Legendary Mastering Engineer Bob Ludwig

on Apogee’s Pultec EQP-1A Plugin

Photo by Peter Luehr

Who do “golden ear” engineers trust to make the final decisions about the sound of their work? Legendary mastering engineer Bob Ludwig has earned the trust of the world’s most renowned engineers on albums from every decade and genre such as Steve Reich, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Tool, Disney’s “Frozen”soundtrack and countless others.

Bob has considerable experience with the original hardware Pultec EQP-1A Program EQ and the most popular plugin emulations including Apogee’s Pultec EQP-1A, the only emulation officially endorsed by the manufacturer of Pultec hardware products, Pulse Techniques. Here’s his detailed and insightful analysis of Apogee’s plugin.

“As a mastering engineer I know there is no one piece of gear that is right for everything, but the Apogee EQP-1A is the one I favor.

When you are comparing different emulations of super-star gear like a Pultec EQ I think it would be valuable to check 3 different aspects:

1. The record companies want to monetize high definition digital downloads:  

This demands most projects be recorded and mixed at 96kHz/24bit.  It sounds great and it doesn’t tax the workstation too terribly.  Right off the bat, some very famous emulations, unadvertised, bandwidth limit 96kHz and 192kHz sessions to only around 29kHz instead of the full 48kHz bandwidth you thought your client was paying for (It seems that half of the HD Download customers own spectrum analyzers and complain when they don’t see full bandwidth!).  The Apogee is full bandwidth for all ProTools sampling frequencies. 

2. Put a 1kHz tone thru the emulation plugin and look at a spectrum analyzer: 

A great analog Pultec actually has very low harmonic distortion!  Many emulations have this right but some signature Pultecs are filled with many odd and even harmonics.

3. For me this last one is the killer: 

Pultecs are famous for being able to boost bass frequencies with a tight, punchy envelope by using both the boost and dip knobs.

Find a good kick drum example and set the Apogee boost to 30 cps (Hz) at +3.5 and set the attenuate to +2.5.  You will like it.  Try that exact setting on other emulations and, for me, only the Apogee EQP-1A really has the magic.”

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