Dave Pensado has been a superstar mixer from the time he entered the Los Angeles music scene more than 20 years ago. During that time he’s worked with some of the most revered artists (Michael Jackson, Christina Aguilera, and Beyoncé among them) but the fact is that every mix Dave does is a masterpiece regardless of the stature of the artist. It’s been a long time coming, but Dave has finally put his stamp on a plugin of his own, the Acoustica Acqua Pensado EQ.
The Pensado EQ looks deceivingly simple but has a lot going on under the hood. It’s a basic 4 band EQ with high and low pass filters, but it actually emulates the sound of all the EQs that Dave uses on his mixes. There are 3 basic operating modes in that you can set the EQ to be clean, or have 2 different harmonic distortion curves at the front end of the signal path. Preamp 1 provides a bit of a built-in bump in the frequency response centering around 200Hz, while Preamp 2 provides a bump centering around 10kHz.
There are four EQ bands and each has it’s on ON/OFF button. Each band offers five filter frequencies that were chosen by Dave for their musical nature. The Low band features frequencies at 50, 80, 100, 160 and 260Hz; and the Low Mid at 160, 330, 650, 800 and 1.25kHz. The Low selections at 50 and 80Hz are unique because they feature Dave’s signature trick of a sharp peak above and below the selected frequency, while the selected frequency is dipped.
The Hi Mid band is unique in that it’s not your typical peaking Q either. The 1.24/12.8kHz selection has a very wide Q that spans those frequencies, as does the 440/12.8kHz selection. The 2.5k, 7k and 8kHz selections are sort of shelving EQs, although none of the bands on the Pensado EQ can be classified as standard in this regard. They all have their own bandwidth signatures, which makes this plugin totally unique in a world filled with EQ choices.
The High band features selections at 8.2k, 9.8k, 17k, 18k and 34kHz. Once again, these are totally unique EQ points designed to add air more than sparkle (although you can get that too), something that many mixes lack.
The High Pass filter provides selections for Off, 50, 125, 315 and 800Hz, while the Low Pass filter provides for 800, 2k, 5k, 12.5k and Off and anywhere in between.
If you want more level range there’s a dB 2X button selection that provides each band with twice the gain. Speaking of gain, there’s also an Autogain button which makes sure that your level stays the same regardless of the EQ boost that’s dialed in. And there’s the Input and Output controls that provide ±18dB of gain.
Finally, the Pensado EQ comes with a list of presets from Dave himself that cover kick, snare, hi-hat, bass, pads, synth lead, Minimoog cleanup, vocals, stereo buss, and one called “F-k it Up.” Surprisingly, there are no presets for guitar, which is strange considering that Dave is a fine guitar player.
The Acoustica Acqua Pensado EQ goes for around $380 (depending upon the conversion rate from pound sterling) and there is a trial period available. It will work on both PC and Mac and on all plugin platforms.
Find out more here, or check out the video below.