Link: Crane | Price: $149/€163/£129
Crane have a history of making laptop stands and DJ accessories. They’re so well known for it, in fact, that the name ‘Crane Stand’ has almost crossed into becoming a generic trademark, much like Hoover or Aspirin. Looking at the company’s competition, you can certainly see how much the Crane Stand series has influenced design.
So how can the best DJ laptop stand get improved upon? Can there really be much more to explore and change to make it worth buying? Let’s see…
WHAT MAKES IT ELITE?
Although there might not be a fundamental change from the two-hinged three-sectioned design in the Crane Stand series, some work has been put into fixing some of the issues that they’ve had in the past. The first thing you notice is the step up in materials and crafting. Not only do you get carbon fibre for the telescopic risers, the rest of the stand is lightweight. Speaking of which… the term ‘space-age’ is a bit archaic for modern times, so how do you describe the use of cool materials? Futurism is soooo 20th Century.
The biggest change is the new locking mechanism. Crane decided to get rid of the quick release flip-up locks for the hinges and the Elite now uses a screw lock with teeth to hold together… and it locks very tightly. I put my full pressure on it and found that rather than the hinges slipping, the telescopic risers would slip down. There’s more than enough load-bearing for any gear you might want it to carry.
There are various design tweaks on the Crane Stand Elite to make it sturdier and more flexible. The two central pillars now feature an extendable system to raise and lower the stand at any height you might need. There’s also some changes to how the hinges are built. Rather than one welded lump of metal on the pivots and foot, they are separate parts, screwed together. I think this means less metal is used (and bits can be replaced) meaning a bit of weight is saved.
The press release we were sent proudly (and tongue-in-cheekily) boasts a ‘Genuine faux-leather carry bag’ for your stand. Even this has had some thought put into it as when you are using it, the stand’s baseplate is used as a carry handle.
Although the Elite is made of flatter metal parts in the foot (stamped into shape, rather than solid) it still doesn’t fit under a mixer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s lower profile than ever, but it’s a minor annoyance for those with cramped DJ spaces.
I’m not hugely keen on the new screw locking system although adding the teeth to grip is very useful. The problem is that it requires two free hands to lock both ends properly. But… the added teeth mean it just won’t slip. Overall, though, I’ve been really impressed with what Crane have improved over their older stands. No one can pretend this is pushing the boundaries of cutting edge DJ technology, but they’ve fixed most of the few issues remaining. I have no idea where they can go from here!
Ultimately, it’s a case of simply asking yourself if you need a new laptop stand. I wouldn’t recommend this as an upgrade unless you’re having issues with the hinges gripping due to the weight of your equipment. Yes, the price tag is triple-figure, but I can’t think of an alternative stand that competes.
Quality: There’s really nothing to fault on this apart from the fiddly locking mechanism.
Features: With the addition of the adjustable height, this thing can go in any direction you need it to. The gripping teeth on the hinges are a welcome addition too.
Value: It’s certainly isn’t an impulse buy at this price tag, but I can’t imagine how there could be anything more they could do to improve it.
A SECOND OPINION FROM MARK SETTLE
As a former production engineer, I was very keen to see how Crane could make their various iterations of Crane Stand more advanced to warrant an Elite moniker. From a quality perspective, the stands have always been solid — indeed it is their trademark. But height adjustability and angling have always been their Achilles heel. But with the advent of the riser, this has been fixed in style, and at the same time made the stand that bit lighter. Ironically, while the Elite can now adjust higher than ever, you can also set it up to stand less than 2″ high as well.
But what most impresses me (sorry Dan — this old engineer thinks it’s very clever) is the locking system. Essentially there are two type of laptop stand — those that angle-adjust and those that don’t. The latter forces a fixed angle, but at the same time is rigid, meaning that it won’t slip down, and in theory will take more weight. But those that do angle-adjust are dependent on friction, and the strength of the user to lock the angle. But even this isn’t a guarantee of safety. But with the inclusion of the spline system, you can lock the angle you want, and at the same time be sure that even if you’ve not had your spinach or steroids that day, the Crane Stand Elite will stay locked.
I spotted a neat trick in this promo video from DJ Eyecon. While the design of the Crane Stand Elite doesn’t allow for pivoting, they’ve worked out that you can have a degree of pivot adjustment and still be solidly locked.
At this time, there are only murmurs about subtrays, but I imagine that they’ll be coming soon. The video talks of being able to take the base off and use a forthcoming clamp system for added safety. Again, I like that you can make these adjustments and tailer the stand to your needs, albeit with extra cost.
And the cost is obviously something that people will complain about. The Crane Stand Elite is certainly an aspirational product, but when you consider how much you depend on such things, I feel that it’s a price that’s quite bearable, especially if you play out a lot. And the quality of the Elite speaks for itself. A little like Neo d+ cables, sometimes you need to spend a little more to feel like you’re getting something that you can depend on.
Summing up, I think the Crane Stand Elite just set a new bar for others to reach. There aren’t that many DJ specific laptop stands out there that people talk about. But you can be certain that they’ll all be looking at the Elite and seeing if they can do better. And like Dan, I’m not sure where things can go from here, if indeed they need to go at all. Crane nailed it for me.