EQ Before or After Compression, using the Plugin Alliance Lindell ChannelX
Greetings! As we explore signal processing here at The Blackbird Academy, the question of the order of the processors often comes up. One of the many great features of the new Lindell ChannelX is that its three sections (Pre, EQ and Comp) can be put in any order. Let’s take a look, and listen.
The Preamp section includes a gain and output section, polarity invert, a two-band equalizer, and high- and low-pass filters with adjustable frequency and slope. There is a meter marked “loud”, that shows when additional harmonic character is being added.
The Compressor section operates like a classic tube compressor in that it has a fixed threshold- more compression is achieved by turning up the input, after which the output can be regulated. There is a meter, switches for ratio and sidechain, and a knob for blending the parallel uncompressed and compressed signals.
The Equalizer section is configured similarly to the best-known tube EQ, with boost and cut for high and low frequencies, selectable frequency for the low band, controls to separately select the high frequency boost and cut frequencies, and a control to select the width of the high boost band. There’s also an attenuator to pad the signal down. Each of the three ChannelX sections has an “analog” switch, and a “power” switch for bypass.
The guinea pig instrument for the ChannelX in this case is the snare drum on the song “Something Wicked Comes This Way” by 100 Watt Vipers, recorded in class at Blackbird Studio. The preamp gain goes up enough to get the “loud” meter lit up, and to add a little harmonic juice- the output knob automatically goes down to compensate and keep the level consistent. I brought the low pass filter down to 12.5kHz to reduce high hat and cymbal leakage, and the high pass filter up to 77Hz with a steeper 24dB per octave slope to keep the bass drum down- there’s no useful information from the snare in those bottom two octaves.
I brought the compressor input level up to get the meter showing 6-7dB gain reduction. The ratio is set to 12:1 to bring forward some aggression on the snare. Attack is set medium to let some of the initial stick sound through, and the release is quick so that the shell and head resonance can rise up between hits, to fatten the sound. There’s no need to sidechain the drum- we want the compressor to bring the snare down based on its actual volume. The mix between compressed and uncompressed is set at 50%- all dry is weaker, and all compressed too flattened, but the combination pops nicely.
The EQ has some attenuation at 15kHz to keep the cymbal leakage from “breathing” (rising up between notes). There’s a fairly broad-band full boost centered at 3kHz to get the snare drum snapping and cutting through the guitars, and a moderate amount of boost at 100Hz to keep some bottom. The settings look extreme, but if it sounds good, it is good.
The three sections of the ChannelX can be reordered by clicking the arrows below them. The preamp stays at the front to juice up the signal and filter out leakage from other instruments, so the question is: which goes next, EQ or compression?
Placing the equalizer before the compressor makes the compressor react to and turn down the areas that we are trying to bring up, which will make it less consistent and good-sounding.
It seems clear to me that the way to go is pre>comp>eq
The parallel compression makes the level more consistent, and the sound beefier. The now leveled signal then hits the equalizer, which brings up the frequencies that place it properly in the mix, while compensating for any dulling that might have occurred. It’s definitely an improvement over no plugin!
Listen to the examples and decide for yourself, or better yet buy the Lindell ChannelX, and have fun experimenting with this easy to use and powerful virtual device!
Download the demo today to hear for yourself! All plugins in the ChannelX Bundle are available as 14-day full function demos -- no dongle required!