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Pensado EQ shootout vs Crave, Magpha, FabFilter and more!
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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swartzfeger's Avatar
Pensado EQ shootout vs Crave, Magpha, FabFilter and more!

Acustica Audio has teamed with renowned engineer Dave Pensado and created a custom Pensado EQ.

Inspired by the Sontec 432 eq shootout created by @ b0se I decided to do a shootout against the new Pensado EQ.

I pitted Pensado EQ up against Crave, EQuilibrium, FabFilter Pro-Q3, Magpha, Ozone 9 EQ and ToneBoosters Equalizer v4.

Track used: the 'POM' clip from the @ b0se 432 shootout.

Pensado EQ was boosted +5dB at 9.8k and all curves were closely matched in Plugin Doctor. Files processed/bounced at 24/44.1.

Other notes: Crave was set to analog mode, EQuilibrium to FIR/Analogue/9192; FFQ3 to natural phase.

I would post fancy charts from Plugin Doctor to show the curve precision but unfortunately I'm not well versed in PD yet; I could only get 2 plugins to load at a time and was unable to get the colored curves to match the colored keys on the chart (NB: I don't RTFM so any recommendations are appreciated).

NB II: A- B-C-D-E-F-G files were level matched to within -.1 dBFS / -.1 LUFS

The shootout files are here:

Pensado EQ shootout files

Have fun and post your preferences/dislikes to PM me for results. Don't forget this is all for fun to make the sluttiest music possible.

Last edited by swartzfeger; 6 days ago at 06:01 AM.. Reason: spelling
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 
swartzfeger's Avatar
I forgot to mention: please post your preferences (or least favorites!) here and then shoot me a PM requesting results; I promise there are no wrong answers. This is just for fun to drum up slutty EQ talk.

If you post your preferences and PM me, I will send you the results.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
cjack2020's Avatar
Jammed out to all of them through laptop speakers. A is my favorite. Nice track.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Gear Nut
 

my pref

I like A and E. The low end is open, clear, more acoustic, or should I say ACUSTICA?
Anyway, E and A sound nice and open. Nice track
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Gear Nut
 

And I think I like A the best. It breathes more, more open. The other ones sound vulgar next to it, except E which isn’t quite as open but still better then the others
Old 6 days ago
  #6
Gear Head
Only on headphones on a iPad soundcard, so my opinion isn’t worth a pinch of poo, and would differ radically if I was on monitors in a treated room.
But I’ll still take a wild punt regardless...........

Actually liked C the most as the bass retained its groove/ swing as per the original. Maybe a tad smeared in the transients and a bit soft in the high hat, but it’s all about the bass for me personally, and not screwing with the tone of the original track.
Then liked D next. A bit more harder edge on the bass and hats, but still grooving with Authority.
Then liked B. A bit flubby on the bass but clear high hat.
Then liked A which had a stiffer bass but quite clear in the highs.
Then F. Not as deep on the kick, bass slightly rolled off, more about the mids/ highs.
Then G which had more presence but not that much edge to the sound.
Then E, which sounded a bit clipped in the bass, soft hats, recessed mids.
Can you pm the results to me and I promise to keep them to myself. Cheers for the effort in organising the shootout.
Old 6 days ago
  #7
Gear Addict
 
alibling's Avatar
 

thanks for the shootout will post soon my favs
Old 6 days ago
  #8
Gear Addict
 
alibling's Avatar
 

A, then G and then E - but I must say there are all very close.

Looking forward for the results!

Thanks again for the shootout
Old 6 days ago
  #9
Gear Head
 
Agustin Mongelli's Avatar
 

Hi! Thanks for doing this.
I Like "E" the most....Listening several times, I also liked "D" and I even find something interesting but exaggerated "B".

Sending PM...
Old 6 days ago
  #10
Gear Nut
 

Am I the only one who is having problems telling D and F apart? Anyway, both being rather uninteresting, they are my least favorite.

B is weird, hard to put into place, hairy. Could work sometimes.

I like E the most, with A,C,G following after.

All in all, my list is (B got the third place for the sake of having options):
E, A, B, C, G, D, F.
Old 6 days ago
  #11
Here for the gear
 

Thanks for putting this together. I was really hoping I wouldn’t hear much difference between them so I could save some money and just grab the TB EQ4 and be content with that. But now I’m worried. Like others here, I liked A and E the best. C F and G were all pretty close To each other IMO, and I didn’t like D or B as well. Fingers crossed that those opinions won’t cost me a boat load of money when I find out what they all are.
Old 5 days ago
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
alexishere's Avatar
 

E felt a bit louder and more saturated. A was my favourite but E felt most lively and analog to me. PM me results please!

Just did a null test with the original file to find out which is pensado.. Very surprising..
Old 5 days ago
  #13
Here for the gear
 

E and F to my ear are the sweetest sounding...
Old 5 days ago
  #14
Lives for gear
 
jimmydeluxe's Avatar
Interested to listen, thanks. Curious why you chose analog mode over transparent on crave? to me much better and ironically more "analog" sounding.

I really like P EQ, hoping this shootout changes my mind haha

edit: A is my fav of these but I don't love any of them or the track so moot comp for me...pensado eq really shines when pushed to limits at x2 IMO so that's how I'm testing it. Diamond sounds great too but too different band-wise for fair a/b and don't like the pre as much

might just have to get the damn eq smh
Old 5 days ago
  #15
Gear Head
 

My impressions from good to less good: b e c g f a d

Listening fast, just one round/decision for each letter.
Thank you very much for the fun.
Old 5 days ago
  #16
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swartzfeger's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmydeluxe View Post
Interested to listen, thanks. Curious why you chose analog mode over transparent on crave? to me much better and ironically more "analog" sounding.
Fair question and had considered it. I guess because Magpha is by default an ‘analog-ish’ curve, and since Equilibrium, FabFilter and Crave all offer an analog mode I figured it was as much an ‘analog curve comparison’ as anything else (assuming Pensado’s 9.8k band was hardware sampled and not software trickery).

And like a few mentioned here... listening on laptop speakers and iPads and whatnot, how important is it these days for exact apples-to-apples comparisons? I’m not sure. With my tinnitus and open-back Sennheisers these tests are always a hoot. :D

I plan on doing a shootout with AA Ruby2 and for Crave I’ll probably do transparent mode just to see if there’s a striking difference, good or bad (or if people notice listening on their earbuds
Old 5 days ago
  #17
Gear Addict
 
alibling's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by swartzfeger View Post
Fair question and had considered it. I guess because Magpha is by default an ‘analog-ish’ curve, and since Equilibrium, FabFilter and Crave all offer an analog mode I figured it was as much an ‘analog curve comparison’ as anything else (assuming Pensado’s 9.8k band was hardware sampled and not software trickery).

And like a few mentioned here... listening on laptop speakers and iPads and whatnot, how important is it these days for exact apples-to-apples comparisons? I’m not sure. With my tinnitus and open-back Sennheisers these tests are always a hoot. :D

I plan on doing a shootout with AA Ruby2 and for Crave I’ll probably do transparent mode just to see if there’s a striking difference, good or bad (or if people notice listening on their earbuds
I just bought ruby today and I'm totally in love. So would love to see it in a shootout like that.
Old 5 days ago
  #18
Lives for gear
 
swartzfeger's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by alibling View Post
I just bought ruby today and I'm totally in love. So would love to see it in a shootout like that.
Me too, one of my favorite Acquas.
Old 5 days ago
  #19
ULA
Here for the gear
 

It was hard for me to pick a favorite but I preferred E and B the most and disliked C and D - the others were really a wash.
Old 5 days ago
  #20
Gear Addict
 

Liked B (3D) and F (fat).

PM the results please.

Thank you.
Daniel.
Old 5 days ago
  #21
mpr
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by swartzfeger View Post
Me too, one of my favorite Acquas.
Same here. Fearn’s amps sound so smooth with a hint of thick mid glow. And those musical pultec-like band interactions make dialing in balanced tones effortless.
Old 5 days ago
  #22
Lives for gear
 
jimmydeluxe's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by swartzfeger View Post
Fair question and had considered it. I guess because Magpha is by default an ‘analog-ish’ curve, and since Equilibrium, FabFilter and Crave all offer an analog mode I figured it was as much an ‘analog curve comparison’ as anything else (assuming Pensado’s 9.8k band was hardware sampled and not software trickery).

And like a few mentioned here... listening on laptop speakers and iPads and whatnot, how important is it these days for exact apples-to-apples comparisons? I’m not sure. With my tinnitus and open-back Sennheisers these tests are always a hoot. :D

I plan on doing a shootout with AA Ruby2 and for Crave I’ll probably do transparent mode just to see if there’s a striking difference, good or bad (or if people notice listening on their earbuds
Right–I didn't mean to be picky I just happen to use curve all the time so I'm very familiar with the modes but "analog" would make more sense at a glance...regardless thx for the test
Old 4 days ago
  #23
Gear Head
Pensado EQ was boosted +5dB at 9.8k and all curves were closely matched in Plugin Doctor. Files processed/bounced at [B]24/44.[/QUOTE]

I now realised there is only one EQ boost point at 9.8k ONLY. Just wondering, is that a bell or a shelf? Knowing that, I would have focused on the top end comparisons more, rather than being more concerned about the sound as a whole, especially the bass where apparently nothing has been boosted or cut? Oh well, too late now.
Old 4 days ago
  #24
Gear Maniac
 
alexishere's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulthesparky View Post
Pensado EQ was boosted +5dB at 9.8k and all curves were closely matched in Plugin Doctor. Files processed/bounced at [B]24/44.
I now realised there is only one EQ boost point at 9.8k ONLY. Just wondering, is that a bell or a shelf? Knowing that, I would have focused on the top end comparisons more, rather than being more concerned about the sound as a whole, especially the bass where apparently nothing has been boosted or cut? Oh well, too late now.[/QUOTE]

Its a bell curve
Old 4 days ago
  #25
Lives for gear
 
swartzfeger's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by paulthesparky View Post
I now realised there is only one EQ boost point at 9.8k ONLY. Just wondering, is that a bell or a shelf? Knowing that, I would have focused on the top end comparisons more, rather than being more concerned about the sound as a whole, especially the bass where apparently nothing has been boosted or cut? Oh well, too late now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexishere View Post
Its a bell curve
Yes, it's a bell curve.

The single-band test also highlights why tests like these range from nominally useful to pointless. A single band test is nice ('how well does this EQ perform at extreme boosts?') but I don't know if it necessarily serves an EQ well like Pensado, which is obviously a different beast than FabFilter or Crave.

Unfortunately -- something I've found now while playing with Acqua EQs in Plugin Doctor -- Acustica curves are very, very hard to match. They're not these geometrically, symmetrically perfect curves like we find in digital EQs but these organic monsters with minds of their own.

Of course, I could just do the boosts in Pensado and match as close as possible in the other EQs (read: not very close at all) and call it a test, which I would find useful too, but then the pedants with decibel meters will come out of the woodwork.

A user has requested testing additional modes in Crave, so I may redo the test with these additional modes plus doing a little mid-range boost. Would love to test the low-en on Pensado but the curve is too wild.

I'm also going to throw a curveball into the fray and let everyone decide if they like it.

Last edited by swartzfeger; 4 days ago at 11:07 PM..
Old 4 days ago
  #26
Gear Addict
 

I feel all files are brighter than C. With E the brightest.
Old 3 days ago
  #27
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by swartzfeger View Post
Yes, it's a bell curve.

The single-band test also highlights why tests like these range from nominally useful to pointless. A single band test is nice ('how well does this EQ perform at extreme boosts?') but I don't know if it necessarily serves an EQ well like Pensado, which is obviously a different beast than FabFilter or Crave.

Unfortunately -- something I've found now while playing with Acqua EQs in Plugin Doctor -- Acustica curves are very, very hard to match.
I totally agree with you about the the artificiality of matching single band curves and comparing sounds.

In addition, if plugin A produces a complex curve effortlessly and that curve really works well with the material,
and you have to spend, say, 30 minutes with an analyzer to reverse engineer/match it in plugin B, then even if A and B null, A has a clear
advantage over B in terms of achieving the desired sound in real-life conditions
.

Conversely, if you do not match fabfilter to pensando but try to match
pensado to fabfilter you may find that it takes equal or more effort for some settings. So the design of the shootout setup clearly and strongly affects
the conclusions drawn
, unless special care is given to nullifying such
design artifacts.

I also note that complex eq curves are produced by several
plugins, not just AA ones.
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