Mix - March 2014 - (Page 64)
By Kevin Becka
Tech // reviews
BETTERMAKER AND MAAG AUDIO
Two 500 Series EQs
ver the past two years,
500 Series preamps
and processors have
matured in design
sophistication and sonics. Processors such as the Empirical Labs
DocDerr, Elysia nvelope and xfilter
have set the bar high, and others
have answered the call. The two
units reviewed here offer a unique
look at EQ for the format and will
ring the bell of those looking to
step beyond plug-ins into hardware
solutions. Both have their strengths
and unique features that put them
in the best-in-class category.
This beefy and shiny doublewide 500 Series unit created in
Poland by Marek Walaszek and the Bettermaker team takes a
design cue from Pultec's EQP-1A and Bettermaker's own rackmount EQ232P. It steps up the 500 Series workflow by adding
digital control. With a free plug-in, you can control the unit via
USB and even write automation.
The front controls are simple. The unit is broken into HF and
LF sections with separate Boost and Atten controls for each frequency (±14 units based on Pultec measurements). You get four
LF choices and seven HF, plus a basic four-level HF bandwidth
control (1 narrow to 4 wide), and extra Atten at 5, 10 and 20 KCS.
This last bit is great for boosting using the HF control but cutting
the absolute top, or high-mid range or vice versa. This is versatility defined in a simple set of controls and is why the Pultec design
from the 1950s is coveted and used to this day.
Unlike the Pultec, however, with the EQ502P, if you find
something you love you can recall it with laser-like accuracy by
storing a setting in the hardware or in the plug-in.
The rotary knob on the front of the unit allows you to store and
recall 399 user presets. The interface is simple and easy to get your
head around. To save a setting, push and hold the rotary control
for two seconds. When you see No, rotate the knob to Yes and tap
the button once to store it. Recall and zeroing the unit is just as
easy-you just tap the knob once to recall a setting and twice to
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PROS: Great sound, digital control of
CONS: Numbers on front of unit are
tiny and tightly spaced.
When mixing, patch the 502P across
your drum overheads, zero the unit
by double tapping the Preset knob,
then put it in Linked mode. Set the
Boost KCS to 5 and gently boost the
High Frequency control to taste. Don't
be afraid to crank it if you need it;
this unit sounds great all the way to
10. Reprint the track with the EQ,
then repurpose it for your bass track.
Zero the unit, patch your bass into a
channel, boost 60 or 100 Hz to taste,
print it. Rinse, lather and repeat.
return the controls to zero.
Made a mistake and zotzed
your setting? Rotate the
knob to 400 and recall it by
tapping once. The hardware
has one level of undo in case
you accidentally clear the
unit or recall another preset.
I installed the unit into
slots 7 and 8 of my Radial
Workhorse 500 Series rack. I patched a bass across the left channel
but heard a loud pop each time I cycled through the controls and
bypass. The Radial slots are rated at 150mA if power is distributed
evenly across all eight slots, but I believe units in place before the
Bettermaker were sucking the power that this beast needed. Once
I moved the EQ502P to slots 1 and 2, all was well. Again I patched
the Pro Tools output of my bass track into the left channel of the
Bettermaker, then out into a Dangerous 2 Bus for monitoring. I
chose 60 Hz and cranked up the LF Boost knob. Rich bottom end
sprang forth, making the bass spread across the bottom of the
track-just where it belonged.
Next I tried the EQ502P in stereo mode across drum overheads. I set the BW to 4 for a wide cue, then boosted 10k. Although
the band is a bell, because the unit goes out to 40k you can create
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Mix - March 2014
Mix - March 2014