While to an extent gear is certainly overrated when it comes to audio engineering, you can’t deny that some of the devices we use have quite a great influence on the sound itself. This is the case with equalizers as well, though even a subtle difference can make or break it whether a mixing engineer will use one or the other unit. Let’s have a look at what kind of EQs some of the well established engineers use, and what’s their favorites.
Al Schmitt: The man who worked on Sam Cooke, Steely Dan, Norah Jones or Diana Krall albums (among many others) is not among the most EQ-crazed people, but when he does use it, he favors either the GML (George Massenburg Labs) EQ with the funky colored knobs, or old Pultecs (they are fun, even despite the hype they enjoy lately); and he likes to bring out the “air” on a track with an NTI EQ.
Jay Messina: He engineered records for artists like Aerosmith, John Lennon, KISS or the Rolling Stones. His preferred EQ on Steven Tyler’s vocals was a PEQ-1A (Pultec). He likes API 560 (it’s a 10-band graphic EQ) on bass, drums and pretty much everything else too.
Ken Scott: He worked with the Beatles, David Bowie, Supertramp, Elton John, Level 42 and Duran Duran, and many more. Since two of his albums received Grammy nominations while he was working at the famous Trident Studios in London, it might not come as a surprise that his favorite “desert island” EQ is the one in the Trident A-Range console. Interestingly, he likes the plug-in versions of this unit as well, especially the one by Universal Audio.
Ken Caillat: Though nowadays he’s producing his daughter, Colbie Caillat, and he’s worked with the likes of Michael Jackson or the Marshall Tucker Band, his most famous album to this day is “Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac (he also mixed and produced the albums “Tusk” and “Mirage”). The API console he used on Rumours had API 550a EQs.
Eric Valentine: This guy worked with bands and artists like Good Charlotte, Third Eye Blind, Slash or Nickel Creek. He’s a true gear head which I’m sure he would shamelessly admit himself, and it means he used a lot of different kinds of EQs, but Eric – with Larry Jasper, his business partner – designed their own console in their company called UnderToneAudio. Part of it is the ultra flexible UTA EQ with 4 parametric bands that are separately bypassable, on each channel.