AES Section Meeting Reports

Los Angeles - September 26, 2019

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Wes Dooley, John Jennings and David Royer, moderated by Christina Paakkari discussed the history of ribbon microphones, why they sound so transparent and how they can be used.
Wes Dooley, John Jennings, and David Royer joined Christina Paakkari on stage at the Ivar Theater in a panel presentation on ribbon microphones for the AES community, where they discussed the history of this beloved technology, from the early ages of audio recording through the bene?ts it has provided throughout the years.
Wes Dooley founded AEA as a field recording company and repaired RCA ribbon mics after RCA stopped. He later began designing and manufacturing them. Wes, a second generation pioneer of ribbon microphones, was quoted for his early endorsement in 1958, having said, "RCA mics capture a natural and intimate sound." On Wes's left sat John Jennings. John started out as a studio singer and guitar player, and became the co-owner and co-founder of Royer and Mojave Audio along with Dave Royer. In 1998, they started the company, Royer, to build ribbon microphones and evangelize them to engineers and musicians. He teaches a class called, "Ribbons 101."
The inspiration for modern ribbon microphone designs originated from the ?rst ribbon microphones manufactured to improve sound quality of the acoustic phonograph recordings used for the audio in motion pictures. The RCA ribbon microphones were developed in the 1930's in an attempt to commercialize the German Siemens ribbon microphone design, commonly used in Pre-World War II Europe, invented by Walter Schottky and Erwin Gerlach in 1924. These
designs continued to evolve through-out the years as the need for interchangeable powered
microphones, bidirectional, and unidirectional microphones developed in music, ?lm, television and sound reinforcement.
John Jennings spoke primarily from a musical producer's standpoint. His passion for recording performer's tone as accurately as possible was best approached with ribbon microphones. John said he came to trust ribbons for picking up music for recordings that were closer to a live
performance than with anything else. John played examples of ribbon microphone recordings, including some of the OneMic series, a group of ensemble recordings captured with a single
ribbon microphone.
The modern ribbon microphone is the picture of quality when it comes to recordings that are
imbued with warmth and tone that remains true to the original live sound. In the old days, the signal often got stepped on several times before it got to the consumer, making it an advantage to record with mics that hype the high frequencies and sibilants. These mics have become more popular with the advances in digital recording.
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AES-LA thanks Wes Dooley, John Jennings and David Royer for an excellent presentation.

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