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Camden 500 (w/ 500R8) vs Audient or Arturia preamps (iD22, ASP800, ASP800, 8PRE, Studio)
Old 2nd December 2020
  #1
Camden 500 (w/ 500R8) vs Audient or Arturia preamps (iD22, ASP800, ASP800, 8PRE, Studio)

Hi all,

Long story short: I've got an Audient iD22, want more I/O options for outboard processing, considered getting an ASP880 or Arturia 8PRE to expand, but am now looking at a Cranborne 500R8 instead.

A couple things about my setup:

1) I don't normally record more than 1-2 tracks at a time. Usually 1 track. Not a lot of live drums or anything (although down the road, maybe in a year after moving into a new house, this is something I plan to do -- but my experience has been than I prefer 3-4 mics on drums rather than, say, 8, like some people do)

2) I want to use some outboard rack gear I have (right now 2x EQs, 2x compressors, and a Roland RE-501 Chorus Echo), plus more stuff in the future as I acquire it.

So, the idea of the Cranborne 500R8 appeals to me for item 2 (this is impossible with my Audient iD22), plus I like the idea of getting some 500 series stuff in the future, AND the Cranborne has summing mixer capabilities...

So this brings me to the thread topic: has anyone compared the Camden 500 to some of the Audient (or Arturia) preamps?

Obviously the Cranborne + Camden would be about twice the price of, say, the ASP800 or Arturia 8PRE, and it gives me 1 channel for now rather than 8.

On the flip side, I only really need 1 preamp right now (can add more later).

I've only ever owned low end interface preamps: think Tascam and Behringer interfaces. The Audient is the first 'nice' preamp/interface I've owned. So I have no experience with something like the Camden. But my experience thus far with the Audient has been that while it's usually nice, sometimes I feel like it's a bit too colored for my voice, or doesn't quite sound right on an acoustic guitar bc of the saturation, etc. And of course it doesn't have enough gain for something like an SM7 or ribbon mic, really, without getting into heavy saturation territory.

Anyway, hope someone can offer some thoughts. Thanks!
Old 2nd December 2020
  #2
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bowzin's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
You can use outboard with the ID22. There are four DA outputs, two go to your monitors, and you can use the other two outputs to send to your outboard gear. Then the outputs of your hardware gear you would connect to the "Return" TRS jacks on the rear. That bypasses the pre's, and goes to the AD converters directly.

I had an Audient ID22, my friend has an ID44, and I have a Camden 500. A) the Camden is affordable for a 500 series pre, and has tons of features like mic/DI/line inputs, the Thump/Cream options, more gain, and is basically better in every way than the Audient interface preamps. However, B) the base sound is ultimately pretty similar: clean, fast, detailed, musically neutral, and transformerless.

Consider transformer-based pre's if you want to build out a "money channel" or two. There are tons of good options in the $500-$800 range which is kind of a sweet spot, especially used. Of course that's double/triple the Camdens, which might be good options to fill in channels, or to get started and then target more expensive pre's later.
Old 3rd December 2020 | Show parent
  #3
Thanks for your reply.

I'm doing that already with Audient, but the issue is I need more than 2 outs at a time. And of course it's annoying to constantly swap out returns etc.

I've read that the Camden give you superior clean sound but also the option for transformer like character. But this isn't your experience?

I'd considered something like the Avedis MA5, but in the same vein as the Camden, I've heard the Louder Than Liftoff Chroma is just as good but more versatile.
Old 3rd December 2020 | Show parent
  #4
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bowzin's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgstarcaster ➡️
Thanks for your reply.

I'm doing that already with Audient, but the issue is I need more than 2 outs at a time. And of course it's annoying to constantly swap out returns etc.

I've read that the Camden give you superior clean sound but also the option for transformer like character. But this isn't your experience?

I'd considered something like the Avedis MA5, but in the same vein as the Camden, I've heard the Louder Than Liftoff Chroma is just as good but more versatile.
If you need more DA outputs, remember that the Audient ASP stuff only has 8 preamps into 8 AD inputs, then into you ID22 via an ADAT optical cable. There are no DA line outs, to my knowledge. So it expands your inputs, but you'll still only have the four DA line-outs outs on the ID22.

That Arturia unit is more confusing. It says it has 8 "line outs" but no mention of DA. I suspect you can use the 8 preamps, and send those preamps outputs to the analog line-outs on the back. But I dont think (could be wrong) that you can send outputs from your DAW to those line outs. Basically the same issue, there are 8 preamps and AD, but no DA.

It's kind of a gap in the market to find something with 8 pre's and 8 line inputs going into 8 AD's, and also 8 DA line-outs. Most units will exclude either the DA's or the preamps from that equation.

The Cranborne ADAT500 could connect to your ID22, or the R8 could just replace the ID22 and connect to your computer as the interface. Those both seem like killer units to me, I would like to pick one up some day, very cool idea.

Avedis MA5 is a very strong 500-series preamp option in my opinion, no metering, no real options just a good sound that works great basically any and every source I've tried. A bit clearer and more modern than 1073 clones, especially in the mids and high-mids, but still sounds big and adds big transformer weight. The LTL Chroma's strength is how flexible it is regarding tone-shaping, and that you can easily use it in line level mode to run tracks through it from the DAW (and it sounds very usable and good in that application, not an afterthought). The MA5 has very few options, you can crank the input gain to add beef and then further for saturation, and it has the 28kHz eq bump button, which is pretty subtle. The Chroma on the other hand has tons of options, and you can shape sounds really quickly and easily. It has great metering, the N and A preamp settings, the high and low EQ bumps (subtle and musical, surprised how often I use those actually), and space for one Color Card. So there's a lot going on.

The Camden in comparison sounds like a very clean, fast, transformerless preamp, which is what it is. It makes sense for them to offer an affordable clean pre to stuff their 500-series interfaces with. The Thump and Cream settings are interesting but dont make it sound like my transformer pre's, more of an effect on top of the base sound. I didn't have any interface pre's with my setup, and all my preamps were pretty heavy-color pre's, so I picked them up as affordable clean channel options, which I think they're great for. Cheaper than AEA, Forssell, Millenia, John Hardy, that type of thing. So for me it was perfect, but I would say it's still a clean pre at it's heart.
Old 3rd December 2020
  #5
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James Lehmann's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgstarcaster ➡️
Has anyone compared the Camden 500 to Audient preamps?
I currently own a Cranborne EC2 (same preamp design as in the 500) and I used to own an Audient ASP-008 (note this is the previous generation of the ASP800/880 - can't confirm if the preamp is the same).

The Audient pre's sounded very good in a super-clean sort of way, and benefitted from having variable impedance and a variable HPF, and having 8 of them in a 1U rack was very useful.

But the Camden preamps I have now are quieter and have more gain (+69dB vs +60dB) - I daresay the 'mojo' control might be similar to the 'iron' you get on the Audients, but I use mine mostly in clean mode so that's just gravy to me.

Personally, I also much prefer stepped gain controls - setting up stereo pairs on the ASP-008 was PITA, added to which most of the gain was bunched into the last 1/3rd of knob-travel making precise repeatable settings very difficult with the limited metering.
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