R44 Series

MSRP$2800 - 5200usd

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.

Where To Buy

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 18dB level increase and is optimized for all preamps
  • Made in the U.S.A.

See How It's Made

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.

Made in the USA

All our microphones are handcrafted in the United States of America

THE FIRST GREAT MICROPHONE FOR MUSIC

Hear the R44 Series

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.

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 active A440 is a preamp-flexible R44 with 18dB of extra output. It is custom-painted with the RCA classic umber-colored transformer case.

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.

The R44 in Action

A Mic Made for Singers

Watch the A440 on Mike Mayo’s acapella performance in this AEA Session.

See More R44 Series Videos

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.

Artists

Chris Taylor / Grizzly Bear

“The R44 through the RPQ2 is one of my favorite chains lately. It sounds absolutely incredible…”

Pete Townshend / The Who

“The R88 is beyond belief! It makes every room in my house like a perfect room…A really joyous mike!”

Robert L. Smith / David Bowie, Aerosmith, Lady Gaga

“[N8s] give me the sound exactly the way I want to capture it, which, to me, is the very definition of a ‘dream’ microphone.”


It sounds absolutely incredible on vocals, strings and horns alike. And that's no exaggeration. They are open, even and clear yet really smooth and creamy on top. Almost like the effect of recording to tape, it smooths frequency peaks and dynamics in a completely transparent way.

Chris Taylor (Grizzly Bear)

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 read the full review

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 read the full review

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 read the full review
Tricks of the Trade
5 Reasons To Upgrade to an Active Ribbon Microphone
AEA
The AEA Sessions

AEA’s own recording series featuring our favorite artists.

Tricks of the Trade
Active Vs Passive Ribbons: What’s the Difference?