Syren is sonic proof that you don't need to use a 19" rack preamp to achieve a huge, rich, and magical tube sound! Welcome the Syren to the 500-series preamp world!
The Syren is proof that we've finally reached the point where 500-series modules can provide that huge, rich, and magical tube sound that, up until this point, was viewed as only available with a 19" rack preamp. So let's pop some champagne and celebrate!!! WOOOOOO!!!!
.....anyways, the natural question we've asked ourselves is, "how is this huge sound acheived?" Dave Hill, owner/designer of Crane Song and veteran audio industry guru, was able to pack two high quality Lundahl transformers and a 12AX7B dual-triode tube into this tiny, single-bay 500-series chassis to provide multiple different components from which the Syren draws its massive color. In addition to input and output gain, the Syren also features a switch labeled "open"/"color". This either removes or introduces negative feedback, which, to heavily abbreviate, ranges from more focus and definition with negative feedback ("color") to warmer and smoother without negative feedback ("open"). With the dual gain control and feedback switch, the Syren is essentially a "color box" with an incredible range of available tube saturation.
How does this work in practice you ask? Well, for starters it was effortless to dial in that polished and smooth vocal sound with the Syren, as the dual-transformers and tube within the unit do an excellent job at grabbing any potentially jumpy transients and tucking them in naturally and gently. This element of transient control was also excellent on an electric guitar amp, where the common strident top-end of an overdriven amp was controlled and muted, but not to the point of dulling the overall signal. Additionally the tube harmonics it provided beautifully combined with the amp's overdrive to produce a truly unique tone not available through using just the amp and pedals. On the amp I noticed using the "color" option to allow negative feedback provided an enhanced focus, or center point to latch your ears onto. On the vocal, both switch options sounded great to my ears and I felt either could have worked depending on the style I was after, however the decision was a bit more cut and dry on the guitar amp.
Again, I think Dave Hill and the rest of the Crane Song team deserve a solid "kudos" on the work they've done with the Syren. Never before have I heard such richness and musical color coming from a unit of this size. There are some other 500-series units that do rival the Syren with its color and sonic size, however none are able to do so while staying within the confines of a single 500-series slot (most rely on occupying 2 slots for a single channel). If you're after a truly unique 500-series tube preamp with a massive arsenal of available tube color, the Syren will blow you away. Set up a demo to hear for yourself in your own studio!
SYREN features a dual gain stage circuit and allows overdrive effects.
A switch selectable HI-z input is included. The low cut filter is at 90 Hz and is 24 db/ octave. The pad has
-15 db and -25 db settings to allow a wide input range of signals.
The audio path color is changed by modifying the second stage tube circuit so it has negative feedback or does not have negative feedback. This changes the interaction between the tube stages and thus the sound of the pre-amp. With negative feedback it is a more accurate audio path with wider frequency response and without negative feedback it has a more open warmer sound.