Three 500 Series EQs

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

Beautiful, Portable Sonic Shapers

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Maag Audio EQ4

Mäag Audio EQ4

Mäag Audio has been around since only 2009, but you may remember Cliff Maag as the inventor/developer of the NTI EQ3 and the Nightpro PreQ3 and EQ3D. Mäag Audio specializes in two products: the EQ4 reviewed here, and the PREQ4. Both are 500 Series modules, the latter pairing a mic preamp with an Air Band EQ. Mäag Audio also sells a software version of its EQ4 through plugin-alliance.com.

The EQ4 packs an astounding six bands of EQ into a single 500 Series unit (five fixed-frequency and one selectable). The bands are parked at Sub (10 Hz), 40 Hz, 160 Hz, 650 Hz, 2.5 kHz, and the Air Band, which is shelved and user-selectable at 2.5, 5, 10, 20, or 40 kHz. The unit is clearly labeled and easy to understand without reading the manual. Besides the adjustment knobs for gain and frequency in the Air range, there is an In/Out button with accompanying LED, plus there are LEDs for signal present and peak, which kicks in when the output reaches 23 dBu.

Although you would think that the fixed approach of the EQ4 is limiting, it’s really very usable and musical. Mäag sells it as a non-surgical EQ, which is accurate, but I found that I could get into some very fine detail work by just playing with the available bands.

I started using the unit on a mono drum overhead and immediately went for the Air Band. Wow! I reviewed the Nightpro more than a decade ago, and I immediately found the EQ4’s smooth treatment of upper frequencies comparable with the older unit. Air is the perfect word—cymbals were crisp without being brash, and I could dig down deeper into the tops of the snare and toms by kicking down the frequency choices notch by notch. I settled on an area where the cymbals and stick hits of the drums were evident and added the perfect amount.

Next, on the same track, I moved down to the 2.5 kHz band to bring out some upper-mid personality, then down to 40 Hz to boost the kick. That frequency choice was perfect for this kick. It brought out the thump without being tubby or too big in the sub range. Speaking of which, the sub range can be used to bring out some potentially large sub-harmonics or just as a filter to sculpt the bottom end, which is how I used it. I’ve got a Dangerous BAX EQ, which does that very thing for my overall mix bus output, but it’s nice to have that capability on a single track to keep you out of trouble. I also tried the EQ4 on a B3 organ, acoustic guitar and lead vocal with great results.

At $849, the Mäag EQ4 is not inexpensive, but it’s one of those essential tools you’ll grow to use and love on a regular basis.

PRODUCT SUMMARY

Company: Mäag Audio

Product: EQ4

Website: maagaudio.com

Price: $849

Pros: Air Band is revelatory. All bands are musical and useful.

Cons: Too pricey for some, especially if you need stereo.

TRY THIS

When using the EQ4 on complex material with a lot of different frequency content, use the Sub and 40Hz controls to sculpt the bottom end. By playing with boost and cut of the two bands, you can customize your low end, creating slopes that are effective for controlling the low end of a track.






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