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edva 18th February 2012 09:31 AM

Cloudlifter CL2
The Cloudlifter CL2 is the two channel version of the simple yet effective, and high quality, product sold by the Cloud Microphones company, which boosts the signal of low-output microphones. Its primary intended use is with dynamic ribbon microphones, which are notorious for having very low output levels.
The Cloudlifter will add approximately 25 db of very clean gain to the mic's signal, before the pre-amp, allowing for significantly lower pre-amp gain settings, and therefore less overall noise. This can also be a benefit for some moving-coil dynamic mics with low output, i.e. the SM7b.
Physically, the CL2 "Mic Activator" (as silkscreened on the top) resembles a DI box, and has no controls, only a pair of XLR ins on one side, and a pair of XLR outs on the other side. The outs go to your existing pre-amp, and must receive phantom power from it in order for the CL2 to function. The unit is powered by phantom, but will not pass it through to the mics, which are plugged into the inputs on the CL2. (So the Cloudlifter cannot be used with mics requiring phantom power).
I tested the CL2 with several ribbon mics, (Beyer M160, M260, Fathead II, GT Velo 8, Cad Trion) and a few pre's (LA610, AV 737, RNP, MM STT-1), and in all cases the boatload of extra gain was very welcome, and the resulting tracks had less noise than if the pre's had been cranked high enough to match the levels attained with the CL2. It did not seem to color the sound, nor to add any detectable noise of its own. A great product for ribbon mics.

thelowcrow 2nd September 2013 06:03 PM

Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-2
Here's something that's dead simple. Do you have a microphone that's output is so low that you need so much gain out of your mic pre that it get's noisy? Do you have two of them? Get a Cloudlifter CL-2! It is a super clean fixed gain (~25db) FET mic preamp that sits between your mic and preamp. It requires phantom power to operate but does not pass phantom to the microphone. Got a pair of ribbons that are too quiet to amplify usably? Get a Cloudlifter CL-2! Dead simple.

dbgear 7th November 2013 02:28 AM

Your dynamic and ribbon microphones will sing for you
I first ran across the Cloudlifter CL-2 while making arrangements with Stephen Sank, the designer of the Cloudlifter and Cloud Microphones, to modify a ribbon microphone. As many of you probably know, Stephen Sank's father, Jon R. Sank, was a microphone designer for RCA and designed and worked on some their better-known examples of ribbon and dynamic mics. I am by no means an RCA historian, but the story goes that when RCA closed their microphone division in the 1970's, Jon R. Sank, having run the division for some 15+ years, was allowed to take the lab equipment and materials, of which his son is now the capable caretaker. Stephen Sank took one of my cheap ribbon mics and made something very special for me, using original RCA ribbon material, which I'll leave for another review.

Prior to contacting the company I had seen some basic info on the Cloudlifter CL-2, while checking out the new offerings from Cloud Microphones. I already knew that I would need something like this, because I very much like to use dynamic and ribbon mics on a variety of sources, but wasn't ready to layout money for dedicated preamps. In my exchanges with Mr. Sank, it became obvious that this product would fit my needs, but I wasn't prepared for how spot-on the CL-2 would be.

I’ve never opened the case, but the build quality seems rock-solid. I’m pretty sure you could knock this thing around and then run it over with a truck and still track with no issues. It has a very heavy-duty metal casing and quality XLR jacks. It just looks like a quality piece of gear.

In use, it couldn't be any easier. Plug in your microphone, then plug the CL-2 into a preamp, turn on the phantom power, that's it, you now have an additional 20-25db of clean and open gain (the phantom power only powers the CL-2 and doesn't come through to the microphone, so your ribbons are safe). I initially thought that I would be using this for quiet sources, but I find myself trying to use it anytime I reach for a ribbon mic and most of the time with dynamic mics. I have used it with great success accompanying the Shure SM7b, EV RE20, Beyer M69, Beyer M201, Beyer M160, EV 635a, and others.

You can see all the technical details about this product on the website, so I'll leave that to the pros, but anyone who uses lower output microphones will find this product very useful. California gear guru, Jim Williams, did some head to head testing with the Cloudlifter against the FET Head, see his results here…

Examples of the CL-2 in use... Male rap vocals with a Shure SM7b jump out of the speakers... Female pop vocals with the EV RE20 just sound sweet... Trombone with a modified Nady ribbon mic is very natural and full... Tenor sax with a Beyer M160 is breathing with life. I've even used it on loud sources while engaging the pad on the preamp with great success. I'm pretty sure that you'll use this more than you think and once it's in your mic locker, you won't look back.

The company offers three versions... single channel, dual channel, and a single channel with impedance selection, low cut, and output level control. I purchased mine before the option was available for impedance matching, but I’m very happy with the purchase and would recommend the product to anyone with a collection of microphones. It really does live up to the name and will lift the cloud that sits over your recordings. kfhkh

pencilextremist 28th January 2016 12:48 PM

amazing product
this thing is amazing at what it does,

I happened to need 2 channels of super clean gain so I could mic up a ribbon and a dynamic mic at the same time when recording electric guitar, my mic pre's only go up to 60dB and they just weren't loud enough for what I needed.

I honestly couldn't believe how good it made my sm57 sound, it's now much clearer, warmer and has a bit more high end, and ribbons sound incredible through it.

since ribbon mics are now very usable, I can even use them as a main vocal mic, I also wouldn't hesitate to use ANY dynamic mic for anything with this box.

It's going to massively improve the signal to noise ratio and optimise the microphone so it can be used with any mic pre, including cheap ones.

For me this was a no brainer, I'd recommend this one over the CL1 as it's better value in the long run.