Gold Digger™ Development

Today, it is common for studios of all sizes to have a variety of microphones on hand. Comparing them to find the most suitable one to match a particular voice is often cumbersome if not impossible. For instance using a patch bay can slow the process to the point where we no longer remember the sound when switching from one mic to another. And using different preamps or even channel strips can be misleading as each of these can also introduce a degree of personality.

The Gold Digger presents a simple solution that not only makes it easier to compare mics, but also helps tremendously by having the artist participate in the mic selection process. We all know that when the artist is comfortable with the sound, the performance is more relaxed. This usually translates to a better overall recording.

Establishing the feature set

Developing the feature set on the Gold Digger was fairly straight forward. We felt that comparing 4 mics was sufficient as any more mics would cause more confusion than good.

Next we decided to make it so that only one mic could be turned on at a time. In other words, as you select one mic, the previous one is automatically turned off. This is done using a series of logic chips. By ensuring only one mic is on at any one time, this speeds work flow and eliminates the possibility of having two mics on which of course could introduce noise or bleed.

Critical to the design was insisting the signal path be completely passive. In other words, there are no gain stages or buffers inside that can introduce distortion, color the signal, or add any form of artifact. The Gold Digger is 100% pure straight wire. Actual mic selection is done using gold sealed relays. The only thing in between the input and the output is the trim control which is basically a resistor. And with less than 0.0005% distortion and better than 140dB signal-to-noise, the Gold Digger's specs are actually at the threshold of the test equipment. We chose to recess the trim controls in order to avoid their being accidentally touched which could cause one level to be louder than the other which could compromise the comparison or disrupt a recording session.

When phantom power is activated, a series of blocking capacitors are engaged to make sure the 48V phantom will not cause havoc to other equipment or problems with vintage ribbon mics. We decided to also recess the 48V phantom switch so that it would not be accidentally turned on which could harm some older vintage ribbon mics.

As for the mechanical design, we chose to pack everything into the same design as we used with our popular Phazer and the MC3 monitor controller. This we felt works well as it is good and solid, and heavy enough that it will not slide around when five mic cables are attached!

OH… the name… well… if you think about it.. most condenser mics employ gold foil of sorts on the capsule. Digging for gold simply made sense. The Gold Digger was born!