Cherry Picker™ Development

Today, most recording studios are equipped with a wide range of microphones and preamps and selecting the best one for a given artist is often tedious as it requires turning off the mic, connecting the second preamp via a patch bay and then going back to listening. The time lapse between connections makes it almost impossible to retain any type of sonic memory which in turn forces the engineer to go back and forth in order to discern the optimal signal path. This not only takes time, but the tedium causes the artist to lose focus and ultimately introduces a level of discomfort and frustration.

The Radial Cherry Picker is a simple device that takes the frustration and tedium out of the process by making it easy to compare four preamps using the same microphone. One simply connects the mic, turns on phantom power if needed and then selects the preamp that best suits the artist's voice for a given track. Because the artist is involved during the preamp selection process, this adds a level of comfort which ultimately results in a better vocal performance.

The straight wire signal path

When recording with typical microphone and preamp, you simply plug one into the other using a mic cable, turn on the mic, set the level and hit record. But when comparing several preamps, one has to be very careful not to introduce any form of coloration, distortion or artefact in between the mic and the various preamps as this could 'bias' the decision and compromise the quality. To ensure 'straight wire' connectivity, the Cherry Picker employs a series of gold contact sealed relays to do the audio switching. There are no buffers or signal degrading electronics in between the microphone and the four preamp outputs.

Things get even more challenging when using a condenser microphone. Most studio condensers require 48 volt phantom power to make them work. Anyone who has ever plugged in a condenser mic knows how dreadful the power-on pop can be when the volume levels are turned up and phantom is on. This can blow the tweeters in a control room and more importantly, the eardrums in a set of headphones! Do this to an artist and you may well find yourself with a cancelled recording session! So switching phantom power on and off is dangerous to say the least... therefore special care is needed to ensure switching is as quiet as possible. To get around managing the phantom power from each preamp, the Cherry Picker cleverly generates its own 48 volt phantom internally. This way, the microphone is assured of a steady 48 volt supply while the outputs can be switched without the noise causing DC voltage hanging on each connector.

The Cherry Picker adds one more bit of icing on the cake with individual ground lift switches on each output. This - in addition to the glass-filled nylon connectors - helps reduce the potential for ground loops which in turn could introduce hum and buzz into the recording system.

Matching mics and preamps

For even more fun, try combining a Radial Gold Digger mic selector with a Cherry Picker preamp selector! These make comparing several mics with a selection of preamps easy. One simply connects the output from the Gold Digger to the Cherry Picker's input and you can now set up a matrix to find the most suitable combination for a given vocal track or instrumental to suit.