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Review of the UAD Millennia NSEQ-2 Plug-in for UAD-2

The partnership between Brainworx and Universal Audio has yielded some great plug-ins with the porting of the awesome bx_digital EQ and more recently the mind blowing emulation of the Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor.  Now Brainworx have modelled another amazing EQ for the UAD-2 platform (including the UAD-2 Satellite DSP cards and UAD Apollo audio interfaces), the Millennia NSEQ-2.

UAD-Millennia-NSEQ2

Since its original release, the hardware unit has been collecting praise by some of the best mix and mastering engineers all over the world for its unrivaled transparency and open sound and the flexibility offered by its unique twin topology offering a choice between triode tube amplification and solid state amplification.

The Millennia NSEQ-2 is a very unique four band EQ in that it uses a twin solid-state and valve topology, allowing the engineer to decide between the colour and warmth of triode tubes or the transparency and clinical sound of solid state by simply pressing on the topology switch.

UAD-Millennia-NSEQ2 EQ Section Close-upLow and high bands offer a choice between shelving and bell modes whilst the two mid bands are fully parametric and offer a huge range of frequencies with the two bands overlapping generously. The lower of the mid band covers frequencies ranging from 20Hz to 220Hz or 200Hz to 2.2k Hz with the x10 button engaged while the high mid band ranges from 250Hz all the way up to 2.5k Hz and 2.5 kHz all the way to 25 kHz with the x10 button engaged. Both bands feature a Q which ranges from 4.0 at its narrowest all the way to 0.4 where it covers approximately 3 octaves.  A 10dB switch changes the range of the gain from +/-20dB to +/- 10dB offering finer control over the amount of gain if necessary.  This feature is extremely useful for mastering engineers who don’t need a lot of gain, but require instead much more precise controls.

UAD Millennia NSEQ2 Central sectionAll these features have been faithfully recreated in the UAD Millennia NSEQ2 as well as its stunning look with glossy black faceplate, knobs and striking orange lights. Brainworx and Universal Audio have gone the extra mile however and have added some extremely useful features not found on the original hardware. First and possibly the most crucial is the addition of an MS matrix controlled by the button aptly titled MS allowing you to use it in Mid/Side configuration with the mid found on the left channel and the side on the right channel. I almost always find myself using Mid/Side EQ so I am extremely happy to see this feature added.  Other features include a link button and a trim to keep the overall level under control.

In use the UAD Millennia NSEQ-2 sounds simply stunning! Transparent and musical are definitely terms I would use to describe it, as I was able to boost certain bands much more dramatically than I normally would without sacrificing the nature of the sound.  This aspect reminded me somewhat of the UAD Manley Massive Passive, although both units are very different.  When bypassing the 10dB button, the EQ was obviously more noticeable but retain an impressive transparent quality compared with other EQs.  This makes it really ideal for delicate tone shaping as required in mastering or in delicate situations where keeping the integrity of the source is really important.

Obviously what makes the Millennia so unique is its ability to change between tube and solid-state amplification, switching between the warmth of triode valves and the transparency of solid state circuitry. Using the UAD Millennia NSEQ-2 on a stereo acoustic guitar track revealed this difference as in a magnifying glass. In valve mode, the acoustic guitar sounded fuller and rounder with a slight emphasis on the body. Switching to transistor mode revealed a more open sound with more transient detail slightly revealing the sound of the pick against the strings. Used on full tracks in mastering the valve mode was again great to add texture in sparse arrangements while in solid-state was great at adding HF sparkle and sheen. Whichever you choose really boils down to your preference and what the tracks need, as in either mode the Millennia NSEQ-2 is nothing short of spectacular.

The UAD Millennia NSEQ-2 is a fantastic EQ plug-in, and although I didn’t have the opportunity to compare it with the original hardware unit I can say it is one of the most musical EQs out there in a plug-in format and in the fourteen days  demo, has become my go to EQ for transparent eq’ing tasks.  This plug-in is a true testament to the quality of the Brainworx – Universal Audio partnership.

By Paul Lavigne

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