Sweet, smooth sounding and to use – this is my one sentence review of the Chandler Limited 500 Series TG12345 MKIV EQ. It's nice sometimes to have all the options for surgical precision with an EQ, but there are also times when it's just fine – and generally preferred in my case – to use a well-designed but limited option EQ that sounds great every time. Chandler has been making excellent modernized versions of the gear created at and by EMI for Abbey Road Studios for many years. This particular EQ is a family member with origins similar to the TG Microphone Cassette channel strip [Tape Op #117] and the Curve Bender EQ [#115]. The former is a simplified EQ, while the latter a more robust three rack space unit.
Hopefully by now we all know the history of the TG Mk IV console. This was the first transistor-based console design at Abbey Road and replaced the tube REDD consoles that were in prior use. These newer TG consoles offered a more flexible EQ section and were the first desks in the world that included compressors and EQs on each channel. A few decent sounding records were made on these desks, such as The Beatles' Abbey Road on the Mk I and Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon and The Raiders of the Lost Ark motion picture soundtrack on the Mk IV.
The TG 12345 MKIV is a discrete transistor-based circuit design with two EQ bands. One is a Presence band with seven selectable bell type frequencies (500 Hz, 800 Hz, 1.2 kHz, 1.8 kHz. 2.8 kHz, 4.2 kHz, and 6.5 kHz), a 10 kHz shelf, and an Out selection. The second low shelving band features a 90 or 150 Hz continuous +/- 10 dB boost/cut. These frequency options are suited to a variety of applications. Try 500 Hz for some warmth and body. How about a touch of 1.2 kHz for more nose on the bass? Perhaps a sprinkle of 4.2 kHz for some guitar bite. Maybe 6.5 kHz for a little something special on the snare drum or vocals? Open things up with 10 kHz. Close enough and musical. This approach has worked for me when I know the general range of what I'm going for and don't want to overthink. Fixed EQ points have worked for years on Neve 1073 modules and other vintage designs for good reason – they just work!
In every instance, leaning into this EQ never sounded bad to my ears. Can it be too much sometimes? Sure. Indulge me in a metaphor. You can get the best ingredients available for cheffing it up, but by using them indiscriminately you can ruin the meal. That expensive finishing salt can still kill a dish if you use a cup of it. EQ is a flavor, and when used correctly or incorrectly, it can either help bring out the best in your music or ruin it.
Whether cutting or boosting, I always like the way the TG12345 MKIV EQ handles the source material. As stated previously, it is a smooth sounding EQ, and one really has to work hard to make it sound bad.
The build quality is good, and the controls feel solid to the touch. With its familiar gun-metal grey powder coat finish and classic no frills lettering, the module's aesthetic is simple and understated on all the Chandler Limited 500 Series modules, the TG Cassette, and the TG Opto Compressor [#125] I own. The faceplate lettering is small, and sometimes I need to reach for my reading glasses (especially in low light), but the control set is so simple and straightforward on this EQ that I recommend grabbing a knob and using your ears!
This module was a snap to get in and out of my 500 Series rack and looked smart next to its TG Opto Compressor sibling. Pair these two with the TG2-500 mic preamp [#105] and you'll have yourself a lovely little channel strip with a lot of horsepower. I cannot hesitate to recommend the TG 12345 MKIV. Like every product from Chandler Limited, it is a well-designed tool that has soul and spirit – it will help make any recordings better.