Recording - August 2016 - 40
B Y PA U L V N U K J R .
Mäag Audio EQ4M Dual Channel Mastering EQ
Behold the magic of the AIR BAND!
Mäag Audio is an audio manufacturer based in Provo, UT, specializing in equalizers and microphone preamps (with compressors coming soon). The company is a family business run by Cliff
Maag Sr., his sons, Ryan and Cliff Jr., and Travis Allen.
Mäag is the company behind the AIR BAND®. While many
equalizers now offer an "air band", AIR BAND as a trademark is owned by Mäag Audio and Cliff Sr. is its original
inventor. Cliff introduced the AIR BAND back when he
designed the original EQ3 and the Nightpro EQ3D for NTI
back in the late 1990s.
After forming a new company under his own name, Cliff Sr.
released the original EQ4, followed soon by the EQ2 and the
PreQ4 preamp, all 500 Series modules. Essentially the EQ4 was
an updated single channel of the one found in the 19" dual
channel NTI EQ3D-complete, of course, with the AIR BAND.
The new EQ4M continues the evolution, but is also a significant nod to the past. It's Mäag's first 2-channel 19" rack
device, and both functionally and visually it is very much a
modern reincarnation of said EQ3D.
Meet the EQ4M
The EQ4M is a 6-band equalizer with a pair of matching
channels that can be run in dual mono or on stereo sources.
Each channel offers true hard bypass and all of the bands are
extremely phase accurate. In addition to the EQ bands being
phase accurate with each other, they are also accurate between
the two channels as well, a bonus of the EQ4M over a pair of
500 Series modules.
The M in EQ4M stands for mastering and as such offers a
few additional upgrades to its 500 Series sibling. First it runs
on 18V rails. This cleaner and more consistent power gives the
EQ4M a total of +29 dBu of headroom at 10 kΩ (+28.5 dBu
at 600Ω). Further specs include a frequency response 2 dB
down at 10 Hz and 75 kHz (!), nominal input impedance of
48 kΩ and output impedance of 50Ω (both on balanced XLR).
The EQ4M has a great build quality, from its thick heavyduty blue powdercoat finish to the feel of the knobs and buttons. Another classy touch: the Mäag umlaut is backlit to indicate power, because hey, glowing umlauts!
The EQ4M is a fixed-band equalizer. With the exception of
the AIR BAND, you get no choice of frequencies or Q widths.
While that may seem a bit limiting, each band is quite wide
and the unit's sculpting capabilities come from how the bands
interact as you boost and cut.
RECORDING AUGUST 2016
Each channel flows left to right on the front panel, starting
with a sonically transparent -12 to 0 dB input attenuator.
Following this are a pair of LED lights for indicating Signal in
yellow and Peak in red.
Next we have the 5 bands of fixed EQ. Each one is a quality detented pot offering +15 dB of boost and -4.5 dB of cut.
Each band is a wide round bell curve, with the exception of
the highest upper mid band which is a shelving curve.
The bands are: 10 Hz (labeled Sub) capped in black, 40 Hz in
blue, 160 Hz in green, 650 Hz in red, and 2.5 kHz in orange.
Something in the AIR
Unlike the fixed bands, the AIR BAND offers a frequency
choice of 2.5 kHz, 5 kHz, 10 kHz, 15 kHz, 20 kHz, and 40
kHz... yes, 40 kHz! Note that 15 kHz band is found only on
the EQ4M model.
AIR BAND is boost only, with 0 to 15 dB of gain. It is a
very broad sloping shelf, and when pushed it extends quite
far. For example when you push 40 kHz up 15 dB, the boost
can be heard all the way down to 10 kHz. AIR BAND can be
individually taken in and out of the EQ circuit.
I am very familiar with the Mäag EQ4 and the AIR BAND, thanks
to the excellent plug-in modeled and designed by Brainworx. The
native version is distributed through the Plug-in Alliance, and it's also
available for the Universal Audio UAD-2 platform.
I started with the EQ4M on my master bus as a programstyle EQ. The first thing that impressed me was how dead
silent the unit was, not only when bypassed but even when
engaged with all EQ bands set to zero.
I quickly found myself doing a lot more boosting than cutting,
and I found the EQ4M to be dangerously addictive. As with any
2-bus process, I would recommend using it from square one as
you build your mix, but this is one of those rare pieces that can
be a great dull-mix fixer as well (hence its mastering designation).
Where many EQs are suited for sculpting and carving a
source, the EQ4M is a more textural EQ that molds and bends
the sound instead. There is a lot of power found in the Sub
band; it's great for adding a nice warm boost to your bottom,
or equally suited to taking the tubbiness out of your tone.
It's easy to dismiss the four other bands as run-of-the-mill, and easier still to complain about their lack of choice and tweakability, but I
found these frequencies to work like cooking spices. A pinch here
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - August 2016
Recording - August 2016 - Intro
Recording - August 2016 - Cover1
Recording - August 2016 - Cover2
Recording - August 2016 - 1
Recording - August 2016 - 2
Recording - August 2016 - 3
Recording - August 2016 - 4
Recording - August 2016 - 5
Recording - August 2016 - Contents
Recording - August 2016 - 7
Recording - August 2016 - 8
Recording - August 2016 - 9
Recording - August 2016 - 10
Recording - August 2016 - 11
Recording - August 2016 - 12
Recording - August 2016 - 13
Recording - August 2016 - 14
Recording - August 2016 - 15
Recording - August 2016 - 16
Recording - August 2016 - 17
Recording - August 2016 - 18
Recording - August 2016 - 19
Recording - August 2016 - 20
Recording - August 2016 - 21
Recording - August 2016 - 22
Recording - August 2016 - 23
Recording - August 2016 - 24
Recording - August 2016 - 25
Recording - August 2016 - 26
Recording - August 2016 - 27
Recording - August 2016 - 28
Recording - August 2016 - 29
Recording - August 2016 - 30
Recording - August 2016 - 31
Recording - August 2016 - 32
Recording - August 2016 - 33
Recording - August 2016 - 34
Recording - August 2016 - 35
Recording - August 2016 - 36
Recording - August 2016 - 37
Recording - August 2016 - 38
Recording - August 2016 - 39
Recording - August 2016 - 40
Recording - August 2016 - 41
Recording - August 2016 - 42
Recording - August 2016 - 43
Recording - August 2016 - 44
Recording - August 2016 - 45
Recording - August 2016 - 46
Recording - August 2016 - 47
Recording - August 2016 - 48
Recording - August 2016 - 49
Recording - August 2016 - 50
Recording - August 2016 - 51
Recording - August 2016 - 52
Recording - August 2016 - 53
Recording - August 2016 - 54
Recording - August 2016 - 55
Recording - August 2016 - 56
Recording - August 2016 - 57
Recording - August 2016 - 58
Recording - August 2016 - 59
Recording - August 2016 - 60
Recording - August 2016 - 61
Recording - August 2016 - 62
Recording - August 2016 - 63
Recording - August 2016 - 64
Recording - August 2016 - 65
Recording - August 2016 - 66
Recording - August 2016 - 67
Recording - August 2016 - 68
Recording - August 2016 - 69
Recording - August 2016 - 70
Recording - August 2016 - 71
Recording - August 2016 - 72
Recording - August 2016 - Cover3
Recording - August 2016 - Cover4