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 have included designs for the popular 500 series such as the Falcon and Syren and more recently updating the Avocet IIA whilst re-designing the popular HEDD192 into the HEDD Quantum. Anything Mr Hill releases is the very best in its class, and quickly becomes a benchmark for other designers and manufacturers to follow.
Crane Song and Valves?
What is unusual about all the 500-Series Crane Song products is that they are all 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 an extremely 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.
How does it sound?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.