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Extreme EQ (part 5)

I feel that EQ as commonly found in audio equipment is just too tame. High end mixing consoles do offer very musical and versatile EQ sections, but mid range consoles don’t really have the ability to change a sound, only to modify it...



Basically, I feel that EQ as commonly found in audio equipment is just too tame. High end mixing consoles do offer very musical and versatile EQ sections, but mid range consoles don’t really have the ability to change a sound, only to modify it. As a starting point I’m not looking for much, just a 24dB/octave variable frequency low-pass filter with resonance control added to the conventional EQ on a mixing console, and available on outboard EQs and multi-effects units. We live in a new era of creativity and we need not only new tools, but well-known, tried and tested facilities presented in an easy-to-use form. It’s nice to have these things available as outboard and software plug-ins but I would like particularly to see the development of a mixing console specifically designed not just for Extreme EQ but for Extreme Creativity in the recording studio where, in addition to conventional mixing, a selection of simple but powerful tools could be right there ready to be used in new imaginative ways.

Low-Pass Into High-Pass

As mentioned in the main text it is possible to turn a low-pass filter, such as that of the Mutator, into a high-pass quite easily. Connect the signal to be filtered directly to one channel of the console and parallel it through the filter to another. Mix both together at the same level with the phase of one channel (either one) inverted. With a neutral setting on the filter no signal should be heard since the two identical but opposite phase signals cancel each other out, but if you bring down the cut-off frequency on the filter then on that channel no high frequencies will be present, therefore they will not cancel. The result, allowing for a little unpredictability due to the phase characteristics of the unit as a whole, is a variable cut-off frequency high-pass filter.

Cubase VST - a professional platform?

No. For audio, that is the simple answer in my opinion. The dividing line between amateur and professional equipment used to be sound quality, now it is usability. Professional equipment is distinguished by the fact that every feature is put in place to satisfy a need that someone has specifically asked for (or at least that’s what we hope, and we do mostly get). Amateur or so-called ‘prosumer’ equipment is jam-packed with features because manufacturers know that the more features they can advertise, the more units they will sell, even if most users will actually only use a tenth of the capabilities on offer. The other 90% simply get in the way, and sometimes don’t even work properly. As a MIDI sequencer, Cubase gets almost, but not quite, everything right and there is little to quibble about. But for the VST side of Cubase, Steinberg, selling mainly into the amateur and prosumer market, have gone for a completely different look and feel. There is no doubt that the windows are very attractive to look at initially, but they are also very fiddly to work with. Simple graphics could have done just as well. Also, the windows are difficult to ‘tile’ on the screen so you are always working with some important information hidden from view, and to get to it you have to hide something else that you would like to see. I get the feeling that the designers of the audio section of Cubase VST have tested it very thoroughly but haven’t subjected it to the rigours of professional studio work, unlike Pro Tools which will run on exactly the same computer but is a pleasure to use.

On the other hand, technically Cubase VST offers new ways to work at a very low price point and looks forward to the day when an entire studio, apart from mics, mic amps, monitoring and acoustics, can - if desired - be contained within a computer, without additional DSP cards. Perhaps it’s early days and we shouldn’t expect too much just yet. I may have my quibbles, but right now Steinberg’s Cubase is the only way to get into VST functionality and, since I’ve recently had cause to order fifteen copies of Cubase Score VST, they must be doing something right.

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004
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