As an owner of an API 1608 console [Tape Op #81] loaded with a bunch of API 550As, 550bs, and 560s [#26], I’m pretty familiar with API’s EQs in general, and I think they sound great. My one slight gripe has been that I often want to cut or boost a frequency between the stepped frequencies on the 550A and 550b. I really like sweepable EQs, especially on drums, toms, and acoustic guitars. So, when API offered to send a pair of their new four-band sweepable SV14 Select 500 Series EQs, I jumped at the chance to try them out.
Before installing, I opened up the well-built and sturdy shielded metal enclosure to check out the guts of the SV14 and found a solid interior design, with socketed TLO72 op amps and a beefy output transformer on a clean PCB. I was in the middle of tracking acoustic guitars on a project, so I followed up my API 312 [Tape Op #141] mic pres with the SV14, and got excellent results. Cutting both some low mids while boosting a little upper mids was easy, fast, and sounded really good, and I was hitting record within minutes. That’s what I like – not keeping the artist waiting. A week or so later, I was mixing the same project and used the SV14s on the kick and snare, then printed those into my mix and then put them on my stereo overheads. In both cases, I quickly got good results that sounded very musical to my ears (to use an overused term). I don’t know how the bandwidth curves work on these EQs and I don’t care, because they sound good to me. Even when boosting upper mids or high end, the SV14s still sounded excellent. Adding a bit of a boost at 16 kHz (the top band extends all the way to 20 kHz) provided a nice crispness to the ride cymbal on a track, with the pleasant sound of the stick hitting the cymbal accenting in a nice way. Lastly, as I was wrapping up mixing the track, something in the midrange of the lead vocal was starting to annoy me, so I made a stem of the drums and moved the vocal over to the SV14. I was already running the vocal through my Retro Instruments Powerstrip [Tape Op #82], my go to for vocal compression with a touch of Pultec-style passive EQ. However, something in the mids was not working. Using the three lower bands of the SV14, I was quickly able to dial down the midrange and add a slight bump on the bottom end of the vocal, and then it sounded much better. Bottom line: These EQs sound great and are pretty affordable. If you’re looking for a quality sweepable EQ, this will be one of the better choices on the market. I will definitely be buying these, and would look to pick up a few more for our 1608 console.