Colourful headphone amplifier
Essex-based Blue Systems have come up with a headphone amplifier which promises to solve all your foldback headaches. Roger Brown got his head out of the bass bins long enough to explore the Canamp path to monitoring enlightenment...
Monitoring several different stereo sources on headphones can be a real pain, unless you have some sort of dedicated patchbay for routing various outputs to the desired set of phones. Even then, in a live or studio situation, the output levels may not be enough for dedicated monitoring, and some form of in-line amplification may be needed.
Top level desks usually include quite sophisticated routing possibilities, but only one or two headphone outlets. This is pretty useless if the drummer wants his channels in cans, the guitarist needs his signal fed into a set, and the engineer wants to listen to a foldback at the same time. And if low-end levels are filling the headphones, all that bass rumble can distract from the signal you're trying to listen to, not to mention making monitoring very tiring.
Enter a headphone amplifier with a switchable choice of three stereo sources, a 150 Hz roll-off switch, to cut that low end rumble down to listenable levels, and a choice of six headphone outputs. With sufficient amplification to boost line signals, the British-built Blue Systems Canamp could represent the answer to many a live or studio engineer's prayer.
The Canamp comes with three sets of stereo signal input points on the back, with the right acting as a mono for inserting aux sends. The six available headphone output sockets are also located at the rear, with the sixth being duplicated on the front for quick and easy access. A kettle-plug style input for power completes the set-up at the back.
Make your connections, turn to the front and the action begins. To the left we have the three level control knobs for inputs A, B & C, with a pushbutton switch for activating the 150 Hz roll off to get rid of those headache-inducing bass rumbles.
To the right of this section is a similar section with level controls for the output to each set of cans, and a set of two two-position push buttons for choosing which of the three source inputs you are monitoring at any given time.
These I found confusing, as choosing from three inputs with a cryptic combination of two in/out positions is not the most intuitive of set-ups, and I would have thought a simple three-position dial would have proven more efficient and certainly more useful in general use.
That minor quibble aside, the Canamp is a highly usable piece of kit, in a 1U high rackmounting configuration which should fit in very easily with most setups, and fulfil its function very well.
The duplicate of headphone output 6 on the front is parallelled with the rear one, so it would be no problem to have the rear connections permanently plugged in and simply patch another set in at the front for immediate access. Crosstalk is a very respectable -85dB at 1kHz on adjacent channels, and with input impedance of 10kΩ is balanced the Canamp offers quiet, reliable performance.
With flashy new items of hi-tech gear demanding we pay attention to their whizz-bang effects appearing daily, it's refreshing to see a manufacturer pay attention to the simpler (and often indispensable) items such as the Canamp. Top marks to Blue Systems for a well-thought-out product!
Price inc VAT: £249
More from: Blue Systems, (Contact Details)
Review by Roger Brown
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