Elysia have been making waves in the pro audio equipment market for quite some years now - more than 10 in fact, as they were established in 2006 and made many legendary products, like the museq discrete equalizer! In a nutshell, they are known for two facts:
1. Discrete Class A circuits with uncompromising component selection and consistently pristine sonic performance.
2. Proverbial "ze german engineering quality".
You might think they've gone too far in some aspects, but think about what vintage gear is still sought after today - practically all of it is not only good sounding, but also built like a tank, with quality components that last for decades and still work as new. At Elysia, they make sure such units will be going strong after years and years of daily usage and still yield consistently superb sounding results.
Starting collaboration with mix:analog, Elysia sent us the museq, a two-channel five band equalizer. Although it fits perfectly for mastering, I deliberately didn't call it a "mastering EQ", as it would be a shame not to put it to use on single source tracks! Ok, no more stories, let's take a look at it!
First, simple ones: Left and Right buttons bypass the EQ section for each channel. By default, all controls are linked with the Link button for easy stereo operation. Move a knob or push a button on one channel and the other one will repeat the action when Link is enabled. The channels work independently when Link is disabled.
That one is a little more tricky, so it gets its own paragraph. What the Warm mode is doing is gently limiting the slew rate of the device. If you don’t know what slew rate is, it’s the speed at which a device can react to steep edges - fast changes in the signal like square waves. That causes a level dependant high cut and some added harmonic distortion, that’s visible on the plots below. So louder sounds progressively get filtered more and the low-level details like reverbs stay more or less unharmed! Amazing idea!
Frequency and Q
The Frequency select knobs work as usual there are no special features here. The selection is discrete, with half-step positions available between the dots on all but the highest and lowest settings on each knob - exactly as any other museq you can buy in a shop.
The Q setting for the three mid bands is not continuously variable, but switchable between wide and narrow with the active knobs on the picture above. An engaged button means means narrow Q is selected.
The high and low bands are shelf type filters, switched to high-pass/low-pass instead of the Q setting. The frequency knob still works as expected, but the gain knob in that mode acts as a Q or resonance control for the filters. That gives us some very interesting possibilities such as getting rid of the "sub" rumble and boosting the kick drum at the same time, with just one filter! The plots below show just that:
You could think about it as a spiffy, modern "pultec trick" especially on the sub frequencies for instruments like kicks, basses and synths.
To circumvent of the limited physical resolution of a detented potentiometer and to make fine adjustment even easier, the Gain control is not centered for unity, but zero gain at fully CCW with switchable polarity. That way of control also lends itself very well to "seek and destroy" workflow where you find an offending resonance with a narrow Q and ample boost and then cut it when you find it. It's just a press of a button and it's cut instead of boost with all the other parameters the same!
Here are the processed and unprocessed stems from the tutorial video, where you can also see the settings used to get the resulting tracks. To truly appreciate the high frequency "air" magic that the museq is capable of, please download the original, lossless files from the playlist and listen to them on a good speaker system or headphones.