In Focus: Cranborne Audio

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In Focus: Cranborne Audio

Cranborne Audio
Words by Lewis noke Edwards

Cranborne Audio have been making waves for some time now; their sonic footprint making for really easy work when recording and mixing.

Cranborne Audio have been making waves for some time now, and not just because of their sleek looks; their sonic footprint makes for really easy work when recording and mixing. Cranborne Audio’s motivation for this is to take a “modern approach to vintage sound”, melding the best analogue components for saturation, grit, weight and clarity, with the most practical digital routing options for the best in modern recording technology. Analogue summing is an increasingly popular option for mixing, allowing mixers to mix in-the-box before sending sub groups out through analogue channels to impart a little uniformity to the vast array of plugins we have available in our DAWs.

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While their affordable and practical preamps are becoming more popular, the 500-series versions are often being housed in Cranborne’s own 500 series power supplies. The 500ADAT and 500R8 power supplies offer more comprehensive options than most– particularly useful is the option to sum your sounds together to a final mix output, while you can always use the power supplies as a more standard rack via the channel’s direct outputs. The 500ADAT offers more streamlined, digital connections, while the 500R8 features MIDI in and out as well as XLR speaker outputs if needed. The 500R8 itself serves as a USB audio interface, complete with ADAT expansion, headphone outputs and a monitor controller section to toggle between multiple speakers, talkback and a monitor level control.

Cranborne’s sound is clean if you need it to be, but helpful options for extra saturation are always at your disposal. Their 500-series Camden preamps offer simple enough Gain controls, but the additional ‘Mojo’ knob allows you to blend in some extra vibe, and toggle between Thump and Cream. The 500-series Camden preamp is transformerless, making for a faster transient on the output, whereas the Mojo control is based on transformer grit and warmth. It’s important to state that the Mojo control is not achieved with a transformer, but instead is the result of a research project at Cranborne to discover what makes transformers sound the way they do. The result is a switchable transformer sound that can be removed from the signal entirely if need be.

More pragmatic options are also available with the N-22H Headphone Mixer, as well as full rack (dual mono) and half rack (mono) variants of the Camden with headphone mixers integrated. The N-22H is Cranborne’s headphone amp, designed to be small enough to be placed near a musician and simple enough for them to to use. The N-22 Stand alone C.A.S.T. breakout box accepts C.A.S.T. signal, and distributes it for headphone use.

All this is to say that Cranborne has the end user in mind, and their products can serve as either the heart of your studio, or just a set of extra tools at your disposal. Single preamps are always helpful to have, but a channel strip from Cranborne could do one better; their new Carnaby 500 Harmonic EQ being a great pairing with any of the aforementioned preamps.

What makes the Carnaby so special? It’s a harmonic EQ, which effectively speaks to adding harmonics to a sound rather than a more conventional boost and cut. Saturation warms up sound, making it more present and ‘big’ sounding without becoming overbearing. While a conventional EQ might add the selected frequencies, a harmonic EQ adds frequencies progressively at different octaves of the selected frequency for a more tasteful effect. The Carnaby is a 3-band parametric EQ with input and output controls to control or overload the module, and has Hi, Mid and Lo bands with +/- 10dB available. The Lo band is selectable from 20-420Hz, while the Mid offers 200Hz-6.2kHz. The Hi band allows you to push 25kHz for ‘air’ and headroom above our hearing, but you can affect anything from 5K and up. What’s more, the boost/cut is stepped for optimum recallability. It’s the little things that make up a piece as amazing as the Carnaby.

As a channel strip, the Camden into the Carnaby is a formidable signal chain. The Camden allows you to push and shape a signal, while the Carnaby offers the option to shape and cut what the Camden has built. Even with little to no EQ, the Carnaby just adds a little sweetness, the harmonic, saturated nature of the circuit doing its part. The ‘In’ switch toggles between engaging the Carnaby and taking it out of the circuit entirely; the module is set up to be true-bypass.

cranborne audio

Cranborne Audio are a company melding the best of analogue and digital: digital routing options to send and receive signal, sum and eventually print elsewhere, with the best analogue components to add whatever saturation, heft and clarity you might need. Harmonic EQs add a particular colour to sound because of their design, adding saturation progressively at different octaves, and a little saturation never did anyone any harm. Whether you’re looking into their single 500-series modules like the Camden or Carnaby, or the standalone versions of the Camden of N-22H headphone amplifier, Cranborne build quality equipment to get the best out of your signal. Their 500-series racks incorporate the best of the digital world so you can maximise the best of analogue for a truly hybrid experience. Sending and receiving audio from multiple sources can become complex, so you’re best letting Cranborne handle it all for you. 

For more information head to Cranborne Audio. For local enquiries visit Mixmasters Pro Audio.