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Apex PE 133 MkII Paragraphic Equaliser (part 1)

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So you have twiddled every knob on the channel EQ and tried every combination
of settings possible and still the sound isn’t right – what do you do now?
It might make sense to sack the person who didn’t make a decent recording
in the first place, but that doesn’t solve your problem here and now. Obviously
you will turn to an outboard equaliser, but should you go for a graphic or a
parametric? Which will be the best for your particular situation?


Once upon a time equalisation was the sexiest signal processing around, but
the gloss has rather worn off with the introduction and subsequent ubiquity
of phasing, flanging, chorusing, pitch changers, exciters and multi-effectual
aural novelty boxes. No-one’s pulse races at the sight of an equaliser
anymore so if a manufacturer is going to introduce a new one then it had better
be a good solid serious tool that is going to do a dirty job well whenever it
is called upon. I think we have that right here in the form of the Apex PE 133MkII
single channel and PE 232MkII dual channel Paragraphics. By ‘paragraphic’,
I’m sure you will see straight away that these units (the former is reviewed
here) combine the functions of graphic and parametric into one unit. But isn’t
that going to result in a lot of noise from the parts of the processing you
may not be using? Not at all, as you will see as you read on.

Under cover

Since we are dealing with a unit which competes with many others doing similar
functions, rather than the latest high tech box whose foibles you may accept
because of its unique virtues, I think it will be a good starting point to lift
the lid and see if all is ship shape inside. In fact, it’s surprising to
find that most of the interior of the unit is filled with nothing but fresh
air! It’s amazing how much functionality you can get out of a small number
of components these days, which is a good thing of course since more active
components can lead to more noise with imprudent design (speaking as an ex-electronic
constructor with designs both prudent and imprudent!). I might as well comment
on the points that I don’t think are quite so good to get them out of the
way. I have never been a great fan of internal fuses so I was disappointed to
see a pair of them on the rear panel mounted pcb. Obviously they have a function,
but there is no reference to them on the rear panel legend or in the manual,
so if you find yourself with a dead paragraphic then you may be a victim of
simple fuse fatigue and not realise it. Also, I think it’s bad policy to
fix a circuit board using rivets. The rivets are in the XLRs which are then
soldered to the pcb so to remove the board you either have to desolder the XLRs
or drill out the rivets. Maintenance engineers won’t like this, but perhaps
they don’t always get enough say in the selection of equipment. Apart from
that I could mention excess lengths of unscreened wiring inside, but I couldn’t
detect any hum using sensitive detection apparatus (my ears). Other than these
points, the internals are very neat and confidence inspiring. I should also
mention that Apex claim to have used ‘advanced engineering concepts’
on the chassis design which ‘eliminate the stress and torsional movements
which can damage the electronics’. I don’t know about all that, but
the unit does have a nice solid feel to it.

David Mellor

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David Mellor