Empirical Labs EL9 Mike-E
When the engineering team at Empirical Labs sets out to build a microphone preamp, you can be sure it’ll deliver spectacular sound, be effortless to work, and will provide features unlike any other device in its class. To that end, we proudly present Mike-E, a high performance transformer-coupled mic preamp with a noise floor far below any microphone’s self noise, combined with a one-of-a-kind compressor/saturator circuit that delivers classic knee compression as well as versatile tonal ‘coloring’ that can replicate many of the best characteristics of vintage analog recording equipment.
In today’s modern age of digital recorders, DAWs and software plug-ins, Mike-E is the ultimate solution for getting a clean and strong, yet warm and musical signal into the box…and it couldn’t be easier to work – its front panel layout is so straight ahead that even inexperienced engineers will have no problem moving around on it right away.
This is a super low noise transformer input amplifier section with the gain under precise digital control. The signal to noise far exceeds any microphone in existence. Having used many mic preamps over the years, we’ve implemented a unique stepped gain control that should be impervious to the normal flakiness that age causes to pots and detented switches. A “Bad!” LED indicates when the input signal is overloading the circuit.
The CompSat's unique circuitry sets the Mike-E apart from all other mic preamps.
SATURATOR - a multi stage soft-clipping circuit. At lower levels, a triode-type saturation affects the signal. As the level increases, a second unique clip circuit starts to more severely flatten out the peaks.
COMPRESSOR - based on ELI’s world famous Distressor, but with other characteristics (including a much longer attack time). Preset ratios include: 2:1, 4:1, 8:1…and, of course, Nuke.
EMPHASIS - a two-stage circuit that boosts and soft clips high frequencies before the CompSat™ circuit, and then cuts the frequencies after it. Emphasis has the added perk of improving signal to noise, and is the reason analog tape decks used emphasis to begin with.
MIX - provides “parallel compression” technique achieved by 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.
Other features include a front panel instrument input that allows the unit to function as an ultra-clean Direct Box and stereo-linking capabilities. Mike-E can also be combined with an EQ (such as the ELI Lil FrEQ), transforming it into one of the most powerful, flexible and complete channel strips on the market.