SPL pioneered the 120V technology in their ‘Mastering Series’ hardware such as the PQ Equalizer and IRON Compressor, and have now brought 120V technology to their recording products with the Crescendo 8-channel mic pre. The other key design feature of the Crescendo is the sheer transparency of the preamp electronics, adding as little sonic influence as possible to the recorded sound.
“Our new Crescendo microphone preamp is absolutely unique, because with the 120V technology it is nearly impossible to overdrive this preamplifier. The Crescendo excels with absolute signal fidelity and clarity. Crescendo has a dynamic range and distortion limit so huge, that you can record all the dynamics of your microphone almost without limitations. Engineers will rediscover their microphones, as they have never been amplified like this,” says Hermann Gier, Managing Director at SPL.
SPL’s proprietary “SUPRA Op-Amp” is at the core of its 120V Technology and featured in the new 8-channel Crescendo. The discrete buildup of the high-voltage amplifiers creates an internal operating voltage of +/- 60V, allowing the Crescendo to provide unprecedented technical performance. Crescendo is capable of amplifying the fastest transients, the finest sonic details, and an extremely wide frequency range, very cleanly, and almost without any distortion.
Each of the eight pre-amplifier sections of Crescendo provides individual gain control (Mic Gain), its own VU meter, a phase reversal switch, phantom power, a -20dB PAD switch, and a reduction for the display of the level on the VU meter (VU -10). Crescendo offers 18dB to 70dB of pre-amplifier gain, or when using the -20dB pad for extremely high-level signals, the pre-amplifier range shifts to -2dB to 50dB of control.
Through the process of countless listening sessions, the perfect components for the Crescendo mic pre were chosen including the transistors and electrical resistors, which have a massive impact on the device’s sound. The differential amplifiers in the input stage of Crescendo are built-up with transistor pairs, consolidated in a special housing. A precise matching of the transistors, as well as thermal coupling, guarantee a high common mode rejection and extremely low total harmonic distortion (THD) values.
The discrete op-amps of the output stage are able to drive long cable paths without signal loss or distortion. The output stages operate as current amplification, which, with 6mA quiescent current, also provide ‘Class A’ operation. SPL chose not to use coupling capacitors to avoid their sonic disadvantages such as blurring and loss of dynamics. However, to eliminate DC voltage, active servo circuits are used in Crescendo. The toroidal transformer power supply is integrated in the housing of the Crescendo. To avoid electrical interference from the power supply on the preamplifier, the power supply is shielded with a special Mu-metal sheet, and the transformer itself is also encapsulated in Mu-metal.
The new 8-channel mic pre is distributed by Focal Naim America (formerly Audio Plus Services) in the US and Canada, and retails for $6,499 USD. To find out more about SPL’s unique 120V DC Audio Rail Technology, visit SPL’s web page here.