Up Close: AEA Ribbon Mics


Historical Connection to RCA: 93 years after RCA’s first ribbon mic impacted both the audio and broadcast industries, AEA Ribbon Mics in Pasadena is still mastering the art of the ribbon, creating state-of-the-art mics and preamps that bring the imaginations of musicians and engineers to life. AEA’s original owner Wes Dooley, an engineer and audio salesman who started the company as a record label, began servicing RCA’s classic ribbon mics in the mid-'70s after GE bought out RCA and closed its microphone division. After surviving cancer, Dooley made it his goal to create a replica of the RCA 44BX from the stock replacement parts AEA had built up over two decades. Since creating the AEA R44C, the company has built and designed an array of new ribbon mics, each with a unique application and function, using the same RCA traditions combined with advanced ribbon technology and updated manufacturing techniques. AEA’s current owner, Julie Tan, is a 30-year audio industry veteran who began her association with Dooley and his wife as a sales consultant. 

Since taking the reins in 2022, Julie has made it her mission to not only continue to bring AEA’s products to a wider market, but also to help build a consortium that promotes and preserves legendary analog-based companies with roots in Southern California. 

Trademark AEA Products: In 2000, Dooley followed the R44C with the first of two proprietary ribbon mics that launched the company’s era of original products. The R84 series ribbon mics delivered the classic tonality of the legendary R44, with extended top-end and reduced proximity effect for mid-ranger and close-range recording. The R84A is an active version of the passive R84 that allows compatibility with a wider ranger of preamps. The R88 Stereo ribbon mics, which followed in 2005, capture sound as the ears hear it, with an honest and open tonality. The R88 and R88A effortlessly record complex sources like drums, strings, piano and other instruments that produce intricate transients, harsher highs and bellowing lows. 

NUVO Series: AEA’s bestselling line of active mics is its NUVO modern ribbon series, including the ubiquitous near-field 22 and far-field N8. In Spring 2024, the company will release a new midfield NUVO series called the mid-field N13. They are also releasing 44-CX25LE a limited edition 25th Anniversary of their flagship mic as well as TDI, an active DI box based on the circuitry of our acclaimed RQP and TRP preamps. 

Quote from Julie Tan: “Sonically, our ribbon mics offer less harshness and brassiness. These mics are used a lot on brass sections to tame harsh overtones. Digital recording emphasizes the sharpness of square waves at the high end, while analog old school mics smooth out the sharper, harsher tones. AEA mics are a throwback to the analog sound people appreciate on vinyl records. We’re long past the era of the '90s and 2000s where every recording was as ear piercing as possible. We are dedicated to bringing that old analog warm into the digital realm.” 

Contact AEA Ribbon Mics, 626-798-9128