Wednesday, June 13, 2007

June Recording Tip...Passive EQ!

Anyone who has spent more than two hours in recording has heard of “passive EQ”, but what is a passive equalizer, and why is its sublime quality so desirable? There are two ways to explain passive equalization: First, one can describe the circuit as a series of passive filters made up of resistors and inductors, followed by a make-up amplifier on the output which restores the amplitude lost by inserting the filters. OR, we can use the much more fun one-word description: “Pultec”! Yep, those old, three-rack-space mono monsters are passive EQs with a honkin’ tube amp on their back-end to make up gain. This is a different principle than “active” EQs like the famous Neves, which have a more aggressive sound. The magic of a good passive EQ is that it is subtle but VERY musical, enabling many db of boost without sounding artificial. For instance, the low-boost on the famous Pultec EQP-1A has been the BIG knob for kick-drum for decades. When you dial in that Pultec 60hz for the first time, you immediately recognize it from major recordings. Of course, Big Blue's treble-boost is famous for giving air and presence to vocals. You can floor it at 16K and it still sounds natural. Manley’s Massive Passive is a brilliant modern rendition of the passive EQ, and one of my absolute favorite devices ever made. (And forget those plug-ins, they don’t cut it! If you want the sound of real passive EQ, analog hardware is a must!)

Drew’s favorite passive EQs: THE Pultec EQP-1A, EQP-1A3, EQP-1S, EQH2, MEQ-5; The Manley Massive Passive; The Manley/Langevin Mini-Massive; The Chandler EMI Channel MKII; The Pendulum Quartet/Quartet II; The Amtec PEQ-1A

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