Bernie Kirsh (left), guitarist Al DiMeola (center), and guitar specialist Andy Brauer (right) with their Royer Labs microphone.New York (September 2, 2008)–Return To Forever–the jazz fusion supergroup of keyboardist Chick Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke, guitarist Al DiMeola, and drummer Lenny White–reunited this spring for the first time in 25 years to tour. A pair of Royer Labs R-122 Live series microphones accompanied the performers, used to mic guitarist Al DiMeola’s two amp cabinets.
Audio veteran Bernie Kirsh, whose credits include engineering positions with New York’s famed Electric Lady Studios and LA’s Mad Hatter Studios, served as the FOH Engineer for the Return To Forever tour. Kirsh, whose career has been closely tied to that of keyboardist Chick Corea, reports that right from the start, Royer Labs microphones were included in the tour manifest.
“Royer microphones have a stellar reputation,” says Kirsh. “The R-122 has been a staple of the recording studio business for several years and is well known for its ability to do a great job miking guitar. Both Al and I have always been very impressed with the mic, and with more and more acts using them on tour, it made perfect sense for us to do so as well. Al specifically wanted Royers for the guitar cabs, so the only question was which model.”
“We originally started the tour with the studio version of the R-122,” Kirsh continued. “When we played Los Angeles, we met with Royer’s VP of Sales and Marketing, John Jennings, and he suggested we try the R-122 Live models because of their ability to withstand higher SPLs. This was just prior to the start of the European leg of the tour, so we began using the Live model at that point and continued with them right through to the end of the tour.”
Kirsh placed a single Royer R-122 Live on each of DiMeola’s guitar cabinets–a Mesa Boogie Lone Star 100 and a Fuchs Overdrive Supreme 100. Using close miking technique, Kirsh reports noticing subtle but significant changes between the studio and Live models. “The studio version of the R-122 is a pretty hardy mic in its own right,” says Kirsh, “but I did discover a slight difference in the Live model’s sound quality. To my ear, the R-122 Live has the same clarity as the studio R-122, but the Live model seems a bit warmer, full sounding, and more consistent in live sound environments. They really did a nice job on this project.”
“In the context of an instrumental quartet like this,” explained Kirsh, “each ‘voice’ (or instrument within the ensemble) is important and they must each have their own place in the mix. The character with which the guitar was represented was served very well by the R-122 Live. Al’s guitar had the size and presence it needed relative to the keyboard rig, bass, and drums.”
With the tour now completed, Kirsh offered this closing thought about the R-122 Live series microphones. “They worked out great,” said Kirsh, “and we encountered absolutely no problems whatsoever. In terms of sound quality, the R-122s delivered exactly the guitar sound Al was looking for. No matter what environment we were playing in, we were able to shape the character we needed to make the guitar sound the way we wanted.”