While modern EQ can emulate pretty much any curve that a “vintage EQ” could produce, there’s more to EQ than the curve itself.
Vintage EQ, due analog technology’s constraints, wasn’t as flexible as today’s EQs. Therefore, the various parameters were limited to specific choices—and these choices were made for musical reasons. When people talk about dialing in a great vocal or drum sound within seconds using vintage EQ, I suspect it’s because those vintage EQs were engineered for fast, efficient changes that made musical sense.
So as an experiment, I created a Pro EQ2 FX chain that emulated (quite accurately, if I do say so myself!) not just the curves, but the controls of a Pultec MEQ-5 midrange equalizer (Fig. 1).
The Lo and Hi stages have a Frequency control and Boost (no cut) control. Originally, the low band had stepped frequencies of 200, 300, 500, 700, and 1 kHz, while the high band had 1.5, 2, 3, 4, and 5 kHz. The Freq controls cover mostly the same range, although in recognition of bass’s importance in today’s music, the low band goes down to 60 Hz. Another tweak is that the high band had a fixed EQ, which I always felt was a bit too narrow anyway—so I added a Q control.
The midrange section cuts (no boost) from 200 Hz to 7 kHz. However, the MEQ-5 had a subtle EQ shift that depended on the amount of cut, which is emulated here. I also added a RedLightDist to give subtle saturation effects.
So next time you need EQ, download and try out this FX Chain. It won’t sound different than what you can achieve with a Pro EQ2—but you may very well get where you want to go faster. Maybe even much faster.