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Author Topic: The most versatile analog EQ & Compressor?  (Read 22601 times)

RichR

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The most versatile analog EQ & Compressor?
« on: December 28, 2005, 04:35:02 am »

Hello masters!

I've been looking around this forum for a week now and got some very useful information. I would like to thank you guys for that.

I'm currently trying to equip my home studio with some analog gears to help with some mastering work for underground projects.
I have a Manley VariMU (not the mastering version) but I don't find it to be versatile enough. I also have a Fatso but, again, it's color does not work on everything (Does anybody use it for mastering?).

I've seen you guys talk about the Ibis, Millenia, Massive passive, STC-8, GML, etc... From what I gather, the Millenia NSEQ-2 and the Crane Song STC-8 seem to be the most versatile ones, am I right?

I've found a good deal on the mastering versions of the Ibis and the STC-8. I'm really tempted to get them but, since I'm looking for an EQ that I can use to push the high end without harshness, some complaints about the Ibis at this range make me nervous. I can not afford to get an EQ that does not work with most materials especially in the high end.

Would you guys go for the Ibis and the STC-8?

BTW, I have all the UAD and Powercore EQs (sony, etc..) but I still think I need an analog EQ to get the air without the digital harshness.

Please help a noob with a critical decision. Confused

Thanks.
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Richard R.

Dave Davis

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Re: The most versatile analog EQ & Compressor?
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2005, 08:34:26 am »

The Bad News: There is no magic bullet or "most versatile" EQ and comp.  Different strokes and all that...

The Good News: In today's market, analog isn't the only or even best solution for the problem you describe.  I can push a clean digital EQ just as far before harshness on the high end as my Sontec.

The Wiess probably comes closest to doing what you want, albeit not necessarily in a single box.  The Dyn and LP options are each equally useful, doing things no analog device can dream of.  And doing them with a rich, smoothness that will make you weep!

I use the built in EQ of SonicStudioHD for all kinds of things.  The higher order filters are amazing for fattening up and warming the most submerged, weak bottoms... A far better solution than maxxbass, and more clear than higher orders on the Sontec.

Between the various digital EQs in my studio, it's very very rare that I feel a need to jump out to analog for air or warmth... I can get it in the digital domain just as easily.  

If you work with a lot of analog sources, or high resolution digital, analog processing can be a great and wonderful thing... Sontecs and Manleys never run out of DSP and work/sound the same at every sample rate and bit depth!  OTOH if you're working with CD res sources, or project studio mixes, your money would be better spent on great monitoring (not just great speakers, but the whole path, from console to amps to drivers).  

It is a myth that "bouncing out" to analog is the best or somehow magical solution for digititus.  It's one solution among many, and lately it gets a lot of ink because it's unfamiliar, expensive, and "classic", in a recombinant culture.  From our post-modern, cut/paste mash up perspective, we shouldn't forget that this classic gear was created in a culture of more direct creation, where novel sounds and presentation were the norm.  A lot of cool gear sounds great because what comes out sounds nothing like what went in, and distorts signals in pleasing ways.  We can learn a lot from that approach and apply it to DSP.  Recognizing the distortions you like and desire, while avoiding those you don't is possible in digital models.  In other words, you can model just the opto sensor, without the transformers, or vice versa, without hacking the hardware.

As for the gear you mention... I love the Millenia NSEQ, and thought it would be a great compliment for my Sontec, but at the end of the day didn't buy it because it reminded me most of a great digital eq, which I already have.  I don't think I would want one for my sole analog EQ because it's so colorless and clean... it has almost no signature, almost like LP.  The Massive Passive goes the other way: All color, all the time.  A Sontec or GML provides a better balance: they can be very smooth and colorless or quite aggressive and rich at higher Qs and boosts.  Maybe IBIS is like this?  Others who've used it will chime in

The STC-8 might well be the piece closest to an ideal.  It's clean and interesting, and should generally do more good than harm.  I love old LA-series opto comps, but they're very limited by design.  An STC-8 would be useful for many things... it would be at home between an analog tape deck and ADC during a transfer, trimming off peaks in an elegant, good sounding way, and equally useful as a go-louder step in a chain.

-d-
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RichR

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Re: The most versatile analog EQ & Compressor?
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2005, 12:47:08 pm »

Dave,
Thanks for your thorough response.

Let me try to paint a better picture of my situation.
I'm a producer with his own new studio and new small label. I will be doing outside work in the studio to get more money in.

I'm working on a PC with Nuendo3 through a Lynx Aurora 16 AD/DA and monitoring through an SPL 2381 to Dynaudio BM15As. My room is as good as I could make it using 703s and the best fabric. My audio comes from various sources including software samplers and synths, hardware synths, live instruments through Avalon, Focusrite and OSA preamps, etc...
I'm also recording different kinds of music from Carribean to HipHop and R&B.

What I concluded from your answer is that, to achieve what I want for mastering, the best bet is to get the Weiss EQ w/ Dyn & LP. However, I would still need a good compressor and the Weiss EQ, by itself, cost a little bit more than the Ibis and STC-8 deal.

You also say that, instead of the Millenia, you would recommand the Sontec or GML. I suppose you're referring to the GML 9500 which is over my budget. The only Sontec I found is the MEP-250A 5-BAND for $2600, is it the right one? If so, how is the availability of parts? Do I need to install any mods to master with it?

The Ibis is really tempting to me because it's available at a good price not too far from my house. I would love for some users to tell me how it compares to the GML and Sontec EQs?

Thanks a bunch.
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Richard R.

Ed Littman

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Re: The most versatile analog EQ & Compressor?
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2005, 01:37:36 pm »

Quote:

I also have a Fatso but, again, it's color does not work on everything (Does anybody use it for mastering?).



I had one for a while a few years back. Although generally to aggressive {in color not so much compression)It worked wonders on a project where I just ran the signal through with nothing engaged Shocked


RichR wrote on Wed, 28 December 2005 12:47




The Ibis is really tempting to me because it's available at a good price not too far from my house. I would love for some users to tell me how it compares to the GML and Sontec EQs?

Thanks a bunch.


The ibis is great. I have not shot it out with the others you listed, some say the gml is to sterile & the sontec...well forget it (ask Brad about those). the highs in the ibis are very sweet & the high mids may be what your concrened with. it has a color source for each band or all, so it's a great main eq that can go both ways. also, customer service is great.
Ed
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MASSIVE Mastering

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Re: The most versatile analog EQ & Compressor?
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2005, 02:50:52 pm »

I recently gave up a GML 8200 in favor of the Ibis.  Very predictable, transparent, "musical" (for lack of a better term) but able to impart a LOT of character if need be with the "Color" controls.  No regrets, and a lifetime warranty.  

Same with the STC-8M...  You can pry my Vari-Mu from my cold, dead fingers - It's not going anywhere.  But the STC-8M took over as the "cornerstone" compressor here.  Easily goes between "so transparent that you can't hear it working" and "what the hell just happened?!?" and most places in between.  Weird learning curve though...  

But definitely, if the place caught fire and I could only get a few pieces out in time, it'd be all the stuff with green knobs.  
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John Scrip
Massive Mastering - Chicago (Schaumburg / Hoffman Est.), IL - USA

Glenn Bucci

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Re: The most versatile analog EQ & Compressor?
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2005, 04:46:52 pm »

Though I think Massive Mastering has great points on the Ibis remember that the GML EQ was used on hundreds of top records including Toto, Earth Wind and Fire to most other famous artist. So you could not go wrong with getting one. However since the Ibis has a color control for each band, it is a more flexible EQ, and it's clean sound is also very nice. For me I would go with the Ibis as well, but the GML is still an awesome EQ.
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RichR

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Re: The most versatile analog EQ & Compressor?
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2005, 04:54:09 pm »

Well,
The Ibis and STC-8 seem to be the winners here in terms of flexibility.

I hope I did not loose the deal yet.

Thanks for making my decision so much easier.
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Richard R.

Ed Littman

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Re: The most versatile analog EQ & Compressor?
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2005, 05:52:46 pm »

RichR wrote on Wed, 28 December 2005 16:54

Well,
The Ibis and STC-8 seem to be the winners here in terms of flexibility.

I hope I did not loose the deal yet.

Thanks for making my decision so much easier.



another thing to think about is the chandler ltd-2. i've been using it more than the stc-8 latley...i love it!
Ed
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bblackwood

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Re: The most versatile analog EQ & Compressor?
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2005, 06:23:35 pm »

Can't go wrong with the STC-8, imo.

I tried the Millennia and while it was good, it didn't flip my switch. Also didn't care for the GML 8200 or 9500, and I really wanted to like the 9500 - they both had a zippy edge in the upper mids I didn't dig. Buzz is coming out with a new mastering Eq sometime soon, might be worth waiting for.

The Ibis is a good EQ, but if I could only have one of my EQs it would be the Sontec. Unfortunately, the original opamps are no longer available (trust me), so I can't recommend you buy one (assuming you can even find one in suitable condition for mastering). Because of this, I'd say the Ibis may be your best bet - though the top can be a little edgy, it does both clean and colored well (to clarify - the color can be assigned to full bandwidth or to any one band, but each band does not have it's own individual color control).
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Brad Blackwood
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David Glasser

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Re: The most versatile analog EQ & Compressor?
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2005, 06:30:12 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Wed, 28 December 2005 16:23


if I could only have one of my EQs it would be the Sontec. Unfortunately, the original opamps are no longer available (trust me), so I can't recommend you buy one (assuming you can even find one in suitable condition for mastering).



Don't overlook the Maselec MEA-2 if you're considering a 'Sontec-style' EQ.
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David Glasser
Airshow Mastering
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Glenn Bucci

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Re: The most versatile analog EQ & Compressor?
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2005, 08:10:25 pm »

There are just so many good eq's out there. Once you get to this level, it really comes down to personal preference. Martina McBride's is in the latest Pro Audio Review, and they mention that they used the GML 8200 with this recording as well. It's still a great EQ, but you really have to hear them to decide what is best for you.
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RichR

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Re: The most versatile analog EQ & Compressor?
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2005, 09:59:08 pm »

"I'd say the Ibis may be your best bet - though the top can be a little edgy"

That's what is scaring me a little about it.

"(to clarify - the color can be assigned to full bandwidth or to any one band, but each band does not have it's own individual color control)"

I certainly did not understand it to be this way. Thanks for clarifying.

"Don't overlook the Maselec MEA-2 if you're considering a 'Sontec-style' EQ"

Isn't it worst in terms of parts availability?

"but you really have to hear them to decide what is best for you"

Why is it that, in a state like NY, I can not find a pro audio store that displays these equipments for hands-on tests? Rolling Eyes
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Richard R.

dcollins

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Re: The most versatile analog EQ & Compressor?
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2005, 10:17:37 pm »

RichR wrote on Wed, 28 December 2005 18:59

"I'd say the Ibis may be your best bet - though the top can be a little edgy"

That's what is scaring me a little about it.



Yeah, that was my take on the Ibis, you could boost a dB or two, but the quality of the high-end was not great.

For versatility, I'd definitely go with the NSEQ-2.


Quote:


"Don't overlook the Maselec MEA-2 if you're considering a 'Sontec-style' EQ"

Isn't it worst in terms of parts availability?



No, all the parts are readily available, and the company is still in business!

Quote:


Why is it that, in a state like NY, I can not find a pro audio store that displays these equipments for hands-on tests? Rolling Eyes



I don't know, but there have to be several...

DC

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Re: The most versatile analog EQ & Compressor?
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2005, 10:28:25 pm »

RichR wrote on Thu, 29 December 2005 02:59



Why is it that, in a state like NY, I can not find a pro audio store that displays these equipments for hands-on tests? Rolling Eyes



In NYC there's
Dale  - http://www.daleproaudio.com/
and Studio Consultants - http://www.studioconsultants.com/

Studio Consultants is the East Coast authorized dealer for the Prism/Maselec stuff.

Their show rooms are more of "by appointment" type of places then just walk in stores like Sam Ash, Manny's (now owned by Sam Ash), B&H, and Guitar Center are.

Also if you need to demo out the B&W floorstanders you can go to Stereo Exchange -
http://www.stereoexchange.com

Another option is renting so that you can see how these peices will work for you in the comfort of your own studio - Dreamhire - http://www.dreamhire.com - has API, GML 8200, Manley Massive Passive, Avalon 2055 among other eq's you might want check out.

If you don't mind going out of state - I've gotten good service from
Mercenary (Fletcher's place) - http://www.mercenary.com
Vintage King  - http://www.vintageking.com
Sonic Circus - http://www.soniccircus.com

I believe all of these places will allow you to purchase a piece to demo it out and then exchange it for something else if you determine it's not the right one for you and that you want to try something different.



Best regards,
Steve Berson

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Re: The most versatile analog EQ & Compressor?
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2005, 05:26:32 am »

Ed Littman wrote on Wed, 28 December 2005 22:52

another thing to think about is the chandler ltd-2. i've been using it more than the stc-8 latley...i love it!
Ed


Agreed that the LTD-2 is pretty special, Ed - I find it imparts something great both glue-wise and colour-wise in most situations, the former even with meters barely moving.

One thing that I discovered recently is that care is needed siting them in a rack, as they can pick up hum from adjacent gear (in my case the HEDD) very easily. After some experimentation they now sit with the Masterlink and the noise floor is back where it should be. No doubt this is a typical problem with analogue equipment, but I'd been all-digital so long I'll confess this one took me by surprise Smile

Thoughtful post by Dave Davis at the top - although I don't at the moment have analogue EQ, Dave's observaton that the Sintefex all-digital EQ is 'as clear as water' got me investigating it seriously and made me realise I own a great tool I didn't know I had.
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Nigel Palmer
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