Crane Song to Introduce Avocet II Monitor Controller and INSIGNIA Tube Equalizer at AES 2014
Crane Song is introducing two new products at the 137th AES Convention in Los Angeles, CA (October 10-12, 2014; booth #1013). The Avocet II discrete class A monitor controller, the latest iteration of one of Crane Song’s best-selling hardware products, features an entirely new DAC and also offers significantly improved jitter performance. The INSIGNA Tube Equalizer, featuring three bands of EQ plus selectively variable high and low pass filters, is the third 500 Series module from Crane Song.
The Crane Song Avocet II, functionally and operationally identical to its predecessor, is a stereo monitor controller capable of operating in surround configurations up to 7.1 that supports three digital inputs, three analog inputs and a headphone system. This newest version, the result of two years of research and development, utilizes the latest generation 32-bit component from microprocessor manufacturer AKM in the digital-to-analog converter section.
“The new AKM part for the DAC chip offers unsurpassed imaging,” says company founder Dave Hill. “I’m doing something a little bit different, using a unique combination of analog and digital reconstruction filters, so the transient response is also exceptional.”
The design of the reference oscillator, which incorporates custom crystal parts, borrows from microwave communication equipment and test instruments. “The jitter in the oscillator is lower than any of the logic parts in the converter chips,” says Hill, who was personally inspired to further improve the design of the Avocet. “I still do recording and engineering. From a mixing point of view, when you’re trying to make your snare drum snappy, doing everything you can, you never quite get there with most digital audio electronics. Avocet changes that. Finally, a snare drum sounds like a snare drum.”
The INSIGNA three-band tube equalizer joins two other 500 Series modules in the Crane Song product line, the FALCON Tube Compressor and the SYREN Tube Preamplifier. INSIGNA incorporates a dual triode circuit that utilizes buffered RC circuits in the negative feedback path around the 12AX7-based tube amplifiers. The high and low frequency bands are shelving; each
offer selection of eight frequencies. The mid band is a peak EQ, also with eight selectable frequencies.
The high and low pass filters both feature 24 dB per octave slopes. Either may be selected to seven separate frequencies, from 6 kHz – 20 kHz and 25 Hz – 150 Hz respectively.
“The middle band is resonant on the top and bottom. It works by modifying negative feedback around a tube circuit. With a boost or cut the harmonic distortion changes appropriately,” explains Hill. “The circuit design generates mostly second harmonic distortion, so the module is very rich sounding, very warm and very fat. The noise floor is around 84 dBu, which is pretty good for a 500 Series.”
The Crane Song Avocet II is already shipping and has an MSRP of $2,999. The INSIGNA 500 Series Tube Equalizer is scheduled to begin shipping at the end of this year.