Atlanta, GA … As a non-denominational church, Buckhead Church (a campus of North Point Ministries) averages 7,000 adults over the course of its four Sunday services. Using technology to spread the word beyond the physical confines of their 3,000 seat auditorium, services from Buckhead Church are occasionally broadcast via North Point Ministries’ online presence (http://northpointonline.tv/), which is shared with several other churches within the North Point Ministries organization. Capturing the musical performances that constitute a significant portion of the church’s services is an important task in order for them to have natural sound quality, as thousands are listening. To help accomplish this, Buckhead Church uses the R-121 Mono Ribbon Microphone from Burbank, CA-based Royer Labs.
Luke Roetman is the Audio Director for Buckhead Church. For the past five years, he has been responsible for overseeing all audio production as it relates to church services and any other activities that take place in the auditorium. Roetman has been using the Royer R-121 for three years and it has become his go-to microphone for electric guitars.
“Roughly three years ago,” Roetman explains, “we conducted a microphone ‘shootout’ with several other ribbon, dynamic, and condenser microphones to determine which microphone delivered the best performance for use with the guitar amps. The R-121 stood out considerably. Its smooth, warm character captured the natural sound of the guitar cabinets more accurately than any of the other mics we tried. The microphone also enabled the guitars to blend nicely into the FOH and Monitor mixes—without the need for extensive EQ and processing.”
While the band itself is onstage, the guitar amps are positioned offstage to reduce bleeding into the vocal mics and to help keep the stage area uncluttered and less visually distracting. This approach also enables guitarists to crank their amps up to a level that delivers peak performance. With the amps being driven harder than they may appear in the mix, microphone placement is crucial in order to obtain the best sound quality.
“I love the fact that the R-121 can handle high SPLs,” says Roetman. “With the guitar amps being driven hard to get the sound the guitarist is looking for, the ability of the R-121 to faithfully capture that sound is a big plus. We pair the R-121 with a dynamic microphone and sometimes we blend the results, but we always favor the R-121. We typically mic the guitar cabinet close to the center of the speaker cone and pull the mic back approximately 6 to 8 inches, with the ribbon pointing straight at the cabinet. Depending upon the sound of the amp, we will, of course, adjust the placement of the microphone. As an example, we may position the mic closer to the grille or move it a bit off center—depending upon the tonal character we’re hearing. The R-121 is, by far, the best choice for this application because, assuming we get the best mic positioning, we’re really able to capture the sound of the cabinet without any further processing.”
Steve Marcia, Buckhead Church’s Music Director and Producer, is equally impressed with the Royer R-121. “I’ve been a live and studio guitarist for the past 10 years and in that time, I’ve never found another mic that translates my natural tone better than the R-121—and that goes for both live and studio use. Nothing else compares!”
In addition to the quality of sound the R-121 delivers, Roetman is equally enthusiastic about Royer Labs’ customer and technical support services. “From the time we decided to demo the R-121 to the short time later when we actually made our purchase, the Royer team has been incredible,” he said. “I love being able to speak with them about how to get the most from the microphone and learn various tips and tricks about how other people are using the microphone. They’ve been very helpful and really responsive.”
Reflecting on his experience with the Royer R-121, Roetman offered these final thoughts. “After spending the past few years with this mic, our opinion is no other microphone captures sound like the R-121. With the guitar amplifiers off-stage and our musicians using in-ear monitor systems, the guitarists want the sound they hear to be as close as possible to what they hear when they stand in front of their amps. After moving to Royer R-121s, they constantly comment on how natural the mic sounds and how much they prefer it to our previous miking arrangements. Giving them confidence in the accuracy of their sound enables them to focus on the music, and it helps engineers like myself capture that creativity as naturally as possible.”
To learn more about Buckhead Church, visit them online at http://buckheadchurch.org.
About Royer Labs
Located in Burbank, California, Royer Labs’ microphones are a staple of leading touring acts as well as recording and broadcast facilities. Additional information on the entire line of Royer Labs microphones can be found at www.royerlabs.com.
Photo Information: Luke Roetman