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If you like ribbon microphones or low output dynamic types such as the Shure SM-7 you’re going to love the Klark Teknik CM-1 Mic Booster. This product is simple to use, delivers a lot of performance and it’s low in cost.
This is one of those products that I never understood until I used one. I have amazing mic preamplifiers by Grace, API and Neve, which have lots of gain available. Because of this I never understood the need for one of these inline booster preamplifiers, I thought these were for people who had anemic low gain mic preamps.
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WHAT IS A MICROPHONE BOOSTER?
The KT mic booster is a small metal box with a female XLR mic input on one end and a male XLR output on the other end. There are no switches or knobs on the exterior of the CM-1. Inside the mic booster is a low-noise, fixed-gain preamp circuit, you power it with phantom power supplied by the mic input on your mixer or DAW. The instructions say to install the booster as close as possible to the microphone you’re using it with. The instructions suggest using a cable less than 30-feet long between the mic and the booster.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Many ribbon microphones can be destroyed by random application of phantom power. The KT mic booster adds a level of protection by intercepting potentially harmful phantom power on the way to your fragile ribbon microphone. As a result your ribbon microphone is isolated from destruction or damage due to inadvertent application of 48 volt phantom power.
I used a one-foot long Mogami mic cable to connect my test microphone to the KT Mic Booster input. The output from the mic booster fed to the input on my Soundcraft mixing console. I used a velcro microphone cable-strap to attach the KT Mic Booster to my microphone boom arm. I supplied 48-volt phantom power to the mic booster by switching it ON for the channel fed by the microphone.
HOW DOES IT SOUND?
My first test microphone is the amazing sE X1R ribbon microphone. This mic sounds very good without the mic booster so I was anxious to hear it boosted. I have the microphone positioned on a 4x12 Marshall 1960 cabinet loaded with 12” Celestions. The speaker is driven by a Mesa Boogie Mini Rectifier head and sounds quite good just using the microphone by itself.
With the KT Mic Booster in the circuit the sound from the sE Ribbon microphone came alive and sounded like a condenser microphone. Any semblance of high frequency rolloff disappeared with the KT Mic Booster, the tone was bright, dynamic and sounded great. I must admit I thought the difference was extraordinary.
To check the results in another way I put up a second sE X1R ribbon mic without a KT Mic Booster and ran it to the adjacent input on the Soundcraft mixer. In another experiment I verified that the two sE ribbon mics sound virtually identical to each other. I mounted the two sE mics as close to each other as possible so I could A-B compare their tone in the control room. The mic with the booster sounded brighter than the one without the booster. Overall both microphones retained their inherent ribbon sonic characteristics but the one with the booster sounded much more clear and desirable. Even with the outputs of the two microphones carefully matched in volume level the mic with the booster applied sounded more desirable.
SM-7 AND THE MIC BOOSTER
The Shure SM-7 is a relatively low output microphone. I use my SM-7 microphone with a Neve 1073 preamp (80 dB of gain available) and have never had a complaint about the tone. Before I got the 1073 I regularly used the SM-7 with an API 3124 preamp (65 dB of gain available) and that combo never disappointed. I was anxious to try the SM-7 with the KT Mic Booster and it did not disappoint. The SM-7 sounded positively bright and crisp. If you like the SM-7 add a KT Mic Booster and get ready for your sound to lift-off into orbit with clarity and sensitivity that makes it sound like a completely new microphone.
Improves an already good sounding microphone
Easy to use
No switches or knobs to set
Effective on ribbon and dynamic microphones
Neutrik XLR jacks with gold contacts
None to speak of
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The Klark Teknik CM-1 Mic Booster is an impressive product. The enclosure is folded steel, the connectors are Neutrik and they have gold contacts for reliability. I liked this little preamp so much I ordered a second one so I have a pair to use with my two sE X1R ribbon microphones. At only $35 the CM-1 is not an expensive gadget and the performance-benefit potential is huge. You’ll need a short XLR mic cable to connect this to your source microphone so include that in your budget.
Klark Teknik makes another mic booster model called the CT-1 but that is reserved for another review after I get some time to test its performance.
If you have a ribbon microphone or a low-output dynamic model, give the KT CM-1 Mic Booster a try. For a low price you get an extraordinary boost.
Good Music To You!
©2022 by Mark King, it’s not ok to copy or quote without written notice.
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