US mic making heavyweight Royer finally revealed the contents of the mystery box it teased on Instagram ahead of NAMM. Going by the name dBooster model R-DB20, the little black rectangle is an in-line signal booster for ribbon and dynamic microphones, with phantom power and impedance buffer. The unit provides either 12dB or 20dB of distortion and coloration-free gain boost, selectable from a front panel switch.
Unlike competing products, says Royer, the R-DB20 maintains consistent headroom and gain, regardless of the load is attached to. This is very important for achieving the intended results with gain-hungry microphones, such as the timeless Shure SM7B.
The dBooster R-DB20 is also equipped with a low-impedance output to plug direct into mic preamps and audio interfaces. Long cable lengths are said not to be a problem whatsoever, and the same goes for driving difficult loads like mic splitters and vintage-style preamps. The unit is phantom-powered, fully regulated, and de-coupled for optimal operation. Furthermore, it serves to protect ribbon mics against phantom power hits while reducing the load on the microphone.
Sounds like a Royer mic’s best friend! And, indeed, Royer embarked on this product following the R-10 ribbon mic’s release. Since this is a relatively low output mic in need of a little extra gain to shine on recordings, and Royer deemed in-line preamp distortion unacceptible, it went on to build its own gain booster – the dBooster. The rest, as they say, is history – in the making.
Price and availability
With its market availability scheduled for mid-February, the dBooster R-DB20 will be sold at around USD 180, which is a reasonable price for what’s likely the cleanest signal booster thus far. I have no reason not to trust Royer’s word, but of course, it will take several tests and comparisons to identify how much edge the dBooster really has on the competition.