Modern Digitally Controlled Preamp + Equalization Empirical Labs Style
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.
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.
The Mike-E features 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.
ELQ Lil FrEQ
As with ELI’s other signal processors, the Lil FrEQ Equalizer takes a somewhat unique approach to its job. Instead of daisy chaining several equalizers and frequency processors, we combined most of the sound sculpting tools an engineer needs into a compact single rack space box, while still offering the highest performance of any design in its class.
Eight Sections of Processing
There are eight sections of processing – what other EQ offers that? Even better – in addition to a master bypass, each of the Lil FrEQ’s sections features its own dedicated bypass switch, letting you instantly A/B the effect of each section as you adjust and fine-tune them.
HIGH PASS – The High Pass section is a really easy to use sharp filter that cuts all content below one of eight preset frequencies from 30-330 Hz. This filter is very steep and has a special shape that prevents frequencies from thinning out just above the cutoff point. The corner frequency is selected using up/down buttons, and indicated by LEDs that glow softly when the section is bypassed, and brightly when the section is engaged.
HIGH & LOW SHELVING – These two knobs function similarly to the familiar “bass and treble” tone controls found on many consumer audio playback systems; however, these are designed to a much higher performance standard, providing exceptionally smooth and musical boost and cut on the high and low frequencies.
PARAMETRIC EQ – The Lil FrEQ has four sections of fully parametric EQ (LF, Lo Mid, Hi Mid and HF), with each section featuring individual gain, bandwidth (Q) and frequency controls. It may be the cleanest parametric EQ section ever produced, operating below .0007% THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) even at extremely high audio levels. Try finding those specs anywhere else!
DS (DYNAMIC EQ) – The DS section provides the highest performance, easiest to use, and possibly most natural sounding “De-esser” ever built. This powerful tool combines tunable filters with a compressor-like circuit that can help contain and control excessive high frequency content such as sibilants or other sharp transients, especially in the absence of other lower frequency content. It can also function as a one of a kind soft knee High Frequency limiter, which is one of the main things responsible for the Lil FrEQ becoming the go-to vocal EQ for engineers everywhere. It has been used on many acclaimed albums and major live performances all over the world, becoming the “go to” EQ for key tracks like lead vocals, snares, and bass. There are now dozens of hit record vocals that were processed thru the Lil FrEQ.