When I purchased an unloaded API 1608 [Tape Op #81] console last year, I immediately began searching for a 500 Series EQ that was versatile and affordable, with exceptional sonics. Enter Trident Audio Developments’ 80B 500 Series EQ: a modern replica of the reknowned Trident Series 80B console’s EQ, redesigned to fit in a 500 Series slot.
Having enjoyed working on an 80B console many years ago, I was excited to hear if the new iteration of this EQ had the same vibe as the originals. Aesthetically they look similar to their predecessors, sporting the classic green and red colored metal knobs. The feel of the new 500 Series modules is quite robust – the knobs are sturdy, well spaced, and overall build is solid (though the chassis is not shielded). Layout is straightforward, with four bands of EQ and a push-button 50 Hz high-pass filter. Top and bottom bands are shelves at 8 kHz or 12 kHz and 60 Hz or 120 Hz respectively, also selectable by push button. Mid bands are continuously variable: sweepable from 1 to 15 kHz on top, and 100 Hz to 1.5 kHz on bottom.
For testing, I slotted twelve 80B 500 EQs into my console and immediately got to work playing back drums, bass, guitar, and vocals. To my delight, the 80B 500 EQs excelled at all the tasks I’d hoped they would. On kick, snare, and toms they were fantastic for carving out problematic frequencies and adding a little snap to the top end. The same was true on bass, but it was on electric guitars where the 80B 500 EQs really shined. Using the mid-bands, I was able to get rid of some muddiness while simultaneously adding presence to the midrange, allowing me to quickly sculpt the guitars into the mix. The high-pass filter immediately cleared up the vocal a little bit, and after a few minutes of adjustment I could tell that this EQ would allow me to shape the sound of a vocal in many useful ways. Since my initial tests, I have done many tracking and mixing sessions using the 80B 500 EQs in my API console, and what I like most about them is how much they speed up my workflow. Being able to commit to EQ during tracking while also quickly EQ’ing mix elements (using real analog hardware with tactile knobs) is something I have now come to appreciate. Generally speaking, during tracking I find myself using them more in a subtractive manner (than additive) because the 80B 500 EQs excel at subtly cutting troublesome frequencies.
Overall, I have found the Trident 80B 500 EQ to be a tremendous bargain given its flexibility, sonic fidelity, and affordable price. Anyone looking to add a high-quality EQ to their 500 Series rig without breaking the bank should seriously consider giving these modern versions of an old classic a listen.