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Peter Cobbin On The RS56

Jun 11, 2013

Peter Cobbin is Senior Engineer and Creative Director of Abbey Road Studios. As such, he has been responsible for countless high-profile movie projects including the Harry Potter series, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The King’s Speech. Here, he shares his thoughts on the RS56 passive EQ plugin.

The RS56 is a superb new software plugin of a classic and very rare outboard equalizer. The original hardware is the grandfather of Abbey Road tone controllers, and every assistant at the studios will tell you it is a heavy back-breaking monster!

Affectionally known as the Curve Bender, this passive EQ was designed and introduced in 1951 to control and "correct" the tone of master tapes when cutting records.

Abbey Road mastering engineers used this exclusively on classical recordings, and by the 60s the studio engineers were borrowing them while making pop records.

From Maria Callas to Sgt. Pepper, the overlapping curves gave engineers precise control and creative options in a revolutionary way. The frequencies were laid out in octaves around the key of C, and the selectable curves had unique names like ‘Blunt’, ‘Medium’ and ‘Sharp’ that continued to be used in successive generations of studio equipment.

The stereo version boasted a clever clutch mechanism that enabled the hardware to track both channels simultaneously. The maze of gearing and cogs is a small feat of engineering excellence and a sight to behold!

Recreating this gentle giant has been a challenge, and our partnership company Waves have meticulously delivered the RS56 with the flexibility and expertise that one comes to expect from them. We have worked hard to get this right and therefore are proud to now release this EQ.

The RS56 plugin has already joined the ranks of my go-to list, as it delivers an inviting sonic character along with a logical functionality.

Inspired by the hardware and the original design plots, the RS56 plugin has a unique interface that is a joy to use.

I would encourage any engineer to get creative with some lovely old-time curve bending, and tap into this fabulous piece of Abbey Road heritage.

Peter Cobbin
Abbey Road Studios
London, June 2013