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Review: Alta Moda AM-25 500 Series EQ

Russ Long. The AM-25 is a flexible and first-rate four-band parametric equalizer

When it comes to preamps, 500 Series options are nearly endless. They are available at a wide variety of price points and with a variety of sonic signatures. However, when it comes to equalizers (and compressors), the options become somewhat limited. The extreme sonic flexibility offered by the Alta Moda AM-25—coupled with its reasonable price point ($399 street)—makes this device the perfect solution for anyone in need of a high quality 500 Series EQ. The AM-25 is a flexible and first-rate four-band parametric equalizer, built around the National Semiconductor LM4562 op-amp, providing four continuously variable and overlapping frequency bands and enough control to quickly make adjustments from subtle to surgical.

After making Alta Moda’s HIPPO bus compressor a part of my regular workflow several years ago, I was anxious to give the AM-25 a try. GML’s lauded 8200 has been my staple EQ since I purchased it in the early ‘90s; I use it daily and love it as much today as I did the day I bought it. The easiest way I’ve found to describe the AM-25 is that it’s the 8200’s little brother. Like the 8200, the AM-25 is wonderfully smooth, clean and not sterile at all. In some A/B tests I’ve done with producers, we’ve decided to keep the AM-25 in the circuit even when everything was set at nominal; simply having the AM-25 inserted in the signal path can make things sound better.

Since the EQ packs so much control (and so many knobs) into a relatively small amount of space, I found that operation was a bit slow at first. Once I became familiar with the layout, molding a sound into the desired sonic shape became intuitive and quick. Alta Moda includes a link on their website to download a recall sheet, making it easy to archive session settings for elements that may have to be revisited. Significantly overlapping bands (20 Hz-120 Hz, 65 Hz-2 kHz, 1 kHz-7.5 kHz, and 4 kHz-20 kHz) provide tons of flexibility when shaping a sound. While the two center bands are fully parametric with adjustable Q, the bottom band is switchable between peaking and shelving and the top band is dedicated to shelving only.

I’ve been using the AM-25 for several months now. During that time I’ve had the opportunity to use it on virtually every sound source imaginable and its clean, low-distortion performance is wonderful. From drums and percussion to acoustic and electric guitars to bass and vocals, I have yet to be disappointed. Whether it’s a subtle tonal tweak or an extreme sonic manipulation of the sound, the AM-25 works extremely well.

Alta Moda Audio