At NAMM 2018, ribbon microphone maker AEA surprised us with a dedicated preamp, and also presented a very slick and classy microphone – the AEA R84A. Touted as an active (phantom-powered) version of the company’s R84 ribbon mic, it sounds very much the same, but with plenty more output, a 12dB increase in sensitivity, and immunity to impedance-loading. Thus, the R84A shakes hands with more preamps and sounds cleaner with its lower signal-to-noise ratio.
The goal, according to AEA. is to deliver a sophisticated ribbon microphone with improved consistency and reliability. As recordists know all too well, ribbon mics can be gentle and rather finicky. Thankfully, modern technology can give them a bit of an edge without compromising their characteristic sound.
The R84A uses the same JFET electronics and transformers as AEA’s flagship A440 mic, which – the company says – is key to delivering high signal levels and getting the microphone to play nice with all kinds of preamps, including those on USB/Firewire/Thunderbolt interfaces. However, the R84A can take up to 134 SPL compared to the R84’s 165 SPL – a necessity for making the mic more tough and versatile.
According to AEA, the R84A’s peculiar sound comes from its Large Ribbon Geometry – mainly a 2.35” by 0.185” 2-micron low-tension ribbon element made of pure aluminum. It’s the same thing found on the old (classic) R44 ribbon microphone. The R84A, AEA says, uses a long ribbon which results in the lowest resonant frequency possible and allows further movement back and forth within the magnetic gap. This gives out a wider frequency range and an ability to handle higher SPLs than standard condenser mics. Despite being a supercharged ribbon mic, the R84A is best suited for soft sound sources and classical recording purposes, according to AEA.
Price & availability
The AEA R84A is available now, priced at 1300 USD. It ships in a custom storage case and contains a user manual.