Three 500 Series EQs

Jun 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Mix, By Kevin Becka

Beautiful, Portable Sonic Shapers


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Alta Moda AM-25

Hardware, especially portable hardware, is a hot category in audio manufacturing, and the 500 Series format has truly become a juggernaut. It seems every trade show cycle reveals at least a handful of new preamps, compressors, EQs and special-category problem solvers for the vertically inclined. The three EQs reviewed here each bring their own personality and enticements to the game. All are worth a listen, and as you’ll find, can excel across a wide range of applications.

Alta Moda AM-25 EQ

Alta Moda is a company that specializes in EQs and compressors, with the AM-25 being their new 500 Series EQ. The AM-25 fits a fair amount of functionality into its small space. There are sweepable high and low bands with ±12 dB of boost/cut between 4 kHz and 20 kHz (shelf only), and ±12 dB of boost/cut between 20 Hz and 120 Hz (shelving or bell). The LM and HM bands are fully parametric, offering ±12 dB of boost/cut between 65 Hz to 2 kHz or 1 kHz to 7.5 kHz, respectively. The unit has a hardwire bypass on a toggle with an on/off LED telling you if it’s in the signal path.

I always start an EQ review by using them around a drum kit, which reveals a lot about an equalizer. Is it versatile enough for surgical use and cutting out boxiness, and can it doctor up a kick drum? How does it sound when adding some top to the overheads? The AM-25 did a great job in most departments.

Adding gain at high frequencies on a mono overhead mic was smooth without being strident. Of course you can add too much, but it was easy to hear the line where things got out of hand. It was easy to take the boxiness out of a kick drum with the LM band. I quickly dialed in the correct amount of cut around 400 to 500 Hz and then set the Q to taste. Perfect.

When used across a mono room mic, the AM-25 had the goods. I could add top, bring out the beef in the toms and dial in just enough low end to make the room mic work well with the rest of the kit. It all sounded very musical and was the perfect processor for the job. On a kick drum, the low band was too broad when using the peak setting to bring out the thump on this particular drum, and the shelving setting added too much woof in the lowest of lows. What I usually do in these cases is jump up to the LM band, but it goes down to only 65 Hz, and even if that did work, I’d lose the band for the other use mentioned above.

Everything about the AM-25 is high-class. The unit is built like a tank using 1-percent metal film resistors, high-quality potentiometers, and gold contact switches and relays. This is a great utility EQ for acoustic guitars and everyday dressing up of hand percussion, bass guitar and everything else you can throw at it. Besides the solid build and great sound, what’s most amazing is the intro price of $299. You couldn’t make these yourself any cheaper—everyone should have two.


Company: Alta Moda

Product: AM-25


Price: $499 ($299 intro price)

Pros: Great-sounding EQ for a great price.

Cons: LF band peak setting too broad for some applications.


When encountering a boxy-sounding kick drum, nine times out of 10 the problem lies around 400 Hz. With the AM-25’s fully parametric Low-Mid band, it’s easy to dial in the frequency at the 10 o’clock position for starters, set the Q control at 12 o’clock, then dial back the offending frequency until just the low end and attack are dominant. Adjust to taste.

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