DMG EQuality AAX-DSP
by Barry Rudolph

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DMG EQuality AAX-DSP

EQuality is a nine-band, multi-mode fully parametric equalizer plug-in with high-resolution spectrum analyzer. EQuality easily handles any and all demands by way of its six overlapping bands with frequency ranges selectable from 10Hz to 22kHz. The six bands include two shelves that switch to bells and the four middle bands are switchable between peaking (bells) or notch shapes with Qs from 0.1 to over 50. At each end are both HPF and LPF filters that adjust from 5Hz to 22,050 Hz have selectable 6db to 48dB slopes with variable Q for building resonant peaks. Lastly, there is an additional 5Hz to 22kHz high pass filter with adjustable slope up to 48dB. The six EQ band sections have a maximum boost/cut range of +/-36dB that is globally adjustable with the Range fader.

EQuality AAX-DSP runs Native in RTAS (32-bit Pro Tools 7 or newer) and 32 or 64-bit in AU, AAX and VST3 hosts on both Windows PCs and MACs. It also runs in 64-bit AAX DSP in Pro Tools using DMG's standard, zero-latency Digital mode only.

The Native version also offers Digital mode--I found this a great feature when I wanted to convert an instance from AAX DSP Digital mode to Native for conserving chip usage or going to one of the other EQ processing modes as required in my session.

In addition to the standard Digital mode and Digital+ with its error-correction filter that use low CPU, there are three Native processing modes that use minimal CPU. There are: Minimum Phase with an FFT-style minimum-phase EQ response; Analogue Phase which has the magnitude and phase response of an hardware EQ; and Linear Phase which has zero phase distortion. Both Analogue and Linear modes have 4096 samples of latency that is easily handled by delay compensation in Pro Tools as well as other modern DAW systems.

I have started my own library of presets relative to my music mixing with the goal of always using DMG EQuality AAX-DSP (in my mix template) on the second insert slot on all tracks (I keep the first slot free). In Digital mode, you can get up to 56 mono instances per chip at 48kHz, or 42 at 96kHz and 18 at 192kHz sample rates.

Screens

EQuality's three different screen sizes each start with the Top Bar for configuring/setting up, selecting EQ processing mode, M/S or Stereo mode selection, and copying for A/Bing between eight different sets of retained equalizer settings. You can have eight different EQ settings residing in EQuality for A/Bing or for quick, go-to-EQs. I have stored one preset as an über preset for all EQuality instances on all tracks--just select one of eight starting EQs for drum tracks, bass, guitars, vocals etc. The Preset box in the lower right hand side of the GUI has a few presets you can start with and copy for use in these eight slots.

The three EQuality screens are called: Full with graphical and spectrum analyzer, Output Section and Preset section and all control knobs; Graphical dispenses with the knobs and is more visually-oriented with colorful "dots"--nodes you can just click and drag to effect change; and then the third mode is called Knob and offers a smaller footprint showing only knobs and Presets.

Operation

I began a mix with about 50 mono and stereo tracks. I liked that when Option+ inserting EQuality across the Pro Tools mixer, whatever tracks were stereo got stereo instances and all others got mono instances without stopping across the mixer. I was also surprised when I wanted to copy an EQuality instance with my settings for a mono acoustic guitar track over to a stereo acoustic track, it worked! The plug-in along with its settings copied over without problem.

I started to apply equalization to three guitar tracks and I liked the switchable Auto-Listen feature solos the EQ band when you touch its frequency knob and applies either the boost/cut you already have going or (default) an automatic +12dB boost. This behavior is totally configurable in Setup. I also used the Gain/Q fader to cause the equalizer to have proportionate Q--i.e. the more boost or cut, the tighter (or higher) the Q. For guitars, this is must for me and it has the sound of many popular desk EQs---API boards come to mind here.

For the most part in my Pro Tools 12 mixing, I always started by using the standard Digital EQ mode running as DSP AAX as my utility equalizer. Good uses of Minimum or Linear Phase EQs for the R&B song I was mixing were: the five-string bass' open low B string was purer sounding and for lead vocals, Linear Phase kept all the air and brightness of the vocal recording intact. The stereo mix bus benefited greatly from the Linear Phase stereo EQ mode where it was always clearly better sounding for harmonically rich and complex sounding music. Stereo synth pads and orchestra--strings and brass instruments sounded better with Linear. DMG says that the transients of my hard-hitting drum sound will not be phased smeared using Linear Phase.

I liked using EQuality and the Analogue Phase mode for M/S stereo equalizing of a programmed machine percussion loop. To do M/S with EQuality, I put the Mid instance first in the chain and cranked up its Gain fader. The Side instance followed and I had to pull the mixer's fader way down. Clipping the plug-in added some analog amplifier grunginess that fattened up the percussion loop and this setup produced a wider stereo image. No additional processing was required.

Some very musical features struck me when first using EQuality. First is the aforementioned Range control provides a fine-tuned touch to any EQ setting by adjusting the total range or strength of equalization globally with a single fader. Equalizing individual tracks--especially in EDM genres is sometimes requires extreme boosts, cuts and radical filter shapes. Once a setting is 'struck' at the beginning of a mix, the Range fader allows for advancing or retreating all boosts/cuts in all six EQ sections (filters are excluded) at the same time. Pulling the Range fader below 0dB, inverses the values! Automation ideas abound here!

In addition the Frequency Shift fader, that runs horizontally under the graphical/analyzer screen, scales the shelf/bell/notch frequencies up and down by an octave. Range and Shift are even more essential when I used the Linear Phase EQ on the stereo bus. As a kind of mastering touch, reducing the range and moving the Frequency Shift definitely works a wonder for getting exactly what I wanted here!

Lastly, EQuality has some 53 controls and buttons that are automatable, and there is a complete Setup section to configure: the Mouse and Metering, the GUI, the Analyzer's operation, and numerous other preferences. EQuality is my first go-to equalizer and could easily be my only EQ. I like it as a powerful system, the choice of different EQ modes as needed in my session, the preset logic, and the low DSP/CPU required.

DMG's EQuality AAX DSP sells for £149 and also comes in a bundle with EQuick and Compassion for £224.98. The Native (only) version sells for £99 and there is much more DMG's EQuality AAX DSP at: www.dmgaudio.com.



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