Radial Engineering Gold Digger and Cherry Picker Choosing between multiple signal- capturing options is often our favorite job responsibility, though sometimes our bane, too. Radial Engineering has stepped up with a dual-component system—the Gold Digger and Cherry Picker—to help with signal selection tasks ($400 each).
The Gold Digger features XLR I/O, output level trims, “on” LEDs per channel, a phantom power switch per channel and an external 15 VDC power supply. It is a sturdy, steel-housed, four input/one output mic switcher with a passive relay switched—but not straight wire—signal path. [According to Radial, “The signal is completely ‘straight wire’ when the trim controls are set to 100 percent, unless the phantom power is on, in which case DC blocking capacitors are inserted in the straight path.” Further, Radial notes that “the Gold Digger merely passes through the load impedance it sees up to 5500 ohms, and it remains at 5500, no matter the load impedance above that level.”]
The Cherry Picker is a similarly sturdy, one input/four output, relay switched, passive audio path, mic preamp selector; one mic input feeds any of four XLR-M outputs for routing to four mic preamps. Each channel features a ground lift switch, and switched phantom power and a global mute are provided.
When setting up for a session with a new vocalist, users can eliminate the stress of guesswork by putting up four different mics to audition. If one mic is louder than another, set the trim for the quietest mic to full-level and then attenuate the louder mics until all are equal. This step is crucial, as matching levels is mandatory for comparing any audio gear. If one mic has a much lower output (like a vintage ribbon), you might consider a pre-preamp like Cloud Microphones’ Cloudlifter.
With the Cherry Picker, operation and results are comparable to the Gold Digger. Now with four mic amps patched, users can take the selected mic, route it to any of the mic pres and not worry about phantom power or pops when switching. Again, I must stress that setting equal levels (in this case on the preamps) is crucial.
Radial’s Gold Digger is a very useful and illuminating tool, used carefully in regards to impedance loading and levels. The Cherry Picker does a superlative job of highlighting the oft-overlooked minute differences between mic preamps that professionals will find revelatory.