Masterful: Prism Sound Maselec MEA-2 Mastering EQ
Some gear wears two hats, at the ready for both mixing and mastering. Our Prism Sound Maselec MEA-2 Mastering EQ, however, is not one of those units: at BB4, we have this legendary 2RU sound sweetener strictly on hand for the finishing phase.
The MEA-2 is famed for its upper crust pedigree. Developed by Prism Sound by the engineer/producer Leif Mases, its design was informed by his work with the likes of Abba, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck and Black Sabbath. The result was a stereo or 2-channel, four-band precision analog equalizer with stepped Q/shelf, frequency and cut/boost controls on each band. Blessed with stepped controls further sharpened by a fine 0.5dB gain adjustment at low cut/boost settings, the MEA-2 is as precise as it is transparent, capable of adding highly desirable warmth, punch or air at will.
Those wonderfully chunky knobs are pretty much all the controls this EQ has, which is the first sign that it’s ready for business. “We chose the Maselec because we wanted an analog EQ with very specific increments for its frequency, cut and boost options,” says Kiara Mudd, Studio Manager for BB4. “This EQ is very smooth – the smoothness of the cut and boost just amazed us right away. When you compare this EQ with mixes that have been done in the box, the difference is night and day.”
With frequency settings that range from a subsonic 19Hz all the way to an above-human-hearing 27kHz, the MEA-2 brings something different to the table, across the frequency spectrum. “If you boost a super-high-frequency, such as 25k, it’s not just affecting that frequency – it affects lower ones as well,” Mudd notes. “That can add an interesting characteristic to the final product. It brings an open, airy feeling and a certain brilliance that you wouldn’t get from other EQ’s that only go up to the usual hearing range of our ears.”
Since we’re usually not adjusting frequencies below 40Hz, we rarely take advantage of the MEA’s sonic subbasement. But it’s magic in the midrange. “This EQ is ideal for surgical cuts,” says Mudd. “I like cutting at around 400Hz, which gets rid of muddiness in the mix. For vocals, I usually boost around 1-3Khz. Since the Q is so small, it does those types of boosts really well.”
As you might expect, a mastering EQ of the MEA-2’s caliber is a gem, no matter the genre: We’ve used it plenty for pop, rock, hip hop, soul, a cappella, and classical, among other applications. It’s clean, pristine and a perfect match for how we do things here.
“With the Maselec, you get the true sound of whatever music you’re putting through it,” Mudd says. “That’s in keeping with the monitoring and critical listening environment that we’ve built at BB4.”
Step over to BB4 to work with the MEA-2 and much more.