Record-breaking sonic performance aside, Camden 500’s layout is clean, concise, and understated. Under the bonnet, Camden 500 has 68dB of Gain available on a stepped, 12-position rotary switch with a quality feel. Putting gain on a rotary switch like this is tricky, however it means that Camden 500 does not suffer from the irregularities and gain bunching that can occur with a variable control. It also means that any two Camden 500’s on the market are perfectly stereo-matched (a feat in itself).
All of the other controls live on rugged toggle switches that ignite vintage feelings but perform modern duties and operate modern circuits. The High Pass Filter even has a special design to provide subsonic curtailing without attenuating useful information in the 50-60Hz range.
A luxury feature of Camden 500 and something that is hard to find on a preamp is its dedicated 3-way input selector switch. This switch radically changes the input impedance, input source, and gain range of the preamp to create the best possible environment for Mic, Line, and Hi-Z sources. The Hi-Z input option of Camden 500 features a unique bipolar junction transistor circuit design that gives a muscular tonality whilst also feeling more forgiving to the musician compared to other Hi-Z input designs. The input impedance of the input is 1.5MΩ, which is high enough to bring out a natural and extended high-frequency response that sounds natural even on Piezo pickups which can easily sound very muted.
The pot on the top of Camden 500 is also a special control. Not because it’s a unique variable control with a true-bypass switch in it’s minimum position, but also because it has the power to transform Camden 500 from a clean, pristine, and natural sounding preamp into the most ‘analogue’, vintage, and coloured preamp in your arsenal...
A True Jekyll & Hyde Preamp
Capturing audio with Camden 500’s extreme sonic transparency results in 3D sonic realism that needs to be heard to be believed, however the guys at Cranborne Audio know that vintage preamps and transformer colouration is equally as desirable in the modern ‘in-the-box’ studio. But rather than turning to transformers and living with their inherent drawbacks, Cranborne Audio developed Mojo; two discrete analogue saturation styles that dial-in authentic transformer-style effects that can be subtle, exaggerated, and crucially bypassed when complete transparency is required.
Mojo started-out as a research project by Cranborne Audio to measure the influence that transformers, valves, and other vintage equipment have on audio signals. Once the data was gathered, Cranborne Audio set to work at emulating those effects using filters and discrete second/third order harmonic generators. The result was two independent Mojo styles; Thump & Cream, that transform Camden 500 into a thick, gooey, and vintage-sounding preamp that stands shoulder to shoulder with the most legendary transformer-based designs on the market.
Thump is a saturation style that closely matches the legendary VTB1148 transformer that has been found in countless legendary british-console mic preamp designs. Thump increases harmonic saturation and distortion at targeted low-end frequencies between 20Hz to 160Hz for increased low-end weight and thickness. Thump also features a gentle HF harmonic lift that reacts dynamically with the input signal.
Cream closely emulates valve and tape-style saturation by introducing vintage smoothness and drastically increasing THD to smooth-out the low-mid range frequency areas whilst increasing presence. Cream varies entirely on the harmonic signature and level of the incoming source for a dynamic, responsive, and reactive saturation that accentuates the source’s key frequency content to help it sit deep into the mix whilst remaining audible.
Mojo can be used to perfectly dial-in the ideal saturation levels of vintage equipment but it can also be dialed-in to beyond the point that destructive clipping would occur with transformer-based designs for an even wider palette of saturation effects. But unlike transformer-based designs, Mojo’s effects live on a variable control that can be dialed to taste on some sources, and crucially bypassed for others when transparency is desired.