An Overview of the Scheps 73 Plugin

A Collaboration with Waves and Mix Engineer Andrew Scheps

Waves has teamed up with renowned mix engineer Andrew Scheps (known for his work with Adele, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Jay-Z) to bring us the Scheps 73 plugin. This new addition to the market offers another emulation of the classic Neve 1073 preamplifier and equalizer. By basing the plugin on Scheps’s own Neve 1073, Waves ensures a precise replication of its behavior.

Features and Capabilities

The Scheps 73 plugin maintains the key characteristics of the original Neve 1073, including a fixed 12kHz high-frequency shelving EQ band, low-frequency shelving and mid-range ‘bell’ bands with switchable center frequencies, an 18dB-per-octave high-pass filter, and a 10kHz mid-range band. This mid-range band was initially featured in the original schematics but only made it into later 1078 channel strip models.

One of the plugin’s standout features is the ability to apply different EQ settings to the left and right channels when used on a stereo source. Additionally, it offers an M/S matrix allowing users to treat the Mid and Sides stereo content differently. Waves has also modeled the original Marinair transformer, capturing its unique sonic characteristics. This enables users to introduce harmonic distortion and saturation tones by overdriving the preamp. Andrew Scheps has meticulously fine-tuned these features, ensuring an authentic and character-filled experience while using the plugin.

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A Nod to the Past: Back to the ’70s

While some may be concerned about the apparent lack of flexibility in the Scheps 73 plugin, my experience suggests otherwise. As someone accustomed to working with Neve designs in analogue consoles, I find the limitations of the plugin to be liberating. Rupert Neve’s original design, with its fixed frequency choices and absence of bandwidth controls, allows for intuitive decision-making in the mixing process. Instead of getting caught up in technical details, you can focus on the sound itself. The absence of overlapping low and mid-range bands, along with the mid-band starting at 360Hz, further enhances this ease of use.

Impressive Sound Quality and User-Friendliness

Upon using the Scheps 73 plugin for the first time, I was immediately taken with its EQ section. The plugin offers warmth, brightness, musicality, and forgiveness, making it a true pleasure to work with. It responded exactly as I expected, delivering a pleasant and musical top-end boost through the shelving high-frequency EQ band. Rolling off some low end tightened the sound without inducing harshness. The mid-range controls yielded the desired results as well.

What sets the Scheps 73 plugin apart is its ability to replicate the sound of analogue EQs accurately. Many other EQ plugins I’ve encountered often fall short or require extreme settings to produce noticeable changes. In contrast, the Scheps plugin can be delicately adjusted, with subtle cut or boost yielding the desired outcome. Its four frequency choices for the high-pass filter react just as one would expect.

Versatility Across Different Applications

The Scheps 73 plugin proves its versatility across various tasks, including vocals, drums, subgroups, and full mixes. For instance, when faced with a boomy low-end issue in a live recording, applying high-pass filtering and rolling off some low end with the shelving band successfully controlled the low end while preserving warmth. The plugin’s adaptability shines when used on individual instruments. By utilizing the M/S option, one can reduce the weightiness of a Fender Rhodes part by removing low-mids from the Middle channel and adding high-mid brightness to the Sides. This creates space for vocals and enhances stereo width while maintaining the instrument’s characteristic sound.

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Adding Character: Preamp and Drive Options

The preamp section of the Scheps 73 plugin allows users to add extra character to their sound. By simulating transformer saturation and enabling the Drive button, harmonic distortion can be introduced. Notably, the plugin offers the convenient option to link the input and output faders, ensuring unity gain throughout the processing. This feature saves time and prevents overdriven monitors. Additionally, the small VU meters can be set to display either input or output levels.

Conclusion: A Valuable Investment

In evaluating whether the Scheps 73 plugin is worth the investment, my focus lies not in its exact replication of the original but in its potential as a versatile and dependable tool. As someone who has already integrated it into my regular mixing workflow, I can confidently say that it offers exceptional value as an equalizer for standard channel use and even mastering purposes. Viewing your DAW as a configurable mixing desk, having a Scheps 73 on each channel proves to be a valuable choice.