AEA The Ultimate Stereo Kit (TUSK) R88 + TRP2
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  • Regular price $2,499.00

AEA The Ultimate Stereo Kit (TUSK) || PLEASE NOTE: This new-release item will be shipping August 26rd, once it arrives on our shelves. 

The Ultimate Stereo Kit (or T.U.S.K.) combines two of AEA’s most powerful creative tools to help you reach the apex of stereo recording. By pairing the natural clarity of the passive R88mk2 with the high-impedance, high-gain musicality of the TRP2,  T.U.S.K. delivers the essential setup for recording organic, expansive stereo sound. Everything you need comes in a premium, durable hard case: the mic, the preamp, accessories, and The New Stereo Soundbook. Co-authored by Ron Streicher and F. Alton Everest, this book is the definitive, comprehensive treatise on stereo recording. With T.U.S.K. at your disposal, you wield the finest stereo recording rig this world has ever heard.

R88mk2

  • Features two Big Ribbons in a fixed Blumlein and mid-side configuration
  • Astonishingly open and natural sound
  • Far-field ribbon mic designed to retain low end and top end at a distance
  • Passive, stereo version of the Active, Mono N8

TRP2

  • Two channels with 85dB of sweet and quiet JFET gain
  • Switchable phantom-power, polarity reverse, and high-pass filter
  • 63k ohm high-impedance circuitry providing better overall transients, frequency response, and higher output sensitivity
  • Switching power supply for easy use in any country

The stereo R88mk2 ribbon mic captures sound as your ears hear it, with an honest and open tonality. The R88 effortlessly records complex sources like drums, strings, piano, and other instruments that produce intricate transients, harsher highs, and bellowing lows.

  • Features two Big Ribbons™ in a fixed Blumlein and mid-side configuration
  • Astonishingly open and natural sound
  • Far-field ribbon mic designed to retain low end and top end at a distance
  • Stereo version of the AEA N8
  • Made in the U.S.A.

A STEREO MICROPHONE LIKE YOUR OWN EARS - The stereo R88 captures a space as it sounds live and in person, with all the present subtlety and nuance. Its expansive frequency response and balanced low end make it superbly effective when capturing the full breadth of sound from the back of a room or above a drum set.  Alongside the mono AEA N8, it boasts the widest frequency range of any mic in the AEA lineup and effortlessly manages more complex source audio like drums, strings, piano, and other instruments that produce intricate transients, harsher highs, and bellowing lows. The Blumlein configuration of the ribbons allows for a sweeping range of perspective, so an entire ensemble and room can be captured by the R88 alone.

THE ENGINEER’S SECRET WEAPON - The R88mk2 is the engineer’s secret weapon, offering a level of detail and balance in recording like no other microphone available. Packaged in a sleek, five-pound black shell designed for quick setup, it’s an excellent choice for remote recording. Particularly well suited for the rock, roots, classical, Americana and jazz genres, the R88mk2 has such versatility that engineers like John Cuniberti use it as their one mic to capture an entire band performing live in the same room. There is a reason that legendary Blackbird Studios in Nashville owns five R88s.

“The R88 is the most realistic mic iIve ever used. I still get confused if during playback the piano is coming out of the speakers or if the pianist is still playing in the room.” - Jon Castelli (Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Kesha)

A Rich History - The design of the R88mk2 borrows from serious stereo recording tradition. In 1931, EMI engineer Alan Blumlein invented stereo recording by demonstrating the natural reproduction of the soundstage in one of the Abbey Road studios in London. Today, Blumlein’s XY coincident recording technique lives on in the AEA R88mk2, which uses two figure-of-8 ribbons for producing an authentic representation of a performance. The pair of elements are angled in perfect phase at 90 degrees and mounted in close proximity to each other along the vertical axis of the microphone. As an alternative to Blumlein’s technique, the microphone can also be used for mid-side (MS) stereo, providing excellent mono compatibility and full control over the width of the stereo image. Either way, the R88mk2 is so easy to use that any recording novice can do it. Simply choose where to place the mic and hit record. It’s that easy.

A FAR-FIELD RIBBON FOR CREATIVE RECORDING - As a stereo far-field ribbon microphone, the R88mk2 was designed to capture balanced sound from long distances. Sound sources should be measured in feet rather than inches away from the mic. From 16 inches to 20 feet, the mic retains its full spectrum and incredible low end. When positioned closer than 16 inches, the mic adds proximity effect. When carefully used, this proximity effect can beef up thin sounds — either voices or instruments. Don’t worry about loud sources, either. The R88mk2 can handle 165+ dB SPL at 1 kHz allowing you to position it up-close to avoid room tone if needed. It will not be hurt by loud sources and can be positioned against a stereo guitar amp and other loud instruments.

YES, THERE’S A MATCHING PREAMP - Since the R88mk2 is a dual passive ribbon microphone, the preamp is critical for optimum performance. Preamp gain should be at least +60dB or higher and the preamp 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 TRP2preamps, 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.
 
"The AEA R88 has been an important part of my drum recording technique for the 6 years or more. it’s been on every session from Alanis Morissette to Jason Mraz and from The Strokes to the White Stripes. it handles high levels well. it’s tone is warm but with with great detail and takes well to heavy processing. i wouldn’t be without it on a tracking session." - Joe Chiccarelli (The White Stripes, The Strokes, Morrissey)
 
Mix ||  “The R88 sounded absolutely delicious on upright bass, delivering a round, warm, fat bottom without being tubby. The roll-off on the top of the R88 fit perfectly with this instrument, making it sit nicely in the mix. The mic nicely rounds the attack consistently up the neck, providing great definition. On playback, the upright player was astonished at the sound.” – Kevin Becka
 
Sound On Sound || “This is a very impressive microphone and one which is without equal as far as I know. It will appeal to the purist classical-music engineer without doubt, but it also has a much wider role in the studio. Long live the ribbon revolution!” – Hugh Robjohns
 
Tape Op || “I've also had great success using the combo on a horn section 15 ft from the drum kit. Recording two Ampeg Gemini guitar amps in stereo was totally killer. On piano, I was able to use the placement and nulls to effectively control the bleed and frequency response of a baby grand track. As a room mic for percussion ensemble overdubs, for backing vocals, etc. - all amazing.” – Chris Koltay

Technical Specifications

Operating Principle Pressure gradient transducer
Directional Pattern Bidirectional
Frequency Range

< 20 Hz to 20 kHz

Maximum SPL

165 dB SPL (1% third harmonic > 1 kHz)

Sensitivity

2.5 mV/Pa (-52 dBV) into unloaded circuit

Output Impedance

270 Ω broadband

Recommended Load Impedance

 1.2 kΩ or greater
Phantom Power Not required or recommended
Polarity Pin 2 & 4 high for positive pressure
at the front of the microphone.

Off Axis Response

Bidirectional

Polar Response Horizontal

Level changes with angle,
frequency response is consistent,
-35dB null at 90º / 270º

Polar Response Vertical

Level changes with angle,
reduced HF response above and below 0º / 180º,
-25 dB null at 90º / 270º

Transducer Element Material

Pure aluminum corrugated ribbon

Transducer Thickness

1.8 μm

Transducer Width

0.185 in (4.7 mm)

Transducer Length

2.35 in (59.7 mm)

Dimensions /Weight Height: 2.35 in (59.7 mm)
Width: 15 in (38.1 cm)
Depth:  3 in (7.62 cm)
Weight: 2 lbs. 9.8 oz. (1.19 kg)
Connector Type

XLR-5M, includes breakout cable - 2 XLR-3M

Shipping Weight 5 lbs. 3 oz. (2.36 kg)

Accessories Included

Storage /Shipping case
User Manual
Swivel Adapter
Custom Protective Mic Sleeve
XLR-5M Breakout Cable

AEA TRP2 Ribbon Microphone Preamplifier

The AEA TRP2 preamp provides two channels of high-output, high-impedance, and low-noise gain in a half-rack package with a rich and natural sound that brings out the full potential of your microphones.

  • Two channels with 85dB of sweet and quiet JFET gain
  • Switchable phantom-power, polarity reverse, and high-pass filter
  • 63k ohm high-impedance circuitry providing better overall transients, frequency response, and higher output sensitivity
  • Optimized for ribbon mics, condensers, and dynamics
  • Switching power supply for easy use in any country
  • 1U half-rack with optional hardware for mounting one or two units together
  • Made in the U.S.A.
ENHANCE YOUR RIBBONS - The AEA TRP2 Ribbon Preamp provides two channels of high-output, high-impedance, and low-noise gain with a rich and natural sound that brings out the full potential of your microphones. Specifically designed for ribbon microphones, the TRP2 excels at drawing out the warmth and lush sound that ribbons are uniquely known for.
 
A GAIN POWERHOUSE - The TRP2 is a powerhouse that provides unparalleled high gain with low-noise. With 85db of JFET output, the TRP2 gives you enough juice to record soft sources without ever having to worry about noise. With the TRP2, you will never consider a source too quiet to record with a ribbon mic ever again. Passive ribbons with low output levels require preamps that supply a high level of output. If the preamp you use doesn’t have enough clean gain, the mic signal may seem too soft or noisy which may be apparent when recording quiet acoustic guitars or strings, especially at a distance or with long cable runs. The TRP2 eliminates this concern.
 
HIGH IMPEDANCE MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE - The sound and tonality of dynamic microphones like ribbons and moving-coils are directly affected by the impedance of a preamp. The higher the impedance, the better the sound. The RPQ2 boasts an extra high input impedance of 63K Ohms. Preamps with an impedance of under 10k ohms will limit the lows, highs, and transients of your passive microphones. The RPQ2’s high impedance will reveal your microphone’s true nature– a thick low-end, open top-end, and articulate transient response that you will need to hear to believe. Both condensers and active microphones will also benefit from the RPQ2’s impedance.

Professional Features in a Compact Package - The TRP2 is AEA’s second iteration of the high-performance TRP preamp with the addition of new features including phantom power, optional rack ears, and a switching power supply. Polarity reverse switches for ensuring proper polarity throughout the recording chain and switchable 100 Hz, 12 dB per octave low-frequency filters allow you to tame proximity problems. The TRP2 includes switchable phantom power that is capable of powering condensers and active ribbons. For engineers concerned about phantom power hurting their passive ribbons, there is phantom power kill switch, known as No Blow Mode, located internally within the unit that easily deactivates 48V from ever turning on.

A UNIVERSAL POWER SUPPLY - An external switching power supply with a grounded AC plug is used with the TRP2 so hum fields can be kept away from the high-gain electronics. The power supply allows the TRP2 to be used in any country without any modifications made to the unit.

RACKING THE TRP2 - The TRP2 is housed in a portable and lightweight half-rack aluminum chassis that allows you to easily take it to remote gigs, other studios, and on the road. AEA manufactures optional racking gear for convenient use in rackmount furniture. A single TRP2 can be easily racked with TRP2 Rack Ears. Rack two TRP2s side by side with a TRP2 Rack Shelf. These assemblies can be securely installed in any standard rack. EXCEPTIONAL PREAMPS Passive microphones, coupled with AEA’s range of ribbon-specific preamps, are the key choice for discerning recordists who want total control over their signal path. AEA offers the RPQ2, RPQ500 and TRP2 microphone preamps, all of which provide unmatched clean levels of gain, and a high impedance. All AEA Ribbon Preamps all share the same topology and sound. The differences between each unit come down to extra features and form factor.

Technical Specifications

Gain at 1kHz 

85dB of gain at 1kHz,
balanced-in to balanced-out
in Microphone Input Mode
Noise figure, rms A-weighted <2dB
Noise figure, rms unweighted

<3dB, 20 kHz LPF bandwidth

EIN

<-130 dBu A-weighted, 150 Ohm resistive source

Frequency Response -3dB <1Hz and >100 kHz
THD

<0.02% at 1 kHz

Input Impedance

63K Ohms 
Input Impedance (P48 Engaged)

10K Ohms

Mic Gain Control Twelve-position switch provides from
+7dB to +63dB of gain for the pre-
amplifier circuit, as measured between
the input and the before the output line driver.
Output Level Potentiometer 25 dB
Low-Cut Filter 12dB per octave from 100 Hz
XLR Output Maximum Level into 600Ω Load +28 dBu, balanced; 0 dBu = 0.7746 V rms 
XLR Connectors Polarity Pin-1 is ground, pin-2 is high, pin-3 is low.
LED Signal Level Indicators Green LED snaps on at -20 dBu
to indicate the presence of signal;
Yellow LED snaps on at 0 dBu; 
Red LED snaps on at +24 dBu
to warn of approaching signal overload
Dimensions / Weight 1/2 Rack
Height: 1.5 in (4.3 cm)
Width: 8.5 in (36.7 cm)
Depth:  8.5 in (36.7 cm)
Weight: 2 lbs. (0.9 kg)
Power Supply Length 12 feet (3.6 m)