It seems that every time I need to perform any kind of surgical EQ tweak, SplineEQ has become my absolute GO TO plugin. Need to cleanly edit an acoustic upright bass track to retain rich sound while lessening "string buzz" or "click"? SplineEQ to the rescue. Need to bring out the 'shimmer' of a Hammond C3/Leslie combination? SplineEQ to the rescue. Need to tweak that nasty 'reverb ringing' in an otherwise nice vocal track? You guessed it! SplineEQ is a must have. Once you get accustomed to working within it's color-coded graphics assisted environment, your ears will become better trained (visual & auditory mental associations) and you can easily *find* offending frequencies.
Mr. M. Rouzic (aka "A_SN") contacted me back in the middle of June, 2012 and invited me to test and review his wonderful new Linear Phase EQ plugin, SplineEQ. I was honored that he thought well of my writing skills and audio engineering skill. Of course, I didn't apprise him otherwise. *wink*
I'd been very busy with work, ministry engagements and an overdue (3) week vacation and finally, at the end of July, 2012, I was at liberty to bench test SplineEQ. My findings are most nearly all positive. I will attest to my fellow KVR reviewers' testimonials that there can be quite a bit of latency induced if you operate this plugin at its higher quality settings. That aside, it does sound very, very clear and free of ringing, fuzziness, or other fatiguing audio artifacts. As such, this plugin shines brilliantly in a final mix/mastering scenario.
By default the full version gives the user (5) key frequency centers - 80hz, 253hz, 800hz, 2.5khz, 8.0khz. You can add as many frequency bands as you want from there, by simply double-clicking at an insertion point of your choosing. I've gotten into the habit of adding 42hz, 32hz, and finally 20hz bands to create smooth, downward-sloped low frequency cuts. SplineEQ is a great tool for cleaning out unwanted low end muddiness. The low end spectrum isn't "hauled away" with conservative use; it just gets cleaned up and balanced out. Once you add a good mastering limiter to the end of the mastering chain, you'll get the "oompphh" back on the bottom end, but it will sound clean and articulate. This process has kicked the quality of my final mixes up a couple of notches. I used to rely of Bootsy's BaxterEQ for this - SplineEQ does yield even cleaner results.
What particularly impressed me about this EQ plugin was its wonderfully CLEAN sound quality. The EQ curves are very smooth; even when adjusted in steep, narrow bands. SplineEQ's tonal shaping qualities are easily adjustable in very granular steps or in large swaths. Yet, the audio quality remains high and transparent. I like to describe this plugin as a 1st class tool to realize accurate and extensive tonal shaping without "coloration" or audio graininess.
This plugin is attractive and offers a nicely sized interface. I won't discuss these features as they were well-reviewed by Monk_Volcano previously. I agree with Monk_Volcano's comments on the gui design and that the vertical color-coded analysis bars greatly aid in locating "troubled" frequencies.
On a recent CD track for my upcoming Gospel album, I used Spline's lower resolution settings to make Acoustica's Pianissimo (Steinway Model D sample VSTi) really come to life, without noticeable latency, and without losing the warmth and character of the classic "Steinway" tone. When played at higher velocities, Pianissimo does somewhat over-accentuate sympathetic resonance and upper register "ping". When played at lower velocities, Pianissimo tends to become a little too "dark/mellow" sounding. Nevertheless, it really is a remarkably good sounding piano VSTi and it competes very well against sample libraries costing 2 or 3 times as much. By lowering the velocities of louder notes and enlisting SplineEQ as an insert effect on my piano track, I was able to balance the tone of Pianissimo to sit in the mix perfectly. It retained the warmth without sounding "boxy" or dull. The piano's upper register rung though cleanly and pleasantly without any shrillness. The mids were tamed nicely without losing definition.
** EDIT **
Using subtle high frequency increase @ 2k, 4k, & 8k (+1 dB, +2.4dB, +2.1dB respectively) made my favorite B3 VSTi absolutely come to life and "shimmer" with gorgeous, breathtaking clarity. We are talking about taking the sweetness of Gospel-style Hammond Organ "through the roof, people!" - SplineEQ used as an insert plugin in this instance. The VSTi in question? Genuine Soundware VB3
Any time I attempted to "fine-tune" Pianissimo (and some other VSTIs) using conventional (minimum phase) Parametric EQ or classic multi-band EQ plugins, I would sometimes hear slight grainiess or fuzziness on some note tails and decays. This issue has been entirely resolved for me since I started using SplineEQ.
I don't own FabFilter Pro-Q, EQuality, or any other expensive Linear Phase EQ plugin, but I can tell you this - SplineEQ is an amazing plugin that allows tremendous control over tone-shaping. It's very simple to use, largely due to its intuitive, attractive interface. If you don't presently own a high quality linear phase mastering EQ, I can guarantee that your mixes will benefit greatly by purchasing and using this professional, studio-grade plugin.
I rank SplineEQ way up there with other exceptional products such as ToneBooster's TB Barricade (Brickwall limiter), Klanghelm's DC8C (Compressor/Limiter), MeldaProductions VSTs, HollowSun samples, etc.. .
Yes, it's very, very good. It's also very, very reasonably priced.
Clean, transparent audio quality.
Ease of use.
Capable of extensive, equalization fine tuning.
Granular control (when needed).
Latency - it is linear phase after all. This type of plugin is best suited for mastering purposes.
When attempting to change resolution settings, during playback, it has caused my DAW to stop responding. I'm using Acoustica Mixcraft 6.0 b194. Otherwise, the plugin is very stable.
@myk: I haven't used SplineEQ, but as I understand it, EVERY linear phase EQ introduces latency because of the way linear phase adjustments are computed (the signal must be delayed a bit, kind of obvious if you think about it). That's why they're typically used for mastering and final mixing, as opposed to tracking. Seems kind of unfair (if not dead wrong?) to mark it down for something that's inherent to its way of working.
@myk Just locate the latency knob and adjust it for lower latency, you should be just fine.
The reason why you want to be able to change latency, is for rendering purposes. If you are really anal about getting the best possible sound, you should increase the lantency when you render, and that will give you an even sharper sound. As you might have noticed with the "dotted real processing" line that shows up on the lower frenquencies,
it will become more accurate with higher lantecy settings, this is something you can't escape when processing audio the way linearphase eq's does it.
It's not fixable, it's just something you have to learn, with ALL linearphase eq's :)
just a little thing to say I tried this out on a audio cleaning project i had and it kept the tone of the voice but got rid of the noise I mean whistling right next to the vocal frequency. no other eq i had was doing it right and this baby kicked ass.
You know what is awesome is if you set it to minimal delay and stuff right to find something like if there is this annoying hum then you cut the hell out of it swap back to max mode and render you will be amazed on how high the quality of the eq its like you never did anything but the hum is gone. its very non destructive
well i currently experience narrow bandpass (rather than bandstop) to isolate locust's stridulation at almost a precise frequency then rendering, not much different technique as you know, that what made me amaze about spline eq