Basically, I feel that EQ as commonly found in audio equipment is just too
tame. High end mixing consoles do offer very musical and versatile EQ sections,
but mid range consoles don’t really have the ability to change a sound,
only to modify it. As a starting point I’m not looking for much, just a
24dB/octave variable frequency low-pass filter with resonance control added
to the conventional EQ on a mixing console, and available on outboard EQs and
multi-effects units. We live in a new era of creativity and we need not only
new tools, but well-known, tried and tested facilities presented in an easy-to-use
form. It’s nice to have these things available as outboard and software
plug-ins but I would like particularly to see the development of a mixing console
specifically designed not just for Extreme EQ but for Extreme Creativity in
the recording studio where, in addition to conventional mixing, a selection
of simple but powerful tools could be right there ready to be used in new imaginative
Low-Pass Into High-Pass
As mentioned in the main text it is possible to turn a low-pass filter, such
as that of the Mutator, into a high-pass quite easily. Connect the signal to
be filtered directly to one channel of the console and parallel it through the
filter to another. Mix both together at the same level with the phase of one
channel (either one) inverted. With a neutral setting on the filter no signal
should be heard since the two identical but opposite phase signals cancel each
other out, but if you bring down the cut-off frequency on the filter then on
that channel no high frequencies will be present, therefore they will not cancel.
The result, allowing for a little unpredictability due to the phase characteristics
of the unit as a whole, is a variable cut-off frequency high-pass filter.
Cubase VST – a professional platform?
No. For audio, that is the simple answer in my opinion. The dividing line between
amateur and professional equipment used to be sound quality, now it is usability.
Professional equipment is distinguished by the fact that every feature is put
in place to satisfy a need that someone has specifically asked for (or at least
that’s what we hope, and we do mostly get). Amateur or so-called ‘prosumer’
equipment is jam-packed with features because manufacturers know that the more
features they can advertise, the more units they will sell, even if most users
will actually only use a tenth of the capabilities on offer. The other 90% simply
get in the way, and sometimes don’t even work properly. As a MIDI sequencer,
Cubase gets almost, but not quite, everything right and there is little to quibble
about. But for the VST side of Cubase, Steinberg, selling mainly into the amateur
and prosumer market, have gone for a completely different look and feel. There
is no doubt that the windows are very attractive to look at initially, but they
are also very fiddly to work with. Simple graphics could have done just as well.
Also, the windows are difficult to ‘tile’ on the screen so you are
always working with some important information hidden from view, and to get
to it you have to hide something else that you would like to see. I get the
feeling that the designers of the audio section of Cubase VST have tested it
very thoroughly but haven’t subjected it to the rigours of professional
studio work, unlike Pro Tools which will run on exactly the same computer but
is a pleasure to use.
On the other hand, technically Cubase VST offers new ways to work at a very
low price point and looks forward to the day when an entire studio, apart from
mics, mic amps, monitoring and acoustics, can – if desired – be contained within
a computer, without additional DSP cards. Perhaps it’s early days and we
shouldn’t expect too much just yet. I may have my quibbles, but right now
Steinberg’s Cubase is the only way to get into VST functionality and, since
I’ve recently had cause to order fifteen copies of Cubase Score VST, they
must be doing something right.