There are many pieces of vintage gear that just had “the sound” that people went through great expense to reproduce years later. One of the most sought-after and elusive hardware pieces is the custom-built Motown Studios EQ, a box with undeniable magic that can be heard on all of those great hits. Now Heritage Audio brings it to life once more with the MOTORCITY EQualizer, which owners of the original piece say is spot-on sound-wise.
Just for some context, the original Motown Studio EQ was Motown’s Chief technical engineer Mike McLean’s take on the graphic EQs designed for the film industry that were being made by Cinema Engineering, Langevin and Altec. His version was a passive 2-rack-space EQ with an onboard gain makeup stage (just like the Pultec). As near as anyone can figure, about 40 of these were fabricated in 1968 by Protofab for the Motown label’s studios.
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The MOTORCITY EQualizer replicates this exactly, starting from its 7 frequency bands at 50Hz, 130Hz, 320Hz, 800Hz, 2kHz, 5kHz, and 12.5kHz. What’s different from other EQs of the era is that each frequency has a stepped rotary switch that provides 8dB of cut or boost in 1dB steps, with flat being at the 12 o’clock position. There’s also a master gain control that provides 8dB of cut or boost in 1dB increments as well. Finally, there’s an In/Out/Off three-way toggle switch that completes the front-panel controls. The rear panel is fairly simple in that it’s fitted with XLR I/O and a connection for the external power supply.
Heritage Audio really went above and beyond to duplicate this box in that many of original components are no longer available (just like with so many vintage piece), so they had custom replacements made from scratch. The unit features a UTC replica input transformer with a slightly modified turns ratio for better integration into modern setups, and the output features a Carnhill output line amp instead of the original’s Opamp-labs output for greater reliability.
The MOTORCITY EQualizer is now available for $1,999. You can find out more here, or watch the video below.