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MLM-2 Front Panel (Artist's Rendering)
(Click for a close-up)
MLM-2 Rear Panel (Artist's Rendering)
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MLS-2 Front Panel (Artist's Rendering)
(Click for a close-up)
MLS-2 Rear Panel (Artist's Rendering)
(Click for a close-up)

Crest Performance, a division of Crest Audio, introduced the mono MLM-2 and stereo MLS-2 studio microphone and line input intelligibility processors. These units are designed to optimize audio signals in recording, broadcasting and live applications by processing input signals via a parametrics (EQ) section and a compand/limit (dynamics) section.

The dual parametric EQ section has two frequency cut/boost controls. Since parametric EQs are typically used to notch out offending frequencies, the MLM-2 features a deep 24 dB cut/12 dB boost; the MLS-2 has +15/-15 dB cut and boost, which is more appropriate for stereo uses. With a bandwidth adjustment of 1/6 to two octaves, gentle or extreme alterations can be made. Each parametric equalizer has its own on/off switch to re-route the signal if it is unused. The second parametric equalizer can be moved from the main signal path into the dynamics section's side-chain path, where it is in series with the side-chain insert jack of the RMS detector. This allows the user to define the frequencies that control the dynamics circuitry (expander, compressor and limiter).

The compand/limit (dynamics) section is also on/off switchable and adjusts dynamics via an expander and compressor, both with ratio and threshold controls, as well as a limiter with threshold. Its THAT Corp. integrated circuits on the voltage-controlled amplifier and true RMS detector result in very low distortion and noise. The soft-knee topology expander can be used as a gentle-slope noise reduction circuit (low ratio) or a gate (high ratio). A threshold LED illuminates when the expander is active. The compressor is also soft knee, but has a more gradual knee action for even smoother transitions. It can be adjusted from no compression (1:1) to limit (infinite:1). The limiter is a compressor with a fixed infinite:1 ratio, a faster knee transition and an LED to show when it is functioning. All have preset (program-dependent) attack and release times. A side-chain insert in the detector path can be enabled from the front panel.

An adjustable, built-in SmarTube solid state processor compensates for the loss of definition common when compressing signals and adds tunable upper frequency harmonics to signals that have little high frequency content. This circuitry is level dependent and has the distortion characteristics of real tubes.

Each model has two balanced inputs, a low impedance XLR and high impedance 1/4" phono, which can be used simultaneously. Phantom power (+48V), a +6 dB to +56 dB gain adjustment control, polarity reverse switch and 20 dB pad are available to match and power any low impedance microphone connected to it. A tunable (10 to 350 Hz, 12 dB per octave) low-cut filter is online to remove or control troublesome low frequency rumble and proximity effects that are most noticeable using microphones. The mic preamp is enabled with a switch so it can be turned off if the XLR input is not in use.

Both models include switchable I/O metering, independent headphone output (with track input on MLS-2), multi-color LED meters, balanced and unbalanced I/O and internal power supply. Front and rear XLR input connectors allow the unit to be used on the fly or as part of a permanent installation. The MLS-2 features dual microphone inputs and stereo line inputs with pan control.

The MLM2 (U.S. MSRP $599.00) and MLS2 (U.S. MSRP $799.00) will be available in Q3 2004 from authorized Crest Performance dealers.

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