Review: UAD Manley Massive Passive EQ
Amazing sounding EQ (personally my favorite to date)
Very intuitive and easy to use
Comes with "mastering version"
HUGE DSP usage
Costly for an "EQ" (though can be had on sale)
Universal Audio’s Manley Massive Passive EQ is a great sounding emulation of a very nice, and expensive, piece of hardware. Its divided up into 4 parallel EQ bands, each with a fair amount of overlap in frequencies, and each can be set to either bell curves or shelfs, cut or boost with bandwidth controls. It also has two high pass and low pass filters. I personally LOVE the way the Massive Passive is laid out and functions, as I feel its very intuitive.
What I also like about this EQ is that it really forces you to listen. There are no meters, no analysis, and the bandwidth controls actually change the amount of boosting cutting depending on their settings, so setting the knob to 20db does NOT mean you are necessarily boosting or cutting 20db. This means you really have to listen to get the results you want. Another neat “feature” is its shelving filters when the bandwidth is maxed out, it creates an inverse bell curve at the point of the frequency setting. So when boosting with the bandwidth maxed, it will actually cut at the selected frequency before it starts to boost. Its things like this that helps the Massive Passive sound so very natural at even the most extreme settings. Also note, that UA also included a “Mastering Version” which unlike what the name may imply, is not some “higher quality” plugin. Rather this version has changes like notched controls, offers different frequencies for the filters, and its max boosting is only 11dB, making the range of the knobs more precise. Other then this, they sound the same (at least to me).
The Massive Passive lives on my master bus, as I simply love the sound and ability it has to really help me finalize a mix. Looking for air in a mix, I’ve found nothing better than using those high shelf with a strong bandwidth and boosting at 16K, 12K, sometimes even 8K2. I dont know how or why, but I am able to get sounds using the Massive Passive EQ that I’m unable to get using any other EQ plugin. Trust me, I’ve tried as I did NOT want to spend $300 on an EQ (in fact, I haven’t purchased any other UAD EQ’s because I personally felt I didn’t need them) but the Manly Massive Passive just blew me away with its quality, sound, and ease of use. I’ve also used it to great effect on vocal busses, strings, keyboards, anything really where I want some nice sound shaping EQ, yet my normal Pultec’s just are not cutting it – or boosting it for that matter (bad pun I know 🙂 Note, I do not use this for surgery – I personally use my DAW’s EQ and/or the UAD cambridge EQ for these duties, but when I want to shape a sound or group, the Massive Passive is second to none.
My only major gripe with the Massive Passive EQ is its seemingly unquenchable thirst for DSP! One mono instance takes over 37% of one DSP chip. Thats for MONO!! Stereo takes an astounding 60.2% of one DSP chip!! WOW!!! This makes it by FAR the most power hungry plugin UA has made. That being said, I find it is WORTH it, and has done some amazing EQ jobs on sources in my mixes that I was unable to achieve any other way. Of course I had to bounce down the track when I was done to save DSP resources, but it gave me a sound I was unable to achieve any other way, and when you compare the price of a DSP chip + plugin vs the cost of the actual hardware, its still a heck of a deal.
Overall I cannot recommend this plugin more highly in terns of sound and functionality, and for me is my favorite EQ. If it wasn’t for such a large DSP hit, I would use it on every track!