Recording - April 2016 - 44

B Y M I K E M E T L AY

Like the Crimson, the Creon relies on
switching jacks to determine which pair
of inputs get sent to the A/D converters.
If you plug in a line-level source, like a
mono or stereo keyboard, to one or both
Line Inputs, that cuts out the corresponding Mic Input(s). In turn, plugging a guitar or bass into the Instrument input cuts
out both Line Input 2 and Mic Input 2.
Plugging and unplugging cables isn't a
huge problem for a small desktop rig,
and this setup has the advantage of
eliminating confusion and keeping a
cleaner audio path.

SPL Creon USB Audio Interface / Monitor Controller
The Crimson's baby brother brings high-end desktop audio to the smallest rooms
Back in our June 2014 issue, we
reviewed the SPL Crimson, a full-featured
desktop solution for audio interfacing
and monitor control. The Crimson is
designed to accommodate up to six rearpanel analog input channels, along with
dual speaker outputs, dual Hi-Z instrument inputs, MIDI, S/PDIF, built-in talkback, and more. It isn't the cheapest
desktop interface on the market, but it
has a killer feature set, elegantly laid out.
SPL hasn't stopped there. Last year, it
announced a smaller sibling to the
Crimson-a simpler desktop interface
with basic monitor control, for the songwriter primarily working alone but with a
yen for uncompromised sound quality.
I've been working with SPL's new Creon
for several months now, and it's been a
really sweet experience.
Creon the top
The Creon is a much simpler beast
than the Crimson, but it's still a beast. It's
a 2-in/2-out audio interface with up to
24-bit/192 kHz audio support that can
also act as a standalone mic preamp /
instrument interface with blendable
stereo inputs. Designed into a nicely
sloped metal case (in white or black)
that's reminiscent of the Crimson but
quite a bit smaller, it offers easy-tonavigate controls for all input and output
functions on its front panel.
The left side of the front panel is dedicated to input controls: 48V phantom power,
lowcut filtering (80 Hz corner frequency, 6
dB/octave), and gain (+7 to +60 dB) for
the two Mic preamps, and gain for the
44

RECORDING April 2016

Instrument input (-6 to +31 dB). The right
side is for output controls: headphone level,
monitor mix (inputs vs. DAW/Sources), and
master volume for the speakers.
At the center, there are six backlit buttons. These select Inputs 1 | 2, with a
Mono button for centered signal placement
in the speakers; DAW 1 | 2, Jack, and/or
RCA Sources for monitoring; and a 20 dB
monitor Dim switch. Above those, you'll
find signal-present, -6 dBFS, and
Overload LEDs for both input channels.
Note that as on the Crimson, this
metering is being done at the A/D converter; if the OVL light flashes, it's not
telling you that it's gently nudging into
the red for saturation and warm overdrive... it's telling you that you've just
ruined your track with digital clipping,
so turn it down and do another take.
The front edge of the Creon has two
1
/4" jacks, one for headphones and the
other for a Hi-Z Instrument input.
Creon the back
The rear panel has, from left to right: A
USB 2.0 port, AC power source input, XLR
Speaker | Main Outs, RCA and Jack (balanced 1/4" TRS) Source inputs, Line Ins on
balanced 1/4" TRS, and XLR Mic Inputs.

Note that the Source inputs are selected
from the front panel Jack and RCA buttons;
they are analog-only routings, blendable
with whatever you're putting into the A/D
for zero-latency monitoring purposes, and
can't be recorded to your DAW. This is
where the Creon's primary usefulness as a
standalone audio device comes in; you can
listen to an MP3 player or other stereo
source and sing/play along to practice your
song ideas... or just listen for pleasure without the need for a separate set of speakers.
Creon the air
The Creon uses ASIO drivers that are
compatible with Windows XP/7/8/10,
and is Core Audio class-compliant with Mac
OS X and iOS devices. Driver installation is
a cinch, if you need to do it at all; just plug
in the Creon and you're ready to go.
Working with the Creon was both easy
and enjoyable in terms of workflow and
sound quality. Its built-in discrete mic preamps have the clarity and slight warmth
that made tracking with the Crimson such
a pleasure, and its headphone output
delivers clean, loud signal to even the
highest-impedance headphones without
any strain. As on the Crimson, the
Instrument Input has a hefty 1.1 MΩ



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - April 2016

Contents
Recording - April 2016 - Intro
Recording - April 2016 - Cover1
Recording - April 2016 - Cover2
Recording - April 2016 - 1
Recording - April 2016 - 2
Recording - April 2016 - 3
Recording - April 2016 - 4
Recording - April 2016 - 5
Recording - April 2016 - Contents
Recording - April 2016 - 7
Recording - April 2016 - 8
Recording - April 2016 - 9
Recording - April 2016 - 10
Recording - April 2016 - 11
Recording - April 2016 - 12
Recording - April 2016 - 13
Recording - April 2016 - 14
Recording - April 2016 - 15
Recording - April 2016 - 16
Recording - April 2016 - 17
Recording - April 2016 - 18
Recording - April 2016 - 19
Recording - April 2016 - 20
Recording - April 2016 - 21
Recording - April 2016 - 22
Recording - April 2016 - 23
Recording - April 2016 - 24
Recording - April 2016 - 25
Recording - April 2016 - 26
Recording - April 2016 - 27
Recording - April 2016 - 28
Recording - April 2016 - 29
Recording - April 2016 - 30
Recording - April 2016 - 31
Recording - April 2016 - 32
Recording - April 2016 - 33
Recording - April 2016 - 34
Recording - April 2016 - 35
Recording - April 2016 - 36
Recording - April 2016 - 37
Recording - April 2016 - 38
Recording - April 2016 - 39
Recording - April 2016 - 40
Recording - April 2016 - 41
Recording - April 2016 - 42
Recording - April 2016 - 43
Recording - April 2016 - 44
Recording - April 2016 - 45
Recording - April 2016 - 46
Recording - April 2016 - 47
Recording - April 2016 - 48
Recording - April 2016 - 49
Recording - April 2016 - 50
Recording - April 2016 - 51
Recording - April 2016 - 52
Recording - April 2016 - 53
Recording - April 2016 - 54
Recording - April 2016 - 55
Recording - April 2016 - 56
Recording - April 2016 - 57
Recording - April 2016 - 58
Recording - April 2016 - 59
Recording - April 2016 - 60
Recording - April 2016 - 61
Recording - April 2016 - 62
Recording - April 2016 - 63
Recording - April 2016 - 64
Recording - April 2016 - 65
Recording - April 2016 - 66
Recording - April 2016 - 67
Recording - April 2016 - 68
Recording - April 2016 - 69
Recording - April 2016 - 70
Recording - April 2016 - 71
Recording - April 2016 - 72
Recording - April 2016 - Cover3
Recording - April 2016 - Cover4
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