Waves has done an excellent job on several occasions with the three most recent plug-ins in its Abbey Road series. The plugin company is presenting emulations of absolute audio rarities for the first time, with the Reel ADT plug-in leading the way, followed closely by the RS56 equalizer. Waves not only keeps these delicacies from being forgotten, at least on the virtual level but also offers the user three processors that sound excellent through and through, which will enrich the sound landscape in the future with their distinctive tonal fingerprints. Incidentally, they also boast features that are rarely or not at all found in similar third-party products, such as the integrated tape delay in the J37 processor.
RS56: The Passive Equalizer
When people talk about historical equalizers in a passive design, the name Pultec always comes first. No wonder, because this equalizer was always present on the market. If the same had been the case with the EMI RS56, it would have made serious competition for the Pultec at the time. But that could very well change in the near future with the virtual version of the RS56.
There are three bands to choose from, Bass, Treble, and Top, with Treble representing the mid-band in today’s terms and Top representing the treble. Four center frequencies can be selected, with this happening in the two lower bands in octave intervals, starting at 32 Hertz. The treble band continues this at half-octave intervals up to 16.4 kilohertz.
Special feature: Six switchable filter characteristics can be selected in each band using a rotary switch. Four of them are peak filters with different bandwidths, and the other two call up shelf characteristics. With that alone, the RS56 would have been a good deal ahead of the Pultec EQP-1A in terms of flexibility.
Special feature: In contrast to the original, 20 decibels of gain reserves are available, whereby settings can be made seamlessly in 0.1-decibel steps. Waves did this deliberately in order to adapt the equalizer plugin to today’s requirements, according to their own statement.
When we first call it up, we see an almost square GUI that is divided into two sections: on the left is the faithful reproduction of the RS56 user interface. By the way, each filter band can be set to bypass by pressing the band designations. The right section shows a graphic display that provides clear information about the set filter curve. Below that, in the stereo plug-in, there are two VU meters including a clip LED that show the level. Which that is is determined by the monitor rotary switch, the options for which in the stereo version depend on the previously selected operating mode.
This is done with three buttons. In addition to stereo and dual stereo, there is also an MS matrix to choose from. If necessary, only one channel, such as the left or side, or the summed stereo signal can be monitored, which is very convenient in the test. Controls for adjusting the output volume and a switchable phase reversal function round off the features of the virtual RS56.
Overall, the equalizer has been expanded to include useful, modern features that are not available in the original or found in many other plug-ins. Especially with its switchable MS matrix, the RS56 plug-in is begging for use in mastering. However, if this is too far from the original for you, simply click on the collapse button in the top menu bar and the entire right-hand section is collapsed, which also frees up space on the monitor.
RS56 Passive EQ Features:
- Based on the legendary RS56 Universal Tone Control passive EQ
- Three bands with four selectable center frequencies for each
- Six different filter types
- Independent or linkable left/right controls
- Developed in association with Abbey Road Studios
You can also read Review: Reel ADT – Double Tracking Effect Plugin by Waves