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Buying my first mastering eq Equalisers (HW)
Old 30th July 2014
  #1
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Buying my first mastering eq

So I've been doing more and more mastering work and it's getting to where I need a good basic outboard eq. I've been using an outboard focusrite red compressor and the mdw eq and various waves plugins in pro tools for now.

As far as eq's the only one I really have experience with on full mixes is the gml 8200 which I love but is out of my price range.

So far at the top of my list is a sontec 250 or the API 5500.. I know two totally different animals but I feel I could make either work.

What would you guys recommend in the 3k or lower range? Most of the music is modern heavy rock or hard hitting hip hop/ electronic tracks. Not too much soft dynamic music, so I'm looking for something tight and polished.
Old 30th July 2014
  #2
Gear Head
 

Slightly out of your budget and downright quirky in terms of ergonomics, but the Crane Song Ibis is a great all-rounder.

Best regards,
Gert
Old 30th July 2014
  #3
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teebaum's Avatar
in this price range and for hard rock and punchy dance stuff the 5500 is a good choice.
alternative maybe a manley mini massive
Old 30th July 2014
  #4
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Verified Member
5500 is exactly what ya after!
Old 30th July 2014
  #5
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Can the API do the glassy top end thing a gml can do? I imagine the sontec being better for that type of work.
Old 30th July 2014
  #6
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Verified Member
Quite possible. I have the 250, my friend has the 5500, the top end is still good on the 5500 but isn't that shine the Sontec/GML designs are famous for.

The low mid and bottom end on the API is lot a firmer and more aggressive than the sontec, which is warm and soft.
Old 30th July 2014
  #7
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teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by planet red View Post
Can the API do the glassy top end thing a gml can do?
no.

if you love penelope cruz, don't date megan fox
Old 30th July 2014
  #8
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marcenavia's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by planet red View Post
So I've been doing more and more mastering work and it's getting to where I need a good basic outboard eq. I've been using an outboard focusrite red compressor and the mdw eq and various waves plugins in pro tools for now.

As far as eq's the only one I really have experience with on full mixes is the gml 8200 which I love but is out of my price range.

So far at the top of my list is a sontec 250 or the API 5500.. I know two totally different animals but I feel I could make either work.

What would you guys recommend in the 3k or lower range? Most of the music is modern heavy rock or hard hitting hip hop/ electronic tracks. Not too much soft dynamic music, so I'm looking for something tight and polished.

I started equal,

When I searched my first mastering EQ, I ended up buying the 5500.'s A great EQ, but after a while I realized it is a great second or third EQ. The Low end is sometimes amazing, sometimes not; the high range I do not like much.

If I was to be in your position, it would save a little more and I would go for something more versatile.

If money does not reach, I think even a BAX EQ, only Shelvs and cuts, but all it does, it does very well!, I use it more than the 5500.

___________________________
Lado b
Old 30th July 2014
  #9
I've been using an iBis now for a bit. The only questionable thing about the unit is the way you select frequencies. With that said I'm getting used to it to the point of it being a non issue. As with all Crane Song gear it's super well made. I find it's cut down the middle in terms of warmth to edgy or fast to slow however you like to look at it. Essentially the sonic footprint has never gotten in the way just running a mix through it. The ability to have shelving or bell on the bottom and top is great, along with very nice sounding lp and hp filters, and the added saturation option for each or all bands are an added bonus, and already found a use for it on a master. The top end sounds very classy, not as in your face as a gml but by no means not as good in my opinion, and it's a been an excellent eq to clean up the muck in a mix without killing the vibe of the low mids. I'm using a non mastering version, something that I prefer, but I had crane song make me resistors that you connect to the back of the unit that makes the gain from +/- 12 dB to +/- 6 dB, making recall and side to side calibration spot on.

Is the iBis better than a gml etc...in my opinion no, it's simply a different unit but also in my opinion by no means lesser so.
Old 30th July 2014
  #10
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teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by marcenavia View Post
I started equal,

When I searched my first mastering EQ, I ended up buying the 5500.'s A great EQ, but after a while I realized it is a great second or third EQ. The Low end is sometimes amazing, sometimes not; the high range I do not like much.
you're right, the 5500 is a great second or third eq, but it's a GREAT second or third - so he will stay, also when you invest maybe laster $ 6'000 -12'000 for a "real first" - so you don't lose money, the 5500 will always stay for him self, he's not a compromise and - he is a great counterpart to itb-eq's.

but if you looking fo shiny top-end, you should think about a other unit - maybe a stepped sontec 250
Old 30th July 2014
  #11
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karumba's Avatar
a tight EQ for rock, hiphop, electronic? i would check out the api 5500.
Old 31st July 2014
  #12
I started with a 5500 as my only outboard eq & it worked great in many situations. I recently picked up a Buzz REQ2.2ME & it's my #1. After getting the Buzz unit, I mostly rely on the 5500 for some low & mid tasks but I've used & like the upper bands. Hi mid & hi bands can get edgy quickly when boosting, but on the right material they can help things poke out well. It can also be useful for gentle cuts to smooth upper frequencies & just passing signal through the 5500 can add some magic. Paired with the Buzz I feel like I'm covered for any situation & many times I'm using both on a master.

Regardless of what anyone else's experiences are - you need to try equipment in your environment & flow to see how it works for you. It's well worth the price of shipping to demo potential candidates. You might find a sub $3000 unit works perfect for where you're at or might realize you need to save a little longer for the right fit. Maybe start with demoing the 250 & 5500...add the 8200 if it's possible so you have a real world comparison to something you've used & like.
Old 31st July 2014
  #13
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teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by sir hills View Post
I started with a 5500 as my only outboard eq & it worked great in many situations. I recently picked up a Buzz REQ2.2ME & it's my #1. After getting the Buzz unit, I mostly rely on the 5500 for some low & mid tasks but I've used & like the upper bands. Hi mid & hi bands can get edgy quickly when boosting, but on the right material they can help things poke out well. It can also be useful for gentle cuts to smooth upper frequencies & just passing signal through the 5500 can add some magic. Paired with the Buzz I feel like I'm covered for any situation & many times I'm using both on a master.

Regardless of what anyone else's experiences are - you need to try equipment in your environment & flow to see how it works for you. It's well worth the price of shipping to demo potential candidates. You might find a sub $3000 unit works perfect for where you're at or might realize you need to save a little longer for the right fit. Maybe start with demoing the 250 & 5500...add the 8200 if it's possible so you have a real world comparison to something you've used & like.


if it 5500 is a bit to gritty for your taste, you can excange the opamps and use stott liebers red dot - not expensive "sidegrade", result in a bit smoother high mids and highs.
Old 31st July 2014
  #14
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syra's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe_caithness View Post
Quite possible. I have the 250, my friend has the 5500, the top end is still good on the 5500 but isn't that shine the Sontec/GML designs are famous for.
The Sontec high end sounds completely different from the GML as in much softer. Definitely not interchangeable.
Old 31st July 2014
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by teebaum View Post


if your 5500 is a bit to gritty for your taste, you can excange the opamps and use stott liebers red dot - will not cost you a lot and result in a bit smoother high mids and highs.
Thanks for the heads up, teebaum! I've read about the red dots & need to try 'em...probably would've come in handy when the 5500 was my only outboard eq! I really do like the edge it can bring...the REQ2.2ME has "smooth" for days so they're nice counterparts!
Old 31st July 2014
  #16
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teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by sir hills View Post
Thanks for the heads up, teebaum! I've read about the red dots & need to try 'em...probably would've come in handy when the 5500 was my only outboard eq! I really do like the edge it can bring...the REQ2.2ME has "smooth" for days so they're nice counterparts!
the req 2.2 and the 5500 are a great combo!
i often use the 5500 also only for his boxtone, the transformers can help a mix often.
Old 31st July 2014
  #17
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dietrich10's Avatar
You could pickup a used NSEQ2 for under 3k on the right day as well. I would go for the 250EX myself if I had to have on eq in that range.
Old 31st July 2014
  #18
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teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dietrich10 View Post
You could pickup a used NSEQ2 for under 3k on the right day as well. I would go for the 250EX myself if I had to have on eq in that range.
i'm a big fan of stepped mastering gear - much easier to match l/r, much easier to recall - maybe steff mueller can build you a nice stepped 250 for a good price

customaudiogermany
Old 31st July 2014
  #19
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marcenavia's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by teebaum View Post


if it 5500 is a bit to gritty for your taste, you can excange the opamps and use stott liebers red dot - not expensive "sidegrade", result in a bit smoother high mids and highs.
This is interesting. Is the change they have in sterling sound?. you know where I can get these amps?
Old 31st July 2014
  #20
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teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by marcenavia View Post
This is interesting. Is the change they have in sterling sound?. you know where I can get these amps?
Scott Liebers Labs - Op Amps and Outboard Gear.

i don't know what they make at sterling, a friend of mine tell me about (producer of coroner and eluveitie, he used them in the 2500 and some api preamps) and i try them and liked the sound.
later i saw that a several mastering enigneers use also this opams in the 5500
Old 31st July 2014
  #21
Gear Nut
 
marcenavia's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by teebaum View Post
Scott Liebers Labs - Op Amps and Outboard Gear.

i don't know what they make at sterling, a friend of mine tell me about (producer of coroner and eluveitie, he used them in the 2500 and some api preamps) and i try them and liked the sound.
later i saw that a several mastering enigneers use also this opams in the 5500
thank you very much!, great tip!
Old 1st August 2014
  #22
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What about a combination of an API 5500 and the tk bax eq. A little over $4g. Would that end up more usable than just the sontec?
Old 1st August 2014
  #23
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dietrich10's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by planet red View Post
What about a combination of an API 5500 and the tk bax eq. A little over $4g. Would that end up more usable than just the sontec?
You now in the range of a Millennia NSEQ-FF
Old 1st August 2014
  #24
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Cellotron's Avatar
 

Verified Member
As someone who owns both the API 5500 and Sontec MEP250 - I personally would never choose the 5500 as my first analog mastering eq - but rather get it as a secondary eq that can compliment a primary one. While to my ear it can excel at adding edge to the midrange to do things like bring out the crack of snares, and can work well at providing some big sounding bottom boosts, scooping out mud or cutting low end well, and that the high shelf can occasionally be useful - to my ear the fact that it works with fixed proportional Q makes it difficult to shape its boosts and cuts to what optimally suits the track - and that it's high end bell boosts tends to be edgier than what I usually find is preferable in most mastering applications means that to me the money is better spent on fully parametric units for a primary eq.

If given the budget of $3000 and under I would pick a Sontec MEP250EX over other options immediately (and then get the gain range mod done so that the pots go from +/-6dB instead of the stock +/-12dB) - as it offers a ton of versatility and use across the entire range of frequencies.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 1st August 2014
  #25
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ionian's Avatar
If I remember correctly you can switch the Op Amps in the 5500 if you're not happy with the sound. That might get you somewhere.

GS User RiffMachine had done that switching the Op Amps with the VF600 ones that Inward Connection offers and posted samples. Czech out this thread -

API 5500 - 2520 vs. Inward Connections VF600 - Clips

Regards,
Frank
Old 1st August 2014
  #26
Gear Maniac
 
IUnknown's Avatar
For 3K you can get a used Elysia Museq in best condition. It is an insane stereo mastering EQ.
Old 1st August 2014
  #27
Gear Maniac
 
Philip Marinelis's Avatar
Hi,
For first eq and not wanting to break the bank I would also consider
- Bettermaker 502p & 542
- TK Audio TK-lizer
- Elysia XFilter

As mentioned earlier, the Millennia would probably do the trick as well but it's a bit pricier.

I've only used the Bettermaker so far, it's tight and focused. Not too soft nor too sterile. A great all rounder, IMHO. And with the added bonus of digital control and automation.
Planning on auditioning TK and Elysia after my vacations as I've heard great things about them.

P.S. I'm a Bettermaker dealer, I hope I'm not too biased.
Old 1st August 2014
  #28
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teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by IUnknown View Post
For 3K you can get a used Elysia Museq in best condition. It is an insane stereo mastering EQ.

where?

a museq for 3k would be a great first mastering eq!
Old 1st August 2014
  #29
You might be able to pick up a used Great River MAQ-2NV for around $3k.
Old 1st August 2014
  #30
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karumba's Avatar
scott liebers offers two types of opamps: red dots & blue dots. red dots sound like the vintage api & have more harmonics & therefor even out the spectral information a bit. blue dots sound like the opamps api is currently using which are a bit more transparent (due to less harmonics). i recently switched to blue dots in my 5500 (others prefer the red dots), since the original ones seem to not last that long.
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