The Arsenal line is the new range of gear from API that is more affordably-priced than the legacy API gear. I am always interested in new EQs, so I asked the folks at API to send me a pair of the V14s to check out. The V14 is modeled after the APSI 562 EQ, which was in the APSI console. The V14 is a 500-series unit. Arsenal also makes a 2RU-height version of the EQ, the R24. The V14 has four sweepable bands with a transformer-balanced output that can cut or boost any frequency by +/-12 dB from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Each band overlaps the others by approximately one octave. I recently needed to mix a track for the band Two Sheds on short notice for a compilation album, and our main studio was booked, so I did the mix in our B-room. I put our vintage API 550A EQs in the B-room's rack along with the V14 pair. The first question people will most likely ask about the V14 is, "Does it sound like an API 550A?" The answer is no. The 550A was hands-down the best-sounding EQ in the room, which besides the V14, included Speck and TL Audio units. The top-end boost of the 550A had a clarity and silkiness that the others didn't have. But it's also $500 more per channel than the V14. And the V14 is continuously-sweepable and can do things the 550A (or a 550B) just can't do. Sometimes the simplicity and classic sound of the three-band 550A is all you need, but every session and every studio also needs versatile EQs that can cut or boost any frequency, and that's what the V14 excels at while still sounding great and being relatively affordable. In the end, I used both of the V14s on the mix and only one of the 550As. With its sweepable mid-cuts, the V14 did what needed doing on taming some unruly drum overheads, while the 550A just couldn't get in there.
My only minor gripe with the V14 is that the dual-concentric pots are a bit confusing. The inner knob is the frequency sweep while the outer knob is the cut/boost (opposite of most EQ designs). It's not clearly labeled and my intuition would have preferred this reversed. But this is the compromise in fitting so much tone control into such a small package, and it's easy to figure out by using your ears. The 2RU R24 eliminates this problem as it has a separate knob for each function.
(V14 single channel $695, R24 dual channel $1195 MSRP; www.arsenalaudio.com)
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