- Publisher: MAAT
- Product: thEQblue
- Version: 3.0.3 Incl Emulator-R2R
- Formats: VST2, VST3, AAX
- Requirements: Windows 7 and newer, 32 & 64 bit
thEQblue is a dozen precision variations on “analog,” all in one EQ. Beautiful analog Architectures, twelve in all, that will take your work out of the ordinary.
Yes, Your Blueness
Why develop yet one more parametric equalizer (PEQ) when there’s already hundreds on the market? The answer is simple…’Cuz there was room for improvement! It was customers of the original LinearPhase PEQ Red and Orange who asked Algorithmix to develop a classic EQ, for recording and mixing tasks, with unparalleled purity and transparency. Over several years, our Dr. Christoph closely analyzed many of the best out there, and compiled a vast knowledgebase of analog EQ best practices. Cherry picking from that, he implemented not just one or two, but an entire collection of trad minimal phase EQs. The result? A distillation of analog antecedents, while others are based on new ideas.
We know you’ll enjoy our dozen variations of blue, newly revised by MAAT, and will find your favorite sound. We’ve also added subtle but important touches, like the ability to freely assign Sections to either stereo [left/right] or sum/difference [L+R/L-R] at the same time, and to “group” all Sections and make a global gain change without disturbing the relationship of individual Sections.
We wanted to lift analog to another level, so we reverse engineered a variety of well respected hardware EQs, creating idealized digital versions from that inspiration. Rather than models or simulations that carry analog baggage, thEQblue has no noise, distortion or other secondary effects inherited from analog.
thEQblue is the most complete collection of classic equalizer Architectures ever assembled into one package. You get precise, idealized examples of legendary analog equalizer circuitry, complemented by progressive new models. Whether it’s vintage, modern, or experimental, thEQblue is a sonic sandbox for every mixing and mastering engineer to play in.
Dither…For Your Brain
Even though thEQblue is lauded by the top echelon of audio pros, we weren’t satisfied. The sound quality was as good as anything available, but benchmark analog still had an edge. So, we added a radical new tech to thEQblue. It’s called FiDef and it adds that indescribable beauty lent by the best of analog.
FiDef by FideliQuest (www.fidef.com) is a very low amplitude, psychoacoustic stimulus designed specifically for audio engineers. FiDef can be thought of as dither for your brain. It makes a receptive brain relax and pay closer attention to an incoming audio stimulus. In brain physiology laboratory tests using functional neuroimaging techniques, FiDef has proven to excite brain activity related to perception and attention, and to enhance the subjective processes of listening and engagement.
You have to simply try FiDef and see if you hear an improvement. You may, or maybe not. Better yet, give your customer two almost identical versions of a song, the only difference being FiDef or no FiDef, and let them decide.
The equalizer is perhaps the oldest and the most popular of sound processing tools. From its earliest days, the main function was correction or enhancement by boosting or cutting certain frequencies.
For a century, engineers have developed countless equalizers. A few became legend, our thEQorange is one. The most popular version in recording and post is the parametric equalizer or PEQ, first perfected by Massenburg in 1972. It offers maximum flexibility with only three controls. Properly used, the PEQ is a powerful tool and the best friend of every audio engineer in the quest for perfect sound. As Spidey (and Voltaire) always reminds us though, “With great power comes great responsibility.” When designed by a clueless or cost–constrained software engineer, it can be your greatest sonic enemy.
Choice Is Good
In order to give you a choice of features and price, thEQblue is available in two versions:
- thEQblue6, with 6 Architectures; №s 1 through 6 below
- thEQblue12, with 12 Architectures; all twelve below
Constant Q is more for surgical applications, while proportional EQs are best when combining multiple overlapping Sections. As a point of reference, API, Pultec, Masselec and Avalon EQs are all of the proportional type.
Note that all 12 Architectures are normalized to have exactly the same bell shape at 6.02dB of boost. This allows you to easily compare the sound of each Architecture.
Better By Design
thEQblue is built on the belief that exceptional fidelity, enhanced workflows and less visual fatigue are hallmarks of better quality toolsets. Our reliance on hard science and focused research balanced by in–depth listening and customer feedback, redefines audio tools for you and your fellow hardcore media professionals worldwide.
thEQblue borrows the innovative code from Algorithmix’s original PEQ Blue, and wraps it in a modern, higher fidelity environment designed to help you be more productive.
- The most complete collection of classic analog equalizer emulations
- One dozen different equalizer types: 10 serial & 2 parallel
- Up to twelve PEQ styles for every job: classic, vintage, modern and unconventional
- Exclusive proprietary FiDef® processing: the audience feels their music like never before
- Different Q characteristics: classic, constant–Q, proportional, ideal–Q and special
- True high resolution emulation of analog equalizers, not modeling: no added noise, distortion or other non–linearities
- Support for up to 384 kHz sample rate, suitable for HRA and game production and post
- Extended center frequency up to 80 kHz for filtering and correction in the ultrasonic
- Bell filters in all PEQ types are normalized to look identically at +6 dB of gain and Q of 0.71, ideal for quick comparisons between types
- Twelve sections with 5 freely assignable parametric filter variants: bell, low shelf, high shelf, low cut and high cut
- Extremely low noise and low nonlinear distortion algorithms result in residual THD+N significantly lower than 24 bit quantization noise
- Adjustable Q Factor for shelving and cut filters
- Multiple low and high cut filters can be overlapped to achieve brickwall slopes
- Very low noise and distortion upsampling for analog–like filters at baseband sample rates
- 80 bit internals (long double floats) virtually eliminate rounding errors
- Resizable and zoomable frequency response rendering for precise adjustments
- Parameter editing via numerical fields or directly on the Graph
- Presets for quick setup comparison
- Several instances, each with different PEQ architectures, can be opened simultaneously
- Stereo/Left–only/Right–only/Mono/Diff mode for each Section for all Serial types
- Band grouping function lets you simultaneously alter ƒ, Q and gain for multiple Sections
- Six fMODES quantize the resonant ƒ setting of all Sections, including Massive Passive & Maselec
- Keyboard button enables you to target frequencies by ear then lock them to a Section with a click
- Tunable Keyboard so that the sonogram aligns with material’s tuning
- ƒ lock function when you’ve found your resonant frequency and want to alter just Q or gain
- True Peak metering alerts you to TP overs
- Sort button rearranges Sections in order, from low to high, with a single click
With a very wide range of choices, you are ready to tackle any job with a subtle or obvious approach.
- Tracking, mixing & mastering
- HRA post including ultrasonic tailoring
- Broadcast production & post
- Game production
- Reinforcement: microphone response improvement, speaker deficiencies correction, acoustic compensation
- Sound design & enhancement
- Restoration & correction of transmission losses
The contribution of distortion to the specific sound of a particular analog equalizer caused by its respective electronics is largely what makes it “good.” Usually though, non–linear distortion, horrific group delay and other deficiencies produce more “nasty” than “magic.” Our philosophy, for PEQ design, has always been to make filters as precise and clean as possible. For controlled distortion, we recommend high quality tape emulation, a well made pedal or other carefully applied studio magic.
With thEQblue, you can simultaneously call up twelve Sections from one of the twelve Architectural styles available. For each Section, choose from nine freely assignable filter topologies, including bell, first and second order low or high shelf along with first and second order low or high cut. The most significant filter types bearing the equalizer name are bells or peaking filters. Set to a particular Q, different bells change their bandwidth depending on the amount of boost or cut making comparison difficult between Architectures.
How to Compare Architectures…
In order to make meaningful comparisons of different Architectures you must be aware of two factors:
1. All 12 equalizer Architectures are normalized to have exactly the same bell shape for 6dB of boost. If you use just one bell filter at +6dB, you will get the same audible result for all types. This normalization of the Q or Quality Factor is a unique MAAT feature, and distinguishes our typologies from their analog antecedents because many of the originals have undefined Q definitions due to the limitation of analog technology. The normalization allows you to compare the different EQ Architectures in thEQblue with ease.
2. A single minimal phase bell filter with identical shape will sound the same regardless of Architecture. The difference between styles becomes obvious when you have activated more bells and other filters so that they start to interact with each other. This will reveal the different characteristics of each Architecture, in terms of phase interaction and different gain and Q relationships.
The Classic Symmetrical is the most popular bell shape used in many mixers and outboard equalizers. It is almost “constant Q.” That is, as resonant frequency changes, the bandwidth changes, widening as the frequency goes from low to high to maintain a constant ratio of center frequency divided by bandwidth. Constant Q is roughly the way our hearing perceives an EQ’s effect.
The three Proportional PEQs emulate bell characteristics which change their bandwidth proportional to their boost or cut. Many think they behave more musically as you don’t have to correct the Q after every amplitude change. There are also three other constant–Q equalizers available, with characteristics similar to some classic American brands.
thEQblue also offers two proprietary constant–Q varieties. The first, Constant-Q Ideal, is a perfect version of the Classic Symmetrical equalizer, having exactly the same bandwidth at any amplitude within its range of Q. This is measured 3 dB below maximum amplitude at and above +6 dB of boost. Such PEQs are impossible to implement in the analog domain, hence the “ideal” name. Another specialty variety is the Constant-Q New, which follows a new Q definition. It preserves exactly the same bandwidth at the half of the maximum amplitude for all amplitude values. Unlike the classic Q definition, this includes the range below 6 dB of boost. Due to its amplitude/bandwidth dependency in terms of a classic Q definition, this new kind of constant-Q PEQ could also be thought of as a member of the proportional group.
Finally we emulated two vintage parallel equalizers. With parallel construction, the main input feeds every filter in parallel, with each filter’s output being summed together for the final composite output. With a series implementation, filters are cascaded; each fed from the output of the previous filter. Unlike a series parametric equalizer (almost all paramets are serial), parallel–connected filters combine or cascade differently. They also behave differently in terms of phase. Their special interactive behavior between bands is offset by a pleasing sonic character. Our Parallel LC emulates old skool parallel passive PEQ circuitry built with inductors and capacitors. The Parallel Feed–Forward/Feedback style emulates the feed–forward/feed–back designs still popular in low noise analog graphic EQs. While the feed–forward path is trivial to implement, the feedback path is impossible to implement in traditional digital signal processing, because of the need for so called “delay–free” feedback loops. In thEQblue, we apply a unique and very elaborate technique for true emulation of delay-free feedback. The result is a characteristic sound and perfectly complementary filters for boost and cut.
The Filter Library
In thEQblue, not only are various bell–shaped filters available but also different kinds of shelving filters. Nine of the series equalizers use a special shelving design characterized by a cut–off frequency defined in the middle of the transition region. We found these filter definitions more intuitive than the classical “–3 dB below maximum.” The old skool definition is only used in the Classic Asymmetrical Architecture in order to conform to its analog antecedent. All 2nd order shelving filters have a Q adjustment to emulate vintage characteristics, with their inherent and specific bumps at higher slopes. Also, the parallel equalizers are equipped with respective shelving filters shapes that are typical of old parallel PEQs. They also have interacting bands as did their analog predecessors.
Every complex PEQ is equipped with cut filters. With thEQblue, each of the twelve equalizer Architectures can provide 1st and 2nd order cuts. The 2nd order filters have a Q adjustment to create a resonant filter response, and can be combined to provide very steep “brickwall” slopes by cascading several Sections.
Best of Both Worlds
thEQblue is a creative equalizer tool combining the best of both the analog and digital domains. To avoid bell filter asymmetry at high frequencies for baseband sample rates, typical of many digital equalizers, we have applied reference–quality upsampling, which automatically kicks in for 44.1 or 48 kHz. By using proprietary filter algorithms, we have achieved a huge dynamic range, as well as extremely low noise and distortion. This yields unparalleled sonic purity, impossible for any analog circuitry.
Enjoy the DLL level emulator work of Nalpeiron/Zentitle!R2R