One of the most iconic audio developers in the industry right now is SPL, and they have been for a long time. While they might be well-known for their monitor control software, their hardware channel strips and of course, their legendary Transient Designer, Crimson 3 brings something new to the game.
This audio interface is designed to help you record your sounds in the best possible way, whether you’re using computers to generate them, live sets, instruments in a studio, or any other kind of audio source you may be using.
In fact, at first glance, the Crimson 3 seems to be a combination of all of SPL’s most favorited technologies, all merged professionally into an incredibly lean yet powerful product. But just how effective is this interface at doing what it claims to do?
Most importantly, is it the audio interface you need with the features you require? Today, we’re going to be taking an in-depth look into the Crimson 3, detailing our experiences so you can decide whether it’s right for you.
In a Rush?
• Six recording channels and six playback channels available
• Two microphone amplifiers
• Two instrument amplifiers
• 34V operational voltage and up to 22uDB
• 10 source connections with 20 monitoring channels
• A compact and sleek design
The Hardware Itself
To start with, let’s take a look at what the Crimson 3 is on a physical level. Out of the box, it seems like a laptop-sized panel (available in both white and black versions) that you would use on a desktop. It doesn’t seem like the type of interface that’s highly portable, but it’s definitely smaller than other devices out there.
However, this is true German manufacturing, and the build feels extremely high-quality, very durable, and definitely capable of withstanding a few bumps and bashes through day to day use. In short, it’s not going to fall apart on you any time soon. (There’s also a 6-year warranty that’s got you covered).
Around the outside of the interface, you’ll find a grand total of 16 unique inputs, which is more than ideal for the vast majority of what producers are going to be working with. That’s regardless of whether you’re just starting out, or you’re a professional working at an expert level.
Regarding compatibility, this device works with both Windows operating systems XP and onwards, as well as Mac OS X 10.6 and above. The interface works will all major DAW and VST platforms using simply plug in and play technology, or as a standalone audio interface.
There’s also no power cables, and the entire product is powered via a High-Speed USB cable, so you can simply plug it in and go. That makes this product ideal whether you’re at home, in the studio, or recording audio from a live set.
The Audio Inputs
There are also two instrument inputs, two stereo speaker outputs, two HD mic preamps, 4 balanced line inputs, two stereo headphone amplifiers, and even a Talkback mic feature.
Phew, that’s a ton of features to play with, and more than enough to cover all your recording needs, especially considering the size of this device.
While there are some inputs located at the front, the vast majority can be found at the back of the device, all of which are labeled and easy to identify. We also love the fact that it doesn’t matter whether you plug in stereo or mono inputs since the device will automatically detect it and use what is necessary.
As you would expect, there’s a ton of control you get here over the sounds you’re recording. The gain on the mic inputs can range anywhere from 7 to 60dB, -6 to 31dB for the instrument inputs, and although the line input isn’t adjustable, the maximum console level is a tasty 22.5dBu. This is the same level as all the external source inputs.
We also really love the Artist Mode included here. There are plenty of features here that all explained in the manual but notably is the balanced speaker outputs. For example, by pressing the A to B button means you can set the monitor levels for your speaker outputs.
This also activates the recessed trimmers, which can be found next to the TRS sockets to level your speaker outputs within +/-5dB to match your speaker’s sensitivities. There are too many small detailed features such as this which all come together to make the Crimson 3 the great interface that it is.
Easily one of the aspects we adored the most about this kit is the fact that it’s spaciously designed. We see so many audio interfaces where the developers have tried their hardest to cram so much into one space, but SPL has taken a far different approach.
Here, they have everything really nicely laid out and easily accessible. Everything is labeled, so you easily know what you’re changing and what setting is what. This also means there’s also not much of a learning curve when it comes to educating yourself on how to use it.
All the controls have activity LED lights, so you can easily see what you’re doing, even in low-light conditions. This also provides a beautiful aesthetic to the console, which is stunning, if we don’t say so ourselves.
In all honesty, the Crimson 3 is one of the most flawless audio interfaces we’ve seen in recent years, and there’s really not too much to say about it from a negative perspective. One downside could be the fact that it’s rather bulky and not too portable.
The total unit weighs just under 3KG, which is surprisingly heavy for an audio interface of this size, but it’s understandable when you consider the features, and the fact you’re not going to be throwing it around.
All in all, we’re seriously impressed by the power and functionality that the Crimson 3 provides. Not only has SPL outdone themselves once again with such an amazing product, but producers and musicians everywhere can also now bask in the new opportunities that this legendary piece of kit provides.