“This is something different.” How many times have you heard this statement? Especially in the world of software EQ, it’s a statement that is hard to believe. However it truly applies in the case of Waves’ new H-EQ hybrid equalizer.
The basic layout of H-EQ is quite straightforward: Left and Right Input faders; five parametric bands with high-/low-pass filters; and Left/Right Output faders with phase reversal buttons. However, that’s where “normal” ends. Below the HP filter sits the EQ Mode Section, offering up Stereo/Linked mode (L/R channels receive the same EQ processing); Dual/Unlinked mode (Different EQ processing can be applied to L/R channels); and M/S mode (separate processing for the Mid and Side). In M/S mode, by clicking on the small speaker icon, you can listen to whichever button is selected M (mid) or S (side). Also in M/S mode, the left fader controls the M level and the right fader controls the S level.
Aside from stereo Input and Output meters, the top half of the plug-in is taken up by a large EQ graph. Below that sits a small Piano Roll and selection of buttons in the Analyzer Section. The display shows the EQ graph (orange), as well as the real-time frequency spectrum Input Analyzer (yellow) and Output Analyzer (blue).
Below the LP section sits the Analog Section, where the Analog Type offers Off, US Vintage, UK Vintage, UK Vintage 2, US Modern and UK Modern. There’s also Analog Level (0-200 percent), which controls the level of the noise and hum (60Hz/50Hz) and THD Level (0-1000 percent), which controls the level of harmonic distortion added to the signal – 0 to 1,000 percent? Told you this was different!
The Piano roll, with a range of F0 to E10, lets you select frequencies by clicking on the notes. The Analyzer section features buttons for turning the Analyzer on/off (saving system resources); displaying the In, Out, L/M (left side only in Stereo Mode or M in M/S mode); R/S (right side only in Stereo mode or S in M/S mode) as well as Freeze (stops the frequency graph) or Peak Hold (stops frequency graph at highest peak point).
There are seven different EQ types for each band, including US Vintage, UK Vintage 1, UK Vintage 2, US Modern, UK Modern, Digital 1 and Digital 2.
My first experience with the H-EQ was on a distorted Les Paul track via Marshall cab. It was an “oh, yeah!” moment having the real time frequency analyzer because I could immediately see (and hear) my problem spots. I needed to pull down some lows in the 120 Hz range, boost a touch of 4 kHz and brighten it above 8 kHz. Grabbing the Band Markers for each frequency on the display, I quickly tweaked the sound to my liking.
Another useful touch is that by double clicking each Band Maker, the EQ resets to default in the frequency. It’s an easy way to “pop” your setting in and out to check your work. It’s just one more click on the marker to get back to your original setting.
Taking it a step further, you can also click on the filter of each band; it will cycle through the seven choices. I kept going back to Digital 1 in this instance, as its width helped cut the guitar through a dense track. Next, I chose UK Vintage on the Analog Type and raised the THD Level up over 600 percent! Wow! The sound changed to a fuzzy, crunchy tone similar to Zep’s “Black Dog.” It was like over driving an input channel on a console. Since it started to clip the output, I lowered the Output fader and then stuck a limiter after the H-EQ. What a cool guitar sound!
Next, I put it into M/S mode; that’s when this plug-in really stood out. I was able to EQ the side of the loop brighter than the mids and raise it up using the right Output Fader. By bringing up the sides and widening the image, it was almost like having room mics on a stereo loop! I hit the bypass button and realized how psyched I was to have this tool.
I’ve since used the H-EQ on a wide variety of tracks, from snares and hi-hats to lead vocals and even across the Master Fader. I’ve really come to like the US Modern and Digital filters, and having the M/S is a real blessing. The only thing I had to get used to is how fast the Markers move with my trackball, as it’s very fluid. But it’s a small price to pay for having such a useful EQ in my collection. This one really is different!
Price: $149 and $99 (TDM and Native, respectively)
Contact: Waves | waves.com
Rich Tozzoli is a producer/engineer, a composer and the software editor for PAR.