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Field Report: Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1
The purchase of audio equipment can come as a mixed blessing. While the excitement of new toys is fun, the associated user's manual is sometimes a source of heartburn. Once in a while a plug-and-play product comes along that is easy to install and offers few visits to the accompanying literature. Rarely though does a product arrive with no user's manual! The Cloudlifter CL-1 Mic Activator from Cloud Microphones ships with a 137-word user's guide. Within minutes, you're up and running with an in-line device that adds extraordinary gain and brilliance to your broadcast microphone. It brings clarity and sonic personality out of your microphones that you've never heard before.
|Performance at a glance|
| ■ Class A discrete JFET circuitry
■ Rugged steel chassis
■ Improves signal-to-noise ratio
■ Phantom powered
■ Increases microphone gain by as much as 25dB
The CL-1 measures 4.5" x 2" x 1.5." weighs much less than 1-pound and sports a rugged steel design. With a female XLR on one end and male on the other, the box is to be situated inline between the microphone and input preamp. It has rubber feet for desktop use, and a handy strap for mounting or hiding precarious locations. The CL-1 requires phantom power to operate, and it does not transfer the phantom power to the microphone. Consequently, the CL-1 is ideal for ribbon, dynamic, crystal or any microphone that does not use phantom power. It is also compatible with tube, battery or power supply-driven microphones.
The CL-1 uses patented class-A discrete JFET circuitry to increase the microphone output by as much as 25dB. In situations where long cables are used, microphone outputs are low, or the SNR is hard to overcome the CL-1 is a perfect solution. Additionally, many of our favorite broadcast-standard studio microphones sport comparatively low output levels. This forces considerable compensation at the input stage of preamps and processors, which inevitably increases the noise floor. The magic behind the CL-1 is that it increases microphone output but not the noise. During testing, the additional 22dB allowed for less gain at the input of a standard mic processor. The noise from the microphone was not increased, but plenty of microphone signal was (finally!) going into the processor. In addition to the disappearing noise floor, the microphone itself was given a new lease on life, exhibiting new flavors and brilliance. The dynamic mic essentially performed like a condenser, but without the increased pickup pattern and annoying anomalies of a condenser mic!
By way of a wrap up, the CL-1 may very well save many-a-studio from new microphone or processor purchases. Why? Two primary factors involved in microphone replacement are performance and noise floor. The CL-1 drastically improves both. Additionally, for a complete studio microphone overhaul, the CL-1 is available as the CL-4, which makes four channels available in a 1RU box.
Wygal is the programmer and engineer for Victory FM at Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA.
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