mcaudiolab-eq1ch

Straight from Italy comes a hand built EQ that easily makes one think of Pultec’s but with a more friendly price tag than you might expect. I’ve been using the MC Audio Lab EQ1ch for some time now. Let’s see what it’s made of.

Specifications

Let’s start by looking at the details before digging into the sound itself.

The EQ1 is available as ‘tp’ and as ‘ch’ (the latter is the one I’ve used). The EQ1ch is provided with solid state power supply while the EQ1tp is tube-based. Both are passive designs with the following EQ options:

  • Low frequency shelf filter that can be switched to either 20Hz to 150Hz;
  • High frequency shelf that can be set for 4 KHz to 20KHz;
  • Mid-High frequency peak filter that can be switched from 600Hz up to 16KHz and bandwidth adjustment.

The units also features a so called ‘hard bypass’.

Check out the video below for a walkthrough of the features.

My EQ1ch has a slightly busted output knob but that’s hardly the designs fault. I guess someone found it fun to toss it around. It’s well built, the knobs are sturdy and there’s some resistance turning them, as there should be. The units looks good, take up a fair amount of space (2U) and have a flashy logo that lights up blue when turned on. The text looks like someone hand wrote it on the unit but I guess that’s intentional.

In action

While the EQ1ch doesn’t really claim to be a Pultec clone, there are two things that I always try first with these type of EQ’s: 1) obnoxious amounts of high-end boost and 2) boosting and cutting the bass at the same time, i.e., ‘the Pultec trick’.

The high boost immediately reminds me of why I think just about every plugin is downright inferior when it comes to boosting the top. The smoothness that comes from a good analog unit quite simply sounds better. The mid-high band is not a surgical tool, rather a very pleasing overall sound shaper. It works well on just about everything I throw at it, from vocals to acoustic instruments. Unfortunately I only have one channel so I can’t speak for mix bus duties.

As a side note, if you’re someone who mix mainly digital, I suggest investigating the possibility to include at least one colorful hardware EQ to give that little extra to the most important track(s), be it the lead vocal or the guitar or whatever. Not everyone will find it necessary or even preferable but you won’t know until you’ve tried. There are many, many options out there but the EQ1ch handles this task very well.

The bass boost/cut surprises me a little. It sounds different than I expected, not bad by any means, just different. According to MC Audio Lab, it cuts at 10x at the chosen frequency but to my ears it almost appears higher. I haven’t checked with an analyzer (and why bother?) but most of the time it sounds smooth and nice. Generally speaking, I would say I hold back a little more on the cut on this unit than I do on many other Pultecish units.

Conclusion

The EQ1ch does a very good job opening up signals with moderate bass cuts and more liberal high and mid boosts. While many will think about Pultec’s when looking at the EQ1ch, I think it’s a mistake to buy it if you want a clone of the legend. It might be inspired by the famous EQ but it does its own thing and stand on its own two feet.

The good:

    + Sweet and smooth sound.
    + Well built.

The bad:

    – Nothing really.

The ugly:

    * Nada.

Price: €770, ex VAT.

MC Audio Lab EQ1ch