EL9 mic-E

Availability: In Stock

Modern digitally-controlled Mic Pre. Features unusual circuitry to warm and soften the source, along with an excellent compressor/limiter. INSERT & OUTPUT XFORMER mods now available!

The DerrEsser is a multi function dynamic filtering device, in an API 500 series module format. In its basic “DS” mode, the DerrEsser is an effective, level insensitive de-esser, which is a device that will adjust the high frequency gain on overly trebly or spiky vocal, or other source. By using a crossover technique, and dividing the audio up into a high frequency range and a low frequency range, the DerrEsser can use its Voltage Controlled Amp to turn down comparatively high or harsh high frequencies in an extremely musical manner. However, unlike other de-essers, the device is not limited to just de-essing, and allows for multi use of its circuitry

Besides Bypass, there are essentially four modes of the DerrEsser:

DS Mode – (Bypass Button IN, all other buttons OUT). As a de-esser in the DS mode (HF Limit OFF), one can set the threshold to tame harsh S’s (sibilants) that result from an overly bright singer or from EQ’ing to make a vocal sound aggressive and clear. In this mode, the dyamic action is “level insensitive”, as the detector circuitry compares the High Frequency content to the low frequency content, Overall signal level doesn’t matter at all. When there is enough HF compared to LF, the threshold is exceeded and the DerrEsser starts to turn down the frequencies above the crossover point set by the Frequency control on the front panel. Again, great care was taken to ensure this DS section meets the Empirical Labs reputation for originality and ease of use. We use the latest technology VCA, specially selected for glitch free, distortion free, and noise free performance. The time constants were carefully selected and the corner frequency is user adjustable with a high performance active crossover.

HF LIMIT – (Bypass Button IN, HF LIM IN, all other buttons OUT). In this mode, the DerrEsser looks at the general level of the High Frequencies only. Think of it as a high frequency compressor. If there is enough high frequency content to exceed the threshold, then gain reduction occurs. It IS level sensitive, but responds much more to high frequencies. This mode can also act as a de-esser but is more of a general high frequency smoothing device.The HF limiter is probably the first carefully tailored soft knee HF limiter in existence. We believe both the DS and HF LIM modes offer the highest performance of any similar device

HIGHPASS – (Bypass Button IN, Listen IN, HP/LP OUT, HF LIM doesn’t matter). By using the “LISTEN” Function, the user can employ the superb filter circuitry inside the DerrEsser to process their audio. With the LISTEN button IN, and the HP/LP switch OUT, the user will be hearing the high frequencies that are being controlled with the dynamic/compression circuits. The corner frequency is adjustable by the Frequency knob. Once the LISTEN switch is engaged, all bargraph LED’s should light as indication.

LOWPASS – (Bypass Button IN, Listen IN, HP/LP IN, HF LIM doesn’t matter). With the LISTEN button IN, and the HP/LP button IN, the user is now listening to the low frequencies, those not affected by the VCA and dynamic/compression circuits. This is a 12 dB per octave filter whose corner frequency can again, be adjusted by the Frequency knob.


When the engineering team at Empirical Labs sets out to build a microphone preamp, you can be sure it’ll deliver spectacular sound, be effortless to work, and will provide features unlike any other device in its class. To that end, we proudly present mic-E, a high performance transformer-coupled mic preamp with a noise floor far below any microphone’s self noise, combined with a one-of-a-kind compressor/saturator circuit that delivers classic knee compression as well as versatile tonal ‘coloring’ that can replicate many of the best characteristics of vintage analog recording equipment.

In today’s modern age of digital recorders, DAWs and software plugins, mic-E is the ultimate solution for getting a clean and strong, yet warm and musical signal into the box…and it couldn’t be easier to work – it’s front panel layout is so straight ahead that even inexperienced engineers will have no problem moving around on it right away.


This is a super low noise transformer input amplifier section with the gain under precise digital control. The signal to noise far exceeds any microphone in existence. Having used many mic preamps over the years, we’ve implemented a unique stepped gain control that should be impervious to the normal flakiness that age causes to pots and detented switches. A “Bad!” LED indicates when the input signal is overloading the circuit.


The CompSat’s unique circuitry sets the mic-E apart from all other mic preamps.


A multi stage soft-clipping circuit. At lower levels, a triodetype saturation affects the signal. As the level increases, a second unique clip circuit starts to more severely flatten out the peaks.


Based on ELI’s world famous Distressor, but with other characteristics (including a much longer attack time). Preset ratios include: 2:1, 4:1, 8:1…and, of course, Nuke. The compressor is stereo linkable.


a two-stage circuit that boosts and soft clips high frequencies before the CompSat™ circuit, and then cuts the frequencies after it. Emphasis has the added perk of improving signal to noise, and is the reason analog tape decks used emphasis to begin with.


Provides “parallel compression” technique achieved by 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.

  • Signal to Noise - 130 dB signal to noise at 40dB gain. Maximum output +28dBu.
  • Transformer coupled Input, Active Output. Transformer output option.
  • Frequency response - 3 Hz to 200 kHz on (No CompSat).
  • CompSat is 3Hz – 150Khz. Optional Transformer output is 6Hz–80kHz.
  • Gain range: 0 to 70dB. Unique input gain selection hardware should last a lifetime, unlike rotary switches.
  • Attack/Decay Ranges - .9 – 70mS attack, and .15 – 1 Sec release
  • Built in Instrument Preamp/Direct box – plug a guitar or bass etc into the front panel and the unit auto-senses it.
  • Distortion range - between .0006% and 15% depending on mode and settings.
  • Mic Input Impedance is 600 Ohms. Instrument input impedance 330 Kohms (High impedance).
  • Output impedance less than 38 ohms.

  • When is a mic-pre more than a mic-pre? When it gets out of the way of the sound of your microphone and lets the compressor / hi frequency “saturation” circuits do all the heavy lifting of the tonal shaping of the sound you’re recording or mixing.

    The Empirical Labs “mic-E” is exactly that tool!! The microphone amplifier has far greater dynamic range capability than most microphones found in the vast majority of the world’s recording facilities. The result of this increased dynamic range is that the “mic-E” has the ability to act like a “straight wire with gain”. The same clarity and definition hold true for the ultra-clean “DI” (Direct Injection) input as well… until you engage the CompSat.

    Though the pre-amp employs an input transformer, the noise floor of the microphone amplifier is so low, undesirable noise is difficult to bring up even with the use of extreme compression settings. The best part is that pre-amps input is digitally controlled in 5db increments for complete repeatability without the normal “flakiness” which can be associated with pots and stepped attenuators over time.

    Speaking of “extreme compression”; the “Distressor” like compression circuit in the “CompSat™” section of the “mic-E” can be used to wild extremes, or as subtly as the user desires. Featuring 5 distinct compression ratios (including the ever popular “Nuke” setting), the unit features absolutely repeatable attack and release time constants while you control the quantity of the desired compression via the “Drive” control. Two “CompSat™” sections can be linked for stereo recording / mixing with ease, and should you decide you would like a completely radical “parallel compression” effect, there is no need to waste an additional fader as the “mic-E” has the ability to mix the “wet” and “dry” elements of the signal.

    The “mic-E”’s “CompSat™” section doesn’t end there (in fact, its just the beginning!!). In addition to the entirely resettable compression chain is the “Saturator” section and the “Emphasis” section, which is where more real magic occurs.

    The “Saturator” is a multi-stage “soft clipping” circuit that imparts odd and even order harmonic distortions similar to those usually associated with triode tube circuits. As the level increases a second unique “clip circuit” employs Germanium transistors in order to more severely flatten the peaks (which creates another tonal texture unique to Empirical Labs products).

    The “Emphasis” element is a two-stage circuit that boosts and soft clips the high frequency content of the audio before the “CompSat™” circuit, and then cuts this boosted high frequency content in a manner consistent with the use of “noise reduction” as was often applied to analog tape recorders in days gone by. “Emphasis”, working in a similar manner to analog noise reduction has the added benefit of improving the signal to noise ratio, the net result being a “hotter” and more “emotionally compelling” sound, if that is the direction the production team would like to explore.

    When you combine the “mic-E” with a “Lil FrEQ” (called the “TRAK PAK”) the amount of tone shaping power is limited only by your imagination, as you will have the power at your fingertips to create any kind of tone / texture you feel the music requires.