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In 1976, microphone engineer Dick Knoppow and AEA’s founder Wes Dooley struck up a relationship with RCA’s chief engineer to learn their installation methods. for microphone ribbons. AEA thus inherited the technical knowledge required to restore RCA microphones, a masterful service they still carry out using machined replacement parts, careful attention, and a passion for the craft. AEA was known for much more than microphone design: preamps, mixers, outboard gear, and even forensic sound. Although AEA was exceptionally well-rounded in all these areas, Wes Dooley shifted towards the goal of recreating the RCA 44BX using methods and tools obtained from Jon Sank at RCA. The pursuit was fruitful; the AEA R44C was born.
The AEA R44 series replicates the iconic quality of the microphone that recorded many of the 20th century’s best recordings. , Using authentic new old stock RCA ribbon material, these reproductions generate unparalleled warmth. Musicians from intimate crooners to lively brass players love microphones from the R44 series for their ability to capture nuances of performance. Regardless of the model, all microphones in the R44 series are built with the same internals for consistent quality across the board. To ensure optimum performance of R44 series mics, AEA recommends pairing them with any member of its lineup of high-impedance, low-noise preamps specifically designed for ribbon microphones (the TRP2, RPQ2, or RPQ500).
AEA also makes modernized designs that challenge the way traditional ribbon mics perform. The AEA Nuvo N22 and Nuvo N8 are sleek, compact, lightweight examples that each thrive in their intended applications. The N22 is a rugged near-field ribbon mic with a balanced frequency response and resilience to proximity effects, ideal for close miking singular sources (amps, snares, acoustic guitars, etc). Alternatively, the N8 is a far-field mic that can capture the behavior of complex sources, along with the intricate detail of how transients sound in a room setting. Each mic has its uses, but AEA quality is unquestionably present in both models.
For open and honest tonality, there isn’t anything better than the AEA R88, a far-field stereo ribbon microphone featuring dual ribbons in a fixed Blumlein and mid-side configuration. Like the mono N8, it boasts the widest frequency range of any mic in the AEA lineup. The R88 retains the same sonic character of the R84 (an extended top-end and reduced proximity effect) but offers higher output and stable impedance. It’s sleek, balanced, and insanely versatile. Ask Blackbird Studios in Nashville, TN; they keep five on hand.
AEA microphones, like the super-cardioid KU4, are known as the most flexible ribbon microphones on the market. The KU4, in particular, rejects bleed and ambient room noise to capture the source while retaining its natural characteristics. It’s the brightest microphone in the AEA line, but it can record a number of different sources with exceptional balance. The KU4 doesn’t require precise placement like most figure-eight ribbon mics; it can be placed close without struggling with proximity effect. At 140+ dB SPL at 1 kHz, the KU4 can handle loud transients and still capture rich clarity with ease. After years of use, an AEA microphone becomes a true extension of musical artistry and an integral part of studio workflow. Whether it’s the R44, R84, KU5A, or N88, all AEA microphones are handcrafted with a dedication to serving musicians and engineers who value the subtleties of great sound.
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