Recording - April 2016 - 41

and 0.5 seconds. Each one is elected at
the touch of a bidirectional pushbutton-a
fast push moves forward while a press
and hold moves back one space.
Finally, as on the DocDerr, there is a Mix
control which allows you to blend the compression and saturation with the dry/clean
microphone preamp signal. This allows
you to achieve parallel compression. Note
that the Saturation and Compressor sections are both on or off at once, although
you can saturate without compressing by
setting the compressor to a 1:1 ratio.
In use
I used the Mike-E for a few months for
tracking, as well as setting it to line level
for mixing duties. On a remote session I
took it with me and used it as my only mic
pre on the session, with the exception of
drums (where I put it to use on the snare).
The microphone preamp is ultra-clean,
quiet, and honest, yet this is not a
"straight-wire with gain" style preamp like
Millennia Media or Grace Design. It is
also not a heavily colored vintage affair.
Instead, Mike-E lives comfortably in the
middle; like a good solid console preamp, it stacks wonderfully.
Mike-E's magic and color come when
tracking through the CompSat section.
Thanks to the Mix control, you can dial in
an appropriate level of color, vibe, and

control without overcooking your tracks.
Even in situations where I wanted to leave
compression choices until mixdown, I still
made great use of gently blending in
Toasty levels of saturation and fullness.
I started to document which settings
and sources I liked the Mike-E on for
tracking and mixing, but the list got too
long. I will say that I found myself compressing and saturating more on the way
in than I normally do!
An obvious comparison would be
against the EL8 Distressor. While I was
able to roughly match the two on occasion, overall I would describe the Mike-E
as a touch more laid back and less
aggressive than the Distressor. Also, MikeE's saturation often made things a bit
thicker and more present on sources like
vocals and snare drum. All this adds up
to say that both units will live harmoniously side by side in the same studio.
If I had to pick a few favored sources,
these come first to mind. A ratio of 4:1,
attack of 20 milliseconds, and a quick
0.1 second release, heavily saturated,
makes for a nice meaty set-it-and-forget-it
snare drum sound.
On electric guitar, I liked an attack of
100 and the fastest release of 0.5, pushing the CompSat into Warm, and then
dialing back the mix to about 7. The
result was full and thick, but retained the

attack and strum of the original nicely. For
similar reasons, Mike-E makes a great
acoustic guitar preamp/compressor.
Conclusions
Mike-E is a fantastic, intuitive and greatsounding studio tool. The microphone preamp really shines and holds its own in a
market saturated with preamp choices-
so much so that I think a compressor-less
stereo model with just the HF and
Saturation circuits could make a great
offering! The saturation is just beautiful,
and the versatile easy-to-use compressor
takes Mike-E nicely over the top.
I might go so far as to call Mike-E the
"dark horse" of the Empirical line, since
the Fatso and Distressor hog most of the
spotlight. That's a shame, considering
how versatile this piece can be. Finally,
since this is our singer/songwriter issue, I
should close by noting that the Mike-E is
a fantastic professional step up from
many of the built-in interface preamps
and software compressors out there. So
when you're ready to go pro with your
vocals, acoustic guitar, and other tracking, keep Mike-E in mind.
Price: $1599
More from: Empirical Labs,
www.empiricallabs.com


http://www.empiricallabs.com http://www.cloudmicrophones.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - April 2016

Contents
Recording - April 2016 - Intro
Recording - April 2016 - Cover1
Recording - April 2016 - Cover2
Recording - April 2016 - 1
Recording - April 2016 - 2
Recording - April 2016 - 3
Recording - April 2016 - 4
Recording - April 2016 - 5
Recording - April 2016 - Contents
Recording - April 2016 - 7
Recording - April 2016 - 8
Recording - April 2016 - 9
Recording - April 2016 - 10
Recording - April 2016 - 11
Recording - April 2016 - 12
Recording - April 2016 - 13
Recording - April 2016 - 14
Recording - April 2016 - 15
Recording - April 2016 - 16
Recording - April 2016 - 17
Recording - April 2016 - 18
Recording - April 2016 - 19
Recording - April 2016 - 20
Recording - April 2016 - 21
Recording - April 2016 - 22
Recording - April 2016 - 23
Recording - April 2016 - 24
Recording - April 2016 - 25
Recording - April 2016 - 26
Recording - April 2016 - 27
Recording - April 2016 - 28
Recording - April 2016 - 29
Recording - April 2016 - 30
Recording - April 2016 - 31
Recording - April 2016 - 32
Recording - April 2016 - 33
Recording - April 2016 - 34
Recording - April 2016 - 35
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Recording - April 2016 - Cover3
Recording - April 2016 - Cover4
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