AEA R44C Ribbon Microphone

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AEA-R44-C
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888365306438
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AEA R44C Ribbon Microphone (AEA-R44-C)

AEA R44C Ribbon Microphone
AEA’s Flagship Mic - Replica of the RCA 44

The AEA R44C is an exact replica of the vintage RCA 44BX ribbon microphone, considered the most musical sounding microphone ever built. Many of the 20th century’s most iconic recordings were recorded by the R44. The AEA R44 is an exacting reproduction of the RCA 44B/BX Velocity Microphone, circa 1936. Audio Engineering Associates had already been buying, selling, and repairing vintage RCA and other ribbon microphones for two decades, before deciding to reissue the RCA 44. The first question, however, was “Which model should we rerelease?” Many design changes had altered the microphone during the production years of 1936 through 1958. We consulted many engineers and users and decided that the earlier versions from the 30’s to mid-40’s were the all-around favorite, the ones with the ‘magic sound.’ 

The AEA R44C / CX is a faithful reproduction, down to one ten-thousandth of an inch. The parts are completely interchangeable with a real 44, the only difference being the magnets. Our modern AEA R44C / CX uses Neodymium magnets, which are more powerful than the Alnico originals. This produces an output level that is about 1 dB higher than the original microphone, while our R44CX High Output version is about 6 dB higher. The ribbon is made from the original RCA ribbon stock! Yes, some of the real stuff had been stored for all these years after RCA discontinued that arm of its business. We also were able to garner some help from one of the original RCA engineers. With their invaluable help, we were able to make this legendary microphone available again.

THE R44 VARIANTS - The passive R44 is available in two exteriors– the original museum-quality replica R44C and the aesthetically cost-effective R44CE. Both mics have an identical sound and are exactly the same on the inside. The difference between the two is only cosmetics and price. The R44CX is the High Output version of the museum quality original, which is about 5dB higher. It is also available in a cost-effective edition - the R44CXE. The active A440 is a preamp-flexible R44 with 18dB of extra output. It is custom-painted with the RCA classic umber-colored transformer case.

R44 SERIES MICROPHONE OVERVIEW

  • Unparalleled warmth and legendary character
  • Full and rich tonality with generous low end and proximity effect
  • Faithful reproduction of the RCA R44BX with new old stock RCA ribbon material
  • Economy exterior R44CE exhibits same, classic sound
  • Active A440 upgrade has 12db level increase and is optimized for all preamps
  • Made in the U.S.A.

The First Great Microphone for Music. Whether it was the smooth brass section of the soundtrack of a classic Hollywood film, the velvety lushness of a jazz vocal or the larger-than-life drum sound of a classic rock recording, chances are an RCA 44-series ribbon microphone was used in the studio when the sound was created. In use for more than 80 years in recording and broadcast studios throughout the world, the RCA 44 ribbon design is as rich in history as it is in sound and character. This instantly recognizable sound produces thunderous lows due to the strong proximity effect, full and rich midrange and a unique top end taking the edge off of harsh instruments. In 1976, AEA decided to begin servicing the thousands of existing RCA ribbon mics in the world. By 1998, AEA had acquired 100 percent of the interchangeable parts used within the original RCA 44. That same year we debuted our R44 reissue — called the AEA R44C — using RCA’s original methods and techniques.

THE LEGENDARY BIG RIBBON SOUND - The AEA R44 maintains an iconic legacy of great ribbon mics by delivering a rich sound full of character and color. Effective on a broad range of instruments and rooms, the R44 bolsters mids and lows while smoothing harsh high frequencies to produce a multi-dimensional sound unlike that of any microphone the world over. Used on everything from crooning vocalists to full orchestras, the R44 is the ideal choice to capture the tone of any voice or instrument while imparting its legendary ribbon character. 

DIFFERENT OUTSIDES, THE SAME SOUND - Our R44 Series microphones all share the authentic sound, feel and look of the 1936-38 RCA 44BX. The R44 series microphones are all detailed, hand-crafted replicas, using parts that are made to be interchangeable with an original RCA 44. We manufacture three different versions of the R44 and an optional hotrod. At the core, every version of the R44 sounds the same when powered with a ribbon preamp. The major differences between the versions are the exterior look and the amount of output level.

High-Output Upgrades - The original R44 microphones were constantly updated during their twenty years of production, and after carefully looking at some of the technical modifications, we've created two upgrades to the original R44.

  • The active A440 is an ultra-premium version of the R44C. It is complete with a custom Lehle transformer, RPQ JFET preamp electronics and the “X” motor hotrod and is the quietest ribbon microphone ever manufactured. It retains the same sonic character of the passive R44C, but with an additional 18dB of output and greater flexibility with different preamps. Many engineers favor their A440s over their vintage RCA 44s due to the advantages in noise performance.
  • We developed a modified R44 transducer, called the X-Motor, that includes two additional magnets that provide an extra 6db of output. With a sound identical to the original 44, the X-Motor ‘hot rod’ mod is useful for scoring and classical sessions and other applications demanding a wide dynamic range with the classic 44 sound. Available as an upgrade in R44C and CE models, the X-Motor version of the R44 bears a red-badge on the outside instead of the standard black badge.
YES, THERE’S A MATCHING PREAMP - The preamp is critical for optimum performance for our passive R44 models. Preamp gain should be at least +60dB or higher and it should have a very high impedance. It’s the same requirement with all passive ribbon mics. To guarantee consistent, full-range ribbon sound, we recommend AEA’s RPQ2, RPQ500 and TRP2 preamps, which were specially designed for ribbon microphones. However, preamps with above a 5K ohm impedance found in many live soundboards are adequate for guitar amps and other louder instruments. On quiet sound sources or for distance recording, an AEA preamp is highly recommended.
 
Mix Magazine ||  “My next project was recording John Williams' score for Stepmom. We used the R44C on trumpet, a standard microphone choice for many scoring mixers. In this application, the microphone performed flawlessly. Its smooth ribbon character and overall warm sound were perfect for this application. In fact, I would unhesitatingly use these microphones for most brass applications.” – Shawn Murphy
 
Resolution Magazine || “What you are paying for in the A440 is that 'magic' sound - and a degree of authenticity that's as close as is possible to the original 44 - in a package that delivers the goods in a more modern recording chain. And with the RPQ ribbon pre P48 you get a preamplifier that will do it - and for that matter, any other ribbon microphone - the utmost justice.” – Jon Thornton
 
Sound On Sound || “As with the other RCA44 variants, though, [the A440] is enough for us cash‑starved mortals to know that such fabulous mics are still available, and easier to use now than ever before — and that they still sound utterly wonderful. When I reviewed this microphone's forebear, I suggested that it was like a vintage Bentley: expensive and revered, but not easy to justify to the accountants. The same is true of this one, only it's now been fitted with a supercharger! Unfortunately, once you've heard this mic, you'll always aspire to own it. ” – Hugh Robjohns

Technical Specifications

Operating Principle Pressure gradient transducer
Directional Pattern Bidirectional
Frequency Range

< 20 Hz to >20 kHz

Polarity Pin 2 high for positive pressure
at the front of the microphone.

Polar Response

Native bidirectional, figure-of-8 pattern

Polar Response Horizontal

Up to 90 dB rejection
at right angles to the front/back axis.

Polar Response Vertical

Level changes with angle of incidence,
but frequency response is consistent.

Transducer Element Material

Pure aluminum corrugated ribbon

Transducer Thickness

1.8 μm

Transducer Width

0.185 in (4.7 mm)

Transducer Length

2.35 in (59.7 mm)

Dimensions /Weight Height: 12.25 in (31.1 cm)
Width: 4.62 in (11.7 cm)
Depth:  3.25 in (8.3 cm)
Weight: 7 lb. 9 oz. (3.43 kg)
Connector Type

XLR-3M

Shipping Weight Not Specified
Accessories Included

Vertical Case, User Manual,
Captive 10" (3 meter) Cable with XLR-3M Connector

 

 

R44C / CE / CX Passive Microphones  
Maximum SPL

165+ dB SPL (1% third harmonic > 1 kHz)

Sensitivity

2.25 mV/Pa (-53 dBv) into unloaded circuit

Output Impedance

270 Ω broadband

Recommended Load Impedance

1.2 kΩ or greater

Phantom Power

Not required or recommended

 

 

A440 Phantom-Powered Microphone  
Maximum SPL

136+ dB SPL (1% third harmonic > 1 kHz)

Sensitivity

30 mV/Pa (-33.5 dBv) into unloaded circuit

Output Impedance

92 Ω broadband

Recommended Load Impedance

1.0 kΩ or greater

Phantom Power

P48 phantom power, 7 mA

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