If you’re like me, then you have little self control and enjoy accumulating plug-ins.
I just look at all that god damn gold around Quavo’s neck and equate that with all my vintage EQs, stacked fat and expensive in the right column of my DAW. Well, eventually just looking at them wasn’t enough. I had to use them, because they’re there and I don’t wanna get caught lackin’ even though we all use Pro-Q 2 when it comes down to the real gritty mixing.
I didn’t understand vintage EQs for a minute, because of their unavoidable sonic artifacts, their lack of complete freedom regarding endless boosts or cuts at any frequency, any direction and any time. Once I put in some time, I realized that vintage EQs are fucking dope BECAUSE of these reasons. The unavoidable sonic artifacts: when you know them, plan for them and expect them to alter your sound, are really pleasing (kinda like the first time you use saturation without it ruining your mix immediately). The preset frequency bands are also chosen for very specific reasons and after endless testing by the manufacturer, I guess they put them where they are most musical, have the most meaningful impacts to most channels/mixes and help you get your mix done faster.
Vintage EQs = effective, musical, quick and full of character
If you have some of these and are neglecting them, I definitely recommend trying to mix a song by putting the same EQ on every channel (and bus) and sticking with only this EQ for your session. By the end, you’ll get to know its characteristics, strengths and weaknesses and it will be a new chance for you to grow and become a better person.
Pultec-style Vintage EQs
(Includes IK T-Racks 5’s EQ-PA, EQ-P1A, EQ-PB, EQ-PG, Waves RS56. Lindell PEX-500, Lindell TE-100)
The Pultec-style modeling usually references the fact that you can boost and attenuate the same frequency. If you look at your meters, the bands are slightly offset, so you get a unique resonant-type boost and a dip (from left-to-right) which even further accentuates the resonant boost. A common use for this kind of trick is when EQ’ing the low-end of a kick drum, as you want it to punch you in the guts and then scoop out that muddy, boxy region around 300-500 or so.
- Pultec-style modeling also usually refers to the “Proportional Q Gain”, which is a slight boost to gain in correlation with widening your Q (band width).
- I really fuck with IK T-Rack’s EQ-PA (or Waves Puigtech) for doing some quick and nasty EQing to whatever. You can overlap the hi and lo pass filters to make a wonky bandpass filter and it has an aggeressive pre-amp that goes from a little subtle saturation to just straight blown out, harsh garbage, which I completely support as well. The EQ-PB, P1A and PB all have the same signal path, types of filters and sound, they just vary in the amount of bands they have. The PB is nicest for midrange work because of its extra bands, so guitar, vocals, pianos and strings can all get it.
- Lindel PEX-500: is based on a passive Pultec EQ but I think they added more MID-HIGH bands in it and it also comes with a MID/SIDE mode. Dope.
- Lindell TE-100: my notes are so sloppy I can’t read most of it but I know this guy can make those wonky bandpass filters too and it has some seriously thick, greasy, saturated, tubey color to lay on your tracks.
- Waves RS56: Used primarily for mastering purposes but it can still fuck up your sound heavy because it looks like it has a few hundred knobs on it. Anyways, the most important thing to remember about these is the “BOOST/CUT SAME FREQUENCY” and most of them can put some beef in your tone.
- –SPL PASSEQ: another one with an unholy amount of knobs and they are all inter-connected so any turn has an effect on all the other knobs. I usually watch the meters pretty close if I have enough courage to slap this on my mixbus or mastering session.
- –RZ062 : This one took a minute to grow on me because its pretty weird but the sound is actually really great. It’s often used for vocals but I make beats so I usually just put it on my mixbus for some nice warm analog character and touch. It seems pretty hard to fuck up your sound with those, props to those engineers for choosing some good frequency bands to lock us up with. The weirdest shit about this thing is that it comes with an A and a B version that make no sense.
- In the A-version, turning the central knob causes the frequency curve to rotate (?) or dance (?) around a set point of 650 (you can’t change it) and lowers the treble while increasing the bass (like a tilt filter I guess).
- The B-version has a presence knob in the center, that allows you to choose one of four frequencies but it simultaneously is adjusting their gain too. You just gotta treat her nice and gentle and you will be rewarded. If that didn’t make much sense then I explained it right because the whole thing is stupid and fun. This EQ has a lot of color but its GOOD color and it can change your mix significantly pretty quickly. Lots of bass, lots of prensence, it really sounds good on most settings.
Thanks for reading!
I really haven’t seen many articles or youtube videos really explaining what these are about and most of us have been fucking around on the real versions of these for 20-30 years so I am hoping it was helpful.
I’ll write part two in the next couple days and will include info on API-style (550A, 550B, 560) EQs, PSP’s E27, McQ, RetroQ, Kramer Helios, MAAG EQ4 / Black Rooster’s VE-Q4, Eventide’s EQ45 and EQ65, Neve 73 / Scheps 73 / T-Racks 73 and Neve 1081 EQ emulations.
Let me know if there’s anything else you want to hear about in the comments and subscribe for updates 🙂