Fish­man Plat­inum PRO EQ

HEY LOOK! A PREAMP THAT LOOKS COOL, WORKS WELL AND MAKES SENSE! WORDS BY STEVE HEN­DER­SON.

Australian Guitar - - Contents -

Ev­ery now and then, a piece of kit comes along that looks fab­u­lous, has loads of but­tons, knobs and lights, and claims to solve all your tone is­sues along with world peace, cli­mate change, and the odd en­dan­gered species.

Fish­man’s Plat­inum Pro EQ is such a de­vice, and it may well do all that (ex­cept for those last few things). The Pro EQ is an “al­ways on” preamp de­signed for acous­tic gui­tar, elec­tric bass and acous­tic bass (as­sign­a­ble). It has a four-band tone set, a built-in tuner (with var­i­ous tun­ing modes avail­able), plus boost and com­pres­sion func­tions.

SO! MANY! CHOICES!

For in­ter­fac­ing, it has in­stru­ment in and in­stru­ment out (both jack sock­ets), sep­a­rate ef­fects send and re­turns sock­ets (also jacks), an XLR out (as­sign­a­ble pre- or post-EQ, with a ground lift switch), and a nine-volt port or bat­tery op­tion. Best of all, it’s shiny and it has lots of lights!

As for tone shap­ing, the Pro EQ has Bass, Mid­dle, Treble and Bril­liance knobs which are all ac­tive (plus/ mi­nus 12 deci­bels; plus/mi­nus seven deci­bels for the Bril­liance cir­cuit). An ad­di­tional tone shap­ing fea­ture is the Low Cut cir­cuit: a vari­able high-pass fil­ter that can elim­i­nate stuff like rum­ble, sub­son­ics, or any other an­noy­ing arte­facts in that sub-160 hertz range.

Also, the Mid­dle con­trol has a Fre­quency knob for ze­ro­ing in on a spe­cific midrange band to be scooped or boosted. There’s an over­all vol­ume knob, and a very use­ful and mu­si­cal com­pres­sor to smooth out the spikes, giv­ing the sound a lit­tle stu­dio class. Other con­trols in­clude a bass/gui­tar mode switch, a phase rev­er­sal switch, tuner mode and ref­er­ence switches, an on/off switch and fre­quency knob for the Notch cir­cuit (to elim­i­nate feed­back), an In­put Trim con­trol (to match your gui­tar’s out­put), a Boost Level knob, and two footswitches – one for the Boost func­tion and one for the Tuner.

The whole pack­age is fin­ished in brushed alu­minium cas­ing with chrome knobs, which looks very pro­fes­sional and would be very easy to find on­stage in dim light­ing.

Un­like other sim­i­lar preamps where the knobs are too close to each other, the Pro EQ has been de­signed to be su­per user-friendly, with the knobs easy to ac­cess and easy to turn with­out bump­ing those on ei­ther side. And, in op­er­a­tion, they have a solid, pos­i­tive feel. The switches feel sturdy and con­fi­dent. The In­put Trim is on the side, and the Boost Level knob is right next to it. One won­ders why it is side-mounted with a flush knob when it might need to be ac­cessed dur­ing a gig.

LIT­TLE BY LIT­TLE

Plac­ing it in be­tween a Ma­ton MSH-210 and Fish­man Loud­box Mini, I found that the preamp works ex­cep­tion­ally well, with low noise and pow­er­ful tone shap­ing. The tone con­trols are in­ter­ac­tive, in that their fre­quen­cies over­lap a lit­tle: in­crease the Bass, and the low end of the Mids rises too. This makes for a smooth and nat­u­ral EQ curve with no dead spots.

The Notch works well in elim­i­nat­ing feed­back, but only one fre­quency at a time. I like the way the Mid­dle and Fre­quency knobs can change the na­ture of the in­stru­ment. They are have quite a bit of range, so “lit­tle by lit­tle” is the rule of thumb.

The Com­pres­sor adds some stu­dio slick to a live

en­vi­ron­ment and, while it doesn’t have the con­trols that a stand­alone com­pres­sor might have, it works well within the Pro EQ’s sys­tem. It is a very mu­si­cal com­pres­sion, tai­lored to the acous­tic gui­tarist who wants more con­trol over their sound with­out having to make a whole lot of de­ci­sions.

It’s a sin­gle-knob cir­cuit de­signed to make things easy. I like com­pres­sion on my acous­tic gui­tars, so I tend to set this knob at about two o’clock and in­crease the out­put vol­ume to com­pen­sate – then I can re­ally dig in with­out spik­ing ei­ther my own sys­tem or the PA.

The Boost func­tion is an ul­tra clean boost that re­ally en­hances the acous­tic gui­tar’s woody qual­i­ties. It’s a shame this can’t be on the front panel, be­cause many play­ers would ac­cess it nu­mer­ous times through­out a gig. That’s not nec­es­sar­ily a neg­a­tive, though – just an ob­ser­va­tion and per­sonal is­sue.

SU­PER LOOPER

Some may not see the value of an ef­fects loop, so look at it as a way of us­ing the XLR DI port with ev­ery­thing you might use. For ex­am­ple, I in­serted a chain of ped­als com­pris­ing a DD-5, a DC-2 and an RV-3 into the loop, then ran a lead from the Pro EQ’s jack out to my Fish­man Loud­box Mini and a mic cable from the XLR to the house stage box. It worked like a charm and elim­i­nated the need for an­other DI. The Pro EQ’s lay­out of­fers a wide va­ri­ety of tonal op­tions and in­stru­men­tal ap­pli­ca­tions (it gave my man­dolin an ex­tra spark). There are plenty of preamps out there, but this one has been re­ally well thought out, and is stage and stu­dio ready.

The Pro EQ can solve a num­ber of prob­lems for the work­ing muso, and it does it in a straight for­ward, easy to man­age fash­ion. Fish­man have re­ally hit the mark with the Plat­inum Pro EQ.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

Some cu­ri­ous design choices aside, the Fish­man Plat­inum Pro EQ is the per­fect tone shaper for the se­ri­ous acous­tic player.

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