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R-122 Microphone Sets

BidirectionalRoyer Labs R-122

Bidirectional Active Ribbon Microphone

The Royer R-122 is the world’s first “active” ribbon mic — it requires phantom power, to drive the impedance-conversion circuitry within the mic body.

Although sometimes described as an “amplifier circuit,” the active electronics within the R-122 do not amplify the mic’s signal. All of the amplification comes from the step-up transformer connected to the ribbon transducer. The downstream circuitry performs impedance conversion, reducing the impedance from over 10kΩ to 300Ω. This output circuit is transformerless.

Russ Long

The toroidal transformer is responsible for the microphone’s gain. This transformer produces a voltage gain across the full audio bandwidth, while reducing the current. The balanced FET amplifier has a gain of less-than-one, and [because] its impedance is so high, it effectively imposes no load to the transformer. This allows the full voltage gain achieved by the transformer to be utilized. Since the amplifier has no gain characteristics of its own, thermal noise from the FET’s and transistors is negligible.

How does the sound of the R-122 compare to the R-121?

Royer Labs

[These two microphones] share the same offset-ribbon transducer and large ribbon, and apart from the R-122’s increased sensitivity, their specs are the same. So do they sound any different? The answer is yes, depending on what you’re recording.

Sonically, the R-122 has a slightly tighter and more focused low-end response and its transient response is faster than the R-121’s, giving the perception of a more open top-end. These differences are functions of the R-122’s large toroidal transformer…

Like the R-121, the R-122 has a pure aluminum, 2.5 micron ribbon element that is offset toward the front of the case. This allows the front side of the mic to handle higher max SPL; it is rated at “>135dB.” Further, it gives the two sides of the mic slightly different sound qualities for sources located within three feet. Read more from Royer Labs’ “2 mics in 1” article (see the link in the sidebar).

In 2012, NYC jazz saxophonist Marc Mommaas picked the R-122 as his favorite ribbon mic for live performance, as part of our series The Quest for the Ultimate Live Sax Mic.

The R-122, like the R-121, carries a lifetime warranty for the original owner. (The ribbon is warrantied for 1 year.)

The mic is available in “Burnished Satin Nickel” or “Matte Black Chrome” finishes, and ships in a wood case. Matched pairs are presumably available.

In 2008, Royer Labs began shipping a “Live” version of the R-122, called the R-122L. It is distinguished by a thicker, more durable ribbon and a red logo badge. It is intended for higher-SPL live applications.

The Royer Labs R-122 is also known as: R122, R-122L, R122L.


Pickup Patterns Pads & Filters
Bidirectional (14.1 mV/Pa; 30 - 15,000 Hz)
Ribbon Construction Impedance SPL/Noise
2.5-micron aluminum ribbon 200 Ohms (Low) Max SPL: 135 dB
Self-noise: 20.0 dB(A)
Weight Length Max Diameter Interface(s)
309g (10.90oz) 206mm (8.11'') 25mm (0.98'')
  • 3-pin XLR male (1)
Power Specifications
  • Requires phantom power

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