Apex PE 133 MkII Paragraphic Equaliser (part 1)
So you have twiddled every knob on the channel EQ and tried every combination of settings possible and still the sound isnt right - what do you do now? It might make sense to sack the person who didnt make a decent recording in the first place, but that doesnt solve your problem here and now. Obviously you will turn to an outboard equaliser, but should you go for a graphic or a parametric? Which will be the best for your particular situation?
Once upon a time equalisation was the sexiest signal processing around, but the gloss has rather worn off with the introduction and subsequent ubiquity of phasing, flanging, chorusing, pitch changers, exciters and multi-effectual aural novelty boxes. No-ones pulse races at the sight of an equaliser anymore so if a manufacturer is going to introduce a new one then it had better be a good solid serious tool that is going to do a dirty job well whenever it is called upon. I think we have that right here in the form of the Apex PE 133MkII single channel and PE 232MkII dual channel Paragraphics. By paragraphic, Im sure you will see straight away that these units (the former is reviewed here) combine the functions of graphic and parametric into one unit. But isnt that going to result in a lot of noise from the parts of the processing you may not be using? Not at all, as you will see as you read on.
Since we are dealing with a unit which competes with many others doing similar functions, rather than the latest high tech box whose foibles you may accept because of its unique virtues, I think it will be a good starting point to lift the lid and see if all is ship shape inside. In fact, its surprising to find that most of the interior of the unit is filled with nothing but fresh air! Its amazing how much functionality you can get out of a small number of components these days, which is a good thing of course since more active components can lead to more noise with imprudent design (speaking as an ex-electronic constructor with designs both prudent and imprudent!). I might as well comment on the points that I dont think are quite so good to get them out of the way. I have never been a great fan of internal fuses so I was disappointed to see a pair of them on the rear panel mounted pcb. Obviously they have a function, but there is no reference to them on the rear panel legend or in the manual, so if you find yourself with a dead paragraphic then you may be a victim of simple fuse fatigue and not realise it. Also, I think its bad policy to fix a circuit board using rivets. The rivets are in the XLRs which are then soldered to the pcb so to remove the board you either have to desolder the XLRs or drill out the rivets. Maintenance engineers wont like this, but perhaps they dont always get enough say in the selection of equipment. Apart from that I could mention excess lengths of unscreened wiring inside, but I couldnt detect any hum using sensitive detection apparatus (my ears). Other than these points, the internals are very neat and confidence inspiring. I should also mention that Apex claim to have used advanced engineering concepts on the chassis design which eliminate the stress and torsional movements which can damage the electronics. I dont know about all that, but the unit does have a nice solid feel to it.