When Dave Hill releases a new product, the world of professional audio takes note. Dave has been at the forefront of innovative, exceptionally high-class, beautifully crafted audio processors for the past twenty years, and he shows no sign of slowing down.
The last few product releases including the 500 series Falcon, Syren and updated Avocet II have proven that anything Mr Hill designs is the very best in its class, and quickly becomes a benchmark for other designers and manufacturers to follow.
I've just got my hands on a very early prototype (2014) of his new 500 series EQ, the Crane Song Insigna 500 Series Valve EQ.
What is unusual about the 500-Series Crane Song products is that they are the first 500-Seires products Dave Hill has released, and also they are all NEW Valve based designs, unlike anything Crane Song has done before.
The Insigna is a high quality 3-band audiophile EQ, similar, certainly in the high frequencies, to what you expect from the flagship Crane Song IBIS EQ.
It gives a very smooth and clear definition which is entirely musical and not in anyway clinical, with the AIR frequency especially adding high end sheen.
The mid-range was a little unexpected, based upon my experience with the IBIS, in that the valve/tube stage works differently with the EQ frequencies chosen. I asked Dave about this and he said more harmonics are created by the valve stage which in turn reacts differently according to how you sculpt your sound.
The unit also includes a quality High Pass Filter and Low Pass Filter which are at 24db slopes. These are extremely useful and quite rare (as there are not many 500 series EQs available with filters) and none that I can think of that has as 3-band valve EQ. The Low Mid was excellent sounding and able to give added weight without appearing muddy and adding character.
Although it does sound extremely musical it could be that, due to the valve harmonic nature, I found it slightly trickier to get the Low End I wanted to sound as tight and modern as the Crane Song IBIS or even some alternative 500 series units like the Rupert Neve Designs 551 or A-Designs EM-PEQ for say RnB / House / Electronica.
But then, this may or may not be a good thing, as not everybody wants that sound! - and here is a great array of flexible and musical processing in one 500 series unit, and it's valve.
In lesser design hands this could be cluttered with having so many controls on a single 500-Series faceplate and make it difficult to use - but as a Dave Hill creation the Crane Song Insigna Valve EQ is all beautifully laid out and a pleasure to work with. Highly recommended.