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A Designs New "Hammer HM2EQ" I'm blown away! Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 30th August 2007
  #61
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BradM's Avatar
I heard it and have samples to post soon!

Norman_nomad and I spent some time with the Hammer last night and had a blast running a bunch of audio through it and comparing it to some of our favorite ITB EQ plugins. As soon as I get a chance to make some MP3's from the clips we processed then I'll post a bunch of them up here.

The bottom line is that this unit sounds really really great. It definitely was able to impart a "exciting" quality to anything running through it. It's stupidly simple to use because it's only three bands and doesn't have Q controls to complicate usage. I think this would make an excellent EQ for tracking, mixing, and 2-bus duties. I think it especially excels wherever you want to sweeten the midrange or high end and pull instruments or sounds forward in the mix.

I'll post some more more of my thoughts in a new post in a little bit. Maybe Norman_nomad can post some of this impressions as well.

Brad
Old 30th August 2007
  #62
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Albert's Avatar
 

I'm a bit more interested to know how it compares to other hardware eq's. I expect a good hardware eq to beat a plugin any day, so that's really not news.
Old 30th August 2007
  #63
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BradM's Avatar
Well be careful with expectations like that. I've been finding that plugins like the UAD Neve and Pultec EQ's sound quite good. To me they are just another useful tool regardless of whether or not they are software. Side by side with something like the Hammer, or the EM-PEQ (which I also tested early on), plugin EQ's of that caliber are not better or worse, just a different flavor. I have yet to add a hardware EQ to my rack since the lack of them in my studio is not even in the top 10 list of reasons why I struggle to create great sounding mixes.

We actually had hardware EQ's available last night to compare (Filtek, Calrec clone), but we were too lazy to hook up, because honestly I can't say I felt they were going to be any better than the software choices at our immediate disposal. And we were having way to much fun with the Hammer to bother. A useful EQ is a useful EQ. Period. The Hammer qualifies no problem.

I really don't get that excited about hardware like some people around here. They are just tools-- tools that cost a lot of money, take up space, give off heat. (Like kids and pets.) They either help you do your job or they don't.

Brad
Old 3rd September 2007
  #64
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I really don't get that excited about hardware like some people around here. They are just tools-- tools that cost a lot of money, take up space, give off heat. (Like kids and pets.) They either help you do your job or they don't.

Brad[/QUOTE]

Now now, there there Brad.......

Maybe you need some time out of the Newly painted fumes of the recording studio.

I know it's been hot and those fumes mixed with the gray cells causes some damage

Take 2 asprins and call me in the morning



Peter
Old 3rd September 2007
  #65
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audiomichael's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
I have yet to add a hardware EQ to my rack since the lack of them in my studio is not even in the top 10 list of reasons why I struggle to create great sounding mixes.
Just out of curiousity, what are the top 10 reasons you struggle to create great mixes?

Old 3rd September 2007
  #66
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BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Montessi View Post
Now now, there there Brad.......

Maybe you need some time out of the Newly painted fumes of the recording studio.

I know it's been hot and those fumes mixed with the gray cells causes some damage

Take 2 asprins and call me in the morning



Peter
You'd be proud of me, Peter. I took the whole weekend off to relax. I'm actually on my way out to a BBQ. So maybe when I take the Hammer for another spin this week I'll be in a better frame of mind.

Brad
Old 3rd September 2007
  #67
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 

BBQ!
and a cold Beer
that sounds good!
Old 3rd September 2007
  #68
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BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by audiomichael View Post
Just out of curiousity, what are the top 10 reasons you struggle to create great mixes?


Just off the top of my head and in no particular order:

1. The acoustics of my ex-control room (it was a love/hate affair) were very challenging. Hence why I just finished building a new control room.
2. I often work with limited and restrictive budgets. Bands can't often afford to spend the time necessary to do the job right.
3. I probably don't reference enough CD's while mixing.
4. I don't spend enough time checking mixes on a second set of speakers.
5. Clients sometimes make arrangement decisions that prohibit mixes from reaching greatness.
6. In the rush to capture a moment of artistic inspiration I might make a bad engineering decision.
7. I need more practice at mixing.
8. I need more sleep.
9. I need more food.
10. The band mandates impossible mix guidelines: No Drumagog is allowed even though the drummer insisted that his 7 year old pinstripes did not need replacing.

Stuff like that. I'm sure we all have our lists. Some stuff is within our control, other stuff is not.

Brad
Old 3rd September 2007
  #69
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BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by pan60 View Post
BBQ!
and a cold Beer
that sounds good!
I'm likely having a veggie burger and a root beer. I have to leave the BBQ for band rehearsal. My band managed to book a last minute show for Saturday night and we need to avoid potential suckage. heh If anyone in the San Francisco area feels like coming out to support us, PM me and I'll give you the details.

Brad

p.s. I just need to edit some MP3's and then I'll have a couple files for people to check out.
Old 3rd September 2007
  #70
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audiomichael's Avatar
 

LOL!
You rock for answering with all 10!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
Just off the top of my head and in no particular order:

1. The acoustics of my ex-control room (it was a love/hate affair) were very challenging. Hence why I just finished building a new control room.
2. I often work with limited and restrictive budgets. Bands can't often afford to spend the time necessary to do the job right.
3. I probably don't reference enough CD's while mixing.
4. I don't spend enough time checking mixes on a second set of speakers.
5. Clients sometimes make arrangement decisions that prohibit mixes from reaching greatness.
6. In the rush to capture a moment of artistic inspiration I might make a bad engineering decision.
7. I need more practice at mixing.
8. I need more sleep.
9. I need more food.
10. The band mandates impossible mix guidelines: No Drumagog is allowed even though the drummer insisted that his 7 year old pinstripes did not need replacing.

Stuff like that. I'm sure we all have our lists. Some stuff is within our control, other stuff is not.

Brad
Old 4th September 2007
  #71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
I'm likely having a veggie burger and a root beer. I have to leave the BBQ for band rehearsal. My band managed to book a last minute show for Saturday night and we need to avoid potential suckage. heh If anyone in the San Francisco area feels like coming out to support us, PM me and I'll give you the details.

Brad

p.s. I just need to edit some MP3's and then I'll have a couple files for people to check out.
Your answers are honest and cool!!

I wish I can be in SF now..I love that city..great people and very cool!
Old 4th September 2007
  #72
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norman_nomad's Avatar
My impressions are mostly in-line with the other opinions in this thread. I think the poster who used the word "swanky" hit the nail on the head. The "Hammer" belies its name and comes across as being more elegant than heavy handed in my opinion. I wouldn't call it a color piece, although it certainly has its own sound. The highs are silky, the mid-range is exciting/harmonic and the low-end is solid and straight forward. All the EQ frequency points were well chosen. Brad and I both liked the EQ for buss duties and I could see myself using an EQ like this semi-permanently on the master buss. It just seemed to work on a lot of material without much fuss and that made for a fun testing experience.

The box is hi-fi without being boring, which is hard to do. So thumbsup thumbsup in my book.

Good work A-Designs!
Old 4th September 2007
  #73
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BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AMIEL View Post
Your answers are honest and cool!!

I wish I can be in SF now..I love that city..great people and very cool!
Thanks man! I try to keep it real. Yeah SF is a cool city. Norman_nomad has a sweet pad with a great view by the way.

Brad
Old 4th September 2007
  #74
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BradM's Avatar
Some of my random thoughts

Norman_nomad and I spent a few hours last week testing out the Hammer at his mix room in San Francisco. I brought up my Mytek converters so that we’d really be able to hear what the Hammer was doing to the audio we were passing through it. In a nutshell, I like it. I definitely think its strengths are in the midrange and high end. The low end is nice, but I think the mids and highs is where this thing shines, especially when boosting. We definitely noticed that with all controls set at zero and the EQ “in”, the box was imparting some kind of magic to the audio. I’m not sure what it’s doing, but it’s nice. Everything sounded more exciting with the Hammer in the signal path. It was like reading a pop-up book for the first time as a kid…you turn the page and all of a sudden everything just springs to life and jumps out at you. We downloaded some Dave Grohl drum tracks off the internet and were playing around with those. Again, with the EQ set flat, it seemed to bring the impact of the drums forward in the mix in a subtle yet exciting way.

We really liked the simple 3-band layout without the complication of having to deal with a Q control. I got a sense that the Q was fixed for boost and cut and did not change depending on the amount of boost like an API. According to the curves I saw on the A Designs site, it appears this is the case? We did a bunch of simple A/B comparisons to some software EQ’s (UAD Pultec Pro, UAD Neve 1081, etc.) on various tracks like drum submix, drum overheads, drum room, full mixes, bass guitar, electric guitars, acoustic guitars. Here’s what we found:

  • We found ourselves boosting almost all the time because it sounded so damn good.
  • Extreme boosts in the high end or midrange were never harsh and always musical.
  • When boosting or cutting I felt like I was reaching into the music and emphasizing or de-emphasizing a particular instrument or sound instead of a frequency range.
  • Large cuts did not mess with adjacent frequency ranges.
  • The midrange is super sweet.
  • The unit overall has a sound that we both would describe as modern, hi-fi, elegant, refined, exciting. It’s not overly colored or vintage sounding.
  • When using it on a full mix, the mix always sounded better with the EQ in, even if the boosts/cuts were small.
  • The midrange is super sweet. Did I mention that?
  • On acoustic guitar the EQ handled the audio in such a refined and exact way and allowed us to enhance qualities of the sound that were lacking without turning it in something grating or boomy.
  • I could see myself using this on the 2-bus for every mix I do.
  • I could see myself tracking with this thing for drum overheads since I use a Royer SF12…often I need some high end boost and a little cut in the lower mids.
  • I wish the low cut was sharper/steeper. I couldn’t get it to do what I wanted on the low end of my SF12 drum overheads. It also seems like the Q of the low band is a little less resonant than I would like. We attempted to engage the HPF and then boost the low end at the same frequency for a pseudo-Pultec trick, but it didn’t really have the same effect. Again I think the HPF might be a little too high for my tastes and a little too gentle.
  • On electric guitars, using the high cut switch (sounds more like a -3dB high shelf cut) seemed to attenuate some fizziness. I then used the high band to boost the upper mids and restore presence, but without the harshness.
  • Boosting with 1.2k, 1.6k, and 2k on vocals was awesome.

Stay tuned for clips. I promise.

Brad
Old 4th September 2007
  #75
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audiomichael's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
[*]Boosting with 1.2k, 1.6k, and 2k on vocals was awesome. [/LIST]
Agreed. I would normally hit a compressor hard to get a nice forward sounding vocal presence. But a little boost in the 1k's from the Hammer, created a huge present vocal sound. Actually it felt like there I couldn't dial in a bad a vocal sound with it. Every frequency was flattering.
Old 4th September 2007
  #76
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BradM's Avatar
I've found that a lot of plugin EQ's get really scratchy or boxy when I try to boost in the 1k area. But the Hammer just kicked the vocal to the front of the mix with grace. It was very satisfying.

Brad
Old 4th September 2007
  #77
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
I've found that a lot of plugin EQ's get really scratchy or boxy when I try to boost in the 1k area. But the Hammer just kicked the vocal to the front of the mix with grace. It was very satisfying.

Brad
Agreed. The Hammer really handles this smoothly, even when using it on the stereo buss.

I haven't been this excited about a product in a long time. It really is magical.
Old 7th September 2007
  #78
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BradM's Avatar
Finally

Here's some sound clips. You may need to level match.

I think we boosted at 60Hz, 800Hz, and engaged the low pass filter, which sounds more like a high shelf cut to me. We may have also boosted at 1.6k. I can't remember. Anyway the EQ'd clip has way more balls to my ears.

This file is posted at the wrong sample rate so it's pitched up. But I still think you can hear what the Hammer does to the mids.
Attached Files

Original Bass.wav (3.25 MB, 784 views)

Hammer Mix - Bass.wav (3.25 MB, 751 views)

Old 7th September 2007
  #79
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BradM's Avatar
drum overheads

Here's a brief clip of drum overheads recorded with an SF12 through Eisen Audio pres. The kit was a vintage Ludwig. I believe we dipped slightly at 500Hz, boosted at 7.5k and engaged the high pass filter. You'll have to do your own level matching if you are concerned about that kind of thing.
Attached Files

Original OH.wav (2.45 MB, 686 views)

Hammer Mix - OH.wav (2.44 MB, 677 views)

Old 7th September 2007
  #80
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norman_nomad's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
I can't find the original WAV of the clip that Norman_nomad sent me so I had to download the MP3 version of the original file from his LA2A comparsion. Ghetto, but I think it still gives you the idea. I can't recall what settings we used on this one since I wasn't turning the knobs. Maybe Norman remembers. I'm pretty sure we turned up the mids at like 1.2k or 1.6k and added some high end probably at 10k.
Brad, you must have used a different sample rate here on mixdown... sounds like 44.1 to 48k. The whole thing is pitched up a bit... you may want to check the other files as well.
Old 7th September 2007
  #81
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BradM's Avatar
Ooops...it was late. I'll have to fix that one. Sorry about that. Actually it out that a bunch of the files are playing back at the wrong sample rate. I'll need to redo these.

Brad
Old 7th September 2007
  #82
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BradM's Avatar
Hammer on full mix

Okay this is a new version of the acoustic song I had posted before. The sample rates were jacked up so I had to redo the clip. I can't recall what settings we used on this one since I wasn't turning the knobs. Maybe Norman remembers. I'm pretty sure we turned up the mids at like 1.2k or 1.6k and added some high end probably at 10k. I think we probably did something to the bottom end too.
Attached Files

Acoustic Mix - Original-03 02-04.wav (4.42 MB, 774 views)

Acoustic Mix - Hammer-01.wav (4.42 MB, 768 views)

Old 7th September 2007
  #83
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BradM's Avatar
QOTSA drum/guitar clip

This is a repost of these clips with the correct sample rate.

Here's some Dave Grohl tracks we dug up somewhere online. It's just drums and guitar. I think you can hear some bass bleed. I tried to level match a little bit. I don't recall the settings we used since I wasn't the ones turning the knobs for this one. Maybe Norman can refresh my memory. Listen to the high end sheen that we added to the cymbals. I think we boosted the low end a bit and maybe dipped some lower mids ever so slightly. Also listen to the way the toms pop out on the Hammer mix. Maybe we made it too shiny overall, but really we were just having fun turning knobs. Boosting on this box is really addictive! heh
Attached Files

03 Song For The Dead (raw mix) 01-02.wav (3.05 MB, 697 views)

Song for the Dead - Hammer.wav (3.05 MB, 677 views)

Old 7th September 2007
  #84
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

that's a damn good price for a stereo tube eq. consider it added to the list of mix eq candidates.


gregoire
del
ubk
.
Old 7th September 2007
  #85
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Fleaman's Avatar
 

Can anyone post a pic of the guts?

This wouldn't be Gearslutz w/o a little bit of nudity
Old 7th September 2007
  #86
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fleaman View Post
Can anyone post a pic of the guts?

This wouldn't be Gearslutz w/o a little bit of nudity
i ask and was told absolutely not.
so i will respect A-Designs wishes
Old 8th September 2007
  #87
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BradM's Avatar
Yeah I asked the same thing about posting a picture of the guts. The reason is because they are potentially pursuing a patent on the design. I can appreciate that. I have looked inside though and it's a very clean and smart layout that makes a lot of sense from a producibility perspective. There's two NOS Philips 12AT7's in there that deliver the tube goodness.

I did some more tests today. I compared the Hammer to the UAD Precision EQ on a full mix. I have some clips I'll post tomorrow. Should be really interesting...

Brad
Old 8th September 2007
  #88
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Fleaman's Avatar
 

So they are all coming with NOS tubes?

Or just the Beta units?

That will/can/probably make quite a bit of difference between say a production unit non-NOS and an NOS tubed unit.
Old 8th September 2007
  #89
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BradM's Avatar
I don't know the answer to that question. Peter would know. FWIW I did swap out the Philips with some Mullards and the difference was much less noticeable than I was expecting.

Brad
Old 8th September 2007
  #90
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Fleaman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
I don't know the answer to that question. Peter would know. FWIW I did swap out the Philips with some Mullards and the difference was much less noticeable than I was expecting.

Brad
Yet those are both either NOS or good Vintage tubes...far from Sovteks.
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