Tips & Tricks — The Millennia NSEQ-2 EQ Plug-In
The Millennia NSEQ-2 EQ Plug-In captures all of the characteristics that have made the hardware version legendary — startling sonic realism, ultra transparency, and the ability to deliver two distinctly different equalizers in a single EQ via Millennia’s unique Twin Topology technology. The plug-in version also adds new features, such as Mid/Side mode, which can add complexity and width to your mixes. Let’s breakdown what makes the Millennia NSEQ-2 plug-in tick, and how it can help you craft your tracks.
Twin Topology — What Is It?
Simply put, Twin Topology lets you choose between two different discrete Class A signal paths. The first, and default, is a twin-triode tube circuit, while the other runs on a J-FET solid-state servo circuit. I’ve included some samples of each of the NSEQ-2’s operating modes — Tube and J-FET — so you can hear them for yourself. What better place to start than the mix bus?
Get on the Bus
This mix for a track called “Disgroove” still needed a touch of high-end glossiness added to it while also pulling back on some low end that had gradually built up through the different instruments. To that end, I placed the Millennia NSEQ-2 plug-in on the mix bus and made some subtle EQ tweaks, which you can see below.
Here is the dry mix:
Then with the UAD Millennia NSEQ-2 set to Tube mode:
The Tube setting typically sounds a bit tighter in the lows with a very gentle scoop in mids and a boost of aggressiveness.
Here is the mix with the Millennia set to J-FET mode: a bit fuller on the low end and generally creamier. Ultimately, let your ears be the guide.
Lifting the Blanket on the Drums
After performing minimal single track processing, I grouped all of the drums in Logic to a stereo aux channel and inserted the Millennia NSEQ-2 plug-in. The drums were a bit dull and boomy, so I brightened them up with some very subtle moves of the equalizer. Then I took a pre-fader send to another stereo auxiliary track for some parallel compression using the dbx 160 Compressor/Limiter Plug-In.
Here are the drums dry:
Then with the Millennia NSEQ-2 plug-in with the Twin Topology switch set to Tube for a touch more presence:
Improving the Bass
For the bass, I took the DI — which was a bit undefined with lots of midrange — and shifted the low frequencies at about 180 Hz (with a wide Q) and added some super subs at a 34 Hz shelf. Then I peeled back some midrange at about 750 Hz with a more conservative Q. Finally, I added a touch of airy attack and definition at 4.8 kHz set to peak bandwidth.
First, the dry bass track:
And here it is running through the NSEQ-2 set to J-FET mode:
Clearing Up the Acoustic
I started by adding the UAD Fairchild 670 Compressor Plug-In compressor, which is great for acoustic guitars, followed by the Millennia NSEQ-2 plug-in. The acoustics were fairly well rounded, but a tad cloudy in the mids. To fix this, I had to either add some definition in the highs, or pull back on the mids. I decided to try out the Millennia’s presets and, luckily, I found that the preset “05 Bright Acoustic Guitar” was exactly what I needed!
First the dry acoustic track:
Then with the UAD Millennia NSEQ-2 set to Tube mode for a touch of clarity:
Fine Tuning the Electric Guitar
On the electric guitar, I used the Millennia plug-in and nothing more. I pulled out some low mids at 220 Hz with a Q of about 0.9 and boosted some upper mids at about 2 kHz with a Q of about 1.0. For this track, the low and high bands were bypassed.
First, the dry unaffected track:
Then with the Millennia NSEQ-2 set to J-FET mode:
Mid-Side Processing and You
One of the powerful added features to the plug-in version of the Millennia NSEQ-2 is M/S mode (mid-side processing). This feature gives you the ability to EQ material in a way that is not possible in standard Left/Right stereo operation and it can add a totally new dimension to your mixes. Brainworx, the third party developer of the Millennia NSEQ-2 plug-in is one of the leading authorities on this subject. For more on this topic, make sure to check out the articles M/S Recording & Mixing with the bx_digital V2 EQ Plug-In and Mid-Side (MS) Mic Recording Basics for tons of knowledge on Mid-Side techniques.
In this version of the mix, I pulled a good amount of room boom from the side channel, leaving the bulk of it up the middle. Then, by adjusting some of the upper frequencies of the side channel, the acoustic guitars appear to jump out quite a bit more than a standard stereo mix would offer. Finally, adjusting some high mids in the mid channel brought the vocals out a bit more while not stepping on anything else.
First, the dry mix:
And here it is with the Millennia set to Tube and the M/S mode engaged:
There are a couple things to remember when using M/S mode on the Millennia NSEQ-2 plug-in. In M/S mode, the left side of the EQ is for the Mid signal while the right side is for Side signals. Also, in M/S mode, the Twin Topology buttons do not automatically link. In stereo operation, these buttons are linked.
The Millennia NSEQ-2 plug-in is a powerful tool that can impart subtle character to your tracks, but don’t let its understated nature fool you. The enhancements it can make may just push your mixes over the top.
Produced by Eric Klinger
— Dirk Ulrich