Review: Universal Audio UAD Pultec EQP-1A Plugin
Positives:Great sounding unique EQ that comes free with any UAD purchase
Negatives:Plugin adds 1.5db gain to incoming source and has no output gain controls making it hard to A/B objectively
Though this plugin comes free with any UAD card (pro version costs extra and gives you midrange controls) don’t let that fool you – this is still one serious EQ plugin that I use on almost every mix!
First off, a Pultec style EQ is a passive tube EQ. Now I dont know what that means on a technical level, but I do know that to my ears this style EQ’s sounds very, VERY smooth and natural, even when boosting to extreme levels. The UAD pultec captures this very, VERY well.
The Pultec is NOT a surgical tool (i.e. narrow in on a specific annoying frequency to cut) but for sources that needs a more broad stroke boost or cuts. The UAD Pultec is divided into low and high frequency sections (low on the left, high on the right) and you have a choice of both boost and attenuate (cut) knobs, which can be used on their own. But what makes a pultec cool is that you can use BOTH the boost and attenuate knobs at the same time! More on that later. One thing to keep in mind, the low end on the pultec is a shelf, so your boosting or attenuating everything below the specified frequency, while the high frequency is a bell curve with the “bandwidth” control changing the cue (makes it wider the higher the setting)
A common trick with the pultec which is still pretty cool today is to use it on bass drum. What you do is dial in the low end frequency you want (either 30hz or 60hz usually works but of course depends on your source) and experiment with boosting AND attenuating at the same time. This does a cool boost/cut thing unique to Pultec EQs that can really enhance the drum and make it sound MASSIVE!!
I also love the high end as well, as the boost is so smooth. Note that the high frequency only offers boost and NOT attenuation (the atten knob next to the boost actually is its own “eq band” that corresponds with the atten selector – took me a while to figure that out, haha!) I like to add a bit of 10k with a broad bandwidth to brighten up a mix, and to me it sounds completely natural and makes it sparkle without harshness. If you do get those harsh highs, you can tame them using that high end attenuate controls I spoke about earlier.
My one problem with the UAD Pultec is that the plugin boosts the incoming signal by about 1.5 db with all knobs at zero (i.e. just turning on the plugin), which can be deceiving when you A/B with the dry signal. I hear people say “I add a UAD pultec to every mix, even if I dont use the EQ at all, as it just makes my mix sound better!” Well, this could be true, but once I discovered that the plugins output gain is hotter than its input, once I compensated for this with a gain plugin I found a hard time hearing any difference.
BOTTOM LINE: do not ignore this plugin just because it comes free with your UAD card. Its really a GREAT EQ which has a very unique parameters and abilities that can be very handy in a mix. And just like seemingly everything UAD – it sounds GREAT!!