Maroon 5 and Front of House Engineer Jim Ebdon utilized Royer Labs R-121 Live Series ribbon microphones for guitar miking applications on its recently completed tour, which included dates throughout North and South America, South Africa, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Jim Ebdon, whose resume includes work at the UK’s Surrey Studios (where the first three Police albums were recorded) as well as touring stints with Aerosmith, Annie Lennox, Sting, Matchbox Twenty, and the American Idol tours, discussed how he came to use Royer’s R-121 Live microphones on Maroon 5’s two guitarists, Adam Levine and James Valentine.
“I first got the call about mixing Maroon 5 back in 2007,” says Ebdon, “but due to other commitments, I didn’t actually get behind a mixing console for them until the summer of 2008. I started with a clean sheet during rehearsals at S.I.R. (Studio Instrument Rentals) Hollywood. I was in the fortunate position of being in a separate room so I could fine tune sounds on a pair of Genelec nearfield monitors. After a few hours, it became apparent that these guys were really into their sounds and getting it right.”
“After having such great results with the Royers I previously used with Matchbox Twenty,” continued Ebdon, “I knew the R-121’s would also make a really good choice for Maroon 5. I mentioned this to the band and they totally embraced the idea. So during rehearsal, we did a listening test and were very quickly convinced that these mics were absolutely the right way to go.”
Ebdon reports that Mike Buffa and Matt Teal—the band’s two guitar techs— did an excellent job of building fantastic sounding guitar rigs for both players, which certainly contributed to the success he had when mixing the band’s various guitar sounds.
“For lead guitarist James Valentine,” notes Ebdon, “I used a Shure SM57 on a ‘Divided by 13′ cabinet and a Royer R-121 Live on the ‘Matchless’ cab. With the Matchless being the predominant sound, I mixed in the “Divided by’ enclosure about 45%. The result was a gorgeous, consistent sound. For rhythm guitarist Adam Levine, I used two Royer R-121 Live mics—one on his ‘clean’ cabinet and one on his ‘dirty’ cabinet. Again, the Royers picked up the true guitar tone.”
Ebdon reports that, for both setups, he placed the microphones approximately 3.5 inches away from the cabinet’s grill. “This seemed to allow the air to breath a bit before hitting the ribbon,” explained Ebdon, “and I found the sound more natural that way.”
According to Ebdon, the Royer R-121 Live microphones performed trouble-free throughout the entire tour. “I didn’t hear anything from the band members about their guitar sounds during the entire tour,” notes Ebdon, “which, to me, is a good thing. The reliability of the Live Series was flawless, and this is no small thing considering the rigors of live concert touring.”
James Valentine, who in addition to playing lead guitar for the band, also contributes backing vocals, offered a few parting thoughts about the Royer microphones.
“When Jim first put up the R-121’s during that rehearsal, it became very obvious these microphones really picked up the true sound of the guitars,” said Valentine. “The R-121 produces a very musical sound that accurately reflects what comes from our guitar rigs. They worked great during the entire tour.”