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Using PTEq-1a for Mixing

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In this lesson I'll show you how to use the PTEq-1a VST EQ plugin by Ignite Amps. We'll mix a jazzy flavoured project with this modern, free and simple recreation of a classic EQ plugin. The targeted instruments are drums, hats, guitar and piano.

ableton-project-view

For shaping the frequencies of the sounds, the vintage EQ plays the major role, while Ableton's EQ Eight is used for cleaning up the bottom end and make space in the music. The project is at 100 BPM and written in C minor.

This is the final song

About the PTEq-1a

A Short History

eq-rack-pultec-wikimedia-flickr-avex21-smaller

Rack of Equalizers, photo by avex21 / wikimedia / flickr

Regarded as one of the all-time best-sounding EQs in the pro audio world, Pultec EQP-1A, was manufactured from 1951 to beginning of 1980s. Almost every studio has at least one piece of this popular gear.

It was and is being used in sound design, mixing, and mastering. Fortunately Pulse Techniques LLC is making new versions of this famous tool. To create the new versions, engineer and scientist Steve Jackson painstakingly recreated the original design with no compromises or enhancements.

The Plugin

PTEq-1 is a top quality freeware Pultec-style passive EQ made by Ignite Amps. The software was featured in the KVR Developer Challenge in 2012.

The plug has some great features:

  • Three band EQ (low shelf, high peak and high shelf)
  • On the low shelf we can boost and cut at the same time (using automatic different analog curves)
  • Dynamic tube stage modeling
  • Switchable mono / stereo mode
  • Automatic upsampling for the best quality
  • Separate input and output level setting
  • It comes in both 32 bit and 64 bit
  • Made for Windows and Mac
plugin-description

Equalization Workflow

When the song was complete, I started to put the vintage EQ on the desired channels. During the mixing process I listened to the given tracks both in solo mode and together with the mix and also paid attention not to overdo the colouration with the plugin.

mixing-channels

1. Drums

To give presence and air we boost the low and high end of the drums track.

drums-vintage-eq

Before

After

Mixing settings:

  • Utility, volume +5dB
  • PTEq-1a, low frequency 100Hz 33% boost, high frequency 10kHz 65% boost
  • EQ Eight, 4x times low cut at 50Hz
  • Limiter, default

2. Hats

To give additional high content to the drums we need a programmed MIDI hi hat part.

hats-vintage-eq

Before

After

Mixing settings

  • Utility, width 0%
  • Simple Delay, left time 1ms, Right time 24ms, dry-wet 100%
  • PTEq-1a, high frequency 16kHz 90% boost
  • EQ Eight, 4x times low cut at 1.6kHz

3. Guitar

The guitar defines the main tune of the song. It is a transition between high-bass and low-mid frequencies.

guitar-vintage-eq

For this instrument we are using Ableton's Tension plugin with a Jazz Guitar preset.

Before

After

Mixing settings

  • Reverb, decay 2.64 sec, size 100, dry-wet 39%
  • PTEq-1a, low frequency boost 20% and 30% cut at 150Hz, high frequency 4kHz 80% boost
  • EQ Eight, 4x times low cut at 91Hz

4. Piano

A free VSTi plugin, Piano One is used for the piano track.

piano-vintage-eq

Before

After

  • PTEq-1a, low frequency cut 21% 100Hz, high frequency 4kHz 78% boost
  • Reverb, decay 4.5 sec, size 100, dry-wet 44%
  • EQ Eight, 4x times low cut at 73Hz

5. Electric Piano

This comes from Ableton Operator plugin.

  • Reverb, decay 1.84 sec, size 100, dry-wet 40%
  • Ping pong delay, default settings with 39% feedback and 37% dry-wet
  • EQ Eight, 4x times low cut at 350Hz, -5dB cut at 4.12kHz

Master Channel

The master contains a chain of Spectrum, EQ Eight, and a Limiter. All of them are used with the default settings, because this project doesn't required tweaking here.

Similar Plugins (Payware)

uad-2-pultec-plugins

There is a wide range of emulations on the market. The UAD runs only with a DSP hardware, but the other products are native ones.

Conclusion

So that was our session of equalizing a project with PTEq-1a. We used it on the drums, guitar and piano as well. If you'd like more variety with the EQ selection, I recommend trying out the payware products as well.

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