The Surgical Precision of the UAD Cambridge EQ

July 25, 2010 5:35:35 PM PDT

The Cambridge EQ was first introduced in early 2003, and was UA’s first (and only) EQ to include a graphical EQ response curve display. It wasn’t modeled after any particular EQ hardware; rather we were looking to develop a very precise "super EQ" to meet or surpass the sound and functionality of other plug-in EQs on the market. (The Pultec EQP-1A EQ was already released, but it was more of a “broad brush” type of EQ, and not surgical at all.) What we didn’t know at the time was that the Cambridge EQ would still be selling well and be so highly regarded more than seven years later—even after we've released so many other great EQ plug-ins.

Cambridge EQ and filters
Cambridge EQ and filters

The longevity of the Cambridge EQ is likely due to its feature set, which is unlike any other EQ in the UA collection. It’s still the only one with a graphical EQ response curve display that includes a zoom control for finer resolution. Each of the five bands can be parametric or shelving, and the Q can get quite tight for filtering out resonances in problematic tracks. Selecting from three different settings can also change the response of the bandwidth control.

There are 17 different filter slopes comprising 4 different types of both high and low pass filters, essential for getting rid of problematic high and low frequencies smoothly. But they can also be used creatively for radical sound shaping.

Rounding out the features is an A/B button, which allows you to create a setting in A, for example, then copy it to B and tweak it a bit, then A/B between them to find the optimal setting.

Some folks have wondered why we don’t make more EQs with graphical EQ response curve displays. Well, the answer is simple: The hardware EQs that much of modern music is built on—and UA so accurately models—such as the Neves, Pultecs, and Manleys of the world, don’t have them! Engineers just use their ears. So while it is nice to have that display, what really counts is how it sounds, not how it looks on a display.

Seeing that display however, can be a great learning tool to help you understand what is going on when you EQ a track with another EQ like a Manley Massive Passive. It has helped me to understand EQs better, because sometimes I visualize the display in my head. If I saw the graphical EQ response curve while tweaking a Neve 1081 for example, I might back off on the settings, because it might look too extreme, causing me to doubt what I was hearing. If you simply close your eyes as you use the Cambridge EQ, I think you’ll find your ears—and the great sounding sonics of the Cambridge—will come up with the right settings every time.

To learn more about the Cambridge EQ and see and hear these features in action, please watch the Cambridge EQ Trailer & Demo video.

— Dave Crane