Passive ribbon microphones have a specific tonal color, response, and patterns that are unlike moving-coil dynamic mics. The Royer R-101 Passive Ribbon Mic has a unique character that is fast becoming popular with engineers and producers. It features a triple-layer windscreen system and is much sturdier than many other passive ribbon mics, although it does feature the same phantom power issues that other passive ribbon mics have.
This issue comes in how the passive ribbon mic is built. Many passive ribbon mics are sensitive to drop-shock and wind, but the Royer R-101 is designed to avoid as many of these issues as possible. The sturdy case and mount helps with this, as does the triple-layer windscreen that reduces proximity effect. The internal shock-mount also helps keep the sound pure. In fact, the ribbon element is very protected, and it takes extreme amounts of wind to make it fail completely.
The R-101 is most suited for use with higher-SPL applications where you want to tame the top-end. It’s not a great choice for drum overheads or for acoustic piano or guitar, but it is good for use with hand percussion or with a guitar amp. All in all, it’s a good entry-level mic, and it can compete with many other passive ribbon mics, including Royer’s own R-121. It’s not the go-to mic for doing any detailed recordings, but it is almost completely windproof and is good for on-the-go recordings. With a $895 price tag, it’s also almost $500 less than the R-121.