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Dave Hill (1954 - 2023)

Audio engineer and designer passes away

Dave Hill Crane Song Dave Hill Designs

Dave Hill, the audio electronics designer and founder of Crane Song and Dave Hill Designs, has sadly passed away aged 68.

Born in Superior, Wisconsin in 1954, Hill developed an interest in electronics at an early age and began to build his own radios with a neighbour whilst still in elementary school, eventually progressing to other projects such as designing and building analogue synthesizers. His interest continued to grow, and before graduating from high school Dave began working for a local music store where he maintained and repaired instruments and equipment from the likes of Moog, Wurlitzer, Marshall and Fender.

He went on to become the co-owner of a recording studio as well as working as a live sound engineer for touring bands, after which he decided to enrol at a local technical college with the aim of pursuing a career in electronics. Before graduating, Dave accepted an offer to take over teaching on the course, delivering lectures on both analogue and digital electronics for over eight years whilst continuing to be involved in the pro audio industry, working primarily in studio and film sound recording.

Summit Audio TLA-100

In the early 1980s, he was tasked with designing a new valve compressor that could provide the sort of sound associated with vintage devices, a request that resulted in the design and development of the Summit Audio TLA-100. Due to the device’s success, Dave continued to design and develop all of the company’s products until 1994, working on a number of classic units that include the TPA-200B, DCL200, EQP100 and EQP200.

Crane Song

In 1995, Dave founded Crane Song, whose first project was the HDV-2, a valve-based preamplifier for ATR Service Company’s ATR-102 tape machine. The company’s next development was the STC-8, a two-channel Class-A compressor and limiter that marked the launch of Crane Song’s own line of products. A range of other high-end hardware devices would follow, including A-D and D-A converters, microphone preamps, compressors, equalisers and monitor controllers, all extremely highly-regarded devices that would find their way into a number of the world’s leading recording, mixing and mastering studios.

Pro Tools HEAT

The company then turned their attention to software, creating a range of analogue emulation plug-ins for Pro Tools systems under their own name, with Dave also collaborating with designers from Avid on the development of the HEAT feature for the Pro Tools mixer.

Dave Hill Designs

2010 saw the founding of another new company, Dave Hill Designs, which was formed in order to pursue the development of new audio recording tools and equipment. The first product to be manufactured under the name was the Europa1, a unique Class-A microphone preamp that featured variable odd and even harmonic controls, along with a Speed parameter that allowed users to alter how quickly the device’s circuitry would react to the transients of incoming signals.

A return to software then resulted in the release of the RA Non-Linear Plug-in, a Pro Tools plug-in designed to introduce harmonic distortion. This was followed by a second hardware device, the Titan, an analogue compressor built around a pair of VCAs which offered precise digital control and side-chain capabilities.

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