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A Designs Hammer vs. UAD Precision EQ Condenser Microphones
View Poll Results: Which clip is the Hammer (hardware)?
Clip A is the hardware.
20 Votes - 55.56%
Clip B is the hardware.
16 Votes - 44.44%
Voters: 36. You may not vote on this poll

Old 10th September 2007
  #61
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
Pan60--since you are familiar with the Hammer, why don't you identify which clip was processed with the hardware for everyone.
Brad
sorry Brad reread my post.
i will take the gear that makes me go wow rather i do anything or not, no tweaking required!.
i will continue with my hardware collection
Old 10th September 2007
  #62
Lives for gear
 
BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
you can level match 'em until the cows come home, they're never gonna sound similar, and the differences are obvious no matter which one is louder.

it's funny people hear the differences in the bottom, when to me the top is much more glaring.

as for our brave hall monitor firefox, i got one word for ya: qualuuds.


gregoire
del
ubk
.
Yes! Thank you. The top end is really where the differences are and are much more obvious than the low end. Differences in peak levels mean nothing especially if one process is slight saturating on the peaks.

The point of this thread was to discuss the unique qualities that an exceptional piece of hardware is adding to a mix compared to a very clean sounding plugin. It's not a test per se, but rather a point of discussion about the way we hear things. I'm in no way trying to tell people that a plugin is better than a piece of hardware. But I am trying to see if people can identify blindly the characteristic sonic mojo that a new piece of hardware is introducing. That is the topic I'd like to continue talking about.

You know--I wonder what the tone of some people's responses would have been if I had said I was comparing to a second hardware EQ...one that I had built myself.

Can a moderator please clean up this thread?

thanks,
Brad
Old 10th September 2007
  #63
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Chris's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
But I am trying to see if people can identify blindly the characteristic sonic mojo that a new piece of hardware is introducing. That is the topic I'd like to continue talking about.

Brad
Well apparently a lot of them can, but those are all the people that won't venture a guess. Hmmmmm.
Old 10th September 2007
  #64
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BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by pan60 View Post
sorry Brad reread my post.
i will take the gear that makes me go wow rather i do anything or not, no tweaking required!.
i will continue with my hardware collection
I'm very jealous of your hardware collection!!!

Brad
Old 10th September 2007
  #65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Shepperd View Post
Is it me? LOL!!!!
I know this is not going to come out right, (I just know it)... but, are these actual mixes?

To me, it sounds like two separate mixes playing back at the same time.

.
Yeah Bizarre arragement!! I think those lines where so loud and distractive that gave me the impression that two mixes were running at the same time...anyway can be a very interesting arragement with a better balance.
That made more difficult to identify the diferences ...anyway I think are very small...but I think with a cleaner mix would be easier to hear the sonic differences.

Anyway I just can say I prefer A!
Old 10th September 2007
  #66
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BradM's Avatar
Can you put your finger on why?

Brad
Old 10th September 2007
  #67
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GYang's Avatar
On my PC loudspeakers B mix just slightly grabbed my attention over A. Nothing very specific, not real comparison, just feeling that on such lo-fi system B mix sounds slightly nicer (so could be Hammer).
Actually it happenned many times to me that mixes done with some nice outboards sounded less nice than mixes done without them. It's not always matter of what is better in general. Some particular sonical characteristic of plug-ins might be right thing for that song.
Good SW EQs are indeed cool nowdays.
Old 10th September 2007
  #68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
Can you put your finger on why?

Brad
Those lines on the mix have such a distractive sound and for me are too loud and big.
Really distracted me so much those sounds that seems to me like 2 parallel mixes going on at the same time....so that really made things difficult to me to be focused on the sound and clarity.

For the other hand I found those lines so bizarre that actually with the proper balance and place in the mix can possibliy achieve a very interesting sound for the song.
Old 10th September 2007
  #69
Gear Addict
 
aryschien's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
The point of this thread was to discuss the unique qualities that an exceptional piece of hardware is adding to a mix compared to a very clean sounding plugin.
Hi Brad, I forgot to thank you for making this test.

As for your point which I quoted above, to me it's like this:

(1) Some high end hardwares always add some mojo into the mix and are not transparent at all;

(2) Some other high end hardwares are able to adds some mojo into the mix, or bring out the mojo within the mix itself, in a transparent way;

(3) Some great plug-ins are able to bring out the mojo within the mix itself in a transparent way, but most plug-ins that add mojo into a mix do that with a price, as far as I've heard.

Therefore, if you have more time, I'd love to see two more tests like these:

(1) Hardware v.s. plug-in regarding how much they can do "invisibly".

(2) Hardware v.s. plug-in regarding how "natural" they can remain while adding as much mojo as they can.

That would be interesting to me.
Old 10th September 2007
  #70
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audiomichael's Avatar
 

I'm hope no one uses this thread as a reference to judge the Hammer EQ. I don't think for that, it serves any purpose. The Hammer is a unique piece that's got tons of personality...I think that's the sign of great gear. It's not a GML that you can tweak into doing your bidding. You throw The Hammer up, start turning knobs and let it's flavor oooze over your audio. It's either gonna work or not. In this regard I think it's alot like an SSL style compressor, or a 1073. That's not to say that it itsn't versatile, because it was able to bring it's thing to anything I threw at it, from rock to R&B to orchestral to acapella.

By all means, continue this poll, because it's fun, but if you're using it to decide whether The Hammer is "good" or "worth it", it's about as usefull as listening to EQ'd pink noise and deciding how good an EQ is.

Old 10th September 2007
  #71
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mixerguy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by audiomichael View Post
I'm hope no one uses this thread as a reference to judge the Hammer EQ. I don't think for that, it serves any purpose. The Hammer is a unique piece that's got tons of personality...I think that's the sign of great gear. It's not a GML that you can tweak into doing your bidding. You throw The Hammer up, start turning knobs and let it's flavor oooze over your audio. It's either gonna work or not. In this regard I think it's alot like an SSL style compressor, or a 1073. That's not to say that it itsn't versatile, because it was able to bring it's thing to anything I threw at it, from rock to R&B to orchestral to acapella.

By all means, continue this poll, because it's fun, but if you're using it to decide whether The Hammer is "good" or "worth it", it's about as usefull as listening to EQ'd pink noise and deciding how good an EQ is.

+1 !!!!
Old 10th September 2007
  #72
Lives for gear
 
RCM - Ronan's Avatar
I sort of agree with Dryer Maker that this is a little strange to put up an A-B test of two pieces of gear with different setting and levels, but that has already been gone through.

I listened off my lap top and A seems to have a little bit of the high end thing I associate with the Hammer, but the interesting thing about this "test" is that neither of them made me go "wow" and as a guy that has had a hammer around my studio for a few weeks, the thing makes me go WOW on a pretty regular basis. Its one of those things I will have patched in and watch the bands jaw drop as I put it in and out. I recently had a band in for a mix and when I put it on a drum buss the drummer literally started jumping up and down high fiving the other guys in the band when he heard it. I have no experience with the UAD plug so I do not know if its something that always seems to have a wow factor.

Its all different tools, but a bunch of people on this thread seem to have come to the conclusion that its silly to spend money on hardware EQ. That is not something i could tell any one or even tell any one which one they should like, but I would encourage any one to try a more accurately match test and also try some extreme settings. Get a dull track that really needs some life and crank both EQs about 9 dB at 10K and see which one you like. Not my place to say which you will like but you will start to see the different qualities of various EQ at the more extreme settings.
Old 10th September 2007
  #73
Lives for gear
 
BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by audiomichael View Post
I'm hope no one uses this thread as a reference to judge the Hammer EQ. I don't think for that, it serves any purpose. The Hammer is a unique piece that's got tons of personality...I think that's the sign of great gear. It's not a GML that you can tweak into doing your bidding. You throw The Hammer up, start turning knobs and let it's flavor oooze over your audio. It's either gonna work or not. In this regard I think it's alot like an SSL style compressor, or a 1073. That's not to say that it itsn't versatile, because it was able to bring it's thing to anything I threw at it, from rock to R&B to orchestral to acapella.

By all means, continue this poll, because it's fun, but if you're using it to decide whether The Hammer is "good" or "worth it", it's about as usefull as listening to EQ'd pink noise and deciding how good an EQ is.

Oh I totally agree! It's not fruitful for anyone to make an absolute decision about one piece of gear being "better" than another just from one set of clips. Here's one thing I've noticed about using the Hammer:

You can get an amazing sound out of it that is inspiring within 20 seconds. I can honestly say that I must fiddle with plugins for much longer to find something I like.

Great gear has the power to make us look like great engineers (the high five factor Ronan is referring to). The Hammer is one of those pieces.

Brad
Old 10th September 2007
  #74
Lives for gear
 
BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcm View Post
Its all different tools, but a bunch of people on this thread seem to have come to the conclusion that its silly to spend money on hardware EQ. That is not something i could tell any one or even tell any one which one they should like, but I would encourage any one to try a more accurately match test and also try some extreme settings. Get a dull track that really needs some life and crank both EQs about 9 dB at 10K and see which one you like. Not my place to say which you will like but you will start to see the different qualities of various EQ at the more extreme settings.
Exactly! I think this is one area where my clips fail to shine the spotlight. The settings I used were pretty gentle. They were no more than +3 dB of boost. When you really crank the thing that's when you have that WOW experience.

One point I disagree with though is I'm not sure anyone has blatantly said they think it's silly to spend money on a hardware EQ.

I say--invest in the tools that either inspire you, help you do your job more effectively, or make you feel good.

I plan to reveal the answers later tonight and hopefully demonstrate with some additional clips how the Hammer achieves its magic.

Brad
Old 10th September 2007
  #75
Dan
Lives for gear
 
Dan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sad of Reds View Post
+1

someone just has a case of the Mondays
I reckon a man will get his a__ kicked for saying something like that.
Old 10th September 2007
  #76
Lives for gear
 
RCM - Ronan's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
One point I disagree with though is I'm not sure anyone has blatantly said they think it's silly to spend money on a hardware EQ.
You are right. i read that into some posts. Silly of me!
Old 10th September 2007
  #77
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rcm View Post
You are right. i read that into some posts. Silly of me!
same boat here :(
Old 10th September 2007
  #78
Gear Addict
 
Lownotes's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Firefox View Post
This is the most unbelievably dumb thread EVER

The levels are not matched, the EQ settings are not matched, and the original poster wants us to compare the sound of the two clips, and vote on them?

What a complete and utter stupid exercise in futility.

Brad said:.....” I set the HPF on the plugin at 20Hz. That seemed to null out the Hammer the best, which is not very intuitive since the Hammer's high pass is at 84Hz according to Peter Montessi....”

And you call yourself an engineer? Come on Brad.... the difference between a 20 Hz roll-off and 84 Hz roll-off is HUGE.

And as many people have pointed out - the levels are different too. I checked, and the peak levels are 2 db different between the loudest and the quietest clip.... TWO Db!

Brad said: “...feel free to level match if it makes it easier for you to listen to the two sound clips....”

What the heck? Why wouldn’t YOU level match before posting ...... ideally during your test? Ever heard of Fletcher Munson? I’ll give you a cue - it is Engineering 101. Here is a link to help you learn a basic thing about engineering, perception, and hearing.

Fletcher–Munson curves - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Why bother with this unless you are going to do it properly? What a waste of your time, and everyone else’s time.....

You can’t be serious about this at all, can you? tutt
Why bother posting?
Old 10th September 2007
  #79
Gear Maniac
 
HockeyMike's Avatar
 

Clip A seems a hair smoother in the mids and highs, B is a little fuller in the bottom.

Don't know if it matters which is analog and which is plugin, just depends on what's the better tool for this mix. I prefer A slightly, but not by much.
Old 10th September 2007
  #80
Lives for gear
 
thermos's Avatar
Kind of the coolest sounding clip musically I've ever heard on gearslutz. Someone is using their brain. Who cares about tone? (You made me forget about it for a few minutes). You may have said what this music is somewhere in the thread, so I'll look for it.

Thanks!

Oh, and through headphones I like b better.
Old 10th September 2007
  #81
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BradM's Avatar
I'll just go ahead and post the results now since I'm not sure I'm going to get a chance later.

A is the hardware.
B is the plugin.


I think the big difference to me what how the Hammer harmonically enriched the high end. That's what really gives it this incredibly unique pop-out-of-the-speakers effect. This is a really special characteristic that I can't say I've really ever experienced with any other piece of gear, hardware or software. Not too mention you can really crank the highs and it stays super smooth! That is probably what the other guys who have heard this box are experiencing as well.

It would really behoove a lot of guys to try the Hammer first hand and see what we are talking about in their own studio. Because it's been quite inspiring and exciting to hear music I've recorded and mixed transformed like that. I tried really hard to get the plugin to match the Hammer's EQ curve, but it was damn impossible because of the harmonic mojo that the box is adding to the music. You can try it yourself--if you take the original track and Hammer mix and invert the phase on them and then try to match the EQ curve, you'll find that a bunch of high end stuff will never cancel out. It's kind of like magic fairy dust or something.

To copy and paste some of my impressions from the other thread:

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.


Another thing worth mentioning it that is was super easy to dial up a very satisying sound with the Hammer. I can't say I've ever had a similar "fun" experience using the Precision EQ.

Nobody should make any gear buy decisions on simple listening games like this. You should definitely get the equipment in your own room and hear it with your own music.

I will sum up my thoughts with this. I really think A Designs has created a magic piece of gear that will make you look like a genius by running anything through it. As soon as I can scrape up some cash this is definitely going to be the first nice hardware EQ I add to my rack...so that I can use it on drums, guitars, vocals, mix buss, more guitars, acoustics....

Kudos to A Designs for another winner in my book.

Brad
Old 10th September 2007
  #82
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RCM - Ronan's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post

A is the hardware.
B is the plugin.

Whew!! i got it right. i get to keep my analog diva badge
Old 10th September 2007
  #83
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robot gigante's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
Nobody should make any gear buy decisions on simple listening games like this. You should definitely get the equipment in your own room and hear it with your own music.
Totally true- except I work on other people's music, not my own... The one thing I've learned about A/B comparisons on gslutz is that what I hear in a couple clips that someone posts has almost no bearing on the performance of the equipment in the day-to-day for me. Sometimes there are things that you recognize in a clip, but it's just different when you are twisting the knobs yourself and seeing how the gear reacts with what you want to get out of it.
Old 10th September 2007
  #84
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BradM's Avatar
Totally!

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but it seemed like the majority of posters preferred the tone of clip A despite not knowing if it was hardware or software. At least most people can recognize greatness even if they can't attribute it to a certain box.

Brad
Old 10th September 2007
  #85
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BradM's Avatar
Hey Ubk! You need to check out this box in person. I really think you would love it for 2-bus.

brad
Old 11th September 2007
  #86
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sahiaman's Avatar
 

Good to know my ears aren't decieving me. Atleast not yet!
Old 11th September 2007
  #87
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flute player's Avatar
 

OK nothing wrong with my ears too.
But according to all things said here about the mix levels it was quite clear to me after two times listening.
Time to get in serious contact with a-designs.
Time do do some overtime work too to get the money for all the new stuff comming on the market.
Peter can you make me a deal for one MP2 and a Hammer.

Paul
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