The R44 from AEA is one of those rare mics that has remained relatively unchanged from its inception, and still sounds great some 75 years later. Wes Dooley, a specialist in ribbon mics of all kinds, has now restored the 44 type microphone to its rightful position in the studio. After tracking down the engineers who designed and built the original RCA 44, AEA acquired ribbon material, made the tooling and custom machined all the parts necessary to build the original RCA 44 B/BX design to its original specifications, just as it was in the 1930s. After years of painstaking work, AEA has again begun production of the most important ribbon mic of all time: the AEA R44C.
AEA R44 at a Glance:
- Vintage style and sound
- Built from original RCA-stock ribbon
- Implements the best of vintage desing with modern touches
- Great for a variety of uses
Vintage style and sound
RCA 44 ribbon microphones have remained an essential part of studio life well after RCA stopped manufacturing them in 1955. The sound and response of the 44 B/BX were unlike anything else available, and was cherished for its smoothness, forgiving nature and unique tonal balance. As collectors began to buy up the supply of RCA 44's through the 90's, the availability of this wonderful ribbon mic to the studio was greatly endangered.
Built from original RCA-stock ribbon
The 44 was RCA's best microphone from the 1930s into the '50s. Is AEA's R44 that good? Both listeners and measurements say that the R44 is better and AEA has been listening to both users and ex-RCA engineers for over 25 years. They start by using only ribbon material originally manufactured for RCA. This is the best way to ensure that AEA's R44 ribbon mics are as close as humanly possible to vintage RCA 44s.
Implements the best of vintage desing with modern touches
Next, they use modern magnet technology which is much more robust than period magnets. AEA also combined the original American undamped ribbon design with the British RCA 44 innovations that lower the weight and hum sensitivity. The R44 design runs contrary to all current ribbon microphone manufacturing. It is large and heavy when other microphones are smaller and lighter. The internal ribbon element is by far the longest and its resonance tuning the lowest of today's ribbon microphones. It is a pure undamped ribbon design, an approach that has been out of production for over 50 years while remaining in continuous studio use. It is different, and its sound is unique.
Great for a variety of uses
The R44 sounds good on everything. Leave it out and use it whenever you need to do a quick take. Bruce Swedien particularly likes them on vocals, Joe Chicarelli on sax, Allen Sides on electric guitar. Everyone has a favorite use and everyone finds they sound good anywhere: brass, woodwinds, percussion, strings or voice work.
- An accurate reproduction of the original RCA ribbon mic
- Uses the same ribbon material as the original
- Built to the highest studio standards possible
- A single diaphragm Figure 8 ribbon microphone
- High null-axis rejection
- Custom AEA transformer
- High SPL capability, max level of 140dB plus above 200Hz
- Low self noise
- Consistent polar response
- Operable in high humidity environments
- Sounds equal to or better than the original RCA 44
- Operating principle: velocity microphone
- Frequency response: below 30 Hz to above 20 kHz
- Maximum SPL: 140 + dB SPL above 200Hz for 1% third harmonic
- Output sensitivity: 2.25 mV / Pa into unloaded circuit
- Output impedance: 270 ohms broadband
- Recommended load: 1.2 K ohm or greater
- Powering: not required or recommended
- Polarity: Pin 2 high for positive pressure on the front of the microphone
- Connector: XLR-3M wired to a two-meter captive cable
- Polar pattern: native bi-directional pattern
- Horizontal: level changes with angle, frequency response is consistent, -90 dB null at 90 / 270 degrees
- Vertical: level changes with angle, reduced HF response above and below 0/180 degree axis, null at 90/270 degrees
- Ribbon thickness: 1.8 microns ( .0000018 meter ) of pure aluminum
- Ribbon width: 4.7 mm
- Ribbon length: 59.7 mm
- Accessories included: custom storage/shipping case, stand adapter, manual and attached two-meter microphone cable