Mastering Hardware Highlight: Q&A with Daniel Weiss on the Weiss EQ1


What does it take for piece of gear to become a classic?

Is it based on how long it’s been on the market, how many people use it, how many records its affected? All those things matter, but we think that Extra Special Something is when the unit is seen as not only as a trendsetter, but also one-of-a-kind.

That’s the thinking we applied to bringing our Weiss EQ1-LP/DYN EQ into the fold at BB4. A two-channel digital equalizer with seven parametric bands, the EQ1 exclusively features digital inputs/outputs. From its debut two-plus decades ago it totally changed what people thought digital EQ could do, and with four different models available became a must-have unit in mastering studios worldwide.

Choosing the Weiss EQ1 was in line with our philosophy of having multiple options available to our mixing and mastering clients, depending on the sound that they’re going for. “We have various EQ’s that offer the colorization of different eras,” says Kiara Mudd, Studio Manager/Engineer at BB4. “The Weiss is for when you want a super-clean sound that’s purely for mastering, to just keep the feel of the track as is.”

While plugins abound for all types of tasks at BB4, the Weiss EQ1 demonstrates the unique things that only certain hardware units can do. “What I like to use it for is translating from an EQ plugin,” Mudd explains. “I’ll apply the settings that are used in the plugin, then put those settings on the Weiss EQ and take the plugin off the mix. The Weiss sounds so much smoother, not harsh at all.”

The Weiss EQ1 is actually available in four different configurations, all of them working at up to 24 Bit/96 kHz. There is a basic model EQ1-MK2, a linear phase model in the EQ1-LP, and the dynamic model EQ1-DYN. The EQ1-DYN-LP, like the one here at BB4, incorporates both the LP and DYN versions in one unit. (Visit here for an in-depth explanation of the LP and DYN models.)

From beats to finished pop productions, the Weiss EQ is proving to be a go-to at BB4. “I think it can be used in any situation,” says Mudd. “You can get pretty far into a final mastered product with the Weiss EQ1 and nothing else.”

But don’t just take our word for it! Now pleeeeeeease welcome our special guest, Daniel Weiss himself, who agreed to join us for a quick Q&A about his masterpiece of a mastering EQ. Here’s what he had to say in this exclusive interview with BB4.

When was the Weiss EQ1 officially launched?

That was in the nineties. It started as a "simple" unit and later on we added 96kHz capabilities, the linear phase option and the dynamic option.

The EQ1 has proven to be a universally prized mastering unit among mastering engineers. Were you prepared for the reception that it would get from the audio production community?

To some extent, yes. When we conceived the EQ1 we already had the EQ in our bw102 system on the market. The bw102 is a modular digital signal processing system for CD mastering. We started selling that in 1985 and back then we had very few competitors, if any. So we sold many bw102 systems.

Why do you think the EQ1 has continued to stand the test of time as a go-to mastering EQ?

Because we did a few things right for mastering purposes! (laughs) Like:

·         enough bands

·         high parameter resolution

·         very high audio performance due to the use of special filter architectures and 40 Bit floating point processing

·         96kHz capability

·         upgrade path for linear phase and dynamic EQ

·         POW-R dithering

·         ergonomic design

What are some of the deeper functions of the EQ1 LP/DYN that you find mastering engineers often overlook? Put another way, what are some capabilities of the unit that would require very advanced knowledge to take fully advantage of?

The standard model, the EQ1-MK2 (minimum phase model), does not pose any special challenges. The linear phase unit (which can be switched between linear and minimum phase) requires the engineer to decide which phase response characteristic to use for a given track. The differences may be small and thus the engineer is challenged to decide which one sounds better.

The dynamic unit is the most challenging, as besides the normal EQ tasks it can also react dynamically to the program in a band. There is the Threshold parameter added, and the engineer needs to find the right balance between the amount of boost or cut and the threshold value. Plus of course center frequency and Q factor (bandwidth). I think this can be fairly demanding.

Some of the special features in all EQ1 variants are the possibility to set up very small notches, with a Q up to 650, at frequencies of 50Hz and multiples and 60Hz and multiples — this to suppress any hum including harmonics. Or the M/S mode capability which could be used with the dynamic EQ to de-ess the mid channel only, i.e. where the voice is located. Or the possibility to cascade bands with the same settings to achieve extreme frequency responses.

Get your hands and ears on the Weiss EQ1-LP/DNY EQ when you master at BB4!