Burbank, CA… In support of its latest album, The Slip, industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails (NIÐ˜) is in the midst of its Lights in the Sky tour, which includes roughly twenty-seven appearances throughout North America and another six performances in South America. As part of the band's equipment arsenal, Nine Inch Nails travels with a marimba that leader Trent Reznor performs on. Miking the marimba is a challenging task, and for this, Front of House (FOH) and Monitorworld engineers Pete Keppler and Michael Prowda have found success with the SF-24 Stereo Active Ribbonâ„¢ Microphone from Royer Labs.
“The marimba is a very difficult instrument to mic,” explains Keppler, “and with 5 and ½ octaves, it's almost 8 feet wide. The SF-24's pattern is perfectly suited for this instrument. We experimented with about a dozen other mic selections and placements, and nothing else came close. Due to the size of the marimba, the only way to get good coverage is by placing the mic about 3 feet above the playing surface. You inevitably get some spill from the rest of the stage at that distance, but with the SF-24, the leakage is very musical. I use almost no EQ on the mic, so the spill from Josh Freese playing a drum kit made of garbage cans and found objects sounds really good! The front and rear rejection (we use the mic in a horizontal position) is outstanding… I've taken the fader to well past the loudest show level I would ever use and have never heard so much as a hint of feedback.”
To help address the issue of sound that was bleeding in via the back side of the microphone, the Royer engineering team devised a small baffle for the SF-24 to help Keppler and Prowda obtain the best results from the microphone. “Mike Silver, one of Royer's chief R&D staffers, developed an adjustable, V-shaped foam baffle that connects to the mic stand,” said Prowda. “This baffle has been extremely effective. The SF-24 delivers a really warm, articulate sound with all the marimba's attack transients, so the instrument sounds just like it should. Further, the SF-24 yields, by far, the most pleasant sonic bleed from the rest of the stage. Combined, we're getting an ideal blend of direct and ambient sounds.”
In addition to the SF-24, Keppler and Prowda are using one of Royer's recently introduced R-121 Live series microphones on the kick drum and are experiencing very positive results. “The 121 has been great,” says Keppler. “It adds a fatness to the bass drum we don't get out of any other mic, and because of our placement, the rejection is actually better than all the cardioid dynamics we've tried. I've owned an R- 122 for 2 years and have used it on practically every studio session I've done since. The live version of the 121 is so similar that I can get those tones on stage now and not worry about whether the ribbon's going to make it through the show. The reason I love the way the Royer mics sound is that there's â€˜breathing room' behind the mic. You don't get the proximity â€˜woof' like you do with a unidirectional mic, and an omni just isn't nearly as practical.”
Prowda is equally enthusiastic about the R-121 Live and confirmed Keppler's assessment. “By pointing the R-121 down, but not at the head, we've been able to capture the most natural dynamics I've heard to date,” said Prowda. “This position also provides excellent rejection to the top of the kit from instruments such as cymbals. The placement was unconventional by normal miking standards, but I was immediately blown away by its ability to reproduce a sonic quality I knew was unreachable with any other mics I had experience with.”
“Both the Royer SF-24 and the R-121 Live have proven to be invaluable for this tour,” said Prowda. I was looking for that â€˜lost something' that I felt would be re-discovered by using ribbon technology. I've heard Royer ribbons described as the â€˜mics being the magic' and, for us, Royer Labs microphones has a very definitive place providing several solutions on our tour.”
For any act on tour or in the studio, quality technical support plays a vital role and, here too, Royer Labs has earned a favorable position with Keppler and Prowda. “The whole company is fabulous,” says Keppler. “Andy Georges, Tony Ruiz, and John Jennings have treated me very, very well. That's not always the case elsewhere these days.” Prowda agrees, “These are the nicest people. I feel as if I'm dealing with friends. The ribbon mic was, at one point, nearly lost to other microphone technologies, but thanks to the folks at Royer Labs, ribbon technology is now back—even better than I had remembered it.”
For additional information on Nine Inch Nails, visit the website at www.nin.com.
About the Royer Labs SF-24 Stereo Active Ribbonâ„¢ Microphone
Designed as a premium instrument for stereo and distance miking applications, the SF-24 represents a significant improvement for many ambient and critical applications due to the inclusion of Royer's exclusive active electronics system for ribbon microphones. The SF-24 consists of two matched ribbon microphones placed one above the other, each aimed 45 degrees from center in the classic Blumlein configuration.
About the Royer Labs R-121 Live Ribbon Microphone
The R-121 Live ribbon microphone is designed for today's live performance spaces. It exhibits a flat frequency response and a well-balanced, panoramic soundfield with the ability to withstand 135 dB SPL—making it an ideal tool for drum and guitar amp miking, as well as a variety of acoustic instruments.
About Royer Labs
Located in Burbank, California, Royer Labs' microphones are a staple of leading recording and broadcast facilities as well as a popular choice for today's live sound professionals. Additional information on the new Live Series and all Royer microphones can be found at www.royerlabs.com.