We are pretty spoiled at Sound Pure Studios, to be honest. For outboard gear, we have a little bit of everything under the sun. An ADL 670 (Fairchild compressor clone), CharterOak SCL1, Tube Tech Multiband Compressor, Great River Mastering EQ, Avalon 2055… the list goes on and on. But you don’t have to own all of this gear to get a great sound. Of course it’s nice, but a few simple pieces can really set your studio up for creating wonderful mixes.
Enter the A Designs Hammer*. It is a stereo/dual mono EQ, specifically a program or broad-stroke EQ that is one of the easiest pieces of hardware to use in the studio. It doesn’t have Q width control, so it is as simple as finding the frequency that you would like to cut or boost, and then cutting or boosting until it sounds better! But you might ask why an EQ for the 2 bus? That is a great question.
What the Hammer specifically gives you for the 2 bus is a tool to shape how your mix is perceived. What we mean by this is, if you feel like you need a little bit of “air” in the top end of the mix, you could grab the 15k setting and bring a few dBs of gain to bring more “air” or top end into the mix. Not only does the Hammer allow you to adjust how your mix sounds, the Hammer also benefits your bus work by bringing a little bit of analog warmth back into your mixes.
One common complaint about digital mixes is that they can be “sterile” or harsh-sounding.
Running your mixes back out into a 2 bus EQ like the Hammer will add some warmth and bring an analog feel back to the recordings. The Hammer is a tube unit, but it isn’t a unit that will over-saturate or color your mixes in an unpleasing way, or a unit that will sacrifice detail for warmth. Running your mix back out to analog gear is referred to as “gluing the mix together.”
Running the Hammer on the master bus glues the mix together because now every track has been processed with the same piece of gear, and you have a consistent sonic signature that can bring your mix together, or make it sound more cohesive. Running both EQ and compression on the master bus can really make a big difference, but for the ease of use, the Hammer is simply phenomenal in this regard. Not only is the Hammer a great buy for your master bus, we love using it for the drum bus as well, and it can certainly be used for tracking. While not a corrective EQ, the Hammer can really make virtually any instrument or recording come alive!
Case in point, we recently had a customer who knew his recorded tracks pre-mixing were sounding fantastic, but he felt his mixes were just a touch dull. We put the Hammer in his hands, and he must have made four different phone calls thanking us for getting him one of these units. Eddie is using the Hammer on his vocals, on his drum bus, and strapped across the 2 bus, and it has made a world of difference for him. Bar none, one of the easiest upgrades that will have your studio sounding better!
*At SoundPure we no longer carry the beloved A-Designs Hammer, but the latest A-Designs Hammer 2 just builds on top of that already high level. The Hammer 2 has the same incredible tone and finished sound as the original, and also more frequency selections on every band. On top of that, matching left and right EQ settings is a breeze with the Hammer2. Check it out!