Broadcast engineers get paid to wear many hats. From brushing snow off uplink dishes, to programming automation systems, we find ourselves with plenty of responsibilities. While many tasks are drudgery, some things are fun to tinker with. For me, I've always enjoyed compression, limiting and other processing-like ventures. From on-air processors to microphone compressors, I take pride in getting as much saturation as is possible, before the process becomes noticeable. Ear fatigue is a big concern of mine, and finding that "sweet spot" can take a while. So I was pleased when Radio Design Labs recently unveiled the EZ-MCP1. It's an inline compressor that works its magic at the microphone low-impedance level. It's a neat tool that makes audio work headache-free.
I engineer football broadcasts for Liberty University's sports network. Some of our announcers have really big mouths! For football I have a rack full of equipment, some of which keeps the announcers' levels smooth and in check. However, for basketball, only the announcers travel and take a small case containing headphones and a codec. Because they aren't fond of carrying mic preamps with compression and limiting, I began investigating inline compressors they could easily plug in and use, with little or no settings to contend with. I found the EZ-MCP1 from RDL and was amazed at how it met the need perfectly.
What it's got
The EZ-MCP1 accepts mic level, compresses mic level and outputs mic level. This is somewhat unheard of, as compressors generally process line-level audio on the downhill side of an input amplifier. It has two simple setup trimmers: output level and compression (great for announcers who aren't allowed to push buttons). The output level trimmer has a nominal or "normal" output marking that indicates no adjustment to the mic signal as it passes through. Of course, as is usually the case, some level may need to be recovered after the processing. Setting the compression is as simple as "turn it up, or turn it down." The one-knob operation makes intuitive threshold, ratio, attack and release settings. These built-in compression settings are remarkably intelligent.
|Performance at a glance|
Transparent control and leveling of dynamically challenging mic levels
Easy to operate
Accommodates dynamic or condenser mics
Six can be rack-mounted together in 1RU
Compresses mic levels, not line levels
The unit ships with a 24Vdc wall wart power supply. It is 1.5" tall, 5" deep and 1/6 of a rack space wide (several units can be ganged together in a rack with available rack hardware from RDL). It weighs next to nothing. Dynamic or condenser mics can be used. The unit provides phantom power when it is supplied by a console or other preamp (indicated by an LED when phantom is present). The EZ-MCP1 handles dynamics unlike any other simple compressor I've used.
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