GEAR LUST: Camden 500 Preamp from Cranborne Audio

I’ve been looking for a very clean and open sounding mic pre for specific types of VO work, primarily character voice work. A couple months ago, while lurking around one of the pro audio gear forums, I saw an announcement that caught my eye about the Camden 500 from Cranborne Audio. What looks really cool about the Camden 500 is that not only does it do super-clean, but it has something they call a “Mojo” circuit which according to Cranborne is: a custom analogue saturation circuit that transforms Camden 500 into the fattest, warmest, most colourful mic preamp in your arsenal. Designed to introduce harmonics and saturation effects that our favourite vintage gear produces, Mojo can be subtle, it can be exaggerated, but best of all it can be bypassed.

Sounds cool. So I hit up Ellis at Cranborne to inquire, and he told me to send him a VO and he’d Mojo it up for me. This is the result.

Now, the first full take is just my original VO recorded through the UAD Apollo Twin with no EQ or compression. I gotta say I really like what the different Mojo circuits are doing. To my ear, Thump is adding more of a transformer like thickness and Cream gives it kind of an analog tape sound. The last take with Thump and Cream together is my favorite. However, to my dismay I found out that the Camden 500 can only do Cream or Thump, but not both Mojo styles at the same time… which is really a bummer.

At a suggested retail price of $349 each, Ellis suggested I could get that Cream/Thump sound together by having two Camden 500’s and running one into the other, but I find that to be a rather inelegant solution. Currently, Cranborne’s new offerings are brand new and not available in the US, however they should be soon. I slipped word of Cranborne’s stuff to Austin at Vintage King and not long ago he told me that they are looking into carrying the Cranborne line of 500 series racks and preamps, so we shall see.

As for now, I am still enamored by the Camden 500 preamp, but with it not available yet and no release date in sight, I’ll probably choose another clean preamp for character work. Currently, I’m leaning toward building a Hairball Audio Gold pre, but I haven’t pulled the trigger on one yet.

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