The AEA R88 mk2 Stereo Ribbon Microphone is a true Blumlein recording system optimized for recording instruments and ensembles in stereo. It utilizes two of AEA’s signature Big Ribbon elements angled at 90 degrees and mounted in close proximity to each other along the vertical axis of the microphone.
At the heart of the AEA R88 are two big, 2.35″ by 0.185″ by 2 micron pure aluminum low-tension ribbon elements just like the one used in the classic R44. Many ribbon mic manufacturers choose shorter ribbons that are easier to install, but AEA’s Large Ribbon Geometry TM design offers important advantages.
Ribbon microphones operate linearly above their resonant frequency, unlike condenser or moving-coil transducers, so the resonant frequency of a good ribbon microphone design should be as low as possible. The longer the ribbon, the lower the resonant frequency will be. The ribbon has to move twice as far for every drop in octave as it vibrates within the magnetic gap, thus a longer ribbon will allow for further movement back and forth. This results in the ribbon handling louder sound sources and more sound pressure level (SPL).
Most AEA ribbons are tuned to just 16.5 Hz, and because the R88 shares the same Big Ribbon™ as the rest of AEA’s product line, you will achieve a sound that is smooth, natural and free from any of the uncomfortable resonances that shorter ribbons and condensers can exhibit. The result is a sound that many engineers say is astonishingly close to what their ears hear when they are actually standing in the studio.
The natural soundstage and character of the AEA R88’s Blumlein stereo make it a great main mic. As an alternative to the Blumlein (XY) technique, the microphone can also be used for MS stereo, providing excellent mono compatibility and full control over the width of the stereo image. An excellent orchestral and choral recording microphone, it also shines on applications such as horn sections and drum overheads, thanks to the pure sound of two undamped long ribbons and the passive circuit without the headroom limitations of active electronics. The R88 accurately records complex tones such as woodwinds, strings and cymbals.
In the 1930s, EMI engineer Alan Blumlein invented stereo recording at one of the Abbey Road studios in London, UK. Still today, his coincident recording technique using two figure-of-8 ribbons is the benchmark for producing an authentic representation of a performance in a room.
The list of Grammy and Academy Award winning projects recorded with the help of the R88 mk2 microphone is long and keeps growing: Turtle Island String Quartet, Los Tigres Del Norte, Juanes MTV Unplugged, Life Of Pi soundtrack to name but a few.
The matched Blumlein pair of ribbons packaged in a sleek black shell designed for quick setup delivers a great sound right off the bat, making it an excellent choice for remote recording setups. As a drum overhead or room pick-up microphone, it instantly captures a punchy, “larger than life” image that is particularly well suited for rock, roots, Americana, and jazz genres. Seasoned engineers like Joe Chiccarelli, Chuck Ainlay or Vance Powell trust the AEA R88 mk2 so much that Nashville’s world-class Blackbird Studios now has an R88 available for every single room in their facility.
The main features of the AEA R88 mk2 Stereo Ribbon Microphone include:
- Big Ribbon™ Blumlein (XY) and MS stereo ribbon mic
- Pure Ribbon™ design with open and natural sound
- Used in many Grammy Award winning projects
- Great foundation for main or sectional pickup
- Operating Principle: Pressure gradient microphone
- Directional Pattern: Bidirectional (Figure-of-8)
- Frequency Range: 20 Hz to 20 kHz
- Maximum SPL: 165+ dBSPL (1% third harmonic > 1 kHz)
- Output Sensitivity: 2.5 mV/Pa (-52 dBV) into unloaded circuit
- Output Impedance: 270 Ω nominal
- Recommended Load Impedance: 1.2 kΩ or greater
- Powering: Not required or recommended
- Polarity: Pin 2 and 4 high for positive pressure on front of microphone.
- Connector: XLR-5M connector, includes breakout cable to 2x XLR-3M
- Weight with Cable: 5 lb 3 oz (2.36 kg)
- Height: 15” (38.1 cm)
- Width: 3”
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