Kush Clariphonic Equalizer
The Kush Clariphonic Equalizer is a fiendishly clever new approach to high frequency equalization, designed from the ground up with six parallel signal paths that produce the kind of air, clarity, and presence previously found only in very old, very expensive analog equalizers.
The Kush Clariphonic Equalizer is the world's first and only two channel, fully parallel dual high-shelving equalizer and is a fiendishly clever new approach to high frequency equalization. Designed from the ground up with six parallel signal paths that produce the kind of air, clarity, and presence previously found only in very old, very expensive analog equalizers. It was Kush's first completely original product design, and before long everyone from a-listers to bedroom warriors were putting it on every single mix they did. Many songs on the radio, and many that aren't, feature this eq's magic on the mix buss.
Parallel equalization may be new to you, but the underlying process is old hat: if you've ever bussed your drums to a compressor, smashed them into artful submission, then blended the result back in with your dry, pre-compressed drums, you know parallel processing. What makes the Kush Clariphonic so special is that it performs the same trick with equalization rather than compression, and it does all of the bussing and blending internally so you don't need to sweat multiple signal paths, latency issues, or any of the other small headaches that accompany parallel processing in the era of hybrid analog & digital studios.
When you couple this unique parallel architecture with a mastering grade signal path and marry it with an inimitable UBK interface, the result is a boutique equalizer unlike any other in existence. The ability to sculpt every aspect of the upper registers from 800hz - 38k gives you a form of treble control never seen or heard before, with an effect on the sound that is almost holographic in its depth and realism.
There is no limit to the types of sweet high end the Kush Clariphonic can produce. The internal parallel signal paths produce a form of additive-only high frequency equalization that is at once holographic, transparent, and virtually phaseless. You get effortless, natural high end for days. The Kush Clariphonic produces a presence, sparkle, and air that everyone wants but few could traditionally afford to obtain.
FULL FREQUENCY MATRIX
When your signal enters a channel on the Clariphonic, it is split across 3 parallel paths, like 3 channels on a console. 1 of those channels, your Full Frequency (FF) signal, goes directly to an internal summing buss and is never processed or altered in any way. Each of the other 2 channels is filtered thru its own equalization circuit, and the resulting eq’d sounds are blended in with the dry FF signal via the Focus and Clarity gain controls.
As with most console-style architectures, you can mute any of the channels and listen to only the signal paths you wish to hear.
THE FOCUS ENGINE
The Focus Engine packs a tremendous amount of equalization power into two switches and a knob. The primary thinking behind this engine was to provide a seriously transformative pair of shelves that reach deep down into the midrange to allow for broad adjustments to the timbre and raw energy of the sound. The corners were deliberately tuned to grab all of the high frequencies from the ultrasonics down through the telephonics (Lift), or to do the same but leave the telephonics alone (Open).
Lift is crack… literally. It brings out the ‘crack’ in the midrange, and just as noticeably it lifts the entire spectra north of those mids upwards and forwards... hence the reason for its name.
Lift is the lowest of the 6 available shelves, and it is the only band on the Clariphonic which actually grabs any meaningful amount of the quintessential midrange, the 800 - 2.5k stuff that our ears are the most sensitive to. This band is absolutely amazing for breaking open the mids and top on sources that are too low-mid heavy or boomy to coexist in a mix with other harmonically rich sounds; boosting the top 2/3 of the sound with Lift provides an appealing alternative to hacking apart your precious warmth frequencies, allowing you to maintain the phase coherence of a blooming low end while wiping away the mud from the whole picture.
Perhaps more than any of the Clariphonic’s bands, Lift has the power to completely transform the energy and attitude of a recorded sound, and it can get very aggressive very fast. On sounds that already have a lot of bite, this is almost certainly not what you want; but on sleepy sounds that obstinately remain hidden behind the mix no matter where you land the fader, Lift can pull them forward and infuse them with life without sounding like any effect was applied at all.
Listen to what Lift does to a sidestick snare sound in the overheads, or a vocal that’s too boxy in the 200-400hz zone and/or scooped in the 1k-2k area, or on a whole mix that’s having trouble reaching out of the speakers . As with all the filters on the Clariphonic, it’s tempting to fall into the trap of turning it up more and more to hear the goodness, but it really is crazy how little of this boost you actually need in order to bring about meaningful change.
Open is the ‘snap’ band, turn it up on a snare and you’ll immediately know what we mean. Open got its name from its ability to pop the lid off a sound and let the upper half reach for the heavens while keeping the bottom half anchored in place. It leaves the telephonics relatively untouched and begins to grab more in the ‘Abbey Road Presence’ range, like 3k and upwards.
While it lives higher than Lift, Open is still part of the Focus Engine which means it’s still nipping and enhancing harmonic energy that is part of the ‘note value’ of the sound. At the same time, the tone of
both Focus bands is something akin to what I would call ‘white hot’, so use it sensibly. Again, a kiss of gain with this engine can be extremely meaningful, and even a modest amount can stretch a sound into a very different shape than its original form.
And as with Lift, the real power of Open lays in using it as a ‘first-stage’ filter in conjunction with the Clarity Engine. The parallel nature of the Kush Clariphonic allows for a tiny amount of gain on both engines to cause serious shifts in the perceived high frequency content of the program while adding very little actual equalized sound to the internal mix buss. This architecture is at the heart of why this eq sounds as natural and unaffected as it does.
Tight & Diffuse
Simply put, Tight bends the Focus Engine’s bands into a gigantic Bell shape, and Diffuse leaves them in a Shelving plateau.
When you switch to Tight, the lower frequency of the band remains unchanged, but rather than rise up to a maximum level and stay there, the curve begins to gently fall off again somewhere in the neighborhood of 14k. This means that the difference between the two modes is subtle, but once you learn to hear it you’ll develop your own sense of which to use and when.
This control got its names from the effect it has on hi-hats coming thru the overheads. With Diffuse engaged, the cymbals take on a softer, more spread quality as the shelf keeps on lifting all the way up past what we can hear. But when you switch to Tight, the hats come more into focus as the emphasis shifts away from the air and more towards the presence. They actually sound tighter.
The center position on this switch, labeled Out, is a killswitch for the entire Focus Engine. It allows you to essentially ‘mute’ the eq’d signal from the internal mix buss.
THE CLARITY ENGINE
The whole point of the Clarity Engine was to give engineers access to the kinds of ultrasmooth, pristinely analog high frequencies normally found only in very expensive and coveted equalizers. Units like Massenburg’s 8200, the venerable Sontec, Cranesong’s amazing IBIS… most of us will never have the privilege of gracing our racks with any of these stunning processors, which is a shame, because they offer something up top that almost everyone wants.
Presence is a very special band that almost deserves its own engine, because it doesn’t possess the harmonically dense power of the Focusbands, nor is it nearly as subtle or rarified as the rest of the Clarity bands. But it lives in the Clarity Engine because it layers well with a touch of Lift or Open from the Focus Engine.
What sets Presence apart from all the other bands on the Kush Clariphonic is its ability to radically alter how audible a sound is its ability to radically alter how audible a sound is in a mix without actually pulling it upwards. Instead, it pulls things straight towards you; it makes elements more present by enhancing their ability to cut thru the mix without changing the underlying, fundamental timbre. This is a potent weapon in the fight for space in a harmonically dense mix.
When you want your snare or hats to have more bite, when you want acoustic guitars to cut through even while tucking them deep into the mix, this band may be a magic bullet for you. Likewise, Presence is the ultimate eq for vocals that have beautiful tone and texture but are simply too ‘soft’ to make it to the front of the mix without overwhelming the song. Try it on a vocal tracked thru a 58, the transformation is crazy.
On the flipside, in our almost-universally-digital world of recordings, Presence is the most risky filter to engage, because if your 4k-6k region has any harshness or brittleness whatsoever this band will let you know in no uncertain terms. If you like what this shelf does to your sound’s behavior but don’t like the way it draws out aspects of the tone that are less than stellar, my advice is to follow up with some frequency dependent compression. Fast attack, fast release, sidechain keyed to the area that’s giving you trouble; 1-3db reduction should be more than enough to mitigate the issue, and if you use a softening comp like an opto/tube flavor (or anything that saturates nicely) you may even like the mellower results better than the initial sound.
Sheen is gloss, it is vintage air and a light coat of polish. Sheen is the first band that we’d say gives you a sound that is generally associated with ‘expensive’. This is also the one you will tend to reach for when you want to take an LDC with a modest amount of top and add just a touch of the vintage Neumann sparkle. If you’ve tracked in a small room where the low-mids are boxy and/or the mid-range has a very aggressive, papery sound, you’ll probably find that even when you tame the low end below 250 and scoop out some of the hash between 400-2k, you still have a tone that feels a little flat and lifeless. A touch of Sheen can wake things up in a gentle, unobtrusive way.
When it comes to processing the whole mix, Sheen is the highest band on the Clariphonic that’s likely to affect any of the frequencies people hear when listening on lesser consumer systems, boomboxes, cheap earbuds, and computer speakers; so if you’re referencing your mix on a system like that and it seems to lack the polish of more commercial mixes, this is probably the one to reach for. If your mix just seems flat out dull , you may need Presence; but if it’s mostly there and just wants some of that ‘special sauce’, Sheen can be just what the doctor ordered.
Shimmer & Silk
Shimmer & Silk give you the top, the whole top, and nothing but the top. The two are grouped together in this description because they are the only filters that will not grab any harmonically musical information at all, they just hook the edge of the treble and put it wherever you want it. The shimmering wash of a ride cymbal, the brush of a thumb on acoustic guitar strings, the air in the back of a vocalist’s mouth… this is intimacy, gentle and easy as she goes.
These filters are the very essence of smooth, it is nearly impossible to cull an offensive frequency out of them. While it is possible to go too far, to make things entirely too bright, it’s unlikely you will ever cringe from the particular spectra they energize.
Shimmer has a quality that we'd would describe as electric. It is extremely airy, but still has some density and substance compared to Silk. Silk, to our ears, is rarefied air and it is as seductive as it is exotic. It is supremely soft and gentle, and extraordinarily high; there is nothing else like it on the planet.
Kush Clariphonic Equalizer Features
- 2 high-shelves blended in parallel on each channel
- 6 unusual and carefully selected corner frequencies
- Powerful control over the midrange, presence, and air bands
- Ability to 'solo' the parallel filters for external sweetening & processing (rack only)
- Minimal, mastering grade signal path for total sonic purity
- XLR & 1/4" TRS balanced I/O
- Worldwide Power Supply - 240V & 120V compatible
Kush Clariphonic Equalizer Includes
- Clariphonic Equalizer (Stereo / Dual Mono)
- IEC Power Cable
Kush Clariphonic Equalizer Downloads
What We Think
The Kush Clariphonic Equalizer is a magic-box which accomplishes pretty much all of the wide-band enhancement that you need a bus equalizer to accomplish without any of the potential negatives, like phase distortion, "still-too-tight" bandwidths, weird curves, bumps, imperfections, etc. The idea of a dedicated parallel equalizer is unique to the Clariphonic, and is why it works so well. You don't change every aspect of the source material - instead, you "enhance it" to be exactly what you want it to be, and just within the ranges that you desire.
The concept of how to use the Clariphonic is simple: Adjust your "Focus" and type. Then apply "Clarity" and type which best sets your material. It's a bit easy to go just a little too far, since it sounds so good. Gregory says this: "When it doubt, take what you think is a sensible amount of boost and cut it in half. Even then, you may find yourself coming back the next day and realizing you can dial it back even more. It really is that sneaky, that addictive."
Perhaps the most helpful aspect of the Clariphonic's design is Gregory Scott's decision to eschew frequency designations for more appropriate descriptors of function. "Lift/Open, Tight/Diffuse, Focus, Presence/Sheen, Shimmer/Silk Clarity... these are the functions you're working with. And adjustments on the cream-colored chicken-head knobs are only designated by a series of solid-circles which increase in diameter turning from right to left. Basically, all technical distraction has been removed and you're left with a device which gives you a more direct line to your emotional / artistic center for decision making.
Listen, one of the best things you can do for your mixes is to try a Clariphonic for yourself and get a handle on what it does. The stereo 19" rack unit is perfect for mix bus and stereo subgroups The Clariphonic also works wonders on individual instruments, and for mono applications, the
Kush Clariphonic 500 to add focus and air. Vocals, acoustic guitar, drums... whatever you need to clarify, the Kush Clariphonic will clear the smoke better than a can of Ozium.
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