Review: Crest Audio Stage 2x2D
A flexible dual-channel DI with native Dante/AES67 capabilities.
Review:/ Christopher Holder
When you live and work in a Dante world of network audio, stumbling upon desirable items of gear that aren’t equipped with a Dante and a network port just feels like a missed opportunity.
And you know you’re well down the network audio rabbit hole when you now see PoE as the rule rather than the exception.
If this is you, well then, do I have the DI for you. The Crest Audio Stage 2x2D.
It’s a card-carrying, naturalised citizen of the Dante universe. Sure, it’s a DI but a DI with benefits.
On the I/O end of the extruded aluminium chassis is a mic/line input on a Combi jack, and Hi-Z input on a quarter inch socket. There’s a balanced analogue output, which you could run to a powered wedge, and a parallel jack output for the hi-z channel — something that allows you to run your signal out to a guitar amp, for example. A ground lift switch is also present. Rounding out the I/O is the network socket.
At the other end are two stepped-control gain pots for the inputs with signal status LEDs — so no pad switches, just plenty of gain control.
There’s a headphone jack with a volume knob and a switch to toggle between monitoring either of the two inputs. Finally, there’s a handy network return jack that takes an analogue output of what’s being sent via Dante.
CREST RIDES WAVE
A few things to note. This is a dual channel DI, not a stereo DI, so it’s not interested in your stereo stage piano or laptop. The other limitation is it needs PoE to operate — there’s no power input or way of accepting 48V phantom like an old-school DI.
This is a high quality, well-featured DI for those living in a Dante and AES67 world. There’s plenty of good clean gain on the mic preamp and the Hi-Z input can handle just about anything you’re likely to throw at it. The pots feel great, and the build has a no-nonsense solid feel with handy rubber bumpers and recessed controls and sockets. There’s even a circuit diagram on one side, which I find strangely reassuring. Its price is in line with the fact there’s a 2-channel Dante chip on board. Yes, there are other Dante DIs on the market but I can’t think of another as well featured.
- Combo input connector on mic/line
- Mic preamp supports input @ -60 to +4dBu continuous gain range with no pad – 20dB of headroom at any setting
- +48V phantom power on/off
- Line Input @ -40 to +24dBu, +44dBu peak can accept power amplifier output levels, or 70Volt system input
- Hi-Z Instrument input optimised for guitar and other instrument pickups
- DI Out +4dBu, selectable from Hi-Z or Mic/Line input
- Front panel signal present/peak LEDs for optimal gain setting
- Headphone output selection switch
- 2 channel ADC to Dante/AES67-enabled network with Dante/AES67 2Ch Return Output
- Network audio return output preset for stereo (2) channel, user changeable to single channel balanced line output
- Network audio status LEDs for PoE and Data
- Ground lift switch applied to DI out
- IEEE 802.3 af/at PoE powered
- Rubber ‘bumpers’ for touring and stage applications
- Rack mount kit available – 1U dual or single mount