For some of you hardcore music producers out there who use a lot of studio outboard gear this question could come across as though we are asking you to choose which of your children you love the most… luckily we’re not asking that but this decision is no less difficult to make.
Over the last few years I have been building up my studio outboard arsenal, mostly gear from Tegeler Audio but on occasion I receive a test units that get sent to me through the post which slot themselves into my rack for many months for me to mix with in my downtime. I often look over at my rack and think, if I only had one of those units to mix with for the rest of my days which would it be? I’m not referring to make or model here, instead type… EQ, compressor, effects… the list goes on.
My Choice - Which Of My Outboard Units Do I Love The Most?
Don’t let my opinion influence your vote! For around 12 months my favourite piece of outboard was the mighty Tegeler Schwerkraftmaschine Vari-Mu multi-compressor unit. It’s a brut and a ballerina’s shoes all in one this. Smooth and subtle yet with a twist of a dial this unit squeezes your music tighter than a loving relative who hasn’t seen you in years. Using this on my mixes in the early days really inspired a hybrid studio workflow for me that I’ve been adding to every since. Tegeler’s passive EQ entered service soon after. It’s a simple multi mono Pultech style tube EQ that simply adds air, weight and definition to music in seconds, it’s a class act. So much so that my early mixes sound more like finished music when passed through it without any EQ dialled in. This is a tough question for me to answer. To inject a bit of fun into my response I’m going to answer this in an irresponsible dad way. Do I choose my compressor son who is dependable and personable but has an aggressive undertone or my EQ daughter who smiles at you with an air and a grace?
After much consideration, if I could only have one type of studio outboard gear in my rack to mix with for the rest of my days it would have to be an EQ, not specifically the Tegeler EQ-1 (though I do adore it) but an EQ in general. Compressors are great tools, especially for mix bus processing and mastering but compression is not always required and can in fact do more harm to a mix than good if used as a go to mix move and set without care. EQ’s on the other hand I find is THE tool to complete a mix. Using the EQ-1 has taught me to move some of the tonal shaping workload off the in the box mix through into the warming tubes for colour and presence. This seems to be working for me every time I feel close to bouncing a final. So I stand in the EQ camp and say I can no longer work without a physical EQ unit in my mixing chain. I urge those who have yet to experience shaping a full mix through an outboard EQ to get around to it at some point as it’s magic!
Do you agree with my view or do you prefer other types of outboard gear? Or do you work totally in the box and think that outboard serves no purpose?