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May 22, 2019

Brian Moncarz Manley Massive Passive EQ




Toronto-based producer/mixer Brian Moncarz has been using the Manley Massive Passive EQ in one form or another for over 10 years. Initially, he worked with the hardware version when he was mixing analog and then switched over to the UAD plug-in emulation when he moved to in-the-box mixing.

Moncarz says he never directly compared the hardware and plug-in versions but loves both of them. He points out that he has to be more "heavy-handed" with his settings on the plug-in, meaning he has to use more substantial boosts and cuts to get the sound he's looking for then he did on the hardware. The Massive Passive is an integral part of the sound of his mixes, and he credits it with "making his mix bus come alive."

In this free excerpt from the video "Brian Moncarz Template and Workflow," Moncarz, who has made his reputation mixing rock acts like Our Lady Peace, The Trews and CIrca Survive, among many others, discusses the UAD Manley Massive Passive plug-in. He uses it on his Mix Bus A, which is one of his two mix-bus configurations.

This shows the intial settings Moncarz likes to use on the plug-in.


If you're not familiar with the Manley Massive Passive, the original outboard version is a stereo, tube-based equalizer with four bands—Low, Low Mid, High Mid and High per side. Each band can be set to boost or cut with a bell- or shelf-type filter, and has a band-specific selection of 11 different frequencies. (There is some overlap in the frequency ranges of the bands.) You also get controls for bandwidth (Q) and Gain for each band and Low Pass and High Pass filters per side.

The plug-in has the identical control set as the hardware version and adds a Link option, which gives you the choice of linking the two sides or setting them independently.


Moncarz's default settings on the Massive Passive start with some pretty severe boosts in place. All four bands (on each side, because he's running in Link mode), are set at just under 6 (out of 10), with 0 being no gain. That means he's boosting significantly at four different frequencies, to start with.

He takes an unusually proactive approach to equalization by using such aggressive settings right from the beginning. It shows you how much confidence he has in his techniques. He's also flexible them, and will adjust them along the way, when necessary.

In the excerpt, Moncarz goes through each setting (which affect both the left and right sides, because he's in Linked mode). For the low band, the frequency is set to 68kHz. That will mainly impact the bass and the kick drum. He sets his Q in the middle for this, so it's not super wide.

Next band is the Low Mid, which he sets to 390Hz, which is the upper end of that band. In situations where the lower-midrange frequencies are "pooling," in other words, building up too much. If so, he'll set the Low Mid band to 180Hz, reduce the bandwidth a little and cut.

A mastering version, the Manley Massive Passive MST comes with the standard plug-in. It offers stepped bandwidth knobs for easier recall.

His starting point for the High Mid band is 1KHz. Sometimes he pushes it up to 1.5kHz or 2kHz based on the source material. The High band is set at 16kHz to add air to the mix, and sometimes as high as 27kHz. Moncarz says that as a rock mixer, he frequently has to do more manipulation in the top end of the mix than the bottom.

Finally, he says he will sometimes kick in the High Pass filter to take care of low end that needs tightening up. For that, he finds 22Hz to be a useful setting.


As Moncarz showed you, the Massive Passive is excellent on the mix bus, but it's also great on all types of sources. It's not what you'd call a "surgical EQ" because it has fixed frequency bands, but it's full of character. Its preset frequency settings are pretty useful for dealing with various instruments. What's more, you get additional flexibility because you can select either a shelf- or bell-shaped filter type for each band.

The UAD Manley Massive Passive is sold as a "collection," because it also comes with a mastering version of the plug-in, Manley Massive Passive MST. It looks basically the same, but has some differences in its gain specs and features a stepped bandwidth control, rather than a continuous one, which makes the recall of bandwidth settings easier.

The following examples are all from a single rough mix. First, you'll hear the full mix without and with the Massive Passive EQs that are on each track. Each succeeding example features one of the instruments soloed, without and with the Massive Passive plug-in. In every example, the Massive Passive (or multiple instances of it in the case of the full mix) is bypassed in the first four measures and on for the last four. Screenshots showing the settings will follow each example.

Example 1: Here's the full mix without and with. The Massive Passive was used to EQ each track.

Example 2: Drum kit (stereo mix) without and with EQ. A reasonably narrow boost at 150Hz helps bring out and fatten the kick drum. Boosts at 1kHz and 1.2kHz brighten and bring life to the snare. A boost at 8kHz livens up the hi-hat a little.

Drum kit settings

Example 3: Bass without and with EQ. A fairly substantial boost at 330Hz with a medium Q. The other two bands are off.

Bass settings

Example 4: Conga without and with EQ. A boost at 470Hz with the Shelf selected and one at 820Hz are fattening the low conga mainly. Boost at 1kHz (bell) and 8.2kHz (Shelf) are bringing out the slap on the higher conga. The High Pass filter is set at 68Hz to clean up the unnecessary low end.

Conga settings

Example 5: Electric Piano without and with EQ. Boosts at 330Hz and 820Hz and more significant boosts at 1kHz and 16kHz (Shelf) bring more body and air to the piano. The High Pass filter is set at 120Hz.

Electric Piano settings

Example 6: Rhythm guitar without and with EQ. This low single-note part gets boosted low at 220Hz to fatten, cut a little at 550Hz to reduce lower midrange and add clarity, boosted at 2kHz to sharpen and boosted at 8kHz for brightness. The High Pass filter is set at 120kHz.

Rhythm guitar settings

Example 7: Lead Guitar without and with EQ. A boost with a wide bandwidth at 330Hz helps add heft, and narrower increases at 2.2kHz and 12kHz add brightness and air. The High Pass filter is set all the way up to 220Hz, to get rid of unneeded frequency information below that.

Lead guitar settings