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distorted guitar-Coles or Royer?
Old 22nd February 2003
Gear Head
🎧 15 years
distorted guitar-Coles or Royer?

After hearing the Royer demo CD, the first thing I noticed after realizing that the R-121 is a great sounding mic is that the Coles 4038 consistently sounds better than the royer wherever it is compared to the 121 on the CD. This is most noticable in Albini's section on the sax. The Coles is just a thicker, deeper sound which sounds better to my ears. I am considering a purchase of one of these two mics, and I while I'm convinced that the Coles is a better sound, I have a few questions which, if answered, would make my decision a little easier
1) Apparently the 121 is very hard to blow up or break and can handle a higher SPL than the Coles. Most of my guitar recording consistes of 4 amps. A 76 JMP 4 input which is generally run at about 6-7 to get into power tube distortion zone, A Mesa Boogie Mark IIc+ run at about 4-5 on the master volume, A JC-120 run about halfway up, and a small Fender Musicmaster Bass amp (about 8 watts), run full out. How close can a 4038 be placed to these amps in these applications and still be safe?
2) Drums: The same question applies. How loud can I play and keep the Coles safe as opposed to the royer which seems to be somewhat indestructable? I would be using mainly as overheads over a fairly loud and piercing custom built stainless steel kit.
3) Versatility: Overall, which mic would be more suited to drum and guitar duties. As I can only pick one mic, I would like it to be great on both. The sound I am looking for is very thick and punchy for both guitar and drums.
4) Max SPL on both?
5) Is the Coles really as fragile as people say. I really do not want something I have to treat like antique china in the studio.
Old 22nd February 2003
Lives for gear
CHAOS's Avatar
🎧 15 years

Yea... Coles are kinda fragile. They are good for drums 4' away and more. Guitar cabs you can get closer 1'-2' away, but you have to be careful. I think they do sound better than the Royer 121's.

Royer 122's (the phantom powered ones) can handle the high SPL's and have a brighter tone than the 121's. You might want to check those out.

Just my thoughts...

Best of luck.
Old 22nd February 2003
Lives for gear
PlugHead's Avatar
🎧 15 years

Don't trust your judgement on these mics solely from some CD - you have to actually use it in your own studio, with your own gear and then pass judgement. Rent them before you buy, or possibly buy with a trial period: it is the best way to decide whether it/they are right for you. I use both a 4038 and an R-121: they both have their place, and I would say they are both worth their weight, neither the greater or lesser beast. That said, I will migrate to the 4038 for trumpet everytime, yet I use the Royer on trombone - Why? I can't tell you, other than they both sound great, but one sounds better on recording the subject.

As for guitar tone, they both rock, but unless you want a duller top, I usually use the R-121: it does guitars great, and also with the backside's brighter sound can be more flexible than the 4038. Also, if I can say one great thing about these ribbon mic's - they can take EQ - drastic amounts of it! not fizzy, strident highs when boosted, just clean tonal shift (with good EQ, of course!)

Old 22nd February 2003
Gear Guru
NathanEldred's Avatar
7 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
If the cab is distorted and very loud then probably a Royer. The 122 is the most opulent and focused of the 12x series. The 121 is still great, a little flatter in frequency response and not quite as large sounding as the 122, it's marginal though and pretty dependent on the microphone preamp also with the 121. The preamp plays less of a roll with the 122. The 4038 shines at a distance and works really well for quieter type sources that push less air. The ribbon is delicate and can be stretched, and it's not something you want to have to replace every so often for $150 a pop plus shipping.
Old 22nd February 2003
Lives for gear
e-cue's Avatar
🎧 15 years
The Royer will work great. The Coles will be destroyed on an amp. I love the Coles, but they can't really handle high SPL stuff. They are great on OH's, and a bit darker than the 122's for the cymbal stuff which you may or may not want.
Old 22nd February 2003
Gear Addict
CrazyBeast's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Originally posted by PlugHead
Also, if I can say one great thing about these ribbon mic's - they can take EQ - drastic amounts of it! not fizzy, strident highs when boosted, just clean tonal shift (with good EQ, of course!)

No - my mileage doesn't vary on this one!
Old 22nd February 2003
Lives for gear
🎧 15 years
I had my pair of 121's for a good while before I tried them where it really counts. The fact that there's a thin, metal ribbon inside had me using them overcautiously. I thought that up close to a barking speaker or pounding drums would curl that thing up like a popped cherry. So I asked on GSz a couple of times before I was convinced by a photograph of m. wagener's that they really shine used up close on distorted git cab.

good related thread with royer citing and wagener's mic'd cab pic

**** yeah they do. I'm getting the best guitar tones I've ever recorded with 121's. My guitar player and I agreed that the sound of his Line 6 Spyder fully cranked and carefully dialed in was better on playback than it was in the room. More ballsy, with a focused, defined, but not strident edge. Same is true for my little Marshall lead combo 50w 1x15. It'll also be true for my Fender Musicmaster 15w 1x15 when I get the ****ing thing fixed (most character I've ever heard from any amp/cab). And the comments that I've read on this board about turning a 121 so the response varies between its brighter backside and the front are spot on. Used this way, the mic acts like a good, unique eq.
Old 25th February 2003
Here for the gear
🎧 15 years
I love the 121 on gtr, drums, brass. It sounds anywhere from good to amazing on just about anything. I was debating adding a pair of Coles a couple of months ago and was about to get them. At the same time, I was also able to demo the AEA R-84 large ribbons. The R-84s never went back to the dealer, kick ass mics. They sound great on electric guitar and are the best drum overheads I've used for my room. Very natural and articulate with a bit more top than a 121 (logo side). Although, I still prefer the 121 for guitar and some brass. So far, the R-84s have handled high SPL sources really well. I'd still like a to get a pair of 4038s and would be curious to hear them side by side with the
R-84s. For the quality and sound The R-84 is a steal @ $999.00 list.

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