An all-analogue signal path with digital control and side-chain processing make the Titan stand out from the crowd.
Two of the most well-known manufacturers of high-end pro-audio equipment are Summit Audio and Crane Song, both of whom market products from the design desk of one of the industry’s most highly regarded electronics engineers, Dave Hill. His eponymously named company, which is run alongside Crane Song, manufactures a very modest but fascinatingly unusual range of products. For example, the Europa 1 mic preamp, which I reviewed in SOS July 2011, has unique controls that allow the user to adjust the slew rate and both the even and odd harmonics. The company’s latest design, the Titan, is described as an analogue compressor-limiter but, as we’ve come to expect, the design incorporates some unusual twists!
While the Titan is, undoubtedly, an analogue feedback-style compressor-limiter, it is digitally controlled, and includes a DSP in the side-chain, meaning that it can achieve sounds no normal analogue side-chain device could produce without complex external processing. As usual, in addition to all the familiar controls, there are several very unfamiliar ones to alter the tonal colour and character of the device, enabling it to create and shape sound far beyond what any conventional device can achieve. It even has a colour LCD display!
The back panel of this simple but elegant 1U rackmounting processor (which extends roughly 220mm (8.6) inches behind the rack ears), is simplicity embodied. There are just two XLRs for the single balanced analogue line input and output, plus a 9-pin D-sub connector for stereo-linking two units together. Mains power is hooked up via the ubiquitous IEC inlet, with an integral fuse holder and voltage selector (100-120/220-240 Volts AC).
Moving around to the front, the casual observer will initially be lulled into a sense of security on spying a set of five green-knobbed rotary controls with safe, familiar labels such as Threshold, Attack, Release and Gain. However, hidden amongst these is an unfamiliar control labelled ‘Shape’ (it’s really a form of Ratio control), and three red ones labelled ‘VCA Color’, ‘Dynamic Color’, and ‘Parallel Mix’ — the last helping to restore some confidence that it’s not all alien territory!
All of these controls are stepped endless rotary encoders or switches, and while the red knobs have simple numerical scales around the controls, the five green knobs have their settings indicated on a compact colour LCD screen on the left-hand side, along with a transfer-curve plot. Sadly, the Titan has no internal memories to store and recall favourite settings, so you’ll still have to resort to noting down the parameter values or taking panel photos on your smartphone!