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 an early prototype of his new 500 series EQ, the Crane Song Insigna 500 Series Valve EQ.
Here's what I made of it :
The Insigna is a quality 3-band audiophile EQ, similar, certainly in the high frequencies, to what you expect from the flagship IBIS Stereo Parametric EQ
i.e a very smooth and clear definition which is entirely musical and not in anyway clinical, with the AIR frequency especially working a treat.
The mid-range was a little unexpected based upon my experience with the IBIS, in that the valve/tube stage works and reacts 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 high quality HPFs and LPFs which are at 24db slopes. These are extremely useful and quite rare as there are not many 500 series EQs available with filters as well as 3-band valve EQ. The low mid was excellent sounding and able to give weight without appearing muddy, adding character, but I felt the low end was just not quite as exciting.
Although it does sound extremely musical it could be that, due to the valve harmonic nature, I found it slightly trickier to get it to sound as tight and modern as the IBIS or even some alternative 500 series units like the Rupert Neve Designs 551 or A-Designs EM-PEQ.
This may or may not be a good thing, as not everybody wants that sound, and as there’s totally nothing un-acceptable about it, just my opinion that there are other EQ’s I'd reach for, for my Low End.
But there is a great array of flexible and musical processing in one 500 series unit, and it's valve!
In lesser hands this would be cluttered and 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.