Most starters or even intermediate sound engineers have trouble choosing between software modeled EQs and outboard hardware gear. To be honest, its the final result that you need to focus on. Irrespective of what you used, you want your listeners to enjoy and feel your mix.
It is essential to understand why you need to equalise a certain element and how you want it to sound before you choose your plugin. Here are the top 5 hardware modeled EQ plugins that will help you get the best out of your mix.
API EQ – 550A/B and 560
From the American Automated Process Incorporation (API) which was released in the 70s, this plugin gives us the classic American tone in your session or song. It uses the 2520 OP-Amp for its clarity and depth in their circuit. API is known for its classic deep and rich sound. The 550A EQ has 3 bands of selectable frequencies with bell and shelf options with a variable Q value for each band. The 550B has 4 bands of EQ with a great 12db boost or cut per band. The ‘Q’ factor knob was designed by Late Saul Walker in the 60’s which gives us freedom to choose whether our boost or cut should be wide or surgical. The 560 EQ has 10 bands of Graphic EQ which was widely used in the 60’s and 70’s consoles to accompolish heavier tasks in the sessions. All the three API EQ’s have their own significant use and character to suite your musical taste.
Neve EQ – 1073 and 1084
Designed by the legendary Rupert Neve, the 1073 is known for its classic smooth Neve sound. It was originally designed in the 1970’s and has three bands of EQ. It works well on most sources and in mixing as well as mastering sessions. It has a high-shelf at a fixed frequency of 12KHz and a bell curve which is selectable. Also an added feature is the High Pass filter HPF with a selectable frequency knob, which helps to cut-off the low frequency rumble in your recordings. Later the 1084 EQ was designed with both HPF and LPF and a high ‘Q’ Factor to enable precise control over your frequencies.
PULTEC EQ – 1A
Another classic EQ, the PULTEC was in the year 1951 as a three band EQ with a
low shelf, high-peak and high shelf controls. What makes this EQ is its unique design and tonal quality. It adds good low end to your kick, bass guitars and also does a great job when used as a Master buss EQ in your sessions. It has a selectable low shelf EQ with attenuation controls and a high frequency for boosting. There is also a ‘Q’ value parameter to adjust the bell curve for effective use in your tracks. Although it might seem a little different in comparison with other EQs, the Pultec has its own unique signature crisp top end sound and a tight bass that is very sought after.
SSL EQ – E/G Series EQ
This EQ was designed in the 1980 to cater to the rock and roll records. The SSL is one of the most preferred EQs for countless engineers across the world. Famous for its punch, boldness and clarity, this EQ was modeled from the original SSL 4000 E series console in 1979. Te SSL G seires EQ was designed in 1987 with a similar look with a few minor differences in terms of features. The E-Series has 2 fully parametric bands with bell-curves and high/low shelfs.
The G-Series EQ also had 2-band fully parametric EQ’s but with a small twist. This series provided switches labeled “LMF/3” and “HMFx3” which divided the Low Mid frequency or multiplied the High Mid frequency by a factor of three, thus allowing substantial equalization changes at the touch of a single button. While both these models have their own sound and unique character, they are widely known for that classic rock and roll sound and feel.