How to master the “Pultec Low end trick”

By | April 4, 2021


The original EQP-1 from the 1951s has been cloned into countless hardware and software forms and found its rightful place in both recording, mixing and mastering situations.

What makes this two-band equalizer (or three bands, depending on how you count) so special is that you can boost and attenuate the same frequency at the same time, which may sound a bit counterproductive, but which gives a special and useful character. Something that sound engineers over the years have learned to use.

In regards to the EQP-1, the term “magical” seems to be appropriate. There’s something about a Pultec EQP-1 that enhances anything you run through it, even if you do not apply any EQ. There’s a glow that happens within the tubes and transformers that adds some weight in the low end and opens up the top. – Vintage king.

Low-end trick
The so-called low-end trick is that you increase and decrease the low band exactly the same amount. In mastering, it is common to increase, for example, 30 Hz by approximately 2-3dB and decrease by the same amount, which in turn results in 80 Hz being amplified and 200 Hz being lowered slightly, at the same time as the low bass is pushed and cleaned up.

Furthermore, you can do the same with the higher band around 10-12 kHz, which opens up the mix, while the treble is softened to a nice sweet. Does that sound complicated? No danger – the background to how this works on a purely technical level is of course nothing you need to know, it’s just steering and listening. The bottom line is that you increase and decrease as much and more difficult than it actually is not.

1520256259_ingang_28237192502_red.jpg.55ae55da457d639a1143d49717e56f1a.jpgThe picture shows the Pultec clone Blackrooster VEQ-1P and the low-end trick in a mastering situation.

Other uses
Of course, the Pultec EQP-1A does not only work in mastering situations, although this was the equalizer’s original task. Bass, bass drum and even vocal tracks can definitely feel good with a little Pultec color. However, you do not have to feel that you “have to” boost and increase as much, as I said, it’s just a trick. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Turn, steer and listen – maybe you just need a boost or lowering?

The low-end trick first attracted attention in connection with the American hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest and the music producer Bob Powers. It is worth noting that the original trick also included that the signal was first run through the dbx 160XT compressor with a ratio of 6: 1.

Feel free to ask questions or comment on the article in the comment field below, and we will spin the topic together. Or if you prefer to discuss mixing in the “Mixing and mastering” section of the Studios forum here!

Fredagstipset is a recurring series where Studio writer Jon Rinneby shares tips every Friday in, among other things, recording and mixing. Here you will find all Friday tips.