T-Bone is a slant or tilt equalizer that enables tracks to fit easily in a mix, often with just the turn of a single control. The advantage of a slant EQ is that it enables you to make quick tonal changes to a track or mix without throwing off its gain staging. Say for example you have a stereo drum track that has too much bass in the kick and toms and not enough sparkle in the cymbals. Simply turn T-Bone’s main knob clockwise and the highs will go up while the lows are cut. Naturally, Boz wouldn’t leave it at that. There are additional features designed to handle the shortcomings and acoustic byproducts that can occur with a single tone control, making T-Bone far more versatile and powerful than just a simple tilt EQ—while also remaining highly musical and super easy to use.
T-Bone—Just the Facts:
- Slant EQ simultaneously boosts and attenuates for quick tone shaping without gain increase
- High- and low-pass filters with resonance control
- Boom and Harsh controls tame unwanted side effects
- Wet/dry mix control
- Clean filters up to Nyquist limit
- Low CPU usage
T-Bone—Cracking the Code
What is a slant EQ?
If you’ve ever worked with a Pultec EQ (hardware or plug-in), you’re aware of the boost and attenuation controls on both the low- and high-frequency bands. One of the attributes that made the Pultec an essential studio tool was the ability to boost and cut bass simultaneously. Rather than working at cross purposes, the combination of these two controls created a similar EQ curve to the slant EQ, with a boost at the bass center frequency followed by a cut. The result was a separation between kick drum and bass that made low-end management a breeze.
It’s easiest to think of a slant EQ like a see-saw; one side goes up (boost) while the other goes down (attenuates), based on a central pivot point. With your standard see-saw, that pivot point is fixed. However, T-Bone lets you select the center frequency around which T-Bone boosts and attenuates. The benefit of a slant EQ is that it gives you the ability to brighten or darken a track very quickly, often with the slight twist of a single knob. As a bonus, it doesn’t increase gain like traditional equalizers. This not only preserves headroom, but also doesn’t fool your ear into thinking your tweaks are improvements, since we perceive louder as better. As such, you immediately know if your adjustments are working without the time-consuming hassle of level-matching.
Boz Fun Fact: The slant or tilt EQ can trace its origins to the 1950s. Peter Baxandall (arguably the real father of British EQ) invented the design, which he entered into a contest and netted a $25 watch as a prize. Subsequently, his circuit appeared in thousands of stereos. (Had Baxandall received any royalties, he’d have been a 1-percenter before we had 1-percenters.) In essence, Baxandall’s tone control was a single knob that increased treble when turned clockwise and conversely bass when turned counterclockwise—each without affecting the another. This circuit also inspired the Tilt EQ designed by Paul Wolff, former owner and principal designer of API and Tonelux. Tilt EQ offered a very inexpensive way to equalize channels with a single-knob. However, Tilt EQ often required some help in the form of high- and low-pass filters, which among other highly useful controls, are included in T-Bone.
T-Bone on its face
While T-Bone at its most basic is a very powerful tool, certain unwanted artifacts can occur with extreme boosting. Slanting too far to the left (bass), you can end up with a lot of low-end buildup. Slant too far to the right and harsh high-end may ensue. It goes without saying that Boz wouldn’t leave you twisting knobs in the wind. Hence, the creation of the Boom and Harsh controls. These controls let you add massive amounts of slant without the nasty side effects associated with boosting either side of the frequency spectrum. Boom and Harsh are essential to T-Bone’s ease of use and consistent musically useful results.
T-Bone’s main control knob, known as Slant to its friends (well, to everybody actually), is where most of the work is done. It’s variable from 0 to 100 percent clockwise for treble boost and counter-clockwise for bass. What appears to be a two-tone grey-blue and black background on its face, is actually the EQ slope display (grey-blue). It gives you a convenient visual representation of your settings and tweaking in real-time.
For greater flexibility, T-Bone has a high-pass filter with a selectable frequency range from 20Hz to 1.5kHz, and a low-pass filter ranging from 1kHz to 20kHz. Both are equipped with a resonance control with a -6dB to +6dB range. Resonance means that the cutoff frequency can be boosted while still rolling off frequencies below the cutoff. This feature is extremely useful for enhancing a kick drum (in the case of the high-pass filter) or in the case of the low-pass, bringing out the bell of a ride cymbal or putting some extra perk in your percussion without overhyping it.
T-Bone also has a mid/side mode and an analog mode that adds subtle distortion and compression to your sound. Enable analog mode for some presence-enhancing distortion, or disable it for super-clean tone shaping.
Clean filters up to Nyquist without a CPU hit
During the development of T-Bone, Boz Digital created some incredibly smooth filters that don’t produce any of the disturbing high-frequency artifacts (known as “wonk,” if you prefer technical jargon). Boz Digital’s wonk-free filters (we love technical jargon) not only give you a smooth frequency response up to the Nyquist limit, but also can do so without the resource-draining hit to your CPU that occurs with oversampled filters.
T-Bone is not an esoteric plug-in to be saved for special occasions. It should be on Insert 1 on several tracks or group channels. For example, it’s common to boost high frequencies on a hi-hat to bring it out in the mix while cutting lows to tame snare and kick bleed. Conversely, you may want to bring out the body of the hat without affecting the highs. A simple knob twist or two on T-Bone and Bob’s your uncle.
The same applies to acoustic 6- and 12-string guitars, on which many mixers will cut lows mercilessly while boosting highs. T-Bone does both tasks with a single clockwise turn of the knob. Plus, if things get out of hand, you have the Harsh control as well as the low-pass filter. T-Bone also works its considerable charms on electric guitars. Say you have a distorted guitar with a little too much low-end thump and not enough highs. Well, you know the rest . . . throw it a T-Bone.
If your drum tracks are a little dark, T-Bone on a group or stereo channel (if you’ve bounced to a stereo channel) can bring up the sizzle in cymbals while reducing low mids and bass. Say you have a similar problem with background vocals. T-Bone to the rescue. Speaking of vocals, T-Bone can also come in handy during tracking. To help a vocalist sing in tune, many experienced engineers will boost the highs alone with a shelving EQ. T-Bone does this with its eyes closed, plus, you can use the low-pass and Harsh controls to make the highs prominent yet smooth and easy on the singer’s ear (very important in terms of staving off ear fatigue). On bass guitar and kick drum, not only can you do the Pultec trick and add tight punch with the resonance control, but you can also bring out the mids and high mids to give the bass presence in the mix.
Another nifty trick is using T-Bone on your reverb aux bus to do the Abbey Road reverb technique. Cut highs above 9-10kHz and lows up to 600Hz. This will give a vocal or instrument body and depth without distracting high-frequency tails, or muddy the mix and take up space with unnecessary low frequencies. T-Bone’s waveform display lets you easily dial in the Abbey Road EQ shape and tweak to taste with Slant, Boom, Harsh, and Resonance.
To sum it up, with T-Bone on your main instrument groups, you can bring a rough mix into focus far more quickly than going track by track. Simply assess the brightness or darkness of each instrument or instrument group and give it the proper slant to find its rightful place in the mix. You just might find that T-Bone will satisfy your hunger for EQing every track individually.
As long as you’re going to have a stake in the outcome of your mix, order a T-Bone.