121 stays remarkably tolerant of high sound levels and manages to deliver a silky-smooth quality of sound that ribbon mics have been known for.
With instruments such as the clarinet, violin, and solo trumpet, the results have been excellent. Crisp, clear, and detailed sound output no matter what instrument you try it on.
The R121 is particularly endorsed by many recording engineers for its results in capturing sounds from electric guitars. On the human voice as well, the mic works like a wonder.
This therefore conclude that Royer R121 works pretty well on its own in terms of its overall output even without phantom power.
So to answer the initial question on whether it needs phantom power, with everything under the hood, the design, the technical specifications, and its use; it is pretty clear that this microphone is pretty powerful, nice, and smooth on its own and it does not need Phantom power.
All in all, it’s a nice little microphone that will be a pretty good addition to your microphone cabinet.