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Extreme EQ (part 2)

Although a simple 24dB/octave filter is a powerful tool, analogue synthesisers commonly have a resonance control too, and so does Mutator. The resonance control sets a certain amount of boost just below the cut-off frequency...

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Although a simple 24dB/octave filter is a powerful tool, analogue synthesisers commonly have a resonance control too, and so does Mutator. The resonance control sets a certain amount of boost just below the cut-off frequency. This is in fact more of a synthesis tool and even for Extreme EQ you would only need to use a fraction of the boost that is available. But who knows what people might choose to do with it given the chance. Conventional EQs never have a resonance control like this, and the Q control of a parametric just isn’t the same thing. At this point you might be thinking that this is all very well, but why does the Mutator only have a low-pass filter; why doesn’t it have high-pass and band-pass too? The answer to this is that low-pass is the function you will probably need most; band-pass is available (hopefully with variable Q) on your console already, and you already know how to flip a low-pass filter into high-pass mode without too much difficulty. Do you?

Although the LFO and envelope follower functions of the Mutator are not strictly necessary for Extreme EQ, they are still useful to the sound engineer (and even more so to the creative musician). Once you have found a useful low-pass filter setting it is a worthwhile bonus to set a small amount of LFO modulation so that the cut-off frequency isn’t static but changes over time. This makes the sound just that little bit more interesting than it would otherwise have been. LFO modulation can be applied to the level too if you wish. My feeling on the envelope follower is that it is best used with an external trigger that matches the rhythm of the music, a drum track for example. You could then apply the envelope of the drums to a pad or continuously sounding instrument in a similar way to triggering a noise gate from an external source, except that Mutator is more versatile. Those who wish to take Extreme EQ to the ultimate will probably also take advantage of the optional MIDI input which can control a number of Mutator’s parameters, including the ability to allow the cut-off frequency to follow MIDI note number.

Soft Options

Software plug-ins are becoming increasingly significant in the studio and it probably won’t be too long before they are as commonly seen as hardware effects racks, perhaps even more so. There are a number of plug-in standards including TDM, VST, Premiere, MAS and DirectX. At the moment, I would say that TDM and VST are the most significant. TDM is of course Digidesign’s format and requires a full Pro Tools system which comes with a hefty price tag. VST is Steinberg’s Virtual Studio Technology and is available to anyone with a Mac, or a PC with an audio recording sound card, and Cubase VST. The price differential between TDM and VST is so great that it is like a fault line in the Earth’s crust, stretching and straining until sooner or later something is going to have to give way. Emagic’s announcement that they intend to support VST in Logic Audio makes me think that there will soon be a cascade of manufacturers all supporting the VST standard. Pro Tools with VST would be a fascinating combination, particularly if non-Digidesign cards could be used. Unfortunately there is always going to be a divide between Mac and PC VST plug-ins, and it is true that some plug-ins are only available for the Mac, some only for the PC. The two I shall mention here are Mac only.

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By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004
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