Cloud Microphones Introduces Cloudlifter Zi

Cloudlifter Zi, Debuts at the 141st Audio Engineering Society Convention
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— New Activator processor does for high-impedance instruments what


Cloudlifters have always done for microphones —


Artisanal ribbon microphone maker Cloud Microphones is proud to announce the latest addition to their Cloudlifter series of Mic Activators, the Cloudlifter Zi, debuting at the 141st Audio Engineering Society Convention.

Cloudlifter Mic Activators are compact inline processors that use the phantom power from your mixer or preamplifier to add up to 25dB of ultra-clean gain to the signal, maximizing the clarity and strength of output from any microphone that does not require phantom power itself — such as dynamic and ribbon mics. By allowing your preamp to work less strenuously, its noise floor is dramatically reduced and effective frequency response is improved in both recording and live sound applications, as is gain before feedback in the latter. Cloudlifters have earned high praise from trusted review outlets such as Pro Tools Expert, MacWorld, and Radio Magazine.

The Cloudlifter Zi applies the same technology to instruments with high-impedance (Hi-Z) outputs, such as electric guitars, basses, low-output piezo pickups used with acoustic guitars, or vintage electro-mechanical Stage pianos that employ a passive output. Via the Neutrik XLR combo jack, it does double duty on instruments and mics: Plug your guitar or other instrument into the jack’s ¼'' center, or use the XLR portion for a microphone. Then, connect the XLR output to a phantom-power-capable input on your mixer, preamp, or computer recording interface, and experience sound that’s not merely louder, but better in every way that matters.

The main tone-shaping features of the Cloudlifter Zi are:

  • Variable input impedance from 150 ohms to 15k ohms, letting you load your microphone’s output transformer — or the Cinemag instrument transformer inside the Cloudlifter Zi — to create a range of tonal variations.
  • Variable high-pass filtering that works in tandem with the variable impedance. When engaged, turning the impedance (Z) knob also sweeps the high-pass cutoff from below 20Hz to approximately 200Hz. This can reduce (or if desired, accentuate) microphone proximity effects, as well as eliminate unwanted boom and rumble from acoustic instruments or miked cabinets such as organ rotary speakers or guitar amps. The high-pass filter has a slope of 6dB per octave.
  • Variable gain switch offering three levels of boost labeled: Min, More, and Max. This equates to up to +25dB of gain for microphones and up to +12dB for instruments. For most applications the maximum setting is desirable. The two gentler options are offered for “hotter” source outputs (e.g. humbucker pickups) or for when you want to drive a preamp harder to hear more of its tonal character. 

A ¼'' high-impedance “thru” output can pass your instrument’s signal to a combo amp. Since this output is buffered, it can be used at the same time as the XLR output with none of the loading effects or tone loss associated with traditional direct boxes. This is ideal for both live performance and recording sessions where you want to track direct and miked-cabinet signals for later mixing.

Further features and benefits of the Cloudlifter Zi:

  • Does not pass power to a connected microphone, so there is no risk of damaging sensitive ribbon mics.
  • Uses patented, discrete, Class-A circuitry.
  • Operates on phantom power
  • Rugged, road-ready build quality.

Like all Cloud products, the Cloudlifter Zi is handcrafted entirely in the USA using environmentally sustainable methods, and comes with a limited lifetime warranty upon product registration.

The Cloudlifter Zi is priced at $479 MSRP / $399 MAP, and is expected to ship no later than January 2017.

The Cloudlifter Zi may be seen and heard at the AES Convention from September 29 through October 2, 2016, at the Los Angeles Convention Center, booth 814. For more information about the Audio Engineering Society and its events, visit www.aes.org.

About Cloud Microphones

Based in Tucson, Arizona, Cloud Microphones began by improving upon the designs of classic ribbon mics in collaboration with Stephen Sank, son of Jon Sank, designer of the legendary RCA* BK-11. Today, Cloud’s ribbon mics and Cloudlifter Mic Activators rank among some of the most acclaimed products in the professional audio industry. All of Cloud’s products are made regionally from start to finish, creating jobs and benefiting small businesses, including circuit board manufacturing by Native American company Tooh Dineh Industries of the Navajo Nation. In May of this year, founder Rodger Cloud and his team received the Presidential “E” Award, the highest accolade any business can earn for contributing to the expansion of U.S. exports. For more information, visit www.cloudmicrophones.com.