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Royer mics bridge generations on new Elvis Christmas duets

More than 30 years after his death, Elvis Presley records continue to deliver big numbers. Now, thanks to the power of modern recording technology, the King is about to release a new album of duets for the holidays, pairing contemporary Nashville artists with Presley. Grammy-winning producer/engineer Chuck Ainlay was tasked with making the magic happen, and among the many tools he used on this project were several ribbon microphones from Royer Labs.

Scheduled for release in October 2008, “Elvis Presley Christmas Duets” will feature Carrie Underwood, LeAnn Rimes and Martina McBride and will include some of the same backing vocalists from many of Presley’s early records. According to Ainlay, recording was done at the RCA Records Studio B in Nashville, TN, where Elvis recorded; the studio has been maintained in its original condition. Mixing took place at Ainlay’s own Sound Stage Studios, also in Nashville.

For the “Elvis Presley Christmas Duets” project, Ainlay used Royer Labs’ R-121 ribbon microphone for ambient room miking and electric guitars; an R-122 active ribbon mic for acoustic guitar; and an R-122V vacuum tube ribbon for capturing strings. “I chose these Royer mics because of their warmth along with their ability to capture rapid transients. On lower-level instruments like acoustic guitars and stings, the 122s work really great because their built-in preamp allows for suitable gain without noise,” Ainlay said.

“With analog recording,” Ainlay said, “we were always struggling to maintain a sweet high end — knowing that any additional boost to the high frequencies during mixing was also going to introduce more tape hiss. With digital recording, the opposite is the case, as the sound can easily become too edgy. Ribbon mics add a certain warmth to a recording that’s difficult to achieve without them, and Royer mics, because of their robust build quality, allow the engineer to place them in situations that you’d have dared not to with previous designs.”

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