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A Designs New "Hammer HM2EQ" I'm blown away! Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 17th August 2007
  #1
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A Designs New "Hammer HM2EQ" I'm blown away!

Every now and then, something comes along and you just gotta have it.

I was one of the lucky ones to try Peter Montessi's (A Designs) Beta Unit First Article "Hammer HM2EQ" which is a two channel tube EQ.

The Lo Freq. is 30-400, the Mid Freq. 250-2K, and Hi Freq. 2.5-15K. All have a Cut/Boost pot, as well as a Hi and Lo Cut switch, and EQ In/Out switch.

I've been looking for something to replace the Avalon 747, which I consider to be a half decent unit on the stereo buss, excluding its compressor. I mix OTB using the 192, A Designs MP-2A for gain, a Folcrom, Lavry 4496, Super Stereo Comp, 747, SPL Monitor Cont, to Adams. Like any new piece of equipment, I wasn't sure what to expect. I've been mixing with a certain sound, and now I was going to change that with a unit I had never tried. Well let me tell you something, it took roughly 90 seconds to replace the 747 with the Hammer.

It's always difficult to describe sound, because what's great to one persons ears, is subjective to another. Without adding or subtracting any EQ, what the Hammer did was add some Mid's, or another way of saying it is, it gave the mix a very open, airy and life like quality to it. It sounds amazing. It's clean, yet with the tube's, you get a fat sound that totally compliments the MP-2A, especially when using it in my particular chain.

I added some Hi's and Lo's and found it was very easy to attain the sound I was looking for. With the 747, you couldn't dial into any frequencies, but the Hammer makes it very easy to do so.

I brought up a few Pro Tools sessions I had mixed with the 747, and remixed using the Hammer. I then compared the 747 mixes along side the Hammer mixes, and I'm just blown away. I remember getting the Pacifica and thinking how great everything sounded through it. Since then, I've purchased the MP-2A, the REDDI and now with the Hammer, it's totally the icing on the cake deal for me. A Designs is coming out with some great product. You really can't say that about too many companies these days.

Again, Peter has created a monster. If you get the opportunity to test one, I highly recommend you do. You won't be disappointed. That I guarantee you.

-Dean
Attached Thumbnails
A Designs New "Hammer HM2EQ" I'm blown away!-hammer-hm2eq.jpg  
Old 17th August 2007
  #2
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BradM's Avatar
Take some pics of the inside!

Brad
Old 17th August 2007
  #3
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lpkyer's Avatar
 

Are they pretty much good on everything too i.e tracking?
Old 17th August 2007
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lpkyer View Post
Are they pretty much good on everything too i.e tracking?
I did try it with the Pacifica and Peluso 2247LE. It worked out great. It was very easy to get what I was looking for in a vocal, both male and female.

I gave it a go with my Martin D35 as well. The D35 has a lot of bottom end to it. Cutting @ 200, I was able to get rid of the boomyness and capture a great take.
Old 17th August 2007
  #5
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Tony Shepperd's Avatar
I second Dean's emotion about the Hammer HM2EQ.
It is hands down the best, most musical EQ I have ever used.

When Peter brought it over to my studio, I thought I would occasionally use it.
I mix completely in the box and don't use any outboard gear when I mix.
At the time I was mixing a pop rock based tune.
I figured what the hell, let me take 20 minutes and run the mix through his new Tube EQ and give it a listen.

HA!

5 hours later I had run about 30 mixes through the box.
Playing with the EQ and doing some really critical listening.
Needless to say, I haven't let Peter in my studio to get the Hammer back.

I still mix in the box, but now I run my mix out of Pro Tools into the Hammer and re-record it back into Pro Tools.
It's a wonderful hybrid. All my compressors, EQ's, limiters, reverbs, harmonizers are all ITB, but when I need it, I pop the mix into the Hammer and get that touch of magic.
I've told Peter, I'm convinced he has magical elves that live inside the box.
Old 17th August 2007
  #6
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espen askelad's Avatar
It might be the ugliest piece of gear I've ever seen but damned if I'm not sure it sounds stellar. My limited experience with A-D stuff is that it just sounds flat out GOOD and just about anything that goes through it comes out sounding better than you expected. This one's definitely got my attention.
Old 17th August 2007
  #7
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TonyBelmont's Avatar
 

Nice... I guess he's going with the black front panel now.
Old 17th August 2007
  #8
amd
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amd's Avatar
 

Looks like the front panel on my MP2A. Has anyone formed an opinion comparing the Hammer and the EM - PEQ?
Old 17th August 2007
  #9
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Mind-Over-Midi's Avatar
 

$ ?



Old 17th August 2007
  #10
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Imagine View Post
I was one of the lucky ones to try Peter Montessi's (A Designs) Beta Unit First Article "Hammer HM2EQ" which is a two channel tube EQ.

It's clean, yet with the tube's, you get a fat sound that totally compliments
the Hammer makes it very easy to do so.

I'm just blown away. I remember getting the Pacifica and thinking how great everything sounded through it. Since then
A Designs is coming out with some great product.

Again, Peter has created a monster. If you get the opportunity to test one, I highly recommend you do. You won't be disappointed. That I guarantee you.

-Dean
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imagine View Post
Peter has created a monster.
yep!!!!!!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Shepperd View Post
I second Dean's emotion about the Hammer HM2EQ.
It is hands down the best, most musical EQ I have ever used.

When Peter brought it over to my studio, I thought I would occasionally use it.
I mix completely in the box and don't use any outboard gear when I mix.
At the time I was mixing a pop rock based tune.
I figured what the hell, let me take 20 minutes and run the mix through his new Tube EQ and give it a listen.

HA!

5 hours later I had run about 30 mixes through the box.
Playing with the EQ and doing some really critical listening.
Needless to say, I haven't let Peter in my studio to get the Hammer back.

I still mix in the box, but now I run my mix out of Pro Tools into the Hammer and re-record it back into Pro Tools.
It's a wonderful hybrid. All my compressors, EQ's, limiters, reverbs, harmonizers are all ITB, but when I need it, I pop the mix into the Hammer and get that touch of magic.
I've told Peter, I'm convinced he has magical elves that live inside the box.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Shepperd View Post
It is hands down the best, most musical EQ I have ever used.
yep!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Shepperd View Post
Needless to say, I haven't let Peter in my studio to get the Hammer back.
no Peter no!!!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Shepperd View Post
I'm convinced he has magical elves that live inside the box.
me two!!!!

i run some tracks through and i knew this was it for me.
they seem just wider, it is magic!
i think everything sounds awesome run through this thing, even if you just run it through and boost nor cut anything.
yet another big-time winner!!!!

i tried to get the screws loose to ship it back Peter really i did, i think someone may have use the good lock tight stuff on the screws they just will not come out
Old 17th August 2007
  #11
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
Take some pics of the inside!

Brad

lets wait for the production models as opposed to the first run.
Old 17th August 2007
  #12
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darkwater's Avatar
 

I thought I had curbed my gear lust.........

DAMN YOU, PETER!!!!!

I saw the beast at Ronin's and he was raving about it, ad nauseum. Well, .. not really, I just like saying "ad nauseum". He, nonetheless, DID rave about it!

Now, I have to start piling up money again......
Old 17th August 2007
  #13
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cleantone's Avatar
 

Quote:
$ ?
Old 17th August 2007
  #14
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BLueROom's Avatar
 

I pretty much want all the A-Designs stuff ...everything I have from Peter is killer
Old 17th August 2007
  #15
Gear Addict
 

Hmm,

I clearly need to get my hands on one of these!

Peter?

GM
Old 17th August 2007
  #16
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RCM - Ronan's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by amd View Post
Looks like the front panel on my MP2A. Has anyone formed an opinion comparing the Hammer and the EM - PEQ?

Monster truck vs. Ferrari

The functionality of the Hammer is really straight forward. Its a dual mono unit with 3 bands of high mid and lows that can do 12dB of continuous cut or boost. Each of the bands has a fixed Q and 6 pre determined frequency points for each band. in addition there are fixed high cut and low cut for each channel. I have griped a little about some of the labeling of some of the A Designs stuff ( actually just the labeling of the MP1A) but the Hammer looks great and the labeling is very good and intuitive. A previous poster said it did not look too great, but he might change his mind when he sees it in person.

The sound is where it really gets exciting. The Hammer is all about gorgeous smooth top and high mids. As a guy with a pretty rock and roll aesthetic when something is described as smooth I usually equate that kind of boring but not this one. Its just awesome. It totally opens up the top and brings high mids forward in a really pleasing way. I actually found myself getting into trouble because the high end boosting is so smooth that you can do a tons of boosting without getting ugly, that its really easy to go way too far (a lesson learned from my first mix with the Hammer) I am just not used to being able crank the top on the rock cymbals so much and have them stay so smooth.

The EQ points are fixed, but they are really well chosen and I was never felt frustrated by it. My classical engineer pal was a little disappointed that the cut and boost were not de-tented (like an API) but it never bothered me (I actually prefer it). I was not really sure about the need for a fixed high cut, until I tried a big 5k boost on some electric guitars and was able to use the high cut to get rid of that hash on top (that was accentuated by a 5k bell boost). On an instrumental guitar album I am currently mixing, it "made" the record.

On a drum buss and drum OHs it was stunning (made the drummer I was working with flip out), as well as 2 buss work. The Hammer is all about smooooth. I will not say names of other companies, but there are other EQs that get described as smooth or "classy" that I actually find pretty boring, but the Hammer is very musical and plenty Exciting. Its sort of Classy in a new Ferrari sort of way rather than a 1980s Cadillac sort of way.

Being a big fan of the A Designs EM-PEQ, I had some expectations about the "A Designs EQ sound", I was completely wrong! This is a completely different beast. Where the EM-PEQ is all about mojo and aggressive character. The Hammer seems all about smooth EQ that does not really draw attention to its self. I found myself twisting knobs and feeling like I was not really hearing the EQ do that much, but then I would bypass the unit and it was like night and day. I have been lucky enough to have a Hammer and a pair of EM-PEQs in my studio for the last month and the two are extremely different. For me the EM-PEQ is sort of like a monster truck (I mean that as high praise), where its a beast that is great for dramatically altering and sculpting sounds. It can turn a wimpy kick into the kick drum of the gods, but the Hammer is the Ferrari that is more about being sleek. (OK this metaphor does not really work.) I would use the EM-PEQ to inject cool things into a sound, and the Hammer to bring out cool things in a sound.

The EM-PEQ really shines in the lower end and the Hammer really shines in the higher end. The EM-PEQ has this great muscular solid low end that I have probably only heard on an original Pultec, and its high end is great for really pushing some character into a track or mix. The Hammer on the other hand does not have the crazy mojo low end of the EM-PEQ, but its ability to smoothly boost highs and high mids in a beautiful way that really opens up the top and brings things forward without drawing attention to itself is amazing. I was able to crank 10k over 10db without it getting harsh at all. Scary.

The fixed Q means The Hammer is not a surgical tool, and if you are looking for really aggressive character you would probably better served by a pair of EM-PEQs, Pultecs or API 550A, but for smooth, transparent and musical I have not sure I have ever used anything better. This is not too say its limited. I have been using it on a record on a band sort of similar to Tool for the last week and the Hammer was amazing all over the place. For instance on crunchy heavy guitars its a great tool to really push up the aggressive sounding parts of the guitar with out the EQ adding its own aggressiveness. In the last month I have used in on mixes for a hard rock band, and instrumental guitar record, and a folky singer songwriter. It blew me away with all of them.

Another engineer I really respect described the EQ as "the best EQ" he had ever used, and another a pal of mine said, "there must be something in the water over at A Designs".

So in short its stunning. If you are looking for really aggressive low end or surgical, the Hammer is not the way to go, but for just about anything else, it totally kicks ass.
Old 17th August 2007
  #17
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robot gigante's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by darkwater View Post
I thought I had curbed my gear lust.........

DAMN YOU, PETER!!!!!

Now, I have to start piling up money again......
My sentiments exactly!
Old 17th August 2007
  #18
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lpkyer's Avatar
 

Looks promising...the front cover though doesnt look as good as the pacifica. make it white
Old 17th August 2007
  #19
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robot gigante's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by lpkyer View Post
make it white
2nd that!

Although I'm sure things are probably set in stone by now. I thought I remember seeing a picture of a proto that Peter posted here that was a cool looking blue.

Either way though- what it sounds like is what counts! Can't wait to try it.

RCM's comments are interesting comparing it to the PEQ's because I really like the high end on those, especially on vocals.
Old 17th August 2007
  #20
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BradM's Avatar
Post some inside pics of the guts! It's a tube unit right? Any of you beta-testers try popping different NOS tubes into the thing? What's in there right now? If Sovteks then let's hear something "nicer". I know Peter loves it when I tinker with his gear.

Brad
Old 17th August 2007
  #21
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<< I still mix in the box, but now I run my mix out of Pro Tools into the Hammer and re-record it back into Pro Tools. >>

Even on songs that are going to mastering? Just wondering.
Old 17th August 2007
  #22
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thermos's Avatar
Price?
Old 17th August 2007
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
Post some inside pics of the guts! It's a tube unit right? Any of you beta-testers try popping different NOS tubes into the thing? What's in there right now? If Sovteks then let's hear something "nicer". I know Peter loves it when I tinker with his gear.

Brad
Hey Brad,

Currently, the Hammer comes with the 12AU7 tubes. I guess you can change them with other compatible tubes, but you'd have to talk to Peter about that. The way it stands, the Hammer sounds incredible.
Old 17th August 2007
  #24
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lpkyer's Avatar
 

In another thread Peter Montessi was shooting for 2.3$K...no idea if thats still up !
Old 17th August 2007
  #25
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Fretbored's Avatar
 

I love the mids of my Manley MP, but hate the highs/lows. I wonder how this wound sound grouped with the MP for mastering.
Old 17th August 2007
  #26
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by robot gigante View Post
RCM's comments are interesting comparing it to the PEQ's because I really like the high end on those, especially on vocals.
i am not going to speak to RCM comments other then to say i got what it was he was saying, but let me say.
the EM-PEQ has that mojo rather on the top, the middle, or in the bottom, but it just really shines in the bottom!
the HAMMER dose not impart that kind of mojo, instead, to quote Tony once more
Quote:
I'm convinced he has magical elves that live inside the box.
the HAMMER really makes things pops, the top is oh so sweet, and for me so is the bottom.
just passing a signal through it just wakes things up.

yes i am truly convinced he has magical elves that live inside the box.
Old 17th August 2007
  #27
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
Post some inside pics of the guts! It's a tube unit right? Any of you beta-testers try popping different NOS tubes into the thing? What's in there right now? If Sovteks then let's hear something "nicer". I know Peter loves it when I tinker with his gear.

Brad
when they hit production someone will snap a photo i am sure
i will not open mine for i fear the little magical elves that live inside the box may get lost:(


as far as tubes the average individual would most likely not be screwing around with NOS tubes so i think it needs to stand on its own with a production tube that is easily available.
Old 17th August 2007
  #28
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lpkyer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pan60 View Post
i will not open mine for i fear the little magical elves that live inside the box may get lost:(
DON'T ! They hate light and will eat your soul !
So basically we all need 2 EMPEQ and a Hammer?
Old 17th August 2007
  #29
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RCM - Ronan's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by pan60 View Post
i am not going to speak to RCM comments other then to say i got what it was he was saying, but let me say.
the EM-PEQ has that mojo rather on the top, the middle, or in the bottom, but it just really shines in the bottom!
the HAMMER dose not impart that kind of mojo, instead, to quote Tony once more the HAMMER really makes things pops, the top is oh so sweet, and for me so is the bottom.
just passing a signal through it just wakes things up.
Yep, I did not mean to imply that the EM-PEQ lacks mojo across the spectrum. Its total mojo in a 500 card. I use mine (I bought 2) on high end stuff at least as much as low end. I love the EM-PEQ on vox and snare.

The difference between the EM-PEQ and The Hammer is that the Hammer will work the high end in a super smooth way, where the EM-PEQ is going to be a bit more aggressive . With the Hammer feels like its enhancing the Sound and the EM-PEQ feels more like sculpting it.
Old 18th August 2007
  #30
So I am still looking around for "The 2 Bus EQ" this might be something I will put on my list to try. Anyone know when this will be available? Peter, you out there?
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