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Sontec MEP 250EX as primary EQ Equalisers (HW)
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Sontec MEP 250EX as primary EQ

Anyone use the MEP-250EX (with modifications for gain range) as their main mastering EQ? I have been on quite the long search for a main mastering EQ that can be used in M/S. I am a believer in one or 2 eq, one comp and that's it for my chain. Otherwise, I get distracted and lose perspective. Here's what I have been through:

Weiss--loved but want some character,

Massivo--loved but not versatile enough,

PQ--bought used from a dishonest person and it was not functioning properly,

Summit MPE-200--found it was lovely but not suited for a main EQ, limited headroom.

Klontz Sontec 8 band--surprisingly great EQ, but its stereo ganged, requiring me to have a DAV BG3 for MS work, which adds another unit in the chain.

The MEP-250EX gives me the inimitable sontec sound, with 5 bands, in a small form factor for a fantastic price. Is it too good to be true?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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SmoothTone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boxtone View Post
Is it too good to be true?
Well, there's the QC issues that Sontec are unfortunately renowned for… enough to make me nervous about getting one. The real deal breaker for me would be the PITA of matching sides with rotary pots (somewhat less an issue in MS).

Have you considered the Custom Audio Germany 250 model? They have the MS matrix onboard, possibly more reliable and you can have the gain range set to whatever you like since it's built to order (and they look pretty cool too).

How much MS work are you doing? I only use it occasionally and find it quicker workflow-wise just to pull up a digital EQ if I want to do any MS EQ.

Sorry to hear about your PQ experience.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothTone View Post
Well, there's the QC issues that Sontec are unfortunately renowned for… enough to make me nervous about getting one. The real deal breaker for me would be the PITA of matching sides with rotary pots (somewhat less an issue in MS).

Have you considered the Custom Audio Germany 250 model? They have the MS matrix onboard, possibly more reliable and you can have the gain range set to whatever you like since it's built to order (and they look pretty cool too).

How much MS work are you doing? I only use it occasionally and find it quicker workflow-wise just to pull up a digital EQ if I want to do any MS EQ.

Sorry to hear about your PQ experience.
Yes, I still may consider a new PQ. You never had any issues? I was just heartbroken when I got mine and it was DOA.

It's not that often for MS, but I would like my primary outboard EQ to be able to function that way when needed, instead of having to go to a digital EQ whenever I need to go with some MS eqing.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
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Verified Member
I don't own a proper 250, but have used a clone since I started.

it's about as much of a middle of the road (in a good way) mastering EQ as it is, I guess the same goes for the bigger 400 series models.

Not too colourful but sounds really different to clean digital
Frequency points are wide enough but precise enough for mastering
Enough bands to do complicated stuff but sounds great doing broad stuff.

The real key to that design IMHO is the parallel type architecture. You can do fantastic things when bands interact.

Again mine is just a clone, but a really nicely made one, and the hype is justified.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
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SmoothTone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boxtone View Post
Yes, I still may consider a new PQ. You never had any issues?
It went through 3 fuses in the first week but since then has been fine.

Quote:
It's not that often for MS, but I would like my primary outboard EQ to be able to function that way when needed, instead of having to go to a digital EQ whenever I need to go with some MS eqing.
Fair enough. Have you seen the GML 8200 in the classifieds right now? Good price.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Gear Head
 
Sargon's Avatar
 

I have an original 250ex myself and I love it. Great tone, great musicality, all that Sontec is famous for. But to be honest, even with the 6 db mod I wouldn´t want to use it if I had daily mastering work to do. For me, there is no way around a proper Mastering EQ with rotary switches. So I would really think about whether the Sontec clones (e.g. Steffen Muller) with switches could be the better choice. They probably don´t have the entire Sontec magic, but users are obviously happy with them. Otherwise I can only agree, with the Sontec 250ex you get probably the best sounding equalizer in that price range.

A used Maselec MEA-2 could be another alternative. Several years ago I bought one for around 3000 Euros and for that price I would prefer it any time over the 250ex (as a mastering EQ).

I also had the new model of the PQ. Same story here, bought it used with hidden technical issues. Sold it finally on Ebay as broken.. Otherwise good and versatile EQ, but with bad ergonomics for my taste, too small steps with the detented pots which make it rather difficult to match the channels.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
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teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sargon View Post
I have an original 250ex myself and I love it. Great tone, great musicality, all that Sontec is famous for. But to be honest, even with the 6 db mod I wouldn´t want to use it if I had daily mastering work to do. For me, there is no way around a proper Mastering EQ with rotary switches. So I would really think about whether the Sontec clones (e.g. Steffen Muller) with switches could be the better choice. They probably don´t have the entire Sontec magic, but users are obviously happy with them. Otherwise I can only agree, with the Sontec 250ex you get probably the best sounding equalizer in that price range.

A used Maselec MEA-2 could be another alternative. Several years ago I bought one for around 3000 Euros and for that price I would prefer it any time over the 250ex (as a mastering EQ).

I also had the new model of the PQ. Same story here, bought it used with hidden technical issues. Sold it finally on Ebay as broken.. Otherwise good and versatile EQ, but with bad ergonomics for my taste, too small steps with the detented pots which make it rather difficult to match the channels.
the problems with spl unfortunately came to my ears several times and i had to make similar experiences (fortunately, before i bought)

if you like the sound of your 250ex so much, i would ask someone like steffen müller to change it to rotary switch.
all sontec-clones sound different, so this is the safest option
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
Gear Nut
 

A couple of Steff's standard options for the HDE-250a are +/-6db boost/cut and stepped controls. I haven't tried the Sontec 250, but I'm very happy with my HDE-250a. I have the +/- 12db version with pots.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
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Justin P.'s Avatar
 

I bought a new one a couple years ago despite hearing issues of quality control.

Sure enough it was dead on arrival so I sent it back and looked elsewhere.

No time for downtime in a busy mastering studio.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
I've owned both a real 250 (with +/-6db mod) and a clone. I don't own either any more.

The real 250 definitely sounded better to my ears, but it was too fiddly to operate. I might be in the minority here as it's my dream for all devices in my studio, even switched ones, to operate with true stereo control.

The filters on the clone sounded good, but I wasn't a fan of the boxtone. It was fairly transparent but with a slight flattening effect on everything that went through it. Would probably be unnoticable on individual tracks, but I gradually stopped using it due to the negative effect it had on masters. Some different opamps might have solved the 'problem' but I didn't love the filters enough to go through that process.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
Gear Head
 
Sargon's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by teebaum View Post
the problems with spl unfortunately came to my ears several times and i had to make similar experiences (fortunately, before i bought)

if you like the sound of your 250ex so much, i would ask someone like steffen müller to change it to rotary switch.
all sontec-clones sound different, so this is the safest option
Yes, I also thought it could be nice to have a fully switched version of the MEP250, so I asked Steffen about the price. Unfortunately, a stock Sontec 250 plus the new housing and Elma switches is already near the price range of a Knif Soma and other "main EQs". So perhaps not an option for the OP.. So if it has to be a 250EX, the 6 db gain mod seems to be the best solution, in my opinion.

Regarding the SPL gear, it´s maybe not entirely fair to say that SPL generally has a quality problem. When I bought my PQ from a different studio I noticed a problem with the "auto bypass" and contacted SPL, and they kindly offered to repair it for free, even with the already expired warranty. But I decided to leave it as it is because I don´t really needed that function, and don´t wanted to ship that heavy box back and forth..
Btw, the devices from the "mastering range" of SPL look very well built. So I wouldn´t hesitate to buy from SPL again. The PQ is a beast of an EQ with about 40 (?) discrete opamps. I sometimes regret that I didn´t spend more time with it to discover it a bit more. But at that time I had to decide quickly between the PQ and the Eksa, and the Eksa has defenitely the better ergonomics.
Btw, if I had to decide between a stock 250 and a PQ, I probably would take the PQ. I think it has maybe a few more sound variations (from clean to slightly colored) and at least the detented pots for proper stereo work.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
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dietrich10's Avatar
I use a stock 250EX(m/s) and a PQ everyday. I also have a 430 on the bench. In the past i had a different 430 with the 250/PQ. the 250 sounded as good as the HS1000 filled 430. The headroom on my 250(has had some updates over the years) is amazing.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
Gear Head
 
Sargon's Avatar
 

I agree with you, the 250 sounds very similar to the 430 series. I only have the feeling that the 4xx is a little bit cleaner and punchier. But in most situations you can´t tell them apart, they booth sound great and "sontec". I also use mine with the +-12 db gain range and m/s. I remember reading somewhere in the manual that changing the gain range can affect the sound, so I didn´t changed anything, as the unit sounds so great.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
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Ben F's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sargon View Post
I agree with you, the 250 sounds very similar to the 430 series. I only have the feeling that the 4xx is a little bit cleaner and punchier. But in most situations you can´t tell them apart, they booth sound great and "sontec". I also use mine with the +-12 db gain range and m/s. I remember reading somewhere in the manual that changing the gain range can affect the sound, so I didn´t changed anything, as the unit sounds so great.
It's only the summing resistors the sound should not be affected by changing this.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dietrich10 View Post
I use a stock 250EX(m/s) and a PQ everyday. I also have a 430 on the bench. In the past i had a different 430 with the 250/PQ. the 250 sounded as good as the HS1000 filled 430. The headroom on my 250(has had some updates over the years) is amazing.
How would you compare the 250 with the PQ? How do they contrast?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
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Jerry Tubb's Avatar
 

Verified Member
the 250 is a damn fine EQ.

i’ve used many of the Sontecs, they all have a great musical character.

you might also consider the GML 8200.

best, jt
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
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dietrich10's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boxtone View Post
How would you compare the 250 with the PQ? How do they contrast?
my 250 is very natural and the headroom is amazing
the PQ is modern...again headroom is amazing but it almost adds weight or a shine where the 250 does not.

Last edited by dietrich10; 4 weeks ago at 04:27 PM.. Reason: edit
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
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dietrich10's Avatar
[QUOTE=Boxtone;13629306]Anyone use the MEP-250EX (with modifications for gain range) as their main mastering EQ?
Weiss--loved but want some character,

Massivo--loved but not versatile enough,
Yes I miss this as a secondary EQ


Summit MPE-200--found it was lovely but not suited for a main EQ, limited headroom.
It was my 3rd EQ for a year-sometimes it dulled the mix too far...
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