The RTZ PEQ-1549 is a four-band, state-variable parametric equalizer that includes high-pass and low-pass filter sections. Inspired by the illustrious Calrec PQ1549 equalizer, the PEQ-1549 offers Calrec’s classic British tone in the 500 Series format. With ten knobs, ten buttons and a few LEDs, the module can seem a bit intimidating at first but after using it for a short time, it feels very natural. The HF-High Frequency band ranges from 1.5 kHz to 16 kHz in Normal mode or from 3.4 kHz to 35 kHz if the HF Air Mode is activated. The HM-High Mid Frequency band ranges from 350 Hz to 7.5 kHz in Normal Mode or from 680 Hz to 16 kHz in 2X Band Mode. The LM-Low Mid Frequency band ranges from 210 Hz to 2.3 kHz and the LF-Low Frequency band ranges from 30 Hz to 320 Hz. The high-pass and low-pass filter section can be switched in and out as needed. Both filters have a 12 dB/octave slope. The HP-High Pass filter is sweepable from 25 Hz to 1.2 kHz and the LP-Low Pass filter is sweepable from 2.5 kHz to 35 kHz. Each of the four bands has a High-Q enable switch that changes the bandwidth from broad to narrow when activated. Signal Present and Overload Indicator LEDs make it easy to tell if there is signal present or if the circuit is being overloaded. The Signal Present LED illuminates when a signal greater than -20 dBu is present at the EQ’s output. The Overload LED illuminates when the output level reaches +20 dBu indicating that the unit is near clipping at maximum output level of +24 dBu.

There is a Lundahl-balanced drive output transformer option that is driven by a THAT line driver; THAT Corp. also provides the input line receivers. I had the transformerless version for my review period. The EQ in/out switch is a relay-activated hardwire bypass. The entire unit is hard-wire bypassed when the switch is in the OUT position or if the power supply should fail.

Top Nashville musician/engineer Randy Kohrs (John Fogerty/Linda Ronstadt/Dolly Parton) turned me onto the PEQ1549 about six months ago. Randy gave me the lowdown, “The thing I have found with the RTZ 1549 is that it can be gentle or forceful when you need it to be. Soft shelf lift for ribbon mics—easy breezy. Pushing some serious low or low mids to make a kick drum come alive, it has that too, in spades. The most useful thing about it, however, is being able to carve out the harsh top in a sibilant singer, hit the 2x on another band and give them back some air that was lost in the initial carving—all of that while still being able to high and low pass filter as needed. It’s a great EQ worthy of the highest praises.”

With an introduction like that, I couldn’t wait to put the 1549 to work and it I found it to be as musical an EQ as I’ve ever encountered. Shaping a sound with the module is almost like playing an instrument. I occasionally find myself wishing I had a sweepable Q but in nearly every instance, the High-Q switch is more than enough to provide what I need and I love the extended top end control provided by selecting HF Air; it works wonders on acoustic instruments. In tracking and mixing situations, I found that from every element of the drum kit to guitars and vocals, I have yet to encounter a situation where they don’t work well. In addition to using the EQ on individual instruments, I had great results using a pair of 1549s on the stereo buss. It’s powerful enough to allow you to radically sculpt or mildly shape a sound into the desired result. The PEQ-1549 is well worth a listen for anyone in the market for a parametric EQ.
Price: PEQ-1549: $845; PEQ-1549X (with transformer): $1010
Contact: RTZ Professional Audio | rtzaudio.com

About Russ

A native of Boulder, Colorado, Russ Long moved to Nashville, Tennessee to attend Belmont University in 1986. Since graduating with a BBA degree in 1988, he has remained in Nashville engineering and producing a wide variety of music and film projects.

Russ’s credits include the hit singles “Kiss Me” and “There She Goes” by Sixpence None The Richer alongside albums by Wilco, Newsboys, Over the Rhine, Relient K, Dolly Parton, Fernando Ortega and Jim Brickman. His film credits encompass the soundtracks to The Sapphires, Girl Interrupted, Here On Earth, Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, The Second Chance, Hannah Montana: The Movie, and She's All That. Additionally, Russ has diversified to engineer 5.1 DVD mixes for artists such as Allison Moorer, David Crowder and Mercy Me as well as live sound recordings, having multi-tracked live performances for Switchfoot, Chris Tomlin and Guy Clark.

In 1994, Russ opened his Nashville studio—The Carport—which has played a key role in the majority of his projects. He has been a regular contributor to Pro Audio Review since 1997; as such, he has authored well over 100 equipment reviews and instructional audio production articles to the benefit of the pro audio industry.