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A sonic "Swiss-knife" recording channel combining mic and instrument input, compression, tape-like saturation, and equalization.
The Empirical Labs Trak Pak combines the Mike-E mic preamp and EL-Q Lil FrEQ equalizer to give you a stellar and versatile recording channel combining mic and instrument input, compression, tape-like saturation, and equalization - Empirical Labs style, which means tons sound and color variations with easy to use, dramatically effective controls that take you from subtle to extreme—wherever your creative muse leads you.
Mike-E microphone preamp
Empirical Lab’s Dave Derr is no stranger to creating game-changing audio processors, and his Mike-E preamp is no exception. Mike-E is a modern, digitally controlled microphone preamplifier chocked with unusual features to warm and soften sound sources, plus, it also has an excellent compressor/limiter. Mike-E, a transformer-coupled mic preamp, offers an incredible performance with a noise floor is far below any microphone’s self-noise. And, the one-of-a-kind ‘CompSat’ section is an uncompromising compressor and saturator circuit that offers versatile coloring, and classic knee compression.
Mic Preamp Section
The preamp section is a super low-noise transformer-input amplifier section with gain digitally controlled gain. This section comes standard with a shielded Lundahl transformer, but allows for a Jensen transformer also.
The signal-to-noise ratio far exceeds any microphone in existence; typically over 130dB with the input shorted and 40dB of gain. Having used many mic preamps over the years, Empirical Labs has implemented a unique stepped-gain control that is impervious to the normal flakiness that age causes to pots and detented switches.
Counting the output gain of 14dB, a total 74dB of gain is available to you with the CompSat section bypassed. Phantom power (+48V) is provided for condenser mics.
Exclusive CompSat™ Section
This unique circuitry is what sets Mike-E apart from all other mic preamplifiers. It has four sections:
1) Saturator: This is a multi-stage soft clipping circuit. At lower levels, triode-type saturation affects the signal. As the level increases, a second unique clip circuit that includes germanium semiconductors starts to flatten out the peaks more severely. An LED named “BAD!” indicates harder, un-musical clipping.
2) Compressor: This is an uncompromising compressor/limiter circuit with detented control of attack and release for easy repeatability. You adjust the amount of compression with the DRIVE knob, which determines the level going into the compressor. In ways it is like the Empircal Labs Distressor (see #501579), but has differing characteristics including a much longer available attack time and additional circuitry. Four ratios are provided; 2:1 being the gentlest with a long 20dB knee, good for subtle compression, such as while tracking or on the 2-Bus. Ratios 4:1 and 8:1 are steeper but still very smooth with long knees. “Nuke” is very steep (limiter-like) and has a different attack and release shape.
3) Emphasis: Emphasis is actually two circuits that surround the compressor and saturator. Pre-emphasis boosts the high frequencies before the compressor and saturator (CompSat), soft clipping them sooner than normal, while a de-emphasis cuts the complementary frequencies after the CompSat. Emphasis has the added perk of improving signal-to-noise, and is the reason analog tape decks used emphasis to begin with.
4) Mix Control: The modern recording engineer often employs the technique of mixing between the compressed and the dry (or uncompressed) signal. This can often help maintain transients and a sense of dynamic range while enhancing the low level nuances. Mike-E has a built-in mix control to submix uncompressed signal along with the compressed signal. As you rotate the MIX control from full right to full left, you go from the full compressed signal to the full dry signal (absent of any compression or saturation).
Empirical Labs EL-Q Lil FrEQ equalizer
Instead of daisy chaining EQ's and frequency processors, Empirical Labs decided to cram most of what an engineer needs into a 1U box, while offering the highest performance of any design known to EL. The result is the TEC Award-nominated Lil FrEQ.
The EQ Sections
HP – The High Pass section is a sharp filter that cuts all content below one of eight pre-selected frequencies. EL calls this particular filter a “colored” filter, since it's very steep and has a special shape that prevents thinning out frequencies just above the cutoff frequency. The corner frequency is indicated by LEDs that glow softly when the section is bypassed, and brightly when the section is engaged. As with all the EQ sections in the Lil FrEQ, there is a dedicated bypass switch.
High and Low Shelving – These are very similar to your standard tone controls, but extremely high-performance, providing exceptionally smooth boost and cut on the bass and treble frequencies.
Parametric EQ Sections – There are four sections of fully parametric EQ . . . possibly the cleanest parametric EQ section ever produced; operating below .0007% THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) at extremely high audio levels. Try finding those specs anywhere else!
Dynamic EQ Section – The DS section combines filters with a compressor-like circuit that can help contain and control excessive high frequency content such as sibilants, especially in the absence of other lower frequency content. There are two modes of operation, with threshold control as well as a frequency select control. There are four LEDs that indicate the amount of Gain Reduction: -1.5dB, -8dB, -14dB, -24dB. The DS section provides the highest performance, easiest to use, and most natural De-esser ever built, as well as a one of a kind, soft knee High Frequency Limiter. You will love it!
You'll FrEQ out over this incredible front end for your recording setup. Order today!
Trak Pak Mike-E and Lil FrEQ combo