The 6020 Ultimate Equalizer draws from hard to find, boutique gear, and McDSP’s own design experience, to create ten unique modules. Each 6020 equalizer is designed to complement the similarly styled compressor in the 6030 Ultimate Compressor. In this edition of Colin’s Corner, we review the 6020 modules and what they have to offer.
Fairchild made a fine assortment of equipment, of which some was fortunately for the audio industry. But while Fairchild is probably best known to studio dwellers for the 670 Compressor / Limiter, most folks are not aware of the Fairchild 664 EQ module (that’s right, already in a module format !!). The original 664 unit had only a fixed low frequency band at 80 Hz, and high frequency band with a sparse selection of stepped frequencies. The McDSP E670 module has three bands, each with its own continuous gain and frequency controls. The E670, like the original 664 module, is a program equalizer – a gentle set of EQ curves to tweak the tonality of the input signal.
The music industry’s obsession with tube-based equipment is stuff of legend. And why not – if it sounds good, it’s good. The Moo Q module is a program equalizer like the E670, but derived from all tube designs of the last few decades. Three bands with continuous gain and frequency controls are included, plus some ‘tube accents’ in the output stage of the equalizer to complement the ‘tube tones’ from the equalizer bands. The Moo Q module is also a great example of the real-time control smoothing available in all AAX plug-in continuous controls.
The last of the true program material equalizers in the 6020, the iQ has only two bands – a low shelf EQ and a high shelf EQ. The iQ design is the most like gear from the 50’s and 60’s – basic tone control confined to some strategic frequency ranges. Its like intelligent EQ , or ‘iQ’. Additional circuitry is included for coloring the sound, even when the all equalizer gains are set to zero. If you are looking for some low end ‘glow’ or high end ‘sheen’, the iQ module is a good choice.
While there may be no electro-optical attenuation in these equalizers, McDSP wanted to have EQ modules that complemented the Opto-C/L compressor modules in the 6030 Ultimate Compressor plug-in. The E300 and E301 modules have the same frequency ranges, but the E301 is a tad narrower in bandwidth, especially at higher gain settings. Both modules are fairly utilitarian – good for shaping up guitar track tones, bringing out a vocal, or getting the most of your drum tracks.
McDSP’s own FilterBank plug-in, originally released in 1998, harnessed the fundamental design characteristics of the original Neve line of equalizers, most notably the 1073 and 1084, with its unique Peak, Slope, and Dip controls. The British-E module uses this same FilterBank technology to create an amalgamation of great Neve equalizers. The classic high pass filter, low shelf, parametric, and high shelf combination makes the British-E module useful for many mixing applications. The 64-bit audio path, available in all McDSP AAX plug-ins, shows off the big low end you can get out of the British-E module (and the rest of the equalizers available from McDSP).
The folks at dbx did not release any equalizers to match their classic compressor product line. But if they did, here at McDSP we think it would have sounded like the EZ Q. Using the same filter and equalizer configuration as found in the Britsh-E module – a high pass filter to carve out the rumble, capable low and high shelving EQ, and a fairly flexible parametric EQ, the EZ Q module gets the job done.
No, this is not the year Colin McDowell received his EE degree. Instead, the EQ’76 module is meant to be paired with the SST’76 compression module from the 6030 Ultimate Compressor plug-in. The EQ’76 has four bands of parametric equalization, each with a slight Q-gain dependency. The design borrows from the UREI 545 parametric equalizer, but like the other 6020 modules, has modifications by the engineering staff at McDSP for today’s modern productions.
What else can complement a compressor nicknamed ‘The Frog’ (the FRG444 from the 6030 Ultimate Compressor plug-in) than an equalizer with a name like FRG EEE (pronounced ‘Froggy’). Two parametric EQ bands bounded by low and high shelving, the FRG EEE is a capable equalizer, not unlike what is seen in modern channel strips in analog mixing consoles. The low and high shelving bands perform some amount of cut/boost to offset the boost/cut selected – a clever design technique from many classic equalizers.
Another complementary design for a 6030 module (the D357), the E357 module is three bands of aggressive equalization. The shelving bands have more punch at the low end, and a brighter top end, than any other shelving EQ in the 6020 collection. Both the D357 compression module and the E357 EQ module are great choices for fine tuning the tone of a drum buss. The E357 sounds good on bass and synth tracks too.
Ten and Counting
The 6020 Ultimate EQ plug-in is a window into the minds of the audio dsp nerds at McDSP. Years of obsessing over why certain analog units have become classics, and taking that knowledge to a digital software platform is what makes our day jobs very cool. The original equipment was, and still is, amazing. For folks who want those sounds in a few channels, there is ebay (or preferably a reputable vintage gear dealer). For folks looking for something a bit different, in a convenient 10-in-1 package, that can run on as many tracks as their computer can handle, there is the 6020 Ultimate EQ.
*All Trademarks are property of their respective owners. UREI ™ and Teletronix ™ are trademarks of the Teletronix/Universal Audio/UREI companies; dbx(tm)is a trademark of the Harmon Corporation; Neve(tm) is a trademark of AMS Neve; These companies are not affiliated in any way with McDSP, nor do they endorse the 6020 Ultimate EQ plug-in. The trademarks of these companies are used solely for the purpose of describing the sounds produced by the 6020 Ultimate EQ plug-in.