New Music Gear Monday: SPL Crescendo 8 Channel Microphone Preamp

SPL Crescendo preamp on Bobby Owsinski's Production BlogThere are microphone preamps that we use when we need some color, and there are preamps that we use when we need transparency. There are plenty of colored mic pres around and they seem to get the most attention especially when recording most pop-style music, but there are many times when we want the proverbial “straight wire with gain” in order to capture the source audio as faithfully as possible. The new SPL Crescendo 8 channel mic preamp was intentionally created to be as colorless as possible by using an approach that you won’t see in inexpensive mic pres.

The preamps in the Crescendo achieve the transparency thanks to what SPL calls “120V DC Audio Rail Technology.” What this means is that many other manufacturers rely on inexpensive off-the-shelf op-amp ICs that are only capable of using either  ±15 or 18 volt power, which amounts to either 30 or 36 volt power rails. SPL uses its own 5th generation SUPRA op-amps that uses ±60 volt power to make a 120 volt power rail. The result is more than 10dB more headroom, 3dB less noise, and a preamp that’s really difficult to overload.

Each of the 8 preamp channels on Crescendo features an analog VU meter with a -10dB calibration switch, a 48V phantom power switch with an ON LED, a polarity switch, a -20dB input pad, and a gain control. Crescendo offers 18dB to 70dB of preamp gain, or when using the -20dB pad for extremely high-level signals, the preamp range shifts to -2dB to 50dB of control.

The rear panel is pretty cool in that all the nomenclature is upside down so if you’re looking down from over the top facing the front of the unit, you’ll be able to clearly read everything. The back panel features 8 input and 8 output XLRs, plus a D-sub connector for the 8 output channels. The standard IEC power cable connector also features a ground control button.

The SPL Crescendo is priced at $6,499, which comes in at a little over $800 per preamp, a bargain when you’re looking for this kind of clean preamp. You can find out more on the dedicated SPL page, and discover more about SPL’s 120V audio rail technology in the video below.

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