EQ madness.

avedis e27 eq

neve 8803

chandler germanium tone control

great river eq-2nv

a-designs hammer

Holy macaroni. They’re all so pretty. Which would you choose?

I couldn’t audition any of these EQs beforehand to make a truly informed decision, so I had to make an educated guess. Huge thanks to Dave Pearlman for letting me know I was on the right track with what I was leaning toward getting. Sometimes a little reassurance from someone who knows their stuff is all you need.

In the end I decided to pass up the most logical/obvious choice (the Great River EQ-2NV, which is designed to work with the Great River pres I have already and use on almost everything all the time because I’m still in love with them, shaddup in love with them, to paraphrase Al Green). Instead I went with the Hammer. Because hammers are fun to use when smashing things. And I’ve always been curious about A-Designs gear. The Pacifica mic preamp gets a lot of love from a lot of people — about as much love as the Great River gets. I might have ended up with one of those if I hadn’t gone so preamp-crazy in such a short period of time a few years back and already covered all the bases I felt I needed.

At this price point I figure it’s kind of like splitting hairs — though there’s obviously a pretty large difference between solid state and tube gear — and it’s all going to be pretty tasty no matter what you choose, so I thought I’d try something a little exotic. The Hammer got here today, with a free Mogami Gold cable (thanks to Vintage King).

Here is a picture of me rejoicing.

rejoicing in the hands of the limbless.

That’s right. I totally chopped my hair off and went religious on you.

The main appeal behind finally having some dedicated hardware EQ is to be able to give some “air” to the stereo ribbon microphone, and to have some musical sweetener around for those times when something could use a bit of a kick in the calves. I’m not much of a surgical EQ kind of guy, and I don’t tend to use much EQ in general, but I’ve been boosting about 7dB at 12K to get the drums to have some sheen in the higher frequencies and deal with the rolloff that’s typical of ribbon microphones. With digital EQ. In the box. Yikes. I think it’s a testament to how good the mic is in the first place that it can take that kind of boost from a low-rent digital EQ and not sound like garbage. The Hammer is supposed to do something magical at 10K, which is pretty close to 12K, so tomorrow we’ll put it to the test and see what happens.

Also, a big thank-you to Milan for letting me babysit some of his gear for a while. I threw up his AT 4047 (no, I didn’t eat it and then vomit it out) for fun, and that thing is a seriously nice microphone. It puts the much more expensive AKG 414 B ULS to shame. The shock mount that comes with the mic is pretty spiffy too. I ended up using that mic to record acoustic guitar and mandolin on a song that will probably show up on the new album.

Speaking of that thing — it’s taken a turn for something altogether different from what I originally intended. I went into it meaning to make something of an electronic album. Not a throwback to GROWING SIDEWAYS exactly, but something dominated by synth and mostly free of organic sounds. As usual, the music had other ideas. It’s still pretty synth-heavy, but there’s a ton of real piano, bass, guitar, and drums. I don’t know how I’d describe it at this point. It isn’t synth-pop, and I don’t think it’s sounding much like a sunny summer album either. I just can’t seem to write sunny pop songs no matter what I do. But I like where it’s going.

I’d say it’s about two-thirds of the way finished right now. I’m going to try and get it out there in the next few weeks. It definitely needs to see a proper release before my birthday renders me old and crusty. Here’s hoping for an early August release. I’m toying with the idea of maybe including the lyrics in booklet form for the first time ever. It’s not that these lyrics are necessarily my best work, but I think it would be fun to try that out.

5 comments

  1. hey i like the new look! shaved the beard too!
    glad yr getting some joy out of the gear, i totally forgot about the at-4047, she was one of my favorites that i can never remember her name

  2. I do find it interesting that of all of those EQs you show, only one of them is four band. With the “mids” covering some much sonic landscape, I always thought that two bands there was a nice idea. You said you’re an EQ minimalist (as all should be), but I was wondering if this ever came into consideration for you?

  3. To be completely honest with you, I’m still pretty much a novice when it comes to something like EQ. I understand what it is and what it does, and I’ve learned a lot about when to use it and when not to from past mistakes and experience, but I think the more settings I had to work with the steeper the learning curve would be for me. I was more interested in something I could use to paint broader strokes with…”mojo in a box”, so to speak.

    I also for some reason don’t find myself often doing anything to the mids with EQ. But again, there’s a lot I don’t know. The whole recording thing is a never-ending learning process for me. I was mostly looking for something that had very pleasing high frequency capabilities, for things like ribbon mics that can be lacking in that department, and the Hammer seemed to fit the bill (it was a toss-up for me between that and the Avedis).

  4. The best reason I’ve ever seen for two mid range sweeps is bass guitar, cut a little at 400hz-ish to take out some of the muffle, and boost a touch at 2K to add a bit of string noise.

    But that all depends on what you want from your bass guitar and my opinion matters neither here nor there. I just like adding my two cents places where money is never a problem.

    I think you’re on the right path though, minimalist eq-ing is always the way to go.

    1. Actually, I think the EQ points on the Hammer are set so the lows go up to 400…so I might be able to try those settings on bass after all! And spare change is always welcome here.

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