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RME 12Mic

Digitally-controlled Microphone Preamplifier By Hugh Robjohns
Published March 2021

RME 12Mic

RME’s 12Mic packs 12 preamps into a single networked box.

In the live‑sound, theatre, broadcast and educational worlds, mic preamps that can feed directly into digital snake systems are both convenient and popular, and RME have recently added to this small contingent with a brand‑new, feature‑packed, multichannel preamp with comprehensive digital connectivity. Called the 12Mic, the name is a giveaway for the product’s first unusual feature: whereas the vast majority of multichannel preamps accommodate eight mic inputs, the 12Mic squeezes 12 channels into a 1U rackmount unit, making it possible to create a 24‑channel ‘digital stage box’ occupying only 2U of rack space.

But that’s not the only attraction of the 12Mic. All 12 high‑quality preamp channels can handle balanced mic or line inputs (all on XLRs), and they’re all digitally controlled. Additionally, the first four input channels are fitted with combi XLR sockets to allow instrument signals to be connected into a high (1MΩ) input impedance using jack plugs. The mic/line inputs accept a maximum signal level of +18dBu (+20dBu on the TRS inputs), and the preamps provide a whopping 0‑75 dB gain range (0‑42 dB range for the TRS input).

A single multicolour LED above each XLR indicates the signal level, changing from variable to solid bright green at ‑20dBFS, then to yellow at ‑5dBFS, and red at ‑1dBFS. So optimal signal levels would typically produce a solid, bright green display most of the time, with very occasional flickers of yellow for the highest transient peaks. A button above each XLR accesses that channel’s parameters on a small colour TFT display for checking and adjustment, and it is also used to group selected channels together for linked gain changes.

RME 12Mic screen close-up.Everything is controlled and configured locally via that small colour TFT display screen, with a quartet of soft‑buttons to select functions like phantom power, input source connection, polarity and channel grouping, with the appropriate tallies displayed on the left of the screen. An encoder knob serves as the Standby on/off button when held for two seconds, and also changes selected parameters on the four menu pages, which are labelled ‘State’ (general settings and preset configurations), Clocking, Inputs and Outputs. It’s all pretty logical and familiar, especially for anyone already used to RME’s more recent hardware products.

The 12Mic also includes a stereo headphone monitoring socket which, in RME’s usual way, can also be used as a line output (in either an unbalanced stereo or a balanced mono configuration).

Most functions can be controlled remotely via...

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Published March 2021