The new EQ is here -- Meh, maybe Freddy would care...

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by John Scrip, May 23, 2017.

  1. John Scrip

    John Scrip Senior Member

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    20-some weeks in the making - the EQ of a lifetime arrived today. [imagine Don LaFontaine's voice] In a world where certain equalizers rise up, cutting and boosting above all others, one EQ reigns supreme. This - may be - that equalizer. [/Don LaFontaine]

    [​IMG]

    It's based on the DR-MQ5 kit ("Igor's Sontec") that's been tweaked to be possibly the greatest EQ ever made in the history of the universe. All Elma switches & knobs, Jupiter caps, SIL op-amps, etc.

    Okay, maybe the "greatest ever made" is a little heavy. But still, it's friggin' amazing so far.
     
  2. frozenotter

    frozenotter Down with the Sickness

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    Nice! I bought a Manley Vari-Mu a few years ago and I really like it too. Is that a Prism or Maselec or...?
     
  3. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    :wow: Yes....Freddy cares! Freddy is salivating! :wow:

    Did you build it?

    how about an audio clip?
     
  4. DarrellV

    DarrellV Almost 1 Year old this month! Premium Member

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    I'll throw my hat in here too! I'll never be able to buy one, but I still geek out on good and great stuff!

    So, spill the beans already!...:run:
     
  5. KP11520

    KP11520 Senior Member

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    I'll just smile and nod my head a lot!

    Good for you! Enjoy!
     
  6. John Scrip

    John Scrip Senior Member

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    *I* didn't build it -- But had it built. I'm no good at such things. :-(

    I'll see what I can do about a sound clip at some point... Did find an issue that I need to address. A tiny bit of hum when the right side high shelf is engaged (thank Jeebus that each band has a bypass switch...). It's around -85, but "it's there" and that's enough to drive me batty.

    Otherwise, ridiculously quiet. I haven't even done actual testing yet, but when it's in the chain and engaged (except for the high shelf), I just don't see (or hear) *any* additional noise - which I know is impossible, but one of the reasons I wanted to use this particular unit as the starting point was the claimed freakish quietness.

    Super subtle... I know I'm just getting used to it at this point, but it's one of those things where I listen, I make the cuts I want - and I don't really hear them when I'm making them. Then you hit the master bypass and "well duh, of course it worked" -- Reminds me very much of my old GML's and Sontecs (which is what it was modeled after anyway, so no big shocker there) but the added tweaks are -- impressive.

    And just looking at it makes me drool.

    Sexy shot from yesterday....

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    I was thinking about building one of these a while ago....now I'm really seriously considering it! And I have enough Elma switches in stock.
     
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  8. John Scrip

    John Scrip Senior Member

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    I just wish you could stop by and see if you could track down this hum... ;)
     
  9. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Since it's modular it shouldn't be difficult for a decent tech with a scope to track down.....particularly since you have an identical module on the other side that doesn't hum. When you can A-B against a known working unit directly it makes things worlds easier!

    A not too off topic question....I have a couple of Meyer CP-10 Eqs in a rack on my left side. Whenever I want to make an adjustment I have to lean way over, make the adjustment and then sit back in the sweet spot and listen. This is driving me crazy because I feel I'm not tracking what I'm doing in real time with instant feedback from my ears. So I have been settling on just using software EQs lately...even though I really like the sound/feel of the CP-10. I don't seem to have this issue with compressors though...is that odd? I suppose this is why you mastering guys have stuff laid out right in front of you on your desk eh?
     
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  10. LPSGME

    LPSGME Senior Member

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    Apart from listening from the sweet spot, I usually A/B a setting or option by walking around the room while imagining I am in some appealing environment with music playing, to see which setting/option best grabs my ear. Doing this also affords the ability to hear and compare the difference from other than an optimum location.

    While a PITA, this technique has also caused me to conclude that no matter how I've recorded the tracks, and/or no matter what processing has been applied to them or to the mix buss, I still hear an added noticeable improvement by additionally running the end of the chain through pre-amps with transformers and possibly, also, tubes.

    Now this may be because my mix buss usually employs no other processing that has transformers and tubes. Nevertheless, what remains evident to me is that some device with transformers and tubes, when added in the end chain, will improve the sound quality to a noticeable and pleasing degree.

    That said, I'm now trying to clarify the affect of using plugins vs. hardware with regard to tracks and/or the mix buss. With plugins, I always hear a slight cloud or less open image. However I generally find that cloud, and any difference, is harder if not impossible to detect once the track is mixed with others. The odd [and good] thing is that this cloud seems to not be cumulative or additive.

    But i'm not so certain if that cloud is as unnoticeable when a plugin is used [on a stereo mix buss] vs. hardware.

    I'm thinking that a good test would be to compare a hardware EQ to a plugin [rather than any compressor or preamp as they are harder to emulate].

    Here's a comparison of a SONTEC with IK Multimedia's version of it.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
  11. John Scrip

    John Scrip Senior Member

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    I still grab a knob then look straight ahead and make adjustments. PITA when I grab the wrong knob...
     
  12. John Scrip

    John Scrip Senior Member

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    Ah - Missed that before -- This isn't one of the modular units using the (cards?). It's a big 'ol PCB and a bunch of stuff. It's my understanding (and keep in mind, that's not much of one) that you couldn't make a switched version out of the modular units (why? no idea). That said - No doubt, one side is perfect, the other is - just short of perfect.

    Did some null testing on it a few days ago - Mind-blowing how well the sides match up.

    Blah, blah - found a local-ish place that deals in the mundane to the freakishly esoteric. Even the *receptionist* has an idea of what the issue might be. I need a new place anyway, so I'm going to drop by with the beast and see how they handle it.
     
  13. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    :laugh2::laugh2::laugh2:
     
  14. John Scrip

    John Scrip Senior Member

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    Badges came in -- Laser-etched stainless. Me likey.

    IMG_3313.jpg
     
  15. LPSGME

    LPSGME Senior Member

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    So out of all your amazing gear, which do you feel best provides that 'je ne sais quoi' of aural delight - the HEDD 192; the NEVE Portico II; TAPE; 'other'; or some combination? And what factors determine when you use any or all? Or does it just depend on the mix and get determined by trial and error?

    NOGD - New Old Gear Day
     
  16. John Scrip

    John Scrip Senior Member

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    The speakers and the space --

    At risk of sounding too - "zen" (?) it's a simple matter of listening and doing what the mixes tell me to do. Occasionally, it's barely anything. Other times, it's damn near everything. Usually something in the middle. Today (many days actually) I was working on a project that had all 3. One mix I didn't touch (except for a limiter - they wanted it loud and actually gave me a number to shoot for). A few needed major surgery - de-essing (on the side info only, due to a whacky hi-hat), some clocking errors that got past the previous steps, weird artifacts from somewhere mysterious... Most needed "a little of this and a little of that" - Used the (Neve) PMB as an "anchor" on that one - Used a setting that just sort of "worked" with them all and made all the other adjustments with that in the chain.

    The most important piece is the piece any individual mix is asking for. Well, a lot of times there's a common chain - but each mix wants whatever tweaks it wants.

    On the non-zen part, it really isn't an awful lot different than tossing up a bunch of faders and figuring out what each instrument needs to best serve the mix as a whole.
     
  17. LPSGME

    LPSGME Senior Member

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    Surgically editing a mix always seems so impossible being that other elements share the same frequency and temporal space as the one in need of adjustment. I sometimes find I can do as much good by, instead, trying to improve the whole - whereby any specific issues stand out less in the general blend of things.

    But then that seems a bit like what you described doing with the PMB, no? Although it sounds like you did a little of both [general and surgical].

    Anyway, making the mix sound as analog as possible is sort of what I was curious about.

    Do you feel you need to do less when the tracks or mixes were recorded to Tape and/or through tube/transformer gear vs being solely digital?
     
  18. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    John, on this topic....do you often get stems instead of just a stereo track? Seems to me you'd have far more control and precision working that way.
     
  19. John Scrip

    John Scrip Senior Member

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    @LPSGME -- 10 or 15 years ago, I asked for a lot (a LOT) more remixes than I do now. Clocking errors, video whine, DC offset problems -- Those were killers. But the tools are *so* much more advanced now that you can take many of those issues head-on with literally no audible artifacts. The digital stuff has come a long way in a short time and the analog stuff has refined to the point where I don't know if it can get much better. Even goofy stuff like mid-side processing -- Which was almost always this one particular circuit -- has been trounced by a new circuit (It's too late to look up specs, but the new circuit is in my TK-Lizer EQ - which is just freaky).

    The need to do stuff -- That's one of those double-edged swords. I've heard really awful recordings made in really fantastic studios and I've heard amazing recordings done in spare bedrooms. But the general rule of thumb is that recordings done in amazing studios sound more amazing -- Most people who "aren't ready" for such facilities don't go to such facilities. HOWEVER, those same people could probably make recordings that sounded 95.3% as good on off-the-shelf stuff from the local Guitar Shack.

    There are exceptions on both sides -- Worked more recordings than I care to mention done at stellar studios by artists/bands that had no purpose being in those studios. Also worked one in particular at Telefunken with this really amazing gal (name escapes me at the moment) that was just incredible to listen to - even with the obvious tape hiss. I remember working on that one for hours trying desperately to make it sound like I didn't do anything to it. That was a "world-class" recording with world-class gear in a world-class room -- with a world-class source. Probably would've still been a great recording if it was tracked in someone's basement.

    @Freddy G -- Yet another sword. It *does* give you (me) more options -- But those tend to be along the same lines -- Either they're exceptional recordings where the engineer insists on giving me the absolute amount of control (where I normally don't do anything different anyway) or they're "meh" recordings where the engineer doesn't commit to the mix and wants to push the "responsibility" elsewhere. And occasionally somewhere in the middle --- I was working on a project last year from a singer-songwriter who just wanted to make sure the recording was as good as it could possibly be. I called it the "Vacation Project" (even to the client) as it basically covered my vacation that year. Hours and hours of micro-adjustments to stems. He couldn't (didn't want to) commit and wanted to hear someone else's take on his vision -- And that's fine also. I've been there myself. The best move I ever made as a musician was to give control of the mix to someone else.

    I'm not a big fan of stems, I don't particularly enjoy working from stems - although the charge is hourly only - hence the occasional "vacation project" - but that said, there have been projects, rare as they may be, that clocked out faster from stems as they would at the normal rates. But that was because of exceptional mixes from exceptional sources that required very little processing. There are also the occasional nightmare projects...
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017
  20. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    I really wonder about the stems issue myself. As a post mixer for broadcast TV I deliver stems routinely for distribution, national and international but even in "non-music mixing" I find it challenging to get the same results putting my stems at unity gain vs listening to the "regular" mix hitting the stereo bus processing. There's just something missing when putting a mix together from premixed stems, call it glue or whatever, vs just summing all the tracks to stereo at the same time. How do you judge bus compression when delivering a stem? That processing, if in the path for the stem-print, will behave differently vs a full mix. I can't imagine music being any easier in this respect, probably the opposite. If the engineer delivers stems, then why not just deliver the entire Protools session to the mastering engineer (assuming it's an ITB mix)? I do see value in the "vocal" stem and "everything else" stem, but beyond that I'm not so sure. But I'm not a music guy when it comes to engineering so I'd appreciate some insights into this just further my education. Thanx gents.
     

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