By Mitch Gallagher
Let’s see a show of hands: How many of you would love to have a rack of Neve and/or API EQs? If you’re a Pro Tools user, URS can get you as close as most of us are likely to come with their Classic Console EQ plug-ins. The Classic Console EQ Bundle comprises two plugs: the A Series and N Series. One (guess which one) duplicates the Neve 1084 EQ, which had three bands plus high- and lowpass filters. The other models the API 550B 4-band EQ.
The URS Classic Console EQs have easy user interfaces — if you’ve used the hardware, you’ll feel right at home. But even if you don’t know a Neve EQ from Neve Campbell, you won’t have any trouble. The Neve and API hardware units are renowned for their “musicality,” and the plug-ins mine the same vein.
Feel the need to EQ every track in your productions? Then the URS plug-ins are right up your alley. On a HD Accel card running at 44.1kHz, I was able to run 39 A Series or 30 N Series plugs per chip. On a HD Process card, I could get 17 A Series or 13 N Series instances per chip.
But things got even juicier when I switched to the RTAS versions running on a dual-2GHz G5 set for maximum 60% processor usage . . . at 44.1kHz, 114 A Series or 109 N Series instances could be loaded before Pro Tools complained. For comparison, with RTAS I could load 95 Focusrite D2 4-bands, 103 Waves Q4, or 91 Waves Renaissance 4-band instances. But, in fairness, the true EQ efficiency champion? Digidesign’s EQII 4-band: 273 RTAS instances!
[Yes, I actually loaded that many instances — the things I go through for EQ readers. . . .]
These plugs are easy to learn: To adjust a band’s gain, click the knob and drag your mouse. To change frequency for a band, click on the little band type icon below the knob; shift-clicking on the icon moves you through the frequencies counter-clockwise.
In a word, the URS plug-ins sound great. They’re the sort of broad, shaping EQs you’d find on a console (which makes sense, given their roots). You can get somewhat surgical with the Hi-Q setting on the N Series, but in general,
these aren’t the tools for hyper-tweaking an errant frequency. But that’s also their strength — they’re easy to dial in, and provide quick results.
If you’re used to continuously adjustable frequencies, you may initially find the N and A Series stepped frequency arrangement restricting. But once you start using these plugs, you’ll realize the carefully chosen (and vintage-accurate) frequencies are extremely useful. Getting past the stepped gain controls may be harder — the A Series uses 2dB steps, for example. Version 1.1 (free upgrade), due by the time you read this, will offer the option of 0.1dB increments, along with other enhancements.
Both plug-ins are useful for sound-shaping just about any source. The A Series has overlapping bands. The N Series doesn’t overlap, but has the advantage of high- and lowpass filters. Whether I was working on drums, bass, guitars, vocals, or a full mix, the sound was warm and rich.
With their high efficiency, ease of use, and musical sound, the URS Classic Console EQs should find a welcome home in most Pro Tools rigs. They’re the perfect complement to the “transparent” EQs many plug-in designers are focusing on these days.