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Postby Glenn Bucci » Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:38 am


Universal Audio in partnership with Brainworx had them design a UAD-2 plug in which models the Dangerous Music BAX EQ which is a popular unit in many mastering studios. Though Brainworx created this plug in, Universal Audio advised they work very closely with Brainworx for every single release, and have full confidence in their ability to make great sounding, best-in-class plug-ins.

The Dangerous BAX EQ is a 2 channel, 2 band EQ that Peter Baxandall's legendary 1950s EQ circuitry inspired. This Baxandall EQ design graced millions of older hi-fi systems that had two tone controls. It has the ability to sweeten your music in a unique way by using open curves and gently sloping cuts. This EQ is very popular in mastering studios and is equally effective on instruments like the bass guitar and vocal tracks as well. Dangerous Music’s reputation is providing high quality clean, detailed equipment that provides lots of headroom. Both the hardware and software version of the BAX EQ offers a transparent sound with a gentle character. Though its always nice to have gear that can color the sound, it is equally important to have gear that agnostic and respects the sound you’ve captured.

In order to properly review this plug in, Sweetwater provided me with a Dangerous BAX EQ to compare it to. The plug in version provides two independent options. The Mix version which can be used on mono, stereo and multi-mono sources and the Master version which has dual-mono controls and additional M/S (mid/side) mode capabilities. The plug in also includes an output level control (not available on the hardware version) for added flexibility. The hardware has detented knobs which is very helpful for matching the left and right channels. You can match the left and right level knobs by moving the same amount of clicks on each one. There is no need to stand or sit in front of the EQ and make sure their matched visually. The software version can match the left and right channels for you but it also like the level control of the hardware adjusts in .5 step increments. I found this made subtle adjustments fast and easy. Though the level control maximum is just 5db, I found 1db to 3db was usually all that was needed for the tracks. This is not a surgical EQ, but one that helps remove rumble, add more weight, bring out the vocals, or add a gentle top end without changing the overall sound, and depth of your mix.

This 2 channel shelf EQ offers 8 freq's in the low end (74, 84, 98, 116, 131, 166, 230, and 361 Hz) and 8 in the high freq’s (18, 7.1, 4.8, 3.4, 2.5, 2.1 1.8, 1.6 kHz). This EQ also offers has a low band filter that provides 7 freq's (12, 18, 24, 30, 36, 43 & 54 Hz) and 7 high band filters (70, 28, 18, 12.6, 11.1, 9, & 7.5 kHz). The filters remove everything above or below the selected frequency (depending on whether you’re using the high cut or low cut.) I found it performs this task in a more natural way than any other EQ I have tried. What makes it so unique is it removes the signal without changing the overall sound of your mix. It also has minimized phase delay with this design.

Universal Audio included templates for different instruments and 2 busses. If you click on the bottom arrow there are additional templates from the famous Fab Dupont. This is a great starting point to work from and I was very pleased with the results with the Bass DI preset as well as for 2 bus mixes.

You may say to yourself (like I did), do I really need another EQ plug in with what I already have? The answer will be yes if you want a simple but well controlled EQ that can enhance the low end, remove boomy-ness, add some nice air, and remove higher freq’s above our hearing range (70 kHz setting) so you have more headroom when removed. Besides these capabilities, the selling point of this plug in is its ability to bring out certain freq’s without changing the overall sound (and reverb) of a mix. All in all, this is a very helpful EQ in a lot of situations.

The question everyone wants to know is how well did Universal Audio and Brainworx model the hardware? To get an accurate test, in Cubase I use the external plug in on the insert of a 2 bus. I routed the signal out to my Apogee converters (output 3 & 4), through the Dangerous BAX EQ and back into Cubase (input 3 & 4) to the same stereo channel. With this setup, the music goes out to my converters and back regardless if I use the plug in and bypass the hardware or just use the hardware. With a casual listen through my Focal Twins, I found the plug in to sound very similar to the hardware. I was really amazed how close they got the plug in to sound. In listening on a deeper level, though Brainworx did a very good job on the plug in, I noticed the hardware provided a slight clearer sound. It was like looking outside while the plug in was like looking through a very clean window to the outside. With this slight difference, is the hardware really worth it? Only you can decide, but to me it’s best to have both in your studio. The plug in can be used on countless tracks with saved settings, be used in M/S mode, allow you to adjust the output, and provide the personality of the hardware. With the hardware version, you can obtain a little more definition and depth that made me want to keep the hardware unit as well as the plug in. All in all the UAD BAX EQ is a clear winner for mastering, and adjusting tracks without changing the overall character of the music.
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Glenn Bucci
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Postby Zukan » Fri Apr 18, 2014 2:24 pm

Thanks a heap Glenn.
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Postby Martin Walker » Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:32 pm

Indeed, that's a great post Glenn 8-)

Interestingly, I stumbled across a discussion in a synth forum about Baxandall tone controls, and was amazed at just how many people had never heard of them :headbang:

Yet most hi-fi systems still use them, and this 2-knob design is a wonderful way to tweak tonal balance.

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