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Steve Rabe, the man who pioneered leading amplification manufacturer SWR Engineering, has found time in-between his designing duties at SWR to start a new company. Steve's last name translated in German means "raven", so it was natural to name the new venture "Raven Labs." Product focus will be on battery operated professional outboard gear including DI's, mixers, preamps, equalizers and effects. All models will feature ultra low noise, low distortion electronics with a wide frequency response and high dynamic range.

The first product, called the MDB-1, is a combination mixer/direct box/buffer/preamp in one small unit 6.7" wide x 1.75" high x 6" deep, and weighs approximately 2 lbs. The MDB-1 boasts an incredible 10 Meg ohm input impedance making it the perfect buffer for any instrument. Coupled with super low noise (-105dB typical), distortion (0.005% @ 1KHz) and a frequency response from 10Hz to 60KHz, makes this one of the finest pieces of equipment in its category. Input headroom is 2 volts RMS. Maximum gain is 3X with "unity" being at 12 o'clock on the volume control.

Two nine volt batteries are used in a +/- arrangement eliminating the need for multiple coupling capacitors than can "color" the sound. Battery life in field tests has been around 100 hours. This unique design will function down to +/- 3 volts.

Over 8 months has gone into the development stages with prototype units being used in a variety of applications by notable musicians such as Jack Casady, Laurence Juber (guitarist with Paul McCartney and Wings), Ric Fierabracci (bassist with Yanni), Mark Browne (Melissa Ethridge, Paula Cole) and L.A. session ace Neil Stubenhaus. All have come back with glowing reports!

To celebrate the release of the MDB-1, SWR and Raven Labs are selling the first 100 units factory direct for $219.


  • Buffer. Because of the low noise and high input impedance, the MDB-1 makes an extremely good buffer amp. For example: between external pickups, both piezo and magnetic, and amp; instrument(s) and recording on a computer; anywhere you need to go from a high impedance to a low impedance. Using the MDB-1 will insure all the information from your source will remain unloaded.
  • Mixer. Since each channel is completely independent, you can mix and blend up to 3 sources. Select the source desired one at a time or all three together.
  • Direct Box. The balanced XLR out is extremely accurate and very quiet. Perfect for professional and home recording.
  • Preamp. Great for passive or low level instruments.
  • Recording. Direct to tape if desired.
  • A/B box. For low level sources (i.e. keyboards, guitars, preamps).
  • Blending. Blend instruments with stereo or dual outputs to mono, such as acoustics with piezo and mic outputs or Alembic stereo basses.
  • Level equalization. Preset the volume of instruments having different output levels during "soundcheck" thus eliminating problems during the live performance.
  • Home recording
  • Post production work in the audio/video industry.
  • Use in conjunction with computers and recording to disc or DAT.
  • Compact, goes anywhere. No external power source needed.

Specifications: (*All measurements taken with fresh 9 volt batteries.)

  • Power source: Dual 9 volt batteries. Over 100 hours life expectancy under normal use.
  • Frequency Response: -3dB from <10Hz to 60KHz.
  • Distortion: 0.0045% @ 1KHz, +4dB. Less than 0.01%, 10Hz to 50KHz, 0dB.
  • Noise: -105dB typical.
  • Gain: 3X (9.5dB)
  • Maximum input level: 2 volts RMS.
  • Input Impedance: 10M each channel.
  • Maximum output: 5 volts RMS, at a load impedance of: >600 ohms.
  • Output impedance: Line and Auxiliary Out = 100 ohms
  • Gain variation between channels (volume controls full): less than 1/4dB
  • Unity gain: at 12 o'clock setting on volume control.
  • Resistors: 1%. Capacitors: Mylar (German Wima), Electrolytic: non-polar
  • Chassis: Steel, powder coated.
  • Dimensions: 6.7"W x 1.75"H x 6"D
  • Weight: 2 lbs., 3 oz.
  • Warranty: 3 years parts and labor.
  • U.S. Retail Price: $299.00
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