You are here

Warm Audio EQP-WA

Post your own hardware/software reviews.

Warm Audio EQP-WA

Postby molecular » Sat May 09, 2015 9:35 am

This will be more of a "first impressions" report than an in depth review, but to follow up on a thread with my thoughts, here goes:

WHY?

I bought a pair of these in order to carry out multi-purpose tone shaping duties on stereo and mix busses. The idea was they would be able to get patched in line with my TF Pro compressor so that I would have one really good hardware stereo channel strip. Obviously they can also get used on their own or as mono EQs. I was aware that the pultec style EQ is quite a specific thing, so I swithered about whether a more conventional parametric EQ would be more appropriate. In the end I decided that if I was doing real frequency trouble shooting I would want to be doing it with a plug-in anyway, and that I was after broad brush strokes and character. Also, hardware EQ is expensive! :frown: Two of these for under £1K from SX Pro really did seem to offer bang for buck, if they lived up to anything like their slightly delirious reputation on The Other Forum. I also figured they'd hold their value so I took a punt.

BUILD / DESIGN

Overall, these were incredibly satisfying to take out and start mucking about with. I am much happier with switches on preamps and so on, so for broad tone shaping I loved having a choice of frequencies to switch between and not be constantly twiddling things in the hope of overcoming an OCD. Everything had the satisfying clunks and clicks, the weight and the nice paint job you'd want, having just handed over that kind of cash.

There was a bit of variety in the detentedness of the boost and cut controls - most had a really clear series of clicks, while on a couple the detents were only just detectable. I'm not going to lose a massive amount of sleep over that, but if I had to find an initial imperfection, that's what it is.

MOJO QUALITIES

The first thing I ran through these was the main stereo pair used to record a trad folk act. They are fiddle, border pipes, mandola and guitar so it was quite busy. I have to say that just running the signal through the units with the EQ bypassed had an immediately obvious impact on the sound in a way that nothing else I've used has. I had the pleasure of using a Manley Vari-Mu a while ago and it definitely added some kind of weight when zeroed, but it was subtle and classy, while this was definite - but still classy! It was quite different to the "I'M ALL ABOUT TUBES!!!" effect that comes off some saturation plugins I have, and I can't really describe it, but the source came back satisfyingly exaggerated. BTW, the bypass switch on the unit itself only drops out the EQ circuitry, so I was able to A/B/C between EQ in, EQ out and unit out (by bypassing within pro tools).

The first thing I did was start twiddling knobs randomly to see what happened, and the result was pretty much always pleasing. Aside from the fun of hardware, I really did think it was a completely different sounding experience to using UAD's pultec plug-in, which I always found slightly baffling.

ACTUALLY LOOKING AT THE CONTROLS

When it came to actually improving things I tried these out on the above stereo source, a drum kit bus, an entire mix, using one of them as an insert on a bass recording chain, and just for the hell of it the main buss of a short film I am mixing. I found it really incredibly straightforward to making improvements in tone to everything using this. Knowing nothing about EQ design I found that I could tell very clearly the differences between the adjustments I was making, but at the same time I could always go even further without it sounding like I'd overdone it. This is the opposite of my experience with some EQ plug-ins which is that things start to sound over-EQ'd while the thing I wanted to change is still there.

The effect these had on the drum kit was really quite astonishing in terms of adding impact without ever sounding strange. I had been really quite pleased with bare sound I had recorded, but I set up the EQ and then flicked the bypass switch (on the unit), and was suddenly appalled at what I had recorded by comparison. Again, I have no real understanding of the Boost/Cut trick and have seen graphs claiming to outline the effect which have been radically different from one another... but setting both boost and cut to 5 (out of 10) and then toggling between 60 and 100 hz added a huge amount of depth and clarity to the kick in different ways.

In terms of adding weight or detail, or cutting out mud, or taming some rackety high mids, the units really did come up with the goods on all the sources I tried with the possible exception of the DI'd bass guitar. For some reason that didn't respond as well to deliberate EQ-ing, although again it was pleasingly different to the dry signal with the EQ bypassed. I didn't feel shortchanged at all on the relatively small number of frequencies you can target, at least not for my purposes, and as someone who has always been sceptical that there are units that you can send almost anything through and they come back sounding better no matter what you do to them, I have been pretty comprehensively won over by the EQP-WA.

I think in the fullness of time I will find myself wanting to make sure I haven't used it all over everything, as the general effect of having it in line is not subtle, but so far I am delighted and would not trade them back in for a £1K plug-in voucher even if I could.
User avatar
molecular
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1324
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Skye / Bristol
Anto mo Ninja, Watashi mo Ninja http://www.hectormacinnes.com

Re: Warm Audio EQP-WA

Postby Wonks » Sat May 09, 2015 10:29 am

Nice report.

I presume you've used two of them on a stereo bus. Was there any noticeable change to the stereo image by having the two separate units in line, both in bypass and with EQ being used?
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10132
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Warm Audio EQP-WA

Postby molecular » Sat May 09, 2015 11:26 am

Yes I was using two on stereo busses. I wasn't convinced I was getting *exactly* the same level back from each unit with what should have been the same settings, but there is no gain adjustment on the units and I had them quickly patched in through stepped-gain preamps so couldn't look into it with fine tuning. I'll get a chance to do that next week, the stereo signals were quite broad (drum kit, whole band...) with different things on either side so it could have been that my EQ settings were exaggerating things that happened to both fall to one side of the bus. But while the whole thing felt fractionally skewed to one side, which might be easily fixed with a sweepable gain on return if I wasn't imagining it, I didn't notice any smearing or confusion about the image.
User avatar
molecular
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1324
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Skye / Bristol
Anto mo Ninja, Watashi mo Ninja http://www.hectormacinnes.com

Re: Warm Audio EQP-WA

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat May 09, 2015 1:11 pm

User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 25007
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: Warm Audio EQP-WA

Postby Wonks » Sat May 09, 2015 1:38 pm

... but only available to subscribers at the moment.
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10132
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Warm Audio EQP-WA

Postby molecular » Sat May 09, 2015 2:06 pm

Thanks for compliments... I think WA posted the article on their Facebook page as a pdf for non subscribers. Not sure if such actions are sanctioned by SOS HQ but there you go ;)
User avatar
molecular
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1324
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Skye / Bristol
Anto mo Ninja, Watashi mo Ninja http://www.hectormacinnes.com

Re: Warm Audio EQP-WA

Postby alexis » Sat May 09, 2015 6:20 pm

I thought twice before presuming to respond ("Krill Audio" syndrome, surrounded by Whales :D), but as the intention is good I will - I thought it was a great review! Except it made my right arm twitch imperceptibly but definitely ... as it began its course to my wallet. I don't need for that to happen, thank you very much! :D

If I ever buy hardware (above and beyond the tiny little things I have like an FMR RNC, an old M-Audio interface I am using as a pre-amp, and a TC Helicon VoiceOne box I'm using for vocal processing), I can see it being one of the WA Pulteqs based on your review!
User avatar
alexis
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3688
Joined: Fri Jan 10, 2003 1:00 am
Location: San Antonio, TX USA
Cubase 9.0.1; i5-4570 3.2GHz,16GB RAM;W10 64bit on Samsung SSD840 Pro256GB;Seagte 1TB SATA600 Audio;UR28M;Motif8;UAD2Solo;Jamstix 3.3;BCF2K;TC Helicon VoiceOne;RevoicePro3.2

Re: Warm Audio EQP-WA

Postby molecular » Wed May 20, 2015 2:42 pm

Just as an update, having spent a bit more time...

1. I ran a noise signal through the pair and did indeed get one side back around 1db out with the other. This was with the EQ circuits bypassed. I don't know whether this would be considered a major issue given the nature of the things - for myself, when using them as a pair I have had them in line with my P38 ted fletcher comp which has a stereo rebalancing control and width control, and I have normally found myself tweaking those slightly anyway.

2. On a previous 3 mic drumkit these things worked wonders on the drum buss. I did basically the same setup again for a different song and sending the kit bus through these for some reason totally collapsed the sound of the kick - the opposite of last time. Flipping the phase didn't help, it was purely whether these were in line or not. This isn't a criticism of the units, obviously, just an observation that - as with the bass DI - sometimes they just don't respond as well to things that are quite similar.

3. I'm not sure I mentioned this before, but the circuitry really picks up phone interference even on balanced connections. I got caught out by this, having become used to hearing it every now and then in my monitors but knowing it wasn't going to tape.

Overall - still having a great time with them!
User avatar
molecular
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1324
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Skye / Bristol
Anto mo Ninja, Watashi mo Ninja http://www.hectormacinnes.com

Re: Warm Audio EQP-WA

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed May 20, 2015 4:19 pm

molecular wrote:...the circuitry really picks up phone interference even on balanced connections. I got caught out by this, having become used to hearing it every now and then in my monitors but knowing it wasn't going to tape.

Wow! That's pretty disappointing. There's zero excuse for that kind of problem these days. Everything is supposed to be tested for EMC compliance before it can be sold, and it's really not rocket-science to ensure the case-work is properly grounded and the I/O protected against RF.

I persuade my mobile phone to re-register with the network while I hold it next to anything that passes over my test bench and listen for nasty noises. It's extremely rare to find anything that suffers these days.

In the last couple of years I can only think of two problems I've seen like this: The original review set of KH310s made blippity phone noises, but Neumann discovered a build error and the second set I tried were fine. And the original review Utrack-24 generated interference that trashed local DAB radio reception, but again that was found to be a faulty unit and the second one tested fine.

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 25007
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: Warm Audio EQP-WA

Postby Wonks » Wed May 20, 2015 5:28 pm

Surely that's one of the inherent problems when copying old technology? Once you start introducing extra filtering or more RF resistant components etc. then you must move away from the original sound. All you can do is make sure the case is well earthed and cross your fingers. Most RFI standards have several levels and allow temporary interference that doesn't cause lasting damage at the basic level of immunity.
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10132
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Warm Audio EQP-WA

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed May 20, 2015 5:37 pm

Most vintage stuff was inherently RF resistant because of the input and output transformers. There's no inherent reason why proper RF filtering should affect the sound. There's something amiss in this design and perhaps that's a side effect of its low cost: maybe a corner has been cut somewhere.
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 25007
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users