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The  EL-9 Mike-e  from  Empirical Labs  is a transformer-coupled mic preamp with compressor/saturator circuits that deliver classic knee compression, as well as versatile tonal coloring.


This low noise transformer input amplifier section offers precise digital control over gain and has a signal-to-noise ratio of 130 dB. It features stepped control knobs for gain control and a "BAD!" LED indicator for alerting the user when input signal is overloading the circuit.


The front panel instrument input that allows the unit to function as an ultra-clean Direct Box. The saturator is a multi-stage soft-clipping circuit that provides triode-type saturation effects, while severely flattening out the peaks. The compressor circuit is based on the Distressor, but with a longer attack time. Preset ratios include 2:1, 4:1, 8:1, and Nuke. Emphasis improves the signal to noise ratio, while soft-clipping high frequencies before the CompSat circuit and cutting the frequencies after it.


Mix provides the parallel compression technique achieved by mixing between the compressed and the dry, uncompressed signal. This can often help maintain transients and a sense of dynamic range while enhancing the low level nuances. A stereo link connector allows two Mike-e processors to be used for stereo buss functions, while the optional send/return insert modification allows for additional processors, such as the Lil Freq EQ, to be connected between the mic preamp and compressor, forming a powerful and flexible channel strip. The Mike-e ships with a standard IEC power cord.


The Features

  • Versatile and simple microphone pre-amplifier with a deep feature set
  • Pre-amplifier section offers a transformer input. Low signal-to-noise exceeds 130 dB, well below the self-noise of any microphone
  • Super long life gain switching with 5 dB increments in preamp section and output pot for fine resolution gain setting. Sealed relays used throughout
  • CompSat section soft saturates the peaks of waveforms to warm things up and offers a world-class compressor with detented parameter selections
  • Germanium circuitry in the CompSat section to offer new warming characteristics
  • Two CompSat LED indicators, one “WARM” and one “TOASTY” LED, indicating internal saturation circuitry
  • Emphasis function tames high frequency build-up, while offering frequency dependent saturation, which enhances Mike-E’s popular tape-like tone
  • High performance high-pass filter at 80 Hz, 18 dB per octave
  • Built in Instrument preamp/direct box with auto sensing passes the signal through the input transformer for some “IRON” in its sound
  • Renowned Empirical Labs digitally controlled analog topology
  • Huge "DISTRESSOR" knobs with high resolution numbering for easy readability and repeatable settings
  • A “BAD!” hard clip LED indicates the signal is within .5 dB of hard clipping. It monitors many sections of the Preamp for internal clipping
  • Locked and calibrated output level allows speed in setting record and live mix levels
  • Extremely useful as a mixdown processor, too. Great for fitting the mixes together.
  • Discrete and integrated combination offering the best of speed/linearity with repeatability. Hand tested & selected components. All metal film and Roederstein resistors in the audio path
  • Top quality components, most being high temperature military spec parts
  • Upgradeable transformer output option
  • Switchable 115/230 volt operation - Extra fuse provided inside unit
  • XLR and 1/4" phone ins and outs - XLR fully balanced design, pin-2 hot
  • No internal connectors, high reliability parts and military grade switches and relays. All contacts doubled up for maximum reliability
  • Linkable Compressor section
  • Hand wired and calibrated in USA


Empirical Labs EL-9 Mike-e Microphone Preamp and Compressor/Saturator

  • Microphone Preamp and Compressor/Saturator
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