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Source Audio EQ2 (p)review

Source Audio makes powerful, excellent sounding, and in some ways over the top (in a good way) gear. In this post I'm going to muse about the EQ2, perhaps as an exercise in "thinking out loud" to talk myself out of buying it.

I own the C4 synth pedal and it is a fantastic and versatile pedal. The synth is full-featured and fast-tracking. It also can be used as: an env filter, distortion, chorus, and more to it's uses. I've also used the Android, iOS and Mac OS editors, so I'm familiar with Source Audio's approach to their gear.

The EQ2 was released recently, and it ticked MOST of the boxes of what I had been wanting in an EQ device. This "(p)review" is based on demos and the manual, but not on direct experience.

10 fully sweepable bands with Q (full range 20-20K in fine steps)
Bands 1 & 10 optional shelf
+/- 18 dB per band!
also up to 12 dB clean boost
realtime control via expression pedal in, and/or MIDI (4 matrix slots)
control/edit via USB MIDI and app
Excellent sound quality (24 bit AD/DA, 56 bit internal processing resolution!)
True stereo mode, dual mono, mono-->stereo, stereo-->mono, and A/B switching!
Built-in tuner, noise-gate and limiter
4 presets on pedal (many more with edit app)
Fairly frequent updates
compact form factor, simple controls
simple, readable display

Pricey, $270 USD, so in that boutique price range
On-pedal GUI/control is clunky/crude/limited
Preset switching on unit requires scrolling/stopping through 4 values
Desktop edit software is clunky/crude
Updates are mostly bug fixes, not new features

My experience with the C4 tells me that the EQ2 is probably well worth the price in terms of features, sound and usability on gigs. That it can be used as two EQ's (even on different paths of the pedal board), as well as a gate, limiter, and tuner means that it saves some room on there). I think a person could reasonably use it as a catch all cab modeler (pickup enhancer) in terms of just getting a very specific tonal imprint of some other gear.

On one hand, Source Audio can be commended on how they took a graphic EQ display with basically 8 x 11 pixels, and managed to squeeze other functions out of it.

As a visual reference for the graphic EQ it is fine. It shows fixed bands permanently printed along the bottom row. However, this unit is a 2 x 10 band parametric EQ, so it can fully go well beyond the limits of what the display can reflect. All 10 bands are fully sweepable from 20-20,000 (with external editor).

When the display is used to show text, it is limited to 3 characters at a time. Most things need to scroll left & right to show even abbreviations. Frequency selections/resolution are very limited because only 2-3 digits show on the screen. Full resolution is only available when editing via external device (iOS or Android, Mac or Windows). However, they do make accessing the unit via external device pretty easy.

Because the display shows a fixed graphic EQ, it may not accurately reflect the curve (as bands can overlap and even cross). It would have been better for them to have chosen a different type of display. I suppose there are some advantages to their approach.

Effect noobs don't know what a desert it as been for EQ. This one provides unprecedented tone shaping versatility, sound quality, and realtime control in a compact package. In use, there are some little hurdles to jump through.
Why do I keep coming on here and musing about hardware effects when iOS provides so many powerful and flexible effect options? Fab's Pro-Q and TB Equalizer are both fantastic, with feature sets and sound that dwarf what the EQ2 can do. And there are so many other effect processors-- which I would not hesitate to use in a DAW/mixdown setting.

Speaking of hesitating... It's the latency. That's what keeps me going to hardware effects-- low latency.

I do hope that one day iOS hardware & audio i/o will improve that. But I have to say it is a little strange that very few people are making a stink about it.
FWIW, I've not used my laptop for live sound either, though I suspect I can get the latency to be pretty reasonable given that the apps I use on Mac OS allow for much more fine tuning of buffer sizes.

That's the other thing about the iOS design philosophy, "Don't give users too much control over the nitty gritty."
Realtime control of a parametric EQ can give you some pretty interesting and useful special effects.

With a foot controller, you can emulate many different types of wah pedal-- and you can customize what the EQ does during the sweep in ways that a wah can't dream of doing. You can combine and fine tune aspects of band-pass, high-pass, low-pass, resonance and even changing the mids while it sweeps. It's pretty boundless. Though it won't add drive, you can put a drive before or after and get lots of colors.

Dynamic EQ (which is essentially a multiband compressor/expander) will let you both control dynamic tone shifts as well as exaggerate them. Some apps allow input level to be used as a control source. (Is there an MIDI plugin that will do this?). This can be used to make an envelope filter but one that works in unusual ways-- beyond the mere right-side-up or upside-down from a bog standard env filter.

When a mod matrix includes a 2nd mod source and/or a shape option, you can really fine-tune the response in ways that emulate lots of prized vintage gear, but without all the hassles-- and more control.
The way this works is: you have a Modulation source, say, a mod wheel, and you have a target, say, frequency. The response is a assumed to be linear. Hopefully, the plugin will let you set a starting value and range (in Hz or Octaves, or whatever). With a curve control, you can have it change the slope of the control throughout the motion of the mod wheel. When you choose input level as your control source, this just let's you dial in the response to be something that feels natural.

With a dynamic EQ set to expansion mode, you can have a very nice noise gate (that actually works well as a noise reduction plug-- if there are enough bands.) That's a very under-appreciated application. I've used this to reduce room ambience and it is amazing.
@stub: Is there a Stub's YouTube channel so "effect noobs" and non-Guitar Amp Geeks (non-GAGs) can chew over alternative clues to the implied deep thoughts and long experience feeding your sound-engineering(?) ruminations perchance? Of course, I wouldn't be surprised to learn I don't understand the purpose of the this "Forums/Gear Acquisition Syndrome." Perhaps G.A.S. is supposed to be a virtual digital psychoanalysis couch where we can just 'vent' into the ether of cyberspace? Yet there is comment box.... I think I've always basically assumed most mobile phone and pad/tablet devices are designed to be Lowest Common Denominator in order to appeal the largest possible consumer base able to afford the devices initially and then to perpetuate and maximize the revenue stream with apps until the planned obsolesce hardware cycle repeats again. If consumers wanted or needed or could understand "nitty gritty" then wouldn't we probably be using Linux-ish based mobile devices in an alternative 2020 timeline instead? Obviously we would be. So, if I'm correct or somewhat close to correct, then "people" have their expectations about this 'stinky' state of "latency" exactly where the Apples of Earth want them to be. But suppose, "that one day iOS hardware & audio i/o will improve" the Stench of Latency you mildly decry, then what happens to your beloved purpose-driven hardware? This 'ptp' type of gear that has been patiently evolving the techno love children of expert music practitioners and their esoteric, almost Monks of the Workbench, engineer facilitators? Perhaps you 'mildly decry' because you long ago sensed a certain passing of the guard is already underway? Sure the democratization of music creation seems like progress for most of us talentless noobs, but, sadly, the new orders are always built upon countless unsung, and so, soon forgotten, labors that came before. Okay that might sound a tad melancholy ;) Especially in light of the obvious pleasure you take in the apparent problem domain of preference in the longer musings. And there my neophyte eyes see rays of hope in this specific unfolding of yet another niche explosion of technology. I suppose one question I would ask any expert in a rapidly changing domain is do they think the 'next generation' can reasonably expect to achieve the current expert's level of understanding within the new techno-context? If they answer 'yes', then the tradition carries on and deepens. If 'no', the neophyte can't achieve something approximating the current expert's understanding of the problem domain, and then, the knowledge and skills sink into the past with the said expert(s), or at best, becomes the domain of ever fewer experts, or worse(?) yet, elitists. Doomed to the Fort, or the Monastery, or the Dustbin, one option or another I suppose. Unless some force, such as technology, takes an as yet unknowable twist to the rescue. 'Facilitated variation' is a bitch to predict. But then, the clouds part again, there is the mere $270 price tag today which strongly suggests the tech will propagate sufficiently as long as there are robots (may not need robots at the moment but economic efficiency exerts an unrelenting pressure if competition for profits is unchecked) to build and assemble the 'potted'/proprietary electronics and our Blue Marble is spared global EMPs. Why do I care about the future? Why does anyone really?

I should probably add, I do find your musings, the bits I understand, useful. The other day your observations eventually triggered my purchase of some a software AU effects. One I thought was a bit pricey for my meager talents. Not a big fan of applying lipstick to pigs here. Plus, I was hesitating, because, the effect in question wasn't getting the usual number of reviews I had expected it should have if folks with higher music-IQs than myself liked it's design and sound. That was probably just a symptom of the summer/covid-time doldrums, I see now in hindsight, as Woods (is it?) subsequently released one of his better (as in more sober and thought-through in advance, versus, off the cuff winging-it streamgasms) reviews of late covering it. Sound Master Amp has been a winner, as has Fab's Saturn 2, combined with some of the "online" guitar presets I just downloaded/updated in the SynthMaster One app. Should also mention how cool WOOTT sounds when subtly and randomly applied gradually to the aforementioned channel.

Relax ;). All my questions are rhetorical as I really don't expect anyone to understand or care about my concerns in this world if they have better things to do. That may sound cold but it is from lessons learned over a lifetime, and truth be told, this Covid-19 thing is getting to be less and less of an inconvenience as I make small adaptations. Hope it is the same for you. I picked up a new 2020 model Yamaha and $upporting gear (I'm not as hardware phobic as I may have implied before ;)) and will take it out to the nearby National Forest mountains (probably Utah if they let outsiders in during these plague times) again in a week or so, after I'm done with the tax-accountant parasites in town, where no one will hear me playing in the pines. Between a roof full of solar panels and the turbo diesel with the dual fuel tanks and dual alternator ambulance upgrades I've got juice galore on tap for the house AGM batteries. Covid, no covid, it really hasn't changed my 'lifestyle' that much so far 🤗 <-- not really sure what that means

So thanks and adieu.
July 08, 2020  | person_outline Crowfly
I don't have a YouTube channel. I resist the google overlords with all my might. AND I have an android phone, so it is quite a tightrope. Google doesn't know I have a phone! Shhhhh.

I do have a webpage which is neglected for months at a time.This lil thread I started was partly to "vent" some thoughts, but also to kind of work through the device. My brain can grab hold of something pretty tenaciously. That sometimes helps me release the brain grip -- and move on.

What you are sensing as my "mild decrying" of latency, and my extolling of hardware has a context. In my younger years, I embraced tech and made things. I fearlessly learned some pretty complex UI's of synths, a couple DAWs, and various compositional processes. I was no Luddite. Along comes the Age of Social Media, and people just surrender their privacy and let Zuck run their social lives-- and people paid for the privilege-- not with money but with something much more precious. So, when I eschew social media, people mistake that for me being a luddite. That's the context. The substance of my mild ire is that everything is getting dumbed down. I'm so fucking sick of plugins or VI's with one fucking knob.

That said, it is really thrilling, or just a relief when developers or manufacturers make gear that is more on the ambitious/complex/powerful/versatile side and less on the push this button and watch the fireworks side.

Oh and also, I added some posts here to help test the edit timer on the forum.

We're doing ok for now (covid-wise). This'll be a rough next year or two.

Best wishes with your taxes & your little getaway with your gear.
@stub: I suppose I was a bit presumptuous before. My apologies. After my post I thought I'd try something different for a change and actually try to learn something about the subject before I offered up my unsolicited 'advice.' Alas. It didn't entirely work out that way. For some reason or other I wound up watching videos about the SY-1000 instead...? I suppose I was trying to understand if I had committed some sort of faux pas within the G.A.S. forum and in the process stumbled upon an earlier attempt by yourself to do something similar with G.A.S. as you were trying to do here with the Source Audio EQ2. I'm half-a-sleep if you hadn't noticed, but, waking up gradually. To make a long stream of thought only slightly less long, suffice it to say, I was pleasantly surprised to 'feel' as though I sort of 'got it!' Got it, more so then ever before when it comes to these specialized electronic 'black/blue' boxes that were such a mystery to me not so long ago. Maybe with my tinkering about all these software synth abstractions, I've learned about here at Discchord, and then, picked up from the App store, is helping afterall? It is now easy for me to see how the SY-1000 could make a grown man with a modicum of guitar talent weak in the knees. I may well be at the onset of my own case of hardware G.A.S. affliction, but, of course, I suffer in my own peculiar ways. For me, at the moment, it may be the Mother-32, for sundry reasons not necessary to go into here and now, that might be trying to test my lashings to the proverbial mast with it's siren song ;)

Anyway. What occurred to me was a tactic I often use when attempting to make a rational decision where emotional wants rather than practical needs may hold to much sway in the deliberations. I am sure you do this as well, but because it the equivalent of having a bucket of ice water and cubes poured over one's fevered G.A.S.seous passions it sometimes speeds things up a bit if someone else initiates the process. In an acronym (Another Cryptic Rendition Of Nomenclature You Memorize) then: ROI.

Return On Investment (ROI). If I may be presumptuous again, and why not, as I'm pretty good at it. Let's say you are a professional musician. By that I mean you play enough paid gigs per year to have established a paper trail with your tax authorities (Eye. Are. ESS. (can't be to careful ;)) in my case) of 'earned' income of sufficient quantity and duration to establish your endeavors as a 'going concern.' Then you can justifiably reduce most any hardware purchase down to a matter of counting the beans. Training yourself to "compartmentalize" your thoughts can be useful with this sort of thing. This being a Covid plague year odds are, if I were your Manager or Accountant, I could simply say, "are you freaking nuts?!? ... you want to spend money on what? ... we have no income to expense or depreciate against! ...", and thus conveniently kill your dreams before they could grow ;). But, if it you weren't living in such "interesting times", then your accountant might present you with an amortization table and ask you if you could rationalize the purchase. In short, will the 'asset' have a better than 90% chance of adding to the bottom line of your musicking income stream over it's expected lifetime? Now I freely admit it has been years since any meaningful amount of my income has met the technical definition of 'earned.' So I haven't really thought about these things in the way I suggest above in any meaningful fashion for a long time. Now doubt the tax authorities have numerous rules designed explicitly for the torment of Musicians I've no clue about. You get the idea. Coldly asking, "Does a cost item make a meaningful contribution to the bottom line?", is a powerful thing, and has no doubt, contributed to the success or failure of many a life's endeavors since there were first beans to be counted. Often times the process of just trying to quantify anything complex is surprisingly rewarding as it reveals relationships betwixt variables that hadn't occurred to us before. For instance, ask yourself just how many new customers (paying audience members) could you expect the SY-1000 to garner? Why would any particular listener care about or even notice the upgrade to an SY-1000? Which then really forces one to examine just what it is they think they know about the actual source(s) of their revenue stream....Of course, if you don't have to concern yourself with "earned" income, then what are you wasting our time with all this navel gazing for? Just buy the thing when you next can at quarter's end and enjoy it!

From the novel _David Copperfield_, “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

Whew! I got to get going here. But first, I'd urge you to go with any iPhone rather than the Android for the sake of your data's privacy alone. Apple is much less intrusive an Overlord if you toggle your privacy settings correctly as things stand now. Yes, they charge you more for this, but, if you can afford it, get it. And as you know the Apple hardware is solid. It is like the way buying a Toyota used to be cheaper in the long run than buying the less expensive but less reliable Big-3 Detroit product was for so many years.... As for FB, that company as run by Zuck is despicable, and frankly, it is a disgrace to America. What FB did and does with Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines is just one sickening thing of many. As I said elsewhere in Discchord recently, FB in the Philippines is nothing less than an outsourcing of the tedious bureaucratic file-keeping functions of a police-state apparatus. In return for a small cut of the profits the Dickheadtators of the planet now enjoy a profit-center where once was a cost-center. I laugh at the ignorant notion that the East is oh so despotic, when it is the West that provides the tools of despotism to any that can either pay for or reverse-engineer them.... When I actually stop to think about it, I suppose, in a staged performance setting where one has no control over electromagnetic interference, in whatever form it takes, there is a hell of a lot to be said for dedicated and well shielded hardware over an incredibly complex software ecosystem black-box which needs to rebooted more frequently the 'harder' you tax it and is frequently 'updated' with random fresh new bugs. The problem remains, of course, where do you rationally/profitably draw the line? I mean the less one spends on equipment the less the audience has to be charged for tickets. Less gear probably means faster setup and breakdown and time is money and so on. Cheap enough admission and most people are probably pretty forgiving of the occasional glitch. Heck, a gracefully handled glitch probably earns the performer more respect and appreciation from the audience than one might otherwise expect.... I often 'disappear' for months with my rig. Wifi coverage is rapidly improving and hence having a big impact on the 'experience' I may have. Although I lugged laptops around for years, the advent of the iPad really made a profound improvement for most everything on and off the road except for coding. You gain some, you lose some. I have built/assembled a succession of off-road 4x4 'expedition' campers over the years so it is one of my favorite problem-domains much like the intricacies of electronic music creation devices is for you ;) I learned early on, and no doubt the hard way more often than not, the importance of reliability above all else, but, right on it's heels comes the key feature that your gear be as widely and easily repairable as possible. I have little doubt these principles apply to your technology needs as much as they do for mine despite their seeming dissimilarities. Today, if one makes the effort, one can 'assemble' a damn solid and competent 4wheel drive off-road camping/living rig with almost entirely off the shelf components. Tip: Big tires are big trouble, so keep your driveline within manufactures recommended angles and you will be happily turtling along when the other guys in their lifted adolescent-ego-machines are learning about the joys of multi thousand dollar tow jobs out of the boonies. They will then give up or go broke. Next tip, always buy more truck and less camper! Nearly everyone gets this backwards their first go at putting together their initial 'expedition' vehicle... I digress ;) ...

Sorry, I don't really have any time to proof read this mess.

Have fun thinking about Thinking. It is always time well spent.
July 09, 2020  | person_outline Crowfly
@Crowfly : where can I buy the random text generator you are using? Just kidding, I have a lot of fun deciphering what you are writing, thanks for this!
July 09, 2020  | person_outline Hubert Goudha

No need to apologize! I think you have a good grasp of my struggles & process. I'll add one step in the seduction, which is akin to foreplay. It is "the current struggle that the object-of-GAS will eliminate". The phrase goes like this: "Grrr. This sounds like shit. If only I could x, y, z. Oh, the device can't do this."

The GP-10 is actually shockingly flexible, and capable of a dizzying range of tones. No complaints. One of the most satisfying used gear purchases in ages. The SY-1000 goes to an insane new level, AND adds a bass mode. And because I end up doing both gigs, the SY-1000 covers lots of bas(s)es.

My income comes from a few streams, and perhaps a 1/3 comes from live performance. There've been busy periods and lulls. Last year I was playing music theater shows on guitar & bass, playing bass in an afro-pop band, and playing in a beatles cover band, and I was having quite a bit of fun. The other work takes more out, (no complaints) but I think that's where I say-- it was worth working X hours in exchange for object-of-GAS.

I may one day get an iPhone, but for now it feels like Apple is moving further and further from my "sweet spot" My android phone is built like a tank, has loud, front-facing, stereo speakers, has a fucking headphone jack (cue mild decrying), and all the apps I need. I can freely connect to my laptop and move files back and forth as needed. I don't do anything on my phone that requires privacy-- apart from checking email via Firefox browser and purchasing occasional apps from the Amazon App Store.

As a side note, with my laptop I've always used tracker blockers, ad blockers and cookie managers, but it turns out these are also security risks, and I've not yet wrapped my head around how to navigate those waters more carefully.

I'm aware of the Mother-32, and have an extra appreciation of your lashings, mast, and siren song references.
@stub: Check out this graph of mobile latencies near the top of the page. I'm not professing any technical competence here but I thought it might be interesting. I got the idea to read about JUCE from Tim Webb's mention of it for the new DL01 delay effect app. I used to be endlessly fascinated with these sorts of software abstractions.... Hope this gets through as my posts are getting delayed lately. I thought it was maybe the inclusion of hyperlinks but who knows. Tim has always been good about informing us if our posts have crossed some line or other before. Been finding myself hoping TW has been taking a summer-break his computers as they are relentless taskmasters if one let's them become so! Envisioning TW bobbing about on a Great Lake maybe or rolling down some giant aeolian deposited sane dunes. Bear state park perhaps? Laughing childlike, like a cute little bald child, not because of chemo-therapy of course, but laughing gayly as butterflies and puppies dance about and rainbow flying-fish circle around overhead spitting out cooling mists of aerosol droplets ... oh shit! I fell asleep in the AZ sun and got dehydrated! Better go now ;( when I recover I'll read up on the new posts here.

July 11, 2020  | person_outline Crowfly
Thanks for linking that table. Pretty fascinating. Apple clearly takes home the gold on that one.

I saw a device on there with 320 ms of minimum latency. That's a quarter note at 185 BPM (I think).

Your image of someone in an idilic frolic is lovely.
@Crowfly: Make an account! Your comments will go through without delay nearly all of the time!

As for vacation...

"There's no rest for the wicked. Not even the extremely wicked."
- Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
Wicked like a candle. (Is that a saying?)

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