Beautiful analog Architectures, up to twelve, that will ramp up your reputation.
• SantaCruzEQ12: $259
• SantaCruzEQ6 Price: $189
Yes, Your Blueness
Why develop yet one more minimum phase parametric equalizer (MP PEQ) when there’s already hundreds on the market? The answer is simple…’Cuz there was room for improvement! It was customers of the original LinearPhase PEQ Red and Orange who asked Algorithmix to develop a classic EQ, for recording and mixing tasks, with unparalleled purity and transparency. Over several years, our Dr. Christoph closely analyzed many of the best out there, and compiled a vast knowledgebase of analog EQ best practices. Cherry picking from that, he implemented not just one or two, but an entire collection of trad minimal phase EQs. The result? A distillation of analog antecedents, while others are based on new ideas. We know you’ll enjoy our dozen variations of blue, newly revised by MAAT, and find your favorite sound.
The Not So Dirty Dozen
We wanted to lift analog to another level, so we reverse engineered a variety of well respected hardware EQs, creating idealized digital versions from that inspiration. Rather than models or simulations that carry analog baggage, SantaCruzEQ has no noise, distortion or other secondary effects inherited from analog.
SantaCruzEQ12 is a complete collection of classic equalizer Architectures, assembled into one package. You get precise, idealized examples of legendary analog equalizer circuitry, complemented by progressive new models. Whether it’s vintage, modern, or experimental, SantaCruzEQ is a sonic sandbox for every mixing and mastering engineer to mess around in.
The equalizer is perhaps the oldest and the most popular of sound processing tools. From its earliest days, the main function was correction or enhancement by boosting or cutting certain frequencies.
For a century, engineers have developed countless equalizers. A few became legend, our thEQorange is one. The most popular version in recording and post is the parametric equalizer or PEQ, first perfected by Massenburg in 1972. It offers maximum flexibility with only three controls. Properly used, the PEQ is a powerful tool and the best friend of every audio engineer in the quest for perfect sound. As Spidey (and Voltaire) always reminds us though, “With great power comes great responsibility.” When designed by a clueless or cost–constrained software engineer, it can be your greatest sonic enemy.
Choice Is Good
SantaCruzEQ is the low CPU version of thEQblue, with six utilitarian Sections. In order to give you a choice of features and price, SantaCruzEQ is available in two versions:
- SantaCruzEQ6, with 6 Architectures; №s 1 through 6 below
- SantaCruzEQ12, with 12 Architectures; all twelve below
Constant Q is more for surgical applications, while proportional EQs are best when combining multiple overlapping Sections. As a point of reference, API, Pultec, Masselec and Avalon EQs are all of the proportional type.
☞ Note that all 12 Architectures are normalized to have exactly the same bell shape at 6dB of boost. This allows you to easily compare the sound of each Architecture.
Better By Design
SantaCruzEQ is built on the belief that exceptional fidelity, enhanced workflows and less visual fatigue are hallmarks of better quality toolsets. Our reliance on hard science and focused research balanced by in–depth listening and customer feedback, redefines audio tools for you and your fellow hardcore media professionals worldwide.
The contribution of distortion to the specific sound of a particular analog equalizer caused by its respective electronics is largely what makes it “good.” Usually though, non–linear distortion, horrific group delay and other deficiencies produce more “nasty” than “magic.” Our philosophy, for PEQ design, has always been to make filters as precise and clean as possible. For controlled distortion, we recommend high quality tape emulation, a well made pedal or other carefully applied studio magic.
With SantaCruzEQ, you can call up to six Sections from one of the six (SantaCruzEQ6) or twelve (SantaCruzEQ12) architectural styles available. For the first and last Sections, choose from a selection of shelving or cut filters. For the four (SCEQ6) or ten (SCEQ12) center Sections, choose from nine freely assignable filter topologies, including bell, first and second order low or high shelf along with first and second order low or high cut.
The most significant filter types bearing the equalizer name are bells or peaking filters. Set to a particular Q, different bells change their bandwidth depending on the amount of boost or cut making comparison difficult between Architectures. But wait, we’ve made it easy…
In order to make meaningful comparisons of different styles, all twelve equalizer Architectures are normalized to have exactly the same bell shape for +6dB of gain. If you listen to a bell filter at +6.02dB and a Q of 0.71, you will get the same audible result for all Architecture types. This normalization of the Q or Quality Factor is a unique MAAT feature, and distinguishes our Architectures from their analog antecedents because many of the originals have undefined Q definitions due to the limitation of analog technology. The normalization allows you to compare the different EQ Architectures in SantaCruzEQ with ease.
BTW, a single minimal phase bell filter with identical shape will sound the same regardless of Architecture. The difference between Architecture becomes obvious when you have activated more bells and other topologies so that they start to interact with each other. This will reveal the different characteristics of each Architecture, in terms of phase interaction and different gain and Q relationships.
The Classic Symmetrical is the most popular bell shape used in many mixers and outboard equalizers. It is almost “constant Q.” That is, as resonant frequency changes, the bandwidth changes, widening as the frequency goes from low to high to maintain a constant ratio of center frequency divided by bandwidth. Constant Q is roughly the way our hearing perceives an EQ’s effect.
The three Proportional PEQs emulate bell characteristics which change their bandwidth proportional to their boost or cut. Many think they behave more musically as you don’t have to correct the Q after every amplitude change. There are also three other constant–Q equalizers available, with characteristics similar to some classic American brands.
SantaCruzEQ also offers two proprietary constant–Q varieties. The first, Constant-Q Ideal, is a perfect version of the Classic Symmetrical equalizer, having exactly the same bandwidth at any amplitude within its range of Q. This is measured 3 dB below maximum amplitude at and above +6 dB of boost. Such PEQs are impossible to implement in the analog domain, hence the “ideal” name. Another specialty variety is the Constant-Q New, which follows a new Q definition. It preserves exactly the same bandwidth at the half of the maximum amplitude for all amplitude values. Unlike the classic Q definition, this includes the range below 6 dB of boost. Due to its amplitude/bandwidth dependency in terms of a classic Q definition, this new kind of constant-Q PEQ could also be thought of as a member of the proportional group.
Finally we emulated two vintage parallel equalizers. With parallel construction, the main input feeds every filter in parallel, with each filter’s output being summed together for the final composite output. With a series implementation, filters are cascaded; each fed from the output of the previous filter. Unlike a series parametric equalizer (almost all paramets are serial), parallel–connected filters combine or cascade differently. They also behave differently in terms of phase. Their special interactive behavior between bands is offset by a pleasing sonic character. Our Parallel LC emulates old skool parallel passive PEQ circuitry built with inductors and capacitors. The Parallel Feed–Forward/Feedback Architecture emulates the feed–forward/feed–back designs still popular in low noise analog graphic EQs. While the feed–forward path is trivial to implement, the feedback path is impossible to implement in traditional digital signal processing, because of the need for so called “delay–free” feedback loops. In SantaCruzEQ, we apply a unique and very elaborate technique for true emulation of delay-free feedback. The result is a characteristic sound and perfectly complementary filters for boost and cut.
The Filter Library
In SantaCruzEQ, not only are various bell–shaped filters available but also different kinds of shelving filters. Nine of the series equalizers use a special shelving design characterized by a cut–off frequency defined in the middle of the transition region. We found these filter definitions more intuitive than the classical “–3 dB below maximum.” The old skool definition is only used in the Classic Asymmetrical Architecture in order to conform to its analog antecedent. All 2nd order shelving filters have a Q adjustment to emulate vintage characteristics, with their inherent and specific bumps at higher slopes. Also, the parallel equalizers are equipped with respective shelving filters shapes that are typical of old parallel PEQs. They also have interacting bands as did their analog predecessors.
Every complex PEQ is equipped with cut filters. With SantaCruzEQ, each of the twelve equalizer Architectures can provide 1st and 2nd order cuts. The 2nd order filters have a Q adjustment to create a resonant filter response, and can be combined to provide very steep “brickwall” slopes by cascading several Sections.
Best of Both Worlds
SantaCruzEQ is a creative equalizer tool combining the best of both the analog and digital domains. To avoid bell filter asymmetry at high frequencies for baseband sample rates, typical of many digital equalizers, we have applied reference–quality upsampling, which automatically kicks in for 44.1 or 48 kHz. By using proprietary filter algorithms, we have achieved a huge dynamic range, as well as extremely low noise and distortion. This yields unparalleled sonic purity, impossible for any analog circuitry. We suggest leaving the oversampling option always on so as to get the “analog” smoothness missing from other brand’s EQs.
MAAT Minimum Phase EQ Plug–Ins
|Features||⊹ Notes ⊹|
|Architectures§||Twelve architectures: №s 1-10, serial type; №s 11-12, parallel type||6 total; №s 1-6||12 total; №s 1-12||6 total; №s 1-6||12 total; №s 1-12|
|Sections||Five topologies available: 1st & 2nd order, variable slope cut & shelf; parametric bell||12 total; all five topologies||12 total; all five topologies||6 total; #1 & 6 are cut & shelf only; #2 - 5, all five topologies||6 total; #1 & 6 are cut & shelf only; #2 - 5, all five topologies|
|Metering||Signal present + wide range & numeric TP||Signal present + wide range & numeric TP||Signal present||Signal present|
|Panorama Control‡||Left–only, R–only, mono, stereo, L-R||Yes||Yes||No (stereo–only)||No (stereo–only)|
|Spectrogram||Yes; can be disabled||Yes; can be disabled||No||No|
|Tuning||Yes; ƒ–snapping||Yes; ƒ–snapping||No||No|
|Upgrades||Yes; to thEQblue12 for additional cost||No||Yes; to SantaCruzEQ12 for additional cost||No upgrade path to thEQblue|
§ – For more on the architectures incorporated into thEQblue and SantaCruzEQ, see our Understanding EQ Architectures PDF.
‡ – Parallel architectures do not support L-R Panorama mode.
This video from Friedemann provides a deep dive into both SantaCruzEQ and thEQblue
Why does it sound so excellent? It’s all about those curves…
Watch it directly on YouTube
Download — SantaCruzEQ User Manual
The user manual PDF includes a ton of useful info, check it out…
Download — Understanding EQ Architectures
This PDF provides detailed information for all of SantaCruzEQ’s twelve Architectures…
Session Compatibility between SantaCruzEQ12 and SantaCruzEQ6
Session interchange between the two versions can take two forms:
• Scenario A: A colleague uses instances of SantaCruzEQ6 in a DAW session, then sends the session to a colleague with SantaCruzEQ12. — All instances will open and work correctly.
• Scenario B: A colleague uses instances of SantaCruzEQ12 in a DAW session, then sends the session to a colleague with SantaCruzEQ6. — This scenario is only slightly more complicated…If the sender restricts their use to Architectures No. 1 through 6, then all instances will open as saved. If however, the sender uses Architectures No 7-12 in a saved session and sends that to their colleague, it will “snap” to Architecture No. 1 and may/will need to be remapped.