Analog EQ: Why?

Brandon Drury —  April 8, 2010

As many of you know, for a guy who’s blown so much dumb money on dumber high end gear, I’m one of the slowest dudes in the world to tell you to trade in the family farm for a mic preamp or converter upgrade. I am aware of the benefits of my toys, but most of the time I have a hard time recommending gigantic sacrifices for a hint of tonal color. Nothing sucks worse than using fancy preamps and converters and still coming out with frustration-inducing results. (The reasons for this are usually a gaping hole in a person’s engineering foundation….which I cover about as extensively as a person can stand in Killer Home Recording: Audio Engineering.)

As you may have (BARELY) guessed, it appears I may have found something with this analog EQ thing. In fact, this is the first time I’m going to flat out endorse a higher end product. The only other time I recommend expending this much cash is room acoustic treatments (bass traps specifically) and studio monitoring, in general. I’m flat out blown away by what analog EQ can do for me.

Back in 2009 I was loaned a Great River MEQ-1NV. That thing was a hell of a beast. I loved it. I can’t say I had one complaint. My wallet was the only one complaining. (That damn thing seems to have a mind of its own!) That was my first real experience with a high end equalizer. As you may read in Killer Home Recording, I was never able to replicate what the MEQ-1NV did using any of my plugins. There was something special about what this EQ did sonically. This peaked my interest. I didn’t expect to hear this kind of difference. (We’ll get to that in greater detail.)

Back in October, Chameleon Labs did a special where if you bought 2 of their 7602 MKII 1073 clones (Preamp / EQ) they’d throw in a $700 (give or take) stereo tube compressor for free. This seemed like a hell of a deal so I ordered it. Of course, I waited until February to get the damn 7602 (apparently, I’m not the only one who thought this was a great deal!) but now I’ve got two records under my belt with the them.

Lesson learned: I’m never tracking again without a kick butt EQ. I’m too spoiled by the 7602 EQ!


I had looked at analog equalizes a billion times since 2001 when I jumped into recording. I always asked the question that still gets me in trouble….”WHY?”. I already had plugins that seemed to be working. (Barely! We’ll talk about that here in a minute.) I’ve noticed that when I get a track to do exactly what I want going in, the damn thing sounds finished. I’ve noticed that the quality level of tracking has taken a BIG step up.

Get It Right On The Way In

In the past, I’d mic up X instrument, hit record, and most of the time I’d say, “This needs something.” Sometimes the problem was solved solely by mic placement, tone controls, different mics, different pre, etc. Sometimes it was clear I needed something more. So there in the middle of tracking, I’d toss on a EQ plugin and super quickly get something that I more or less thought was right. There definitely were times when I thought I had nailed the sound in this way, but a majority of the time I was convinced that I had come up short. I would attribute this flaw to the EQ setting, which I would improve on later on my own time. Then, of course, when mixing came around, I’d spend more time on the EQ and still end up unhappy. In most cases, the issue was something else. (An acoustical phenomenon in the room, out of tune this/that, etc).

The real crime was I would hit the record button without being happy and just assume I would fix it later. Then, I would find out that I can’t fix it later. DO NOT DO THIS!

By tracking with an analog EQ, I’ve gotten into the mindset that whatever I’m recording better sound exactly how I want it to sound. Sure, I’ll add ambiance or whatever later, but there is no reason why the dry mix shouldn’t be 98% there. If doing all the usual engineer stuff and then playing with the analog EQ doesn’t get us exactly there, I know I need to rethink the usual engineering stuff.

This “methodology” is not something you can put a price tag on. However, it’s a MAJOR benefit from using an analog EQ. You get your checks and balances real time. I guess a person could force themselves to do this with a good EQ plugin, but there are other reasons I’m huge into analog EQ these days. We’ll get into that here in a minute.

A Personal Victory

While more of a personal victory than anything, when I hit the “reset mixer” button in Cubase, the result isn’t all that different. Granted, I don’t have analog EQ for all my drum tracks (YET!) so they may need a little something here and there (usually bus compression more than anything). Other than that, it’s just panning, levels, and ambiance. A super quick mix sounds pretty damn finished these days and gives me time to max out creative possibilities.

Analog EQ vs Plugins

So what’s the big difference I’m so wound up about? I’ve written extensively how EQ does not change the core tone of a track. My example is you can never make a Strat sound like a Les Paul just by tossing an EQ on it. (The point is not to EVER think an EQ is going to make up for piss poor audio engineering.) While this particular analogy still holds up even with analog EQ, there is something extra that a good analog EQ does.

When I boost the top end with any plugin I’ve ever heard, it feels like it’s just adding fizz on top of the signal. It’s like there’s a clear distinction between the real tone and changed frequency response. However, when I boost the top end with a good analog EQ, I feel like we sent little microbes to get down deep into the signal and fundamentally reprogram it to BE something else. It doesn’t sound like I used EQ when I’ve used a good analog EQ. It just sounds “that way”. Of course, the effects aren’t limited to just adding top end. I’ve noticed this with all aspects of EQ.

You could compare this to my “chemical change” theory I like to talk about. Basically, if you put reverb on a guitar BEFORE sending it to a high gain amp you’ll be distorting the reverb. If you put the reverb on afterwards, you’ll hear a high gain amp with “clean” reverb on top of it. These are two dramatically different sounds. To me, a good analog EQ is much more like doing the changes before the amp. It becomes an inherent part of the sound and tone in a way that sounds very, very natural.

Actually Solves Problems

Because a good analog EQ has the ability to do “fundamental reprogramming” to the core signal, this can actually solve problems in ways that I’ve never been able to do in almost 10 years of using EQ plugins. While probably an extreme exaggeration, it feels like when I’m using plugins that I’m often trying to cover up a lie. The analog EQ, in comparison, doesn’t necessarily erase the flaw, but maybe it makes sure the parents never found out about a mailbox smashing adventure or a no-condom-adventure so you don’t have to lie in the first place.

The One High End Thing A Person NEEDS

Being that most us are on a limited budget, most people ask me where to put their cash. As a dude who has very nice tools, the one area (other than monitoring) that I’ve gotten the most benefit is analog EQ (other than mega studio monitoring! Yes, I just repeated myself!). I could live without analog compression. I really like my Distressor, but there are compressor plugins that could hold me over. I could live without my most expensive preamps. (I’d WAY rather have a True Systems Solo or a Chameleon preamp AND a killer EQ than have just a super high end preamp!) I don’t think I could ever go back to only EQ plugins ever again. They just don’t work the same way.

More Like Guitar Amp Tone Controls

While some equalizers come with dramatically more features (more frequency points, control over bandwidth, more options for shelving, etc) I’ve found something awesome about even a simple EQ like the Chameleon Labs 7602 MK2. I can’t do microsurgery and for tracks needing complex EQ treatment, I still have to resort to plugins for the “problem solving” surgical stuff.

What is cool about this EQ (and presumably others in the same style) is I don’t feel like I’m using brain power. I feel like I’m just twisting knobs looking for “it” while I play around. It’s very similar to toying around with a guitar amp. I don’t think about 234Hz. I just see what the thing can do. I’ve found this to make A TON of sense while tracking. I have trouble switching from “mix mode” to “tracking mode” in my brain. They are two different worlds. This creative use of EQ tends to be extremely intuitive during tracking. It’s also great for those of you who aren’t technically inclined. You don’t have to be! Just play around and have fun!

Not All Equalizers Are Created Equal

I’ve gotten my paws on several equalizers lately. In my experience, there is something mega that happens when you move up to a “really good” EQ. I’m not sure where to draw the line, however. So far, I’ve not heard any $200 hardware equalizers that had “it”. Usually they are short on features – which is another story we’ll get into later on – but generally they are lacking the magic to fundamentally change the source without anyone noticing.

I’ve mentioned the Great River MEQ-1NV, but that damn thing costs over $2,500+ for a preamp and an EQ. That’s hard for me to recommend even though I couldn’t imagine a person not loving the thing. The Chameleon Labs 7602 MK2 comes in at around $800 for a preamp and EQ is still DAMN GOOD. Keep an eye out for my review!

Analog EQ Features

If a person never heard a good analog EQ, they may assume that they would be better off with their usual plugins that offer tons of flexibility in terms of bandwidth, frequencies, etc. For example, the stock Cubase EQ found on every channel of Cubase has infinitely more options and flexibility than the 7602 MK2 I’ve mentioned here. However, the Cubase EQ simply CAN NOT do the same thing. They are almost different processors! (I said ALMOST, people! Don’t sensationalize this!)

There are certainly high end equalizers that have tons and tons of flexibility. In fact, I’ve set my mind on the Empirical Labs Lil Freq because of my extreme success with the 7602 MK2 to handle the more complicated EQ type of stuff. However, you’ll have to pry analog EQ out of my cold, dead hands even if I can’t solve EVERY problem with it.


-I consider analog EQ to be flat out required for my style of engineering.

-I do consider every plugin I’ve heard so far to be inferior to the two “good” analog equalizers I’ve gotten my hands on.

-Non-techy nerds would enjoy the more creative usage that analog EQ demands.

-This is not the usual bullshit, “You must blow $3k on a mic preamp to sound any good” advice. This is a real world, battle-hardened view from a dude who seldom recommends cash wasting of this magnitude.

-Again, don’t blow this out of proportion. Your penis is not going to enlarge and your bald head isn’t going to sprout. We certainly aren’t going to part any oddly colored seas. All the usual fundamental engineering requirements exist. If you don’t know what those are, you may want to hold off on any fancy gear and get yourself Killer Home Recording.

-You’ll have to pry analog EQ out of my cold, dead hands even if I can’t solve EVERY problem with it.

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.

27 responses to Analog EQ: Why?

  1. fHumble fHingaz April 8, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    This is interesting… I haven’t got a hardware eq. box (yet), but one thing I noticed with plug-in eqs was that the big difference in quality is when you boost. I stepped up to a UAD2 card about 6 months ago, & I guess because they more faithfully model the quirks of analogue eq, that something like the UAD Pultec or Neve 88R creates a completely different sound to a standard (low cpu o/head) eq plugin when you boost a frequency… I can only imagine this effect would be more prominent in an actual analogue eq, as you’ve observed here… Oh, well – save those pennies!

  2. I still haven’t tried the UAD cards yet. I’ve came close 500 times, but never jumped in. Based on what I’ve read in Tape Op, I suspect the EQs in the UAD cards may be an exception to what I’ve discussed inn the article. I’m going through a major “waste money on hardware phase” right now and if I’m not careful this could get REALLY expensive. The UAD-4 may be a great option for me, but with all the plugins it’s not exactly cheap, either. Hmmmm.


  3. How does an analog EQ connect to say a Lexicon Omega? DOes it plug into the “insert” jack next to the XLR mic jack? If not, how?

  4. Well Brandon,
    Never a truer word was spoken.
    I have just invested in an Empirical Labs Lil Freq in the last three months.
    Stunning sound and does the job.
    (I could not get an exciting sound from my Takamine acoustic steel string cool tube until I ran it through the unit first and when I did it was recordable straight from the guitar on board electronics via the Empirical Labs Lil Freq).
    I have ripped all my hair out over the last few years trying to sculpt bass high pass, for a mix with even $1400 dollar plugin sets., all to no avail.
    I can see the light now.
    I think!
    Kudos to Empirical Labs, they think in terms of sound not only specifications.


  5. Benson Russell April 9, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Hey Brandon,

    I have a UAD2 Quad and I have to concur with fHumble fHingaz’s comments. While I have not used a good high-end analog EQ, the results I get from any of the EQ’s in the UAD2 sound fantastic when I A/B the results to my reference material. Pretty much I only use my UAD2 plugs when mixing for EQ and compression (except for some background stuff here and there). Granted the initial investment is expensive, but way cheaper than a Waves bundle which I think is not as good. I picked up the Neve bundle for under $2000. I run 60+ track mixes with it and have yet to max the thing out running tons of plugs on it.

    So here’s a proposal I offer you so you can consider it :). Record a guitar part (or whatever part) raw without EQ. Then record it with your analog EQ set to how you like it. Send me the two files and I’ll try to get a version that sounds as close to your EQ’d version using only my UAD2 plugs (also send me the settings you used and I’ll do a version with that for a comparison :). I use CuBase 5 myself, I don’t have any analog EQs, my only good analog pre is my ISA 428 with converter card (which I will not run the signal through :).

    While not quite a 100% scientific test, I would hope it would be able to give you an idea of what’s capable with a UAD2. I’ll also snap a picture of the settings I use, and I can use different EQs if you’d like a sampling. I have these EQs for the UAD2

    Helios Type 69
    Neve 1073
    Neve 1081
    Neve 88RS channel strip
    SSL 4K channel strip
    Pultec & Pultec Pro (with the mid frequency expansion)
    Cambridge (their surgical EQ)

    What do ya think? :)

  6. How does an analog EQ connect to say a Lexicon Omega? DOes it plug into the “insert” jack next to the XLR mic jack? If not, how?

    The insert jack would be the place to start. If you can’t figure out how to get signal from the preamp to the EQ, you may have to look at external preamp.

    I have just invested in an Empirical Labs Lil Freq in the last three months.
    Stunning sound and does the job.
    (I could not get an exciting sound from my Takamine acoustic steel string cool tube until I ran it through the unit first and when I did it was recordable straight from the guitar on board electronics via the Empirical Labs Lil Freq).
    I have ripped all my hair out over the last few years trying to sculpt bass high pass, for a mix with even $1400 dollar plugin sets., all to no avail.
    I can see the light now.

    Awesome! I suspect that’s my dream EQ. It’s certainly not cheap, but when sculpting is necessary, there seems to be no substitute. I think my Chameleon 7602s will still get their fair share of work when doing drums, live bands, etc, but the Lil Freq is going to be my main EQ.

  7. Brandon, I never tried analog EQ, but I feel I can believe you. Maybe because I always feel that’s something lacking in my digital sound. Maybe I read a lot about digital coldness (and that causes placebo, autosuggestion?), but I know that good 70-s recordings have something that I hardly can achieve (is that quality because of analog gear?).
    My questions:
    - What is the best EQ-plugin you heard?
    - Have you tried Waves API and SSL? As well, URS plugins, SPL analog code, Softube, Nomad Factory, Fabfilter and some other plugins are high rated and praised. What do you think about that?

  8. Sadly Enterajsa
    It is my humble opinion that digital, being little parts making up a larger part will always have something missing. My country has digital broadcasting now and the transition was most hurtful to the ears. Very unsettling to the human race in social terms if I may be so bold.
    Just as the digital camera is to the Analogue, the warmth has gone and we are not getting the full picture.
    An instant hit of gratification but the image is seldom satisfying for the extended period.
    I heard some UAD plugin sample files a little while ago and they did sound much better than the standard plugin.
    Like the milk you purchase at the dairy or get delivered to your door there is something taken from it.
    I truly feel though that in looking for true representation , there is such a thing as the “Real Thing”.
    Others I do realize feel the same as I and I am just a small fish.
    Late at night and I am a bit sleepy!


  9. Hey Pounamu, Are You a Maori?
    Here in New Zealand Pounamu is a greenstone, and it is Maori for Treasure!

  10. The best way to get a great analog EQ is to buy a vintage mic pre/EQ. I bought a pair of Calrec 1161′s
    racked–so I go the mic pre-line in and EQ in all in one.
    The great EQ design is to use inductors. This was developed by Pultec (tube) and later by Neve(solid state) . There is no phase shift and the EQ is extrememly musical.
    The plug-ins are replicate technology which mimic the original vintage equipment. The newer high end equipment uses similar circuit designs as vintage, but they are limited by the decline in component quality. Similar to a pre CBS Fender amplifier–those pots, tubes and transformers–you can’t buy that quality today.
    For many people spending the investment in vintage equipment seems strange, but as a guitar player I was
    almost always buying used gear. I admit the stuff is
    getting real hard to find now. Most people who own it are
    not selling–and like a good Fender amp this vintage equipment is built to last.

  11. About 2 years ago I said this same stuff on a forum and got laughed out… funny isn’t it?!

  12. It wasn’t your forum Brandon… just wanted to quick add that in.

  13. It wasn’t your forum Brandon… just wanted to quick add that in.

    Good! I’d hate to be wrong twice in one decade. ha! ha!

  14. Well Albi the Pounamu Maori question,

    I have been described as “More Maori than Maori”. While this will not answer your question directly it may interest you to know that in reality a huge number of races were here thousands of years ago. I work Pounamu in order to express one part of my art in stone and because I am seemingly meant too. As well it pays me enough to buy some goodie for my music studio most years. jadeartross
    Back to the Hardware eq question which is vexing us all.
    It has been said all along, in most reviews when guru’s write reviews
    “very close to the sound” “What does a real old one sound like in good original condition anyway?”. Comments by reviewers abound such as these.
    I am fortunate that over the last few years my “ears” are improving in the analysis department. I hear volume now and my eq hearing is just starting to develop. Most of us will always be in the “musical experience vibe”, when listening we allow the thud or the dream experience to take us away from the structure of our compositions instead of being able to analyse our mix. This interfer’s with our ability to move on to do good mixing or mastering. We remain just listeners for the vibe.
    One thing about hardware is (I reckon) you can get an infinite amount of expression out of it. It may have a signature sound but beyond that if the room temperature rises or gets cooler if the input is driven harder, the output harder etc the palette of sounds are huge and descriptive.
    As well of course the sounds are as solid as syrup. Digital to date always has gaps, Analogue has the nature of the Universe in that no matter how far in you go it always has new exciting places to go and going outward the same applies.
    Analogue gear works much the same as the human body to my mind. You get the magic performances when you or the gear is close to the edge. How many insane gigs have you played when you stood there stiff as a board with the band?
    Of course choral etc work needs clarity and exactness and that is where not driving your eq or comp etc comes in too or not as the case may be. In saying that of course the hardware delivers the whole thing plus it’s own vibe too.
    I have been listening to Idol for a while my views are thus; When the visiting artists are being mixed with heavy use of plugins I note an extreme lack of depth in the sound, a deadness re vocals if you will. Note here that it is best to listen with your eyes closed, the light show and dance performers tend to distract form the music side of it.
    I am guessing of course on whether or not the act uses plugins etc however it is a fair guess. So many eq’s on a single voice along with modulator’s flanger’s echo’s. I may be wrong!
    So why good hardware vers plugin’s?
    For the future of music and for the future of the human race. Digital always aggravates, analogue smooths.
    The plugin’s I have are Stllwell, Nomad Factory, PSP
    Hardware, Cranesong, Neve, Groove Tubes, Buzz Audio, Emperical Labs, Chandler, Focusrite and HHB.
    My hardware is my mainstay, the plugins I use sparingly, I think they are useful to a degree and I do not regret purchasing them.
    Brandon discover the Lil Freq, well worth the worry getting the dosh for it.


  15. Benson Russell April 10, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Just to offer another side of the coin with regards to analog verses digital (and as a preface this is my opinion based on what I’ve learned and the techniques I use). While I am a firm believer in getting it as good sounding as you can on the way in, I also firmly believe you can stay 100% in the box after that and get a fat, warm, analog style sounding end result without having to us outboard gear. Use a good sounding mic and pre combination fitting of the source, run it through good quality converters, and you’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting right there.

    Analog gear imparts various types of distortion into the signal, distortion that we find appealing (i.e. subtle, not what you find in a guitar pedal :). The key is to add that back into your mix with the right kind of plugins. For example, I use the URS Saturation plugin at the top of all of my key tracks (if I had the processing power I’d put it on every track :). The effect it adds is so subtle that you might not notice it in an A/B comparison unless you have trained ears and monitoring. This is in essence the effect of what good analog gear adds to your signal, something that by its self you might just barely notice. When you stack all of these tracks together, combined with adding Saturation as well as some good tape saturation on your 2 bus, you gain that analog fat magic back into your digital mix.

    If you think about it, this is what an expensive analog console does, each channel is going to impart something onto each track. Hence you’re replicating that mentality with a good quality plug in. The same holds true for your compressors and EQs that you use. Find high-quality analog sounding stuff (I personally think the UAD stuff is the best, hence why I use it :). All of it imparts that analog distortion back into your mix just like an old desk would. I only ever use the CuBase stock EQs and compressors for backing parts that aren’t as important (or to side-chain as the UAD stuff doesn’t seem to support it yet in VST3 :(.

    The other key bits about getting a good warm / non harsh sound is going to be in your converters and sample rates you use. I use a digital photography analogy to demonstrate this. If you take a non-digital picture of a circle and scan it into your computer at too low of a resolution, you’ll see that instead of a smooth round circle, you get a jagged pixelated circle. The higher the resolution and the better the scanning algorithm, the smoother the circle will be. Audio works the same way. You’re taking an infinitely smooth sound wave and converting it into the digital domain which has to snap shot it into a fixed resolution. The higher the sample rate, the smoother the sound wave comes out. Also the better the converter, the smoother the sound wave comes out (and by better I don’t mean in price I mean in quality of conversion). Hence if you can afford to track at 96khz 24bit then do it as you’ll have a much better source material to work with. Yes it eventually gets dithered down to 44.1 / 16bit, but it will sound so much better. Using digital photography as the example again, it’s always better to start with a higher-res image and then dither down to what you need, rather than trying to capture the image at the needed resolution immediately. I’d much rather let the computer use very high quality and computationally expensive algorithms to dither down and take the time to do it, rather than get a A/D converter try to do it on the fly when it doesn’t have as many resources available. The end result will always be better (given of course your tracking / mixing / engineering skills are up to par :).

    Anyways, my 2 cents on the issue. Having learned and used this, I’ve become a firm believer in this method. I’m also more than happy to provide links to some stuff I’ve done if you want a listen :)

  16. Benson
    From my end I applaud you, I pretty much follow along with what you have come up with. Well phrased to boot.I may be a little behind you in my knowledge as I am just catching on to all this. Quite exciting to find out after you have spent a lot of money on frivolous gear on the front end you end up just needing maybe a nice eq a nice Comp a nice preamp then good converters a great clock, technique in playing and voicing and then you are in business.
    Good to be reading this Blog whoever started it in the first place.


  17. Great article! There are a couple “rules” at play here that make the plot thicken IMO.

    1. Get it right on the way in.
    2. don’t solo the track as you mix(much)

    When you eq on the way in you are really mixing with the solo button on one instrument at a time.(in the case of overdubs)

    I have found that for me personally I don’t eq a ton on the way in nor do I compress on the way in very much. Because of the relationship between compression and eq I have been reluctant to eq a ton before I compress. I am confident I could eq on the way in and this is really just a difference in work flow IMO.

    For my purposes I have found that good outboard eq is every bit as cool as you say. I find that Daw eq when used for surgery deep low or high pass filters is great for not getting noticed. Outboard is the personality.

    Awesome article

  18. 2. don’t solo the track as you mix(much)

    On some levels, I guess you are right about the soloing. I’m HUGE on pretty much gutting the solo button out of recording software. Okay, not really, but I do believe that button is a MAJOR cause for crappy recordings. I’ve never been shy about people to quit using that stupid button. It does have a place, just not as many places as most people expect.

    I don’t think the EQ necessarily has to be done in “solo mode”. In fact, when it comes to overdubbing, I definitely like to EQ with the musician doing their thing to the tracks already there.

    I guess there is SOME point where a person has to have an opinion about the track at hand with or without the context of the rough or real mix. I think this may be the part that separates the men from the boys. While I’m not remotely interested in being conservative about the processing I do on the way in, over processing isn’t really an option. So if I get the vibe that I’m going to far, I definitely take a step back and start all over with a new mic placement.

    I think if a person can get their tracks to almost-finished-ready-to-mix-state, they will find the mixing process to be dramatically easier.


  19. Hey Benson!

    Cool post. The ideas of good mic, pres, converters, and high sample rates all have their individual merits (at least to certain varying degrees). However, even with those tools, I’ve come up way too disappointed too many times. The music I record rarely desires the “jazz” mentality. Natural means nothing to metalheads or techno freaks. So my creative skill to take things further than that of simply fancy mics, pres, converters, etc is absolutely required. If a mega signal chain was all that was necessary, I think we’d see way more beginners with a few bucks actually making exciting recordings. The truth is a total beginner using Neumann, Neve, and Apogee is just as lost as a guy using all Behringer gear.

    I’m not necessarily saying a person shouldn’t get the fun toys. I have them. However, they are auxliary. The reason for this article was for me to say that I’ve found something MEGA SPECIAL about using analog EQ on the way in because that “pristine” thing I get by following the rules often sucks according to the band. They want that kick drum to slam and they want that snare drum pumping. That’s what they pay me for. My favorite analogy is a fancy mic, pre, and EQ are NOT the way you get this kick drum.

    Analog EQ has been INFINITELY cool at the mangling factor, which is what I want….the abilty to mangle….or make large than life….or subtly improve….or just take a bit of X out.

    The idea of using analog EQ for “analog warmth” was the last thing on my mind.

    I definitely want to try out the UAD cards as they may even get the job for me. However, the more I listen to other clips, the more I’m thinking the workflow of forcing me to get what I want on the way in with nearly zero compromise may be the biggest reason to use analog EQ.


  20. Benson Russell April 11, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Yeah, totally agree with you about the level of competency and I should have mentioned that. I would never advise a beginner to get a high end pre or converter to start. I would suggest an education into sound / recording / mixing (such as your book), and then in room treatments first :). This was more of a comment on the ‘how to get your recordings to sound warmer / more analog’ subject that was popping up.

    But I will say once you have learned what to do and are ready for the next steps then I think it’s time to start looking into a good pre / converter based on what type of end result you’re going for (granted this is only after you’ve made sure you have good monitoring and room treatments). Are you looking to track demo’s and song ideas? Are you looking to be a producer and track only a few things that would be keeper and mix somewhere else? Or are you looking to create a full professional sounding mix / master for direct release (i.e. compete with the big studios)? If it’s the last one, then I’d say getting that stuff is pretty essential. Sure you can get really close and even achieve pro results without it based on your skill level, but it makes it much much harder. Also I’m not advocating it be the most expensive or best named brand stuff, it just has to be good quality. My Rode NT1A has delivered some fantastic sounding female vocal and acoustic guitar takes running through my Focusrite ISA 428 with the converter card. That’s a sub $300 mic!! The pre-amp with the converter option is about $2000 total (and that’s 4 mic pre-amps with 8 channels of excellent A/D conversion, so I can plug another 4 channels of something else through it). Yes it’s much more than Behringer, but still a lot cheaper than what the big boys would consider ‘standard.’ *cough* Apogee Symphony System *cough* $5000!!!! just for conversion *cough* :)

    EQ’ing the sound on the way in is something I’ve never personally considered as I’ve always been worried about taking it too far and thus hurting the mix in the end. That’s my own personal quip of course, but perhaps I’ll rent a nice outboard EQ just to try it and see what it’s like. I’ve never considered it from a sound sculpting stand-point, always a corrective standpoint. Damn it, you might have just cost me another grand ;)p.

  21. Guy’s
    I am just trying eq on the way in and trust me if you have any idea on what mix you want to finish up with in the end you should.
    The earlier we start the better!
    A firm opinion.
    We learn plenty from our mistakes.
    Good gear at the front makes short work of low end.
    I used to mix muddy!
    Of late I am using my brain to modify my tracks to suit the freq they will inhabit in the mix and give due volume where it is important to have them stand out.
    Makes for good separation in the mix and less work later.
    I know I know, maybe change my mind later!


  22. “This peaked my interest”. Just to be pedantic the word you are looking for is actually “piqued” not “peaked” :P

    Nice article though otherwise…

  23. You grammar Nazis come up with new rules every day! Thanks for the tip!


  24. Im so glad i found this article!
    i have been thinking about adding some 500 series eq’s to my setup! I use some good mic pres Shadowhills mono gama and an Avedis MA5 for the time being. Can you recomend any great 500 series Q’s? Arsenal, API, etc?

  25. Hey James,

    My experience with the 500 EQ series is limited to one of the API models. I remember it having “the mojo” FOR SURE, but that was a while back and in very casual circumstances. (Not really tracking, just playing around). So I can’t be of any help further than that. Because of the lack of real estate on the 500 series panel, most of the 500 EQs I’ve seen have been of the “tone control” variety, which are probably what a person require 80% of the time.

    I’ve found with my Chameleon Labs 7602s that this “tone control” business is AWESOME, but there are times when more control over width would be welcomed.

    So I bought a Empirical Labs Lil’ Freq (comes in tomorrow). I’ll make sure to do a review of it!

  26. hi brandon and guys,
    i always use my dad’s AMS neve 1073,and to keep my hands off it ,we got a 7602(old mk 1)in 2006…
    i also have the 1073 on the UAD…
    their difference may be a bit too close,and hair raising than most people would admit.
    go,go chameleon and UAD…..