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  • Writer's pictureAlex Mader

Pre.De-Emphasis Rack For Ableton

Updated: Jan 20, 2020

This article is something that I have been working on for sometime as I have put further study and testing into the technique involved. I hope that you find the following information useful in your own projects.

This rack utilises a combination of techniques called pre-emphasis and de-emphasis equalisation. It is somewhat inspired by Dan Worrall’s excellent video tutorial and further to that the kinds of equalisation techniques that have been applied in vinyl cutting since the 1920’s along with my own experimentation and twist on the idea.

In short the rack provides simple controls to allow you to dramatically increase the range of saturation and compression effects that can be achieved with any plugin you chose to use with it. Simply place the plugin you wish to process your signal with between the two EQ8 modules and use the controls to get the sound you want.

What it does:

For a brief outline of what each macro knob does:

F1 and F2 control the frequency of the two respective bell curves

G1 and G2 control their gain.

Width provides manipulates the width of both bell curves simultaneously.

Drive is an easy gain staging control; turning it to the left increases your headroom going into your chosen plugin and turning it to the right decreases it, driving the processing further.

Bypass is just a simple bypass that allows you to disengage the filters without disabling the included plugins.

Scale is a linked control for both EQ8’s that allows you to easily increase, decrease or even invert the current gain settings for your two filters. This can be really useful for finding certain frequencies before processing them as well as allowing all kinds of interesting automation or opportunities for sound design.

With these basic controls you have everything you need to greatly increase the available colours and capabilities of whatever processing you chose to apply this technique to.

How To Use It:

Personally I love it on some of my favourite saturation and distortion plugins where it allows me to be very particular about what frequencies I want to exaggerate or control before processing. This can turn even the most simple of saturation plugins into a much more versatile and varied colouring tool, especially when used in conjunction with the drive and scale controls.

My favourite applications so far have been on bass heavy instruments such as synths or those with a wide range of frequencies such as guitars. I have also found it very powerful when used on the master bus as a way of shaping the saturation characteristics of some of my favourite master bus compressors.

And speaking of compressors. This tool can also be used as the equivalent of a built in side chain filter for any compressor plugin, especially those that do not come in with a side chain routing feature. In modifying the signal before compression and then compensating for it in equal proportion after compression the effect is in fact identical to that of using a conventional sidechain EQ with the shame shape (2).

Those are just two suggestions but there is so much more that this technique can be applied to. Try it out with some of your own favourite effects and plugins and remember that you can can always switch the bell filters to shelves or add more nodes if you really want to go crazy with the shaping possibilities.

The rack can be downloaded from the following link:


(1). Dan Worrrall. emphasis and de emphasis EQ [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2020 Jan 20]. Available from:

(2). The only exception being than the potential change in internal headroom within the plugin, however for most modern plugins this is not an issue and can always be mitigated through the sensible use of the drive control and threshold of your compressor (if available).

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