Test Drive: "Tailor" Dynamic Equalizer from Hit Design

by Jerry Vigil

The digital revolution continues to churn out audio processors of one kind or another as fast as a night club changes copy. Every time we turn around, it seems there's yet another interesting piece of equipment out there to review. Amidst all these digital toys, we came across an equalizer that stood out from the rest of the new arrivals. To begin with, it is an analog equalizer, and it looks like an analog machine. That, in itself, makes this equalizer stand out a bit; but it is the row of LIMIT knobs on the front panel that is the real eye-catcher.

It's from Hit Design, and it's called the Tailor. It's a ten band stereo equalizer with separate limit controls for each band. At first glance it appears this configuration would be just another multi-band processor like you'd find on your transmitter's audio processing chain, but the manufacturer makes it very clear throughout the manual that this is NOT a multi-band processor. They state that this is an equalizer with the ability to automatically control the gain of each individual band. While that still sounds like multi-band processing to this reviewer, there are differences between the Tailor and conventional multi-band processors designed for the transmitter audio chain.

Most conventional multi-band processors don't have ten separate bands to work with. The number is usually much less. In this respect, the Tailor is more of an equalizer. Also, many of the processors in use on transmitter chains use compressors on the individual frequency bands. There's a big difference between compression and limiting, but we'll save the lesson on compressors and limiters for another time. For now, let's just say that compressors "squash" audio energy into a smaller space while limiters actually reduce the audio energy beyond a set threshold. To the ear, limiting will sound somewhat like compression but without the "squashed" sound or processing "artifacts" that accompany compression. With this in mind, the Tailor can achieve the effects of multi-band compression without actually compressing. The result is a cleaner approach to achieving the much desired "apparent loudness" of a signal while still maintaining a good dynamic range.