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Hardware EQs even remotely worth it?
Old 3rd February 2017
  #1
Hardware EQs even remotely worth it?

Alright so while some things cannot be replicated digitally, namely preamps, and actual microphones (sorry Slate, while I'm sure your virtual mic system is very good, it still cannot replicate microphones across the board), are we not at the point that hardware EQs are strictly for people who have a zillion dollars? While I'm sure real deal API/SSL/Pultec/whatever are very good, can anyone honestly say that high end digital versions are inferior at this point? Like, is anyone listening to a finished record and going "oh, sounds OK, but a real tube EQ would have made it better." While I realize different EQs (both hardware and digital) have different harmonic responses and whatnot, aren't we at the point that we can say that we're past it? Or certainly, that $1,000 is ridiculous to pay for one channel of EQ? I'm of the opinion that sure, if I had unlimited funds, sure I'd love to have 58 channels of hardware EQs but at this point I think we've gotten to where even the best ears can't tell.
Old 3rd February 2017
  #2
Depends on your priorities. Personally I don't think the average music consumer could tell the difference between a plugin EQ and hardware EQ, so if your priority is stretching your dollar then no, 1000 for a channel of EQ doesn't sound right for you. However some people like hardware because they psychologically work better when manipulating actual knobs and switches, and that it's not solely about the sonic differences. For me, I feel like a nice pair hardware EQs is like a rite of passage for me. I spent years not being able to afford hardware processors at all, so when I finally could it felt great to have them, even if the sound they created wasn't dramatically different or better.

Audio production and mixing is my livelihood, so sometimes I buy flashy things for me, not necessarily in proportion to the profit it will bring me in the long run. I really like sitting down to my desk and having some cool looking shiny gear with lights, makes me excited to work. But sonically I could probably get the same quality of mix totally ITB, but it wouldn't be as fun for me. I guess I'm a gearslut.
Old 3rd February 2017
  #3
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robert82's Avatar
Hardware EQ at one time was mainly in the console. Why do you think people still salivate over 1073s? And having their individual subtle differences when stacked up created what some would refer to as the "analog" sound. And I doubt you'll find too many 'slutters who will say that anything sounds like just like a Pultec.
Old 3rd February 2017
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Buy yourself a used high end EQ like an Elysia Museq and use it for a month or two and sell it without a loss (or a minor loss which translates to a "rental fee") if you don't like it.

There is a very real difference in sound when you have a truly higher end EQ but you have to live with it for a while to understand it.

You will hear why people still spend mucho € or $ on hardware once you start trying them out.
Old 3rd February 2017
  #5
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by siddhu View Post
Buy yourself a used high end EQ like an Elysia Museq and use it for a month or two and sell it without a loss (or a minor loss which translates to a "rental fee") if you don't like it.

There is a very real difference in sound when you have a truly higher end EQ but you have to live with it for a while to understand it.

You will hear why people still spend mucho € or $ on hardware once you start trying them out.
Very well said.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kojak View Post
Alright so while some things cannot be replicated digitally, namely preamps, and actual microphones (sorry Slate, while I'm sure your virtual mic system is very good, it still cannot replicate microphones across the board), are we not at the point that hardware EQs are strictly for people who have a zillion dollars? While I'm sure real deal API/SSL/Pultec/whatever are very good, can anyone honestly say that high end digital versions are inferior at this point? Like, is anyone listening to a finished record and going "oh, sounds OK, but a real tube EQ would have made it better." While I realize different EQs (both hardware and digital) have different harmonic responses and whatnot, aren't we at the point that we can say that we're past it? Or certainly, that $1,000 is ridiculous to pay for one channel of EQ? I'm of the opinion that sure, if I had unlimited funds, sure I'd love to have 58 channels of hardware EQs but at this point I think we've gotten to where even the best ears can't tell.
Try some really high end EQs or other hardware for that matter and you'll answer your own question.
BTW, I believe that many people won't tell the difference between slate's virtual mic system and real mics either.
Old 3rd February 2017
  #6
Gear Nut
 
ericpalonen's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kojak View Post
Like, is anyone listening to a finished record and going "oh, sounds OK, but a real tube EQ would have made it better."
Every. Day.
Old 3rd February 2017
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
WKWizard's Avatar
Some units have the mojo! I find my hardware eq'd tracks seem fuller and closer to what I find pleasing. The tactile aspect of hardware also suits me.
Old 3rd February 2017
  #8
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
jcoutu1 posted a blind test of an SPL Passeq vs the plugin version, and 100% of the blind test guesses preferred the hardware. That sound clip just had some extra euphonic stuff going on.

I thought that was interesting.

Personally I am not losing any sleep over it, very happy to mix ITB.
Old 3rd February 2017
  #9
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

I think EQ plugins will, in general, get the job done.

But the practicality of them, for me, has been severely compromised by this whole Native DAW + Interface + "Console" paradigm. I don't yet own one, but I work on one all the time, PT12 + Trashcan + Apollo 16.

With drums in particular, even with good mics and pres and miking technique, you have to do some EQ-ing to get things to sound like a drum set, if you know what I mean. And you have to exactly duplicate the "Console" EQ's in your PT channels, track by track, to get input and playback to sound the same. And in the case of the Apollo, you're limited to UAD plugins. This whole thing, in my personal opinion, is a giant pain in the ass and unacceptably slows down the process.

The convenient software workaround, of course, is to use the Console option that allows you to print your Console EQ settings to your PT tracks. But if I'm going to commit to EQ going in, when it comes to the kind of relatively extreme settings I find myself using on drums, I haven't found a plugin that sounds as good as even moderately-priced hardware.

Meaning that if I wind up spending my own money on an Apollo-like system, I'll also be buying a bunch more hardware EQ.
Old 3rd February 2017
  #10
Gear Addict
 
E.Shostokavitch's Avatar
 

In my opinion a HW eq is still a must for applying broadband additions/subtractions during tracking.

For clinical and precise adjustments - its plugins all the way
Old 3rd February 2017
  #11
Gear Guru
 
jwh1192's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I think EQ plugins will, in general, get the job done.

But the practicality of them, for me, has been severely compromised by this whole Native DAW + Interface + "Console" paradigm. I don't yet own one, but I work on one all the time, PT12 + Trashcan + Apollo 16.

With drums in particular, even with good mics and pres and miking technique, you have to do some EQ-ing to get things to sound like a drum set, if you know what I mean. And you have to exactly duplicate the "Console" EQ's in your PT channels, track by track, to get input and playback to sound the same. And in the case of the Apollo, you're limited to UAD plugins. This whole thing, in my personal opinion, is a giant pain in the ass and unacceptably slows down the process.

The convenient software workaround, of course, is to use the Console option that allows you to print your Console EQ settings to your PT tracks. But if I'm going to commit to EQ going in, when it comes to the kind of relatively extreme settings I find myself using on drums, I haven't found a plugin that sounds as good as even moderately-priced hardware.

Meaning that if I wind up spending my own money on an Apollo-like system, I'll also be buying a bunch more hardware EQ.
what he said !!! ... thats why i still have 1073, 1081, focusrite 215, avalon 2055, and SSL 502 EQ's ...
Old 3rd February 2017
  #12
Lives for gear
 
andychamp's Avatar
There's nothing like grabbing a knob, turning it until "yep, that's it" and printing the results, never to worry about that decision again.
Old 3rd February 2017
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andychamp View Post
There's nothing like grabbing a knob, turning it until "yep, that's it" and printing the results, never to worry about that decision again.
Amen Brother!
Old 3rd February 2017
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

SW is good for surgery. HW is better for sweetening.
Old 3rd February 2017
  #15
Gear Guru
 
jwh1192's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptainMarc View Post
SW is good for surgery. HW is better for sweetening.
.. can you imagine a Doctor using a Mouse instead of a Scalpel !!! scary thing is they probably do now !!!

i use my Avalon for Surgery (it's not squeamish around Blood) and Neve's for Sweetening (Candy Canes and Ice Cream) ..

fully agree !!!
Old 3rd February 2017
  #16
I'm someone who loves the sound of inductors. There is no plug in or any digital EQ that can emulate the behavior and sound of an inductor EQ.
Old 3rd February 2017
  #17
It really depends. What is your skill level? What are your expectations? Is this for clientel or a hobby? What other gear do you have including tracking, monitoring setup, and room treatment? To the guy in his bedroom with a laptop and inexpensive interface a high end eq isn't a priority. Somebody with years of dues paid and substantial investment it can make a difference. And not all quality eqs have to be 1073s or PEQs.
Old 3rd February 2017
  #18
Only the best ones are worth it
the crappy ones are usually never worth it, unless they have a crappy price too,
and you can lower expectations and use the tool and get your 2-pennies worth
Old 4th February 2017
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred View Post
It really depends. What is your skill level? What are your expectations? Is this for clientel or a hobby? What other gear do you have including tracking, monitoring setup, and room treatment? To the guy in his bedroom with a laptop and inexpensive interface a high end eq isn't a priority. Somebody with years of dues paid and substantial investment it can make a difference. And not all quality eqs have to be 1073s or PEQs.
I'm talking about guys who can afford it but choose not to (sometimes, I'm sure sometimes they use hardware)...like if you were to ask say, CLA or Dave Pensado or Tony Maserati or Tchad Blake, etc...I get the impression that they would say that sure, HW is great if you can afford it, but plugins are fine. I think we're legitimately past the point where you NEED to have hardware for EQs, as I'm sure many, many records that both a) sold big numbers and b) sound great were done without any. For other things, hardware is still undoubtedly king but I'm of the opinion that the technology is sufficiently advanced that people can make world class records with only ITB EQ. Other areas are getting close (compression/limiting, reverb) but maybe aren't 100% there, but I think while we all probably agree that yeah, hardware EQs are still awesome and we'd all love to have them, they are a) wildly overpriced and b) not necessary, even if you're working on a mix for a well-known artist.
Old 4th February 2017
  #20
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cjogo's Avatar
Since we use very little plugins :: on the low end == a pair of SPECK EQ --- or top quality /ease of use === ELYSIA X Filter
Old 4th February 2017
  #21
Lives for gear
 

The components inside good analog EQ are very expensive. Try pricing out a large stepped pot with resistor network on it. If you want those sonics you won't get them via a plug and you will have to pay for them. Additionally with Inductor based EQ due to it's saturation and ringing you will not likely ever find that in a plug.

There are some very good outboard EQ's that you can find for very little money used. A couple examples being the both the Klark Teknik and Meyer dual 5 band parametrics that were originally over $2k now around $300 - $400. There are some used Inductor graphic EQ's that are bargains too. Look in the EQ threads here for other ideas of outboard EQ that will deliver but won't break the bank.

When you get into high end Mastering EQ you need to pay up for that level though and since it's not in your budget maybe paying for Mastering makes more sense (along with getting ears / experience to know how to use it).
Old 4th February 2017
  #22
Are software EQ's even remotely worth it?
Old 4th February 2017
  #23
Lives for gear
I've got eq's from super cheap (Alta moda, speck project 316) to fairly nice (vintage 550b's, 551's, Mercury H). And they all add something software lacks.
With the mercury, absolutely no contest. It swabs the deck with any software I've heard.
I spent a lot of time comparing a 550b with the waves version, and the hardware was light years better.
Tha cheap ones give that crispy IC bite, which I kind of like at times.
Old 4th February 2017
  #24
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
Are software EQ's even remotely worth it?
In my world, they allow for the instant and exact recall that earns the money that makes owning hardware EQ possible.
Old 4th February 2017
  #25
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12tone's Avatar
 

Speaking of which, has anybody heard or used the Thermionic Culture Swift EQ?

Considering it or the Hendyamps Michelangelo...
Old 4th February 2017
  #26
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Obe1 View Post
Depends on your priorities. Personally I don't think the average music consumer could tell the difference between a plugin EQ and hardware EQ, so if your priority is stretching your dollar then no, 1000 for a channel of EQ doesn't sound right for you. However some people like hardware because they psychologically work better when manipulating actual knobs and switches, and that it's not solely about the sonic differences. For me, I feel like a nice pair hardware EQs is like a rite of passage for me. I spent years not being able to afford hardware processors at all, so when I finally could it felt great to have them, even if the sound they created wasn't dramatically different or better.

Audio production and mixing is my livelihood, so sometimes I buy flashy things for me, not necessarily in proportion to the profit it will bring me in the long run. I really like sitting down to my desk and having some cool looking shiny gear with lights, makes me excited to work. But sonically I could probably get the same quality of mix totally ITB, but it wouldn't be as fun for me. I guess I'm a gearslut.
Well said.

Totally psychological bias, but I find a plugin eq to much easier and better (!) when it maps well to a little novation launchcontrol with knobs that I have on my desk. Totally childish, but, it's true!

I have a couple of really nice eq's in the 1073 clones I have and a really tasteful (but very limited) eq on the ua 610s. The rest of my eq is ITB.

The SW eq's are pretty dang fantastic now and have been for quite awhile, particularly for cuts.
Old 4th February 2017
  #27
Lives for gear
 
dights's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kojak View Post
Alright so while some things cannot be replicated digitally, namely preamps, and actual microphones (sorry Slate, while I'm sure your virtual mic system is very good, it still cannot replicate microphones across the board), are we not at the point that hardware EQs are strictly for people who have a zillion dollars? While I'm sure real deal API/SSL/Pultec/whatever are very good, can anyone honestly say that high end digital versions are inferior at this point? Like, is anyone listening to a finished record and going "oh, sounds OK, but a real tube EQ would have made it better." While I realize different EQs (both hardware and digital) have different harmonic responses and whatnot, aren't we at the point that we can say that we're past it? Or certainly, that $1,000 is ridiculous to pay for one channel of EQ? I'm of the opinion that sure, if I had unlimited funds, sure I'd love to have 58 channels of hardware EQs but at this point I think we've gotten to where even the best ears can't tell.
From the way you've written your post I'd assume that you haven't really tried out mixing/recording with a selection of hardware EQs at your fingertips.

At the very least, a great hardware EQ on your mix bus is a beautiful thing and isn't comparable to software for me.

If you're looking to move into hardware then I'd say rent a high-end mix bus chain of EQ and compressor for a day and see how it blows your hair back...
Old 4th February 2017
  #28
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brightshine's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cjogo View Post
Since we use very little plugins :: on the low end == a pair of SPECK EQ --- or top quality /ease of use === ELYSIA X Filter
I went out on a limb and bought the Elysia X-Filter. Had only used plugins before the purchase. If you have not tried a hardware EQ, then you will never know the difference. When I put the X-Filter into play......a big smile came across my face. There is a difference.
Old 4th February 2017
  #29
Gear Nut
 

It all goes back to the timeless principle of getting it right as early as possible. The downstream effect on a person's psychology during the mix is massive. If you look at 30+ tracks and know you only have to do some minor EQ on 3 of those tracks, how much does your mindset change? And how much time have you saved yourself?

It is not just that hardware EQ sounds better (it does). For whatever reason, the majority of human beings work faster and more intuitively this way. Including the generation that has only made music on computers.

You go to work in a big studio with experienced men and women, and, to the last person, they will all EQ at the tracking stage.

"But hey, what if I make a mistake during tracking?"

Well...That is how you learn.
Old 4th February 2017
  #30
Lives for gear
 
mamm7215's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by brightshine View Post
I went out on a limb and bought the Elysia X-Filter. Had only used plugins before the purchase. If you have not tried a hardware EQ, then you will never know the difference. When I put the X-Filter into play......a big smile came across my face. There is a difference.
Same here. At first I didn't think it was much better than my pro-q, if at all and wondered if I'd spent a bunch of money on the x-filter for nothing. As I got to know it and it's abilities, I wouldn't mix down without it now. I still use eq plugs on tracks for low cuts etc., but critical and mix eq I'm glad I've got my Elysia.
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