Today my Tube Tech Me1a arrived in the mail and I thought I’d give some general first impressions while it’s fresh on my mind. I was shopping for one of these for the past four months, and had a hard time finding a review online that was very helpful in making my decision to purchase one. My hope is that I will be able to provide the information that I never found online for potential buyers out there.
There are only slight differences between the Me1a and Me1b, so most of these notes should apply to both models. The Me1a is a single channel EQ that focuses on the mid range. It is most often used in conjunction with the Pe1c (another single channel Tube Tech EQ that covers the low, and high range; I own one of these as well). My obsession with the idea of this piece came from a video I saw where Gabriel Roth was talking about how much he used one on the Amy Winehouse record Back to Black. I’m guessing that this is at least in part, the reason that many websites selling this unit claim that it is responsible for getting that “Motown” sound- though you should note that Tube Tech was founded in 1977… Both of these EQ’s are Pultec clones, but I won’t go into detail about what Pultec EQ’s do- you can research that on your own.
As many people do, I developed an unhealthy belief that a single piece of equipment was going to be my “silver bullet” for getting a particular sound. I created a fantasy in my head of what this piece could do, without ever considering that there would be many things it could NOT do. So let’s get down to it, shall we?
The Me1a is not really a “silver bullet” for anything so far. It is, more accurately, the missing piece for it’s companion the Pe1c. As I mentioned above, it covers a frequency range not found in the Pe1c. Also, the Pe1c can create high and low shelves, but there isn’t a great way to scoop out or subtract frequency ranges. The Me1a is the remedy for this. It allows you to “dip” frequencies anywhere from 200 hz to 7khz. When you pair these two EQ’s together, you have the capability of creating some amazing curves and sounds. But even when you put the two together, this is not much of a precision EQ. They’re a sculpting EQ that can get you some really vibe-y sounds. In other words, they’re better as a sledge hammer, than a scalpel.
The Me1a also has two peak (bell shaped) EQ’s- one for the low mids, and one for the high mids. I have to admit, these will get very little use from me. These have a very narrow Q, and I tended to use them very sparingly- as a Q this narrow tends to make it’s peak frequencies stand out a bit too much. If I wanted a 5k boost, I found myself reaching for the Pe1c which again, has a much more broad Q.
But let’s step back for a moment, I don’t want you to underestimate the sound of these Tube Tech EQ’s!! When used with the right intentions, these are VERY powerful tools to have in your rack. I would tell you about the “silky” high end, or “punchy” low end, but those are terms used to describe EVERY PIECE OF EQUIPMENT ON THE MARKET!! So, I’m trying to stick with the facts here. No, you will not be using these specific models for mastering or anything surgical. But if you want to add vibe and personality to your tracks, these will work wonders.
So, the best way I can sum up my feelings about the Me1a is that it makes a great EQ (the Pe1c) an AMAZING EQ when you put the two together. But at a price tag of $2,700 each, you are essentially looking at a $5,400 single channel EQ. Is it worth it? To me, yes. But much more worth it if you can find them used for half that price:)
Hope this was helpful.