Recording - October 2017 - 60

The front panel finishes out with a power switch and the StereoMono button for 8-band use. On the back are balanced XLR ins
and outs per channel, along with a 3-prong IEC power socket.

Coleman
Audio
CA500EQ

The sound of a classic console,
sized for any studio
REVIEW BY PAUL VNUK JR.

C

oleman Audio is well known in our industry for
making meters, speaker switchers, monitor controllers,
and summing boxes, all with pristine audio quality.
This month we look at the first audio processor in the Coleman
lineup, the CA500EQ.
The CA500EQ is an equalizer based upon the 4-band
channel strip EQ from the classic MCI JH-528 console. This
2U 19" rack unit houses two of them, which can be used in
stereo, dual mono, or with the left channel routed into the right
channel-combining the two into an 8-band EQ.

The tour

The CA500EQ is dressed in gold with red and black anodized
aluminum knobs, with white buttons and bright function LED
lights. In a bit of a twist, the layout of the CA500EQ is
reversed; unlike most EQs on the market, low end starts on the
right and the highs are on the left.
Each channel has buttons for hard bypass and phase reverse,
a fully variable input trim, and a variable output trim. In
between is a variable (30 Hz-300 Hz) 18 dB/octave highpass filter and the 4-band equalizer section, either of which
can be taken in or out of the chain at the touch of a button.
Each EQ band uses a variable, self-adjusting Q. All of the
bands feature gain adjustment via stepped controls (2 dB
steps). The Low band is a shelving band with choices of 30,
60, 100, or 150 Hz and ±10 dB gain adjustment. Both Mids
are peaking bands with ±14 dB gain control. Each one offers
twelve frequency choices: 150 Hz-5 kHz and 180 Hz-8.5
kHz respectively. The High band can be shelving or peaking,
and offers ±10 dB gain at 8, 10, 12 or 16 kHz.

Tracking, mixing... mastering?

In the 1970s and 1980s, MCI consoles were some of the
first ubiquitous "every studio has one" mixers. Many wellknown hits by the Eagles, Elton John, Eric Clapton, and more
were cut on these desks. It's nice to have a new-old kid on the
block that is not another Neve, API, or SSL clone.
I find the sound of the CA500EQ to be both clean and
unobtrusive, yet also gently rich and sweet. Glenn Coleman
(see the interview below) joked with me that what I am calling
"rich and sweet" he calls "3rd order harmonic distortion". The
CA500EQ is not saturated and Neve-like, nor punchy like an
API; it's not exactly SSL-ish either, but to my ears it leans more
toward SSL than the others, or even a bit like a Harrison EQ.
All this is to say the CA500EQ is a great mixing box. I
personally like the old-school console paradigm of having the
frequency choices fixed. To my mind, if these well-chosen
frequencies worked well enough on countless mix sessions
since the 1970s, it keeps me from being too fussy now!
This EQ is a nice vocal fixer/sweetener. Its bands are very well
chosen for guitars, and I liked it so much on drums that I used it
for tracking ribbon mics to add back some top-end liveliness.
It's sweet for 2-bus work; the highs are smooth and classic rather
than modern and air-focused, and the lows are big and wide
but not too tubby. The mid bands are well chosen and equally
adept at boosting or cutting without getting in the way.
I quite liked the combination of input and output trims. Not
only can you perfectly level-match the incoming signal and the
EQed signal, you can also drive and saturate the box nicely if
desired. The 8-band option is great for getting down and detailed
in problem tracks.
I also stopped by Mystery Room Mastering, run by Recording
contributor Justin Perkins. Justin found it to be a stellar-sounding
unit; he liked how smooth the high end was on pop music, and
how it could also yield a touch of aggression on acoustic Americana tracks as well. He found the lows nicely broad and gentle.
Justin's main concerns were functional rather than sonic. For
mastering use, he would have preferred that all of the pots be
stepped for reproducibility and phase accuracy, and 2 dB gain
steps were too bold-0.5 dB would be better. However, he considered the CA500EQ could make a nice alternate EQ for smoothness
and color-not a bad verdict for an EQ not meant for mastering!

Conclusions

The CA500EQ brings the sound of the classic MCI channel
EQ back to the world of recording. This rack knocks it out
of the park with long-forgotten flavors and well-thought-out
features... a class act all the way.

PRICE: $2600
MORE FROM: Coleman Audio,
www.colemanaudio.com
60

RECORDING October 2017


http://www.colemanaudio.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - October 2017

Contents
Recording - October 2017 - Intro
Recording - October 2017 - Cover1
Recording - October 2017 - Cover2
Recording - October 2017 - 1
Recording - October 2017 - 2
Recording - October 2017 - 3
Recording - October 2017 - 4
Recording - October 2017 - 5
Recording - October 2017 - Contents
Recording - October 2017 - 7
Recording - October 2017 - 8
Recording - October 2017 - 9
Recording - October 2017 - 10
Recording - October 2017 - 11
Recording - October 2017 - 12
Recording - October 2017 - 13
Recording - October 2017 - 14
Recording - October 2017 - 15
Recording - October 2017 - 16
Recording - October 2017 - 17
Recording - October 2017 - 18
Recording - October 2017 - 19
Recording - October 2017 - 20
Recording - October 2017 - 21
Recording - October 2017 - 22
Recording - October 2017 - 23
Recording - October 2017 - 24
Recording - October 2017 - 25
Recording - October 2017 - 26
Recording - October 2017 - 27
Recording - October 2017 - 28
Recording - October 2017 - 29
Recording - October 2017 - 30
Recording - October 2017 - 31
Recording - October 2017 - 32
Recording - October 2017 - 33
Recording - October 2017 - 34
Recording - October 2017 - 35
Recording - October 2017 - 36
Recording - October 2017 - 37
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Recording - October 2017 - Cover3
Recording - October 2017 - Cover4
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