Meinl PA-CAJ Cajon Preamp Test

With the never-ending sales success of Cajones, the range of accessories is also constantly increasing. Meinl’s Cajon Preamp has been available since the beginning of 2019 and has been specially developed for the production of Cajones. The name Preamp describes only half of the 100 Euro package, because a small condenser capsule is also included.

Special Cajon microphones are not new on the market, so bonedo already had a pure boundary microphone and a dynamic microphone from Finhol for testing. Meinl goes his own way with his combination of the microphone capsule glued to the Cajon and the preamplifier with volume and tone control screwed into the resonance hole as well as a phase reversal switch. With what success you can read here.


In a small cardboard box, which can also be used for storage, the individual parts of the Cajon Preamp and a manual are delivered. In addition to the preamplifier and the microphone capsule, there are also two spare adhesive strips for the microphone capsule as well as two adhesives with a flexible metal tongue, with which the cable of the microphone capsule can be additionally fixed to the inside of the body. For mounting, the microphone capsule is glued from the inside – near the playing surface – under the Cajon cover and the preamplifier is screwed into the resonance hole.

At the front of the preamp there are two potentiometers for the volume and tone control, a switch to reverse the phase, the 6.3 mm jack for the output signal and a small LED to control the battery charge. On the back is the 3.5 mm jack socket for the microphone cables and the two CR2032 3V button cell batteries, which provide the necessary operating voltage for the condenser capsule and the preamp.

The haptics correspond to the rather favourable price tag.

The processing reflects the price of the PA-CAJ, which is quite favourable for a microphone system. “Robust”, as it says in the product description right at the beginning, is not the first word that comes to my mind during the optical inspection of the system, which is mainly made of plastic. But since the components are firmly mounted in the Cajon and are therefore protected during transport and play, they do not have to be as roadworthy as other microphones, which often have to put up with a lot during constant assembly and disassembly.

If you are otherwise overwhelmed with numbers and keywords on microphones for their directional characteristics, frequency response or pressure sensitivity, Meinl leaves us in the dark with information. Neither in the manual, nor on the website (where the Cajon Preamp is not to be found yet), nor in the catalogue “The Meinl Book of Percussion 2019” you will find detailed information. On direct request at Meinl we got the information that the condenser capsule has a frequency response from 20Hz to 20kHz with a wavy curve (+/- 3 dB) and the preamplifier itself is linear. So let’s leave out the dry theory and see how the Cajon Preamp behaves in practice.


Initial problems

The preamp just fits into the resonance hole of the snare craft cajon, which measures just 9.5 centimeters and which Meinl sent with us for this test. But after a little fiddling, which is not to be expected with normal large resonance holes, the microphone capsule is glued and the preamp built in, so that the practical part can already begin. But after the first connection there is a slight disillusionment, because the signal is very weak at first and then makes huge jumps when playing. A loose contact in the suspicion, I shake carefully at all plugs and finally the button cell batteries, which prove to be the cause of the disturbances. Since they are held only by a metal tongue, the contact pressure was obviously not quite sufficient. However, after a bit of back-and-forth wiggling, the noise was passé and was no longer audible in the further course of the test. Nevertheless, the battery holder doesn’t necessarily provide a good feeling, because on a gig such a disturbance can take up a lot of time and nerves.