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Empirical Labs EL-9 Mike-E... Condenser Microphones
Old 15th April 2009
  #1
Lives for gear
 
TRW's Avatar
Empirical Labs EL-9 Mike-E...

Hey guys,

so after a search, not much returned.

Looking strongly at these new Empirical boxes as being a mid way point between a fatso/distressor and a great mic pre.

Who's used one?

What is the mic pre like, super clean? Punchy? I see Lundahl trafos mentioned, but are the amp stages IC or discrete? Is the compressor VCA or FET?

How tapey and vibey can the compsat get, can it also do smooth comp? aggressive comp, full on dirt in the clipping stage?

A pair of these would seem to be an ideal tracking front end for vocal, mpc, synths, guitars and kick,snare or perhaps overheads but also a cool mix comp/colour kit too. Who's tried one in any of those apps?

-Tom
Old 15th April 2009
  #2
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by TRW View Post
Hey guys,

so after a search, not much returned.

Looking strongly at these new Empirical boxes as being a mid way point between a fatso/distressor and a great mic pre.

Who's used one?

What is the mic pre like, super clean? Punchy? I see Lundahl trafos mentioned, but are the amp stages IC or discrete? Is the compressor VCA or FET?

How tapey and vibey can the compsat get, can it also do smooth comp? aggressive comp, full on dirt in the clipping stage?

A pair of these would seem to be an ideal tracking front end for vocal, mpc, synths, guitars and kick,snare or perhaps overheads but also a cool mix comp/colour kit too. Who's tried one in any of those apps?

-Tom
Empirical Labs EL-9 any users?

C
Old 16th April 2009
  #3
Lives for gear
 
TRW's Avatar
Thanks, didnt find that one.

Sounds enticing.

Hoping to see some vids from Gil at Wave Dist....

-T
Old 16th April 2009
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by TRW View Post
Who's used one?
Yup!. "I use, therefor I post"...

Quote:
What is the mic pre like, super clean? Punchy? I see Lundahl trafos mentioned, but are the amp stages IC or discrete? Is the compressor VCA or FET?
Super Clean, Super Fast, with Better than acceptable S/N, Higher than average Headroom, and stepped gain amounts of the apocalypse. The Mic input is offers a Lundhal transformer as stock option, and there is a mod for optional output/input transformers, with some other modifications to choose from. These have yet to be announced as far as price and lead time, as they are still working on getting it sorted [its a newly released product, so please bare with em!!]. As far as amp type and overall circuits: I'm drawing a large blank currently [as I am without the manual which rests at my desk during the day] so I'll have to get back with you guys on some of the tech boogie....

Quote:
How tapey and vibey can the compsat get, can it also do smooth comp? aggressive comp, full on dirt in the clipping stage?
Its like a special version of the EL7 and EL8 put together in a cool way. Its pretty versatile, as are its siblings. Since the transient response of the preamp is ridiculous and fast as hell, you can saturate the ___ out of the top end and soften the HF content gently or extremely, depending. There are many possibilities. I find a touch of limiting can be magic with a mic like the SM7b for vocals, or a more percussive thing with a faster LDC like the KM69 or C42 et al. The CompSAT can be switched around in a couple ways to a couple [more than one] result, so I think its pretty versatile in the saturation department, as well as in the compression department. Recording bass direct with the Mike-E has been extremely impressive and I would say its KILLER for that application.

Quote:
A pair of these would seem to be an ideal tracking front end for vocal, mpc, synths, guitars and kick,snare or perhaps overheads but also a cool mix comp/colour kit too. Who's tried one in any of those apps?
I'd agree completely. I have used this box for: Vocals with an SM7b, Beyer M88, Kick with all types of mics [dam it rules there], Snare with a Naked Eye and once with a E22s, Bass with an AK47, Bass Direct WOO HOO!!!, Electric with a 121, Electric Direct....This thing runs the gambit and has impressed everytime!!!
Old 16th April 2009
  #5
Lives for gear
 
TRW's Avatar
Thanks adam. Sounds great. I'm curious why Dave put Nuke on it, I'd have preferred the distressors 20:1 setting. Much more useful to me.

I'm interested in the class a trafo out option too.

As the drive knob also really gets level up and over the comp threshold...

When setting the unit for colourful drive (drive knob high) do you find it easy to dial in too much compression or can you tickle the comp at 2:1 yet still push the germanium clipping stage and employ HF emphasis to reach smooth yet really colourful output?

Cheers T
Old 16th April 2009
  #6
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TRW's Avatar
Any more updates Adam?

Cheers T
Old 16th April 2009
  #7
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The MPCist's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TRW View Post
I'm curious why Dave put Nuke on it, I'd have preferred the distressors 20:1 setting. Much more useful to me.
Probably the same reason Alan Smart put 'Crush' on his compressor. Really useful to me.
Old 16th April 2009
  #8
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TRW's Avatar
Ha fair enough, I just find 20:1 on a distressor similar and slightly less over the top that Nuke.

I'm sure I wil find a use for it though! ;-)

-T
Old 16th April 2009
  #9
Since EL has been trying to get the spec and manual up on the web site, [as mentioned: please bare with them] We decided to scan the manual and upload it to the site today for all to read. Its a MEGA HUGH file, so right click this link to download the scans.

Mike-E Manual

It makes no mention of the type of circuits employed in the Mike-E. It makes mention on how the Emphasis circuit and De-Emphasis works in accord with the Comp/SAT. These circuit types are Dave's Secret Sauce, and it looks as if that information will remain part of his evil genius. Personally, I could care less what this thing has inside it. Its too cool for school!!!!
Old 16th April 2009
  #10
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TRW's Avatar
Thanks for the manual Adam!

I'd still like to know whether the comp is FET or VCA.

Cheers Tom
Old 17th April 2009
  #11
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paterno's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TRW View Post
Hey guys,

so after a search, not much returned.

Looking strongly at these new Empirical boxes as being a mid way point between a fatso/distressor and a great mic pre.

Who's used one?

What is the mic pre like, super clean? Punchy? I see Lundahl trafos mentioned, but are the amp stages IC or discrete? Is the compressor VCA or FET?

How tapey and vibey can the compsat get, can it also do smooth comp? aggressive comp, full on dirt in the clipping stage?

A pair of these would seem to be an ideal tracking front end for vocal, mpc, synths, guitars and kick,snare or perhaps overheads but also a cool mix comp/colour kit too. Who's tried one in any of those apps?

-Tom
There have been a couple threads already about these things. They are awesome. Do a search...

Cheers,
john
Old 26th April 2009
  #12
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by TRW View Post
Hey guys,

so after a search, not much returned.

Looking strongly at these new Empirical boxes as being a mid way point between a fatso/distressor and a great mic pre.

Who's used one?

What is the mic pre like, super clean? Punchy? I see Lundahl trafos mentioned, but are the amp stages IC or discrete? Is the compressor VCA or FET?

How tapey and vibey can the compsat get, can it also do smooth comp? aggressive comp, full on dirt in the clipping stage?

A pair of these would seem to be an ideal tracking front end for vocal, mpc, synths, guitars and kick,snare or perhaps overheads but also a cool mix comp/colour kit too. Who's tried one in any of those apps?

-Tom
I bought one last week from Mercenary...WOW!!
Great Pre, love the comp sat.
Using it with a Pearlman TM-1, sounds big and fat!!
C
Old 26th April 2009
  #13
Lives for gear
 
TRW's Avatar
Thanks John, found the other threads.

Carmen, if the Mike-E is as smooth, round and fat as the avatar you use its a good!

What have you been tracking through it? Rap vox?

Cheers Tom
Old 26th April 2009
  #14
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by TRW View Post
Thanks John, found the other threads.

Carmen, if the Mike-E is as smooth, round and fat as the avatar you use its a good!

What have you been tracking through it? Rap vox?

Cheers Tom
Old school blues...
I sound like Dylan on crack...
And yes, It sounds as good as that pic looks!
C
Old 26th April 2009
  #15
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TRW's Avatar
Good to know.

Thanks, how do you find the compsat section? How soft and compressed is it? Can it tame a bright mic?

-T
Old 26th April 2009
  #16
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by TRW View Post
Good to know.

Thanks, how do you find the compsat section? How soft and compressed is it? Can it tame a bright mic?

-T

I really like the Comp Sat.
It fattens up the mic with out sounding like an effect.
It gently squashes the highs and rounds the sound to your taste..
Thick and creamy...
Probably like the U47 sound that everybody around here wants to get, only variable in its sound in many ways.

I had an already recorded bass track that was unruly and had notes jumping out.
I couldn't get it to sit in a dense mix very well.
I patched in the MIKE-E and hit it with 8:1 and some warmth and all of a sudden I could hear it in the track just right with just a small effort.

I used to use the Pearlman TM-1 mic with the Low Pass on to roll off the highs, now I shut off the low pass on the mic and use the HF Emphasis on the Mike-e and it tames the highs nicely and warms it up like it's hitting tape.
The HF Emphasis adds hi freq to the signal so the tape sat and comp hit those freqs first and rounds out the signal just like tape machines did back in my day.

I get an inch from the mic and it sounds like the voice I hear in my head when I'm singing.

This thing makes me want to sing!!

Peace to you,
C
Old 27th April 2009
  #17
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paterno's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TRW View Post
Good to know.

Thanks, how do you find the compsat section? How soft and compressed is it? Can it tame a bright mic?

-T
Hey --

Sorry to just chime in again, but the comp/sat is pretty fascinating on it's own. It doesn't dull things out per se. It just adds this kind of 'sweetness'. When hit hard and cranked all the way, it can lose a bit of attack, but [at least to me] it doesn't get 'dark'. Just mashed a bit.

If you can demo one somehow, it is really worth hearing. I just mixed a record and the bass player was really happy with his sound [run through the Mic E]. He said it sounded compressed in a'good' way -- it still had his feel.

Cheers,
John
Old 27th April 2009
  #18
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TRW's Avatar
Great thanks guys.

Transient mangling is good. Smooth and open yet still a bit punchy, without the massive transient would be ace. Kinda tapey.

I will try and demo for sure.

John, where you compressing a lot, or mainly going for HF emphasis?

I'm curious how colourful it gets in 1:1 and also how much comp you get if you spank the input drive into the clipping stage to get colour but also have the comp set to ratios other than 1:1. As there is no threshold control the drive knob is the 'psuedo' threshold for clipping and comp.

I guess you can always avoid the overcomp by using the wet/dry.

-Tom
Old 27th April 2009
  #19
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paterno's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TRW View Post
John, where you compressing a lot, or mainly going for HF emphasis?

I'm curious how colourful it gets in 1:1 and also how much comp you get if you spank the input drive into the clipping stage to get colour but also have the comp set to ratios other than 1:1. As there is no threshold control the drive knob is the 'psuedo' threshold for clipping and comp.

I guess you can always avoid the overcomp by using the wet/dry.

-Tom
Hey Tom --

No, not a lot of compression. And not using the Hi Emph either. [I need to check that one out more!]. I usually run at 2:1 with the compression for most things, and leave it on full 'wet'. Sometimes I get 6-8 dB of compression, but most times less. Really depends on what you are going for. 1:1 is useful when things don't have a ton of dynamic range [like a distorted electric guitar] but you still want the sound of the Sat circuit.

I think you kind of have it correct in that the Drive knob is key here. It has the biggest effect on the sound. As long as the pre is not distorting [which you DO NOT want to do! - the BAD CLIP LED coming on is trouble...], the Drive is where the real action is.

Cheers,
John
Old 27th April 2009
  #20
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matskull's Avatar
 

Is it like a distressor with an added pre or is it really something completely new?
Old 27th April 2009
  #21
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by matskull View Post
Is it like a distressor with an added pre or is it really something completely new?
It's like a pre with a combination Fatso/Distressor.
I love mine.
Peace.
C
Old 27th April 2009
  #22
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matskull's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarmenC View Post
It's like a pre with a combination Fatso/Distressor.
I love mine.
Peace.
C
Cool, for 300$ more than a distressor, it's probably worth it then...
Old 27th April 2009
  #23
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TRW's Avatar
Awesome thanks John.

Sounds enticing, I wondered how coloured it would be at 1:1.

Sounds like I want a pair.

-T
Old 29th April 2009
  #24
Gear Addict
For those of you that have tried this unit, would you get it over something like a V78 or V72 ? I know this is a pretty silly question to ask as everyone needs and current equipment vary.... Just personal opinion would do....

I have a Avalon AD2022, Portico 5012 and Art Pro Channel..... Love the Portico...

Steve
Old 14th November 2010
  #25
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mixerguy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by matskull View Post
Cool, for 300$ more than a distressor, it's probably worth it then...
a Distressor has a few more options.... but it still seems like a great deal

thumbsup
Old 14th November 2010
  #26
Lives for gear
 

A couple questions for you user about this please.
It appears saturation level and compression threshold are both controlled from drive? Do you find that sets up a compromise where you might want more of one or the other?
Second, in general I seem to have a pref for hard knee' and was just wondering about impressions on the compressor in that regard.

And thanks in advance.
Old 30th November 2014
  #27
Gear Maniac
 

Bumping this thread. Any more Mike-e users out there? Things about it you like? Anyone gotten rid of it for something you like better?
Old 30th November 2014
  #28
Gear Nut
 
SMCrock's Avatar
I co write often with a friend who uses it as his main pre/compressor. The material I've heard tracked through it sounds very clean. I think it's a great piece if you are in need of an all around work horse.
Old 1st December 2014
  #29
I just got one a few weeks back and all I can say is Damn... I might need a stereo pair! As others have said, it excels at most anything. I too have used it with an SM7 and had excellent results. Right now, im using it on snare top with a 421 and its awesome. super quiet ridiculous amounts of gain, I plan on trying it on some ribbon mics next just to see how it reacts. One thing about Empirical Labs stuff. NONE of it sucks. And its built like a tank.
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