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AEA R84 Ribbon Microphone
Capacitor mics certainly have their strengths, and for most people most of the time they provide the best combination of price, performance and practicality. However, the ribbon mic has a character and tonality all its own, and the R84 is a very good example of just what this technology has to offer. Many of the great recordings of the '40s, '50s and '60s owe their sound to the distinctively smooth and natural quality of ribbon mics.
The R84 is certainly on a par with capacitor mics of a similar price, but it delivers a very different kind of sound which can become quite addictive, and makes a very worthy addition to a well-stocked mic cupboard. The figure-of-eight pattern won't suit every application or recording environment, but where it can be used the R84 makes a good alternative to any high-end condenser mic, and one I suspect many musicians may prefer once they have auditioned it for themselves.
AEA KU4 Ribbon Microphone
Where the KU4 really comes into its own is in those situations where spill is an issue. I was forutnate to be able to trial the KU4 in an as-live session incorporating drums, bass, guitar and a small brass section. While acoustic screens provided a degree of control, a fig-8 ribbon for the brass would never have been an optimal solution - however much I like the sound. The KU4 here really delivered the goods. A combination of relative source level, the hypercardioid pick-up, the microphone's SPL handling and overall sound all seemed to click into place. I've employed EV RE-2 in similar situations in the past but they just can't match the KU4 for wonderful mid-range smoothness that flatters even the harshest sounding players.
Review: AEA The Ribbon Preamp
"In a few words, this preamp makes ribbon microphones sound brighter and more detailed than a conventional transformer-input preamp."
"But even with an assortment of expensive solid state preamps at my disposal, I still wasn't satisfied with the sound we were getting. Then along came the TRP. Right away I was amazed at the difference that this preamp made on [Julia Shirar's] vocal tracks. Although I had previously struggled to get this singer to cut through, the TRP positioned her effortlessly in front of the mix with clarity and detail... I thought I had sworn off buying new preamps, but the AEA TRP is clearly a must-have to supplement my mic closet. It is an excellent mid-priced, 2-channel preamp that works wonders without breaking the bank. A staggering 84dB of gain makes the TRP one of the most potent preamps and one of the few optimized for ribbon mics."