Empirical Lab's Dave Derr is no stranger to creating game-changing audio processors, and his Mike-E preamp is no exception. Mike-E is a modern, digitally controlled microphone preamplifier chocked with unusual features to warm and soften sound sources, plus, it also has an excellent compressor/limiter. Mike-E, a transformer-coupled mic preamp, offe... Click To Read More About This Product
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Empirical Lab's Dave Derr is no stranger to creating game-changing audio processors, and his Mike-E preamp is no exception. Mike-E is a modern, digitally controlled microphone preamplifier chocked with unusual features to warm and soften sound sources, plus, it also has an excellent compressor/limiter. Mike-E, a transformer-coupled mic preamp, offers an incredible performance with a noise floor is far below any microphone's self-noise. And, the one-of-a-kind ˜CompSat' section is an uncompromising compressor and saturator circuit that offers versatile coloring, and classic knee compression.
Mic Preamp Section
The preamp section is a super low-noise transformer-input amplifier section with gain digitally controlled gain. This section comes standard with a shielded Lundahl transformer, but allows for a Jensen transformer also.
The signal-to-noise ratio far exceeds any microphone in existence; typically over 130dB with the input shorted and 40dB of gain. Having used many mic preamps over the years, Empirical Labs has implemented a unique stepped-gain control that is impervious to the normal flakiness that age causes to pots and detented switches.
Counting the output gain of 14dB, a total74 dB of gain is available to you with the CompSat section bypassed. Phantom power (+48V) is provided for condenser mics.
Exclusive CompSat Section
This unique circuitry is what sets Mike-E apart from all other mic preamplifiers. It has four sections:
1) Saturator: This is a multi-stage soft clipping circuit. At lower levels, triode-type saturation affects the signal. As the level increases, a second unique clip circuit that includes germanium semiconductors starts to flatten out the peaks more severely. An LED named "BAD!" indicates harder, un-musical clipping.
2) Compressor: This is an uncompromising compressor/limiter circuit with detented control of attack and release for easy repeatability. You adjust the amount of compression with the DRIVE knob, which determines the level going into the compressor. In ways it is like the Empircal Labs Distressor (see #501579), but has differing characteristics including a much longer available attack time and additional circuitry. Four ratios are provided; 2:1 being the gentlest with a long 20dB knee, good for subtle compression, such as while tracking or on the 2-Bus. Ratios 4:1 and 8:1 are steeper but still very smooth with long knees. "Nuke" is very steep (limiter-like) and has a different attack and release shape.
3) Emphasis: Emphasis is actually two circuits that surround the compressor and saturator. Pre-emphasis boosts the high frequencies before the compressor and saturator (CompSat), soft clipping them sooner than normal, while a de-emphasis cuts the complementary frequencies after the CompSat. Emphasis has the added perk of improving signal-to-noise, and is the reason analog tape decks used emphasis to begin with.
4) Mix Control: The modern recording engineer often employs the technique of mixing between the compressed and the dry (or uncompressed) signal. This can often help maintain transients and a sense of dynamic range while enhancing the low level nuances. Mike-E has a built-in mix control to submix uncompressed signal along with the compressed signal. As you rotate the MIX control from full right to full left, you goe from the full compressed signal to the full dry signal (absent of any compression or saturation).
Mic Preamplifier with super low noise and stepped-gain switching
Built in Direct Box, called Inst In, offers unparalleled distortion, noise, and frequency response when pre-amplifying instruments.
"Colored" 80Hz high-pass filter emulates the warm, low-frequency cut of our favorite vintage equalizers
Phase Switch inverts audio signal 180 degrees.
CompSat offers both a musical compressor/limiter and a unique tape-like saturation circuit
High-frequency emphasis system softens high frequency "pile-ups" and furthers the creamy color of the Mike-E
Mix Control allows the blending of the compressed/saturated signal with the clean unprocessed "Dry" signal
Active and transformer outputs available
High-quality audio caps used internally
Frequency response: 3Hz - 200kHz (No CompSat); with CompSat: 3Hz - 150Khz Optional transformer output: 6Hz-80kHz
Signal-to-Noise: 130dB signal-to-noise at 40dB gain, maximum output +28dBu
Distortion: Ranges between .0006% and 15% depending on mode and settings
Input impedance: 600 ohm
Output impedance: Less than 38 ohm
Attack/decay ranges: - .9 - 100mS attack, .15 - 1 sec. decay
Power consumption: 15 watts max.
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