Belles Ondes has released EQ1979, a FREE vintage-inspired channel strip plugin for macOS and Windows.
A quick glance at EQ1979 will tell you that Neve consoles are the inspiration behind the plugin, thanks mainly to the striking red drive knob.
EQ1979 is a frequency-accurate model of the famous British module, the Neve 1073, credited by many for the sound of classic rock music. The Neve 1073 first appeared on the A88 console, and you can hear it on countless records of the era, from Queen to The Rolling Stones.
However, EQ1979 isn’t the only plugin to emulate the iconic Neve preamp and EQ strip. Along Waves Scheps 73, Universal Audio 1073, and Slate Digital FG-73, there are some hardware recreations, too.
So, what makes the 1073 so worthy of emulation?
The Neve 1073 has several factors to thank for its success besides the creative mind of Rupert Neve. You can point to the earlier (1960s) evolution from valve-based to transistor-based technologies and then germanium to silicon transistors.
Silicon transistors provided a more consistent performance, and along with Rupert Neve’s design, they formed a solid foundation for the 1073.
As with many vintage hardware units, some of the most-loved characteristics came as side effects of the design or happy accidents. In this case, input and output transformers, used for signal isolation and gain staging, introduced subtle harmonic saturation that became the core characteristic of the 1073 sound.
To mimic the intentional and unintentional magic of the 1073, EQ1979 features an input saturation stage ranging from subtle/smooth to asymmetric clipping. The input saturation stage boosts third and fifth harmonics while increasingly introducing full spectrum asymmetrical saturation.
The plugin also features a filtering stage (low shelf, mid-band, high shelf) that accurately recreates the frequency response of the original hardware. The original hardware utilized exclusive handcrafted inductors, adding to the era-defining module’s magic.
As an additional sculpting tool, like the hardware unit, EQ1979 features a third-order highpass filter that is perfect for removing unwanted low frequencies.
Belles Ondes has gone to great lengths to recreate the character of the 1073 and wrapped it in a lovely GUI by Fluidshell.
The 1073 might have helped define the sound of classic Rock, but EQ1979 isn’t limited to those who are about to rock; it’s a superb preamp for anyone who doesn’t mind trading a little transparency for some of that incredibly musical analog nostalgia.
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EQ1979 is available in AU and VST3 formats for macOS (10.8 upwards) and Windows (10 upwards).
Download: EQ1979 (FREE)