Make / Model: Crane Song HEDD 192
I purchased this for my studio, MortarWorks Mastering back in 2003 to use as the main ad/da convertor for my analog processing. The key features were a) very good conversion, and b) the HEDD functionality.
What HEDD (Harmonically Enhanced Digital Device) did, was allowed you to add distortion. Now in a mastering room, that may seem counterintutive, as the goal of mastering is to make the existing recording sound as good as possible. But when you realize that some of the work needing to be mastered was recorded with very unflattering digital processess, well, the usefullness of HEDD become quite apparent.
There are essentially three controls HEDD allows 1) Triode Distorition 2) Pentode Distortion 3) Tape Distortion/Emulation.
Now, I am writing this a few years later, but of the two distortions, one was brighter, one was darker. One was harsher, one was smoother. And I can’t remember which one was which. But I know both ended up being super useful for dealing with recordings that had different needs / issues. And thats how you used this section, to address the needs of the recording. And what it gave ranged from subtle to, atleast in a high quality playback environment, seemed insane.
And the same of the Tape section. This gave an interesting EQ to the program material, combined with a compression, that worked similarly to the way tape worked. To me, this was the most useful part of the device, outside of the excellent AD/DA converters. Once a client heard the ‘Tape’ section applied, they all wanted it on their record, for better usually, though sometimes for worse. Some clients wanted it HEAVY. And so they got it. It still sounded amazing, but it was perhaps, a little much for my own liking.
If I found myself in a commercial mastering studio again, I would say this is one of the most essential things for working with recordings coming from DAWs.