Camden 500 500 Series Preamp, Di, & Signal Processor
  • Fully-discrete, transformerless design featuring our custom ‘Camden’ preamp topology designed by our Director of Engineering - Edward Holmes

  • Optimised for and fully-compliant with the 500-series format
    • Camden 500 is not a 19” unit shoe-horned into a 500-series module, it has been designed from the ground-up to perform under the low-voltage power rails and supply current limitations of the 500-series format whilst delivering groundbreaking performance

 

  • Performs at the near-theoretical limits of noise, distortion, and phase/frequency linearity at all gain settings
    • EIN: <-129.5dBu, 150 ohm source, unweighted, <-135.5dBu, Inputs common, unweighted
    • THD+N: <0.0004%, 1kHz, 35dB gain, 24dBu out
    • Intermodulation Distortion: <0.0008%, 50Hz and 7kHz, 35dB gain, 20dBu out
    • Phase Shift: <2.25°, 40dB gain, 20Hz to 20kHz, <4°, Max gain, 20Hz to 20kHz
    • Freq. Response: <±1dB, <5 Hz to >200 kHz, all gain settings
    • CMRR: >70dB, typ >85dB, 35dB Gain, 10-20kHz, 100mV Common mode

  • Optimised input Impedance and input headroom for Mic, Line, and Hi-z sources
    • Mic Preamp, Instrument Di, and - thanks to Mojo - line-level analogue saturator

  • Custom ‘Mojo’ analogue saturation circuit with variable control, true bypass, and 2 discrete styles - Thump and Cream
    • Reamp tracks from your DAW through Mojo to apply analogue saturation to your stems, VST, and stereo mixes
    • Thump excites low-end content by boosting lower odd/even harmonics from a range of 160Hz to 20Hz and below
    • Cream boosts odd/even harmonics whilst also reducing the amplitude of the fundamental frequencies and applying typical transformer-style transient taming

  • Gold Flashing on backplane contacts for increased conductivity and durability

  • Designed & Engineered in the United Kingdom

All specifications are typical performance unless otherwise noted. All specifications are subject to change at any time. Tested with Audio Precision APx555.

Minimum Gain:

Mic= 8dB, Line = 0dB, Hi-Z = 3dB

Phase Shift:

<2.25° (40dB gain, 20Hz to 20kHz),

<4° (max gain, 20Hz to 20kHz)

Maximum Gain:

Mic = 68dB, Line = 60dB, Hi-Z = 63dB

THD+N:

<0.0004% (1kHz, 35dB gain, 24dBu out)

Input Impedance:

Mic= 8.9kOhms 48v Off, 5.4kOhms 48v ON,

Line = 24.3kOhms,

Hi-Z= 1.5MOhm unbalanced, 3MOhm balanced

Intermodulation Distortion:

<0.0008% (50Hz and 7kHz, 35dB gain, 20dBu out),

<0.0006% (50Hz and 7kHz, 35dB gain, 15dBu out)

Max Input Level:

Mic = 17.6dBu (<0.003% THD),

Line = 26.5dBu (<0.02% THD),

Hi-Z = 24dBu (<0.02% THD)

Hi-Pass Filter (HPF):

80Hz, -3dB, 12dB/Oct

Output Impedance: 

150 Ohms

Current Draw:

120mA per rail - idle, 140mA per rail - typical use case

Max Output Level: 

27.5dBu (<0.002% THD, 30dB gain)

CMRR:

>70dB, typ >85dB, 35dB gain, 10-20kHz, 100mV Common mode

Equivalent Input Noise (EIN): 

<-129.5dBu (150 ohm source, unweighted), 

<-131dBu (150 ohm source, A-weighted), 

<-135.5dBu (Inputs common, unweighted)

Slew Rate:

20V/uS, 35dB gain, 25dBu out

Frequency Response:

±0.25dB (<5 Hz to >200 kHz, 35dB gain),

<±1dB (<5 Hz to >200 kHz, max gain)

Dimensions (mm):

31.8/133.35/170.11 (w/h/d)

The Very Best Of Both Worlds

Camden 500 is the most astoundingly clean, linear, transparent preamp you’ve ever heard. But it also has “Mojo” - 2 discrete custom analogue saturation circuits that can be applied, exaggerated, and perhaps best of all - bypassed.

Clean, Precise, and Natural
Camden 500 provides the utmost clarity and detail when it is most required. Its custom 'Camden' topology achieves stunning low-noise and low-distortion performance: -129.8dB EIN (150ohm, unweighted) and THD+N as low as 0.0002%.  It also sets a new standard for frequency and phase linearity: ±0.7dB frequency response from 5Hz to 200kHz at max gain and <2° phase shift @ 50Hz – 20kHz. The sum result is the most natural sounding preamp you've ever heard.
Vintage, Warm, and Coloured
Camden 500 features "Mojo" - a custom analogue saturation circuit that transforms Camden 500 into the fattest, warmest, most colourful mic preamp in your arsenal. Designed to introduce harmonics and saturation effects that our favourite vintage gear produces, Mojo can be subtle, it can be exaggerated, but best of all it can be bypassed...
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Impeccable Modern Clean Performance

Designed from the ground up by our director of engineering, Edward Holmes, Camden 500 was created to be the ultimate recording front-end for the modern studios and withstand the rigours of modern workflow and production techniques. Designed to excel with any input source, Camden 500 features a completely original, custom-designed preamp topology that achieves stunning low-noise and low-distortion performance and frequency/phase linearity at any gain setting from unity to 68.5dB.

Stepped Gain Control
Camden 500 features a premium, 12-way switch gain control that applies up to 68.5dB of clean, transparent preamp gain in 5.5dB steps. This makes it easy to recall gain settings and easy to match the gain of two Camden 500's for stereo applications.

Stereo Matched
With carefully selected modern components, any two Camden preamps are completely stereo matched to within 0.1dB. Every Camden preamp also passes through a rigorous frequency response test at the factory that ensures it performs the same as the last.

Progressive-slope High Pass Filter
Camden's high pass filter features a progressive slope where low end is rolled off initially at around 6dB/octave and then increases to 12dB for the lowest octave - preserving the low end you want, and cutting what you don't.

3-Way Input Type Switch
Tailored input impedance and headroom for Mic, Line, and Hi-Z sources means punchy and full-range line recording with +26.5dBu of input headroom as well as alive and natural sounding DI'd instruments with it's unique BJT design and 1.5M Ohm input impedance.

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Vintage 'Mojo' On Tap

For moments when you want that gooey, vintage vibe on your recordings, we developed Mojo - our own custom analogue saturation circuit that adds the familiar tone of transformers, valves, and vintage equipment onto your Camden's preamps for recording or mixing. Record through Mojo to add that vibe on the way into your DAW, or add the Mojo during the mix phase - Mojo adds tons of analogue saturation to all audio signals.

Thump

Thump excites low-end content by adding harmonics to the signal in the 20Hz - 100Hz range - resulting in fuller low-end on smaller speakers. As Thump is not EQ-based, the additional harmonic content is shaped by the source and it’s existing low-end frequency content resulting in a natural addition of extra “Thump”.

Thump

Cream

Cream introduces a vintage smoothness and edge that is similar to how valves and tubes impact the sound of a preamp. Cream drastically increases harmonics and dynamically smooths-out the low mids for increased HF emphasis. Like Thump, Cream is completely dynamic and will vary its effect based on the inputs level and source material.

Cream

Variable

Unlike transformer or valve preamps, Mojo is variable and can be dialled in to taste. Transformer and valves are integral parts of certain preamp designs and so cannot be removed from the signal path or altered for different effects. Mojo on the other hand can be dialed-in to taste or crucially, bypassed when you need a clean and pristine recording.

Vintage Vibe Without Compromise

Transformers and valves sound great, but they have a flavour that can't be removed. The Phase Shift, Noise, and THD added by these designs give them their sound, but that sound sometimes isn't always suited to a particular source. Camden gives you 3 discrete tonal flavours that allow it to excel on any source or instrument.

Technical Specifications Camden 500 By The Numbers

Put simply, our Camden preamp is one of the cleanest, most linear, and transparent preamps on the market. Our custom preamp topology allows us to push the boundaries of Frequency response, phase shift, noise, and THD performance at all gain settings - and we have all the specifications to back that up.

EIN: <-129.5dBu, 150 ohm source, unweighted
<-135.5dBu, Inputs common, unweighted

THD+N: <0.0004%, 1kHz, 35dB gain, 24dBu out

Phase Shift: <2.25°, 40dB gain, 20Hz to 20kHz
<4°, Max gain, 20Hz to 20kHz

Freq. Response:1dB, <5 Hz to >200 kHz, all gain settings

CMRR: >70dB, typ >85dB, 35dB Gain, 10-20kHz, 100mV Common mode

For a comprehensive and detailed look at Camden 500's technical specifications, you can view the Camden 500 technical specifications [PDF]

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The Camden Preamp Family

Camden 500
The Camden preamp, perfectly optimised for 500 series format
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Learn More
 
 
Camden EC1
Desktop Camden preamp with reference-grade headphone amplification
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Learn More
 
 
Camden EC2
19", rackmount dual channel Camden preamp with twin reference-grade headphone amps, zero-latency monitor mixing, and full C.A.S.T. Integration
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Learn More
 
 

Community Video

Reviews

“For a superb clean, open and unhyped sound that captures the natural sound of voices and instruments, look no further. Add to that the wide palette of sound textures on offer via the Mojo controls and you have a versatile recording tool that performs way better than its modest retail price would suggest.”

 

“For comparison, I used the Camden in super-clean mode along with a Pultec EQP-1A equaliser, a combination I regularly use. However, in this instance, the Mojo provided by the Camden renders the EQ redundant.”

 

“Cranborne Audio’s Camden is a fabulous microphone preamplifier.”

 

“For all the terrific results I achieved from the Camden, though, the process that filled my heart with joy most of all was using it with a Neumann U 47 FET on a kick drum...Dialling in a healthy dose of Thump adds character unavailable from any equaliser I’ve ever used. The low end becomes not only weightier, but also more expansive”

Music Tech
"I liked the sound of the Camden 500's transparent preamp. As compared to another transformerless transparent-style preamp, the Camden 500 did indeed sound very natural." 

"As you crank the Mojo knob clockwise, the effect gets obvious. Aside from the subtle transformer emulation, it starts adding a good deal of additional harmonic content below 100 Hz. I found that this works wonders on low frequency sources such as kick drum or bass guitar. In this case, I could dial in an incredible low end on the kick, without it sounding synthetic or out of place.
"
 
"So, the next time someone with a limited budget asks what preamps they should buy first, you'll have a really good answer. I don't know another product with this range of versatility anywhere near the Camden 500's price point."
 
Read The Review
Kirt Shearer
Tape Op Magazine
"...when I discovered the switched gain control I was smitten. But after listening to it and experimenting with the Mojo facility, I was completely sold."
 
"There are far too many preamps to mention even in the 500 series alone, but few are this well built or designed, few sound this clean and quiet, and very few have this much sonic versatility."

"In short, this is how I’d design and build a quality preamp!"
 
Read The Review
Hugh Robjohns
Sound On Sound

"I was struck by how clean the gain was at very high gain settings. But the kit sounded especially ‘big’ when a bit of Thump was introduced. I was soon tempted to crank the MOJO full up for a big warm Bonham-like sound, and we were rocking."  

"...If you want a top class flexible preamp and enhancer you’d be hard-pressed to find a better alternative at any price"  

"The 1.5 Megohms Hi-Z input seemed to have a touch more natural openness than rival preamps, and the integrity of the signal is unquestionable"

"The designers set out to emulate the effects of valves and transformers, and what they have achieved is truly remarkable — it would be easy to believe that Cream is a flavour of valve ‘overdrive’. "

George Shilling
Resolution Magazine

"First thoughts: this is a very quiet unit and it’s somehow brought more top end out in the vocal. We A/B it with Jack’s lead vocal (recorded 5047 direct into the Babyface Pro, no Camden), and realise it’s also added warmth to the sound. Impressive. But I get the feeling we’re only scratching the surface."

"...we decide to turn it up to 11 [mojo], just to see what it can do. And my word, what a difference. On playback, with Mojo at absolute max, there is suddenly this smoothness and thickness that we haven’t yet experienced in The Hub - could this be ‘analogue warmth’, perhaps?!"

Paul Watson
Headliner Magazine

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Customer Reviews

I think these will become a classic. This is the most versatile preamp I have ever used. I tried to beat it with plugins and just couldn't come close.
Vintage King Customer
Camden User
Extremely transparent, low noise preamp with the option to add character via the two “Mojo” circuits “Cream” and “Thump”. I bought these to replace some more expensive ”clean” preamps and the added bonus of the mojo feels like I got an upgrade in doing so. Ended up going back for more Mojo and now I have 4 of these!
Vintage King Customer
Camden User

To summarize: This is the best preamp in 500 series and one of the best in the world in general, and it's from a very fair company that has fair prices and which has a true focus on high sound quality above all.

Vintage King Customer
Camden User

I bought these to replace some more expensive ”clean” preamps and the added bonus of the mojo feels like I got an upgrade in doing so. Ended up going back for more Mojo and now I have 4 of these!

Vintage King Customer
Camden User

Ok. So I have been around recording for 20+ years messing around on my own, even had a commercial studio operating pre Covid and I have tried every preamp known to mankind. This preamp squarely falls into the "clean and uncolored" category by their own marketing material and the placard that's is placed in the box with the Camden.

How they are doing this at this price point is straight up voodoo. Sound amazing with my solid state mics and my tube mics. Balanced across all frequencies, the clean setting is flat out amazing and punches WAY above where it should be punching.

Pretty blown away. Would be very happy with a large lunchbox full or nothing but these.

Sweetwater Customer
Camden User

I got one, then immediately another - I've used them to track drums. In one instance I was short 1 pre and had to use this on the extra floor tom along side the RND 511's on rack 1 and floor 1. Wow. Nothing lacking at all amongst the 3 pres. I've been also using them extensively in tracking and mixing and the mojo is infinitely useful. Zero'd out with line level material run back through- they are invisible. For a modular, hybrid, systems where it's useful to have tools with many uses ... this earns its place straight away and rivals 500 dollar price point preamps.

Sweetwater Customer
Camden User

Have had a pair of these fabulous preamps in my rack for about a year and my Neve and UA preamps are pretty much gathering dust. Fabulous clean but not sterile sound with extremely low noise floor. I pair them with my Sphere L22 and the combination is unbeatable. Transparency coupled with ultra low noise, a very natural and warm sound. 

Sweetwater Customer
Camden User
Have only recorded violin so far but it sounds really great on this instrument when a lot of other, and expensive, preamps sound harsher. And the mojo coloration adds a nice versatility. Love the headphone amps.
Sweetwater Customer
Camden User
For my review of the Camden EC2 I started typing about comparing my recordings to Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" but was afraid it would come across as too hyperbolic. Nevertheless it's a fitting analogy.

When I got the Camden EC2 in December I was planning to fully use it on album #3, but after experimenting with it I figured it was worth redoing ALL the vocals for #2 which. Warm, smooth, rich, punchy or whatever adjectives you are grasping for trying to produce the sound from your imagination, the EC2 has versatility in spades. The cream & thump switch and the mojo knob on the interface is intuitive which makes the learning curve quick and experimentation fun.

From personal research and after speaking with Luke @ Sweetwater there seemed to be a quality and versatility tradeoff in the other preamps at this price point. I'm excited by the energy the Cranborne team has for their products and wish them many years of success!
Sweetwater Customer
Camden User

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