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WWAYM NWEQ Pro • Universal Audio Neve 1073 By John Walden & Paul White
Published November 2006


Formats: PC & Mac VST

NWEQ Pro from WWAYM provides five EQ bands within a single plug-in and, with the aid of various switching options, offers quite a flexible range of possibilities for tonal shaping. The heart of the plug-in consists of low and high filters plus three bands of parametric EQ. The controls within the low and high bands are identical; both include self-explanatory Frequency and Gain knobs, but the Character and Q controls require a little further comment. Character crossfades between two filter types. The first is a smoother type while the second is more aggressive and, as documented in the short PDF manual, this is more demanding in terms of CPU loading. If the second filter is selected, then the Q control alters the quality of the filter. The controls for the three central bands provide a fairly conventional parametric EQ with Frequency, Gain and Q (bandwidth) controls, although the Character control again cross-fades between two filter types.

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Over and above these five bands are additional high- and low-cut filters that can be applied to the output. The controls for these filters, located on the far left next to the input gain meters, adjust the frequency at which the filters start to operate, while the small LEDs next to each control switch the filters on or off. Indeed, all the bands can be switched in/out of the signal path as required using the various Mute LEDs positioned under the controls for each band. Muting unused bands is a good idea, as this reduces the overall CPU resources used. The other LED under each band allows the output from that band to be soloed — this is very useful when trying to home in on a particular frequency for corrective or creative adjustment.

The other key features are the Display area, where the EQ curve created by the various band controls is shown, and the Data Display area (to the right of the main display). Within the main Display, the anchor points represent the frequency setting for each band and can be set by dragging if required. This display is certainly useful for seeing how the various EQ bands are interacting. The contents of the Data Display area change automatically to show the name and value of any control that is being edited. Both of these displays can be deactivated to save CPU cycles if required.

Given the almost shareware price, I was suitably impressed with NWEQ Pro in testing within Cubase SX3. There is quite a lot crammed into the fairly modestly sized window, but it doesn't take too long to become familiar with the user interface. WWAYM also provide a decent collection of presets covering applications for individual instruments (for example, guitar, vocal, bass or drums), mastering and special effects (for example, EQ settings to simulate a radio or telephone). With all the bands engaged, the plug-in is perhaps a little CPU-hungry, but the degree of control is certainly better than that provided by SX 's own four-band Q EQ plug-in. At this price, NWEQ Pro certainly represents good value for money. A downloadable demo is available from the WWAYM web site and, if your audio application of choice is a little light on the EQ front, NWEQ Pro is well worth a look. John Walden

£29.40 including VAT.

Universal Audio Neve 1073

Formats: Mac & PC UAD1

Neve 1073 Equaliser is the latest plug-in for the Universal Audio UAD1 platform, and is based on the EQ section of an original Rupert Neve mixer channel dating back over 35 years. The Neve 1073 channel module itself was derived from older Neve consoles such as the 8014, and is prized for the way it adds gloss and clarity to anything you pass through it. The hardware version combines a preamp stage with an equaliser, and has recently been reissued with a price tag well in excess of £2000. Apparently its characteristic sound was partly due to the original audio transformers; these were jointly designed in the late '60s by Neve and Marinair Rader of Harlow, who also built the production transformers before a second supplier very close to the SOS offices, St. Ives Windings, also started production.

Plug-in FolderThe UAD1 plug-in uses modelling techniques to emulate the three-band EQ and high-pass filter of the 1073, with UAD's customary attention paid to the fine detail of what really happens to an audio signal processed by this classic piece of hardware. Universal Audio claim that their Neve 1073 EQ delivers the same sonic experience as its analogue counterpart, but for times when it's more important to run lots of instances than to achieve absolute faithfulness to the original, the package includes a less DSP-intensive version called 1073SE. Other than the model number and a change in front-panel paint colour, both plug-in versions look identical, and the sound of the light version comes very close to that of the 'full fat' model.

For all the reverence attached to this equaliser, it is conceptually very simple, with the line input gain control followed by a fixed 12kHz high shelving EQ (±18dB) and a six-position rotary switch setting the mid EQ frequency to 7.2kHz, 4.8kHz, 3.2kHz, 1.6kHz, 700Hz or 360Hz; the mid EQ offers ±18dB of range, the low-frequency shelving EQ provides ±15dB at 220, 110, 60 or 35 Hz, and the high-pass filter introduces an 18dB/octave slope at one of four cutoff frequencies. Both central knobs are dual-concentric to save panel space. There's a full 30dB range of input gain plus, for the sake of historical accuracy, a phase reverse button and an EQ bypass switch. There's no separate Q control, so the mid isn't even truly parametric, but back when this equaliser was designed, it must have seemed the height of sophistication, and whatever Rupert Neve did, he most definitely got it right.

As you'd expect, the plug-in is visually very close to the original, and judging by the fact that the full-on version takes up around one third of the capacity of a UAD1 card, the modelling must indeed have been done in great detail. The lighter version takes very little DSP overhead by comparison, yet in most applications would be indistinguishable. Operationally, the EQ is simple and predictable and does what you ask of it without fuss, once you get used to the fact that rotating what used to be a channel-strip layout puts the HF controls on the left and the LF on the right rather than the other way around. It's only when you compare the sound with less sophisticated equalisers that you realise they can sound phasey and disembodied by comparison. Currrently we're well served with EQ plug-ins, but once again Universal Audio have gone the extra mile to capture the authentic character of the real thing. If you're a UAD1 user, then you really should add this to your must-have list. Paul White