Fishman AFX Pro EQ Mini Review
Small size and a wide performance envelope turn a not-so-glamorous EQ tool into a fun and practical tone-shaping scalpel.
Equally adept at shaping weird sounds, solving stage problems, and fine tuning super detailed sounds. Small size. Nice price.
Slider pots could be more nuanced.
Fishman Pro EQ Mini
If I had a dollar for every time a simple EQ pedal could have salvaged a troublesome stage sound or effects chain ... well, I might not be rich, but I could probably buy a pretty nice dinner for me and my gal. Or for that matter, I could pick up the $119 Fishman AFX Pro EQ Mini, one of four small-enclosure pedals that make up the AFX line. And it’s the humble Pro EQ Mini that might offer the most utility.
Made For Working Fast
Because the Pro EQ is so small, Fishman had to pack a lot of functionality without compromising fast, intuitive operation. After all, the role of an acoustic EQ is often about fixing embarrassing, spell-breaking problems like runaway feedback and crappy sound from dodgy PAs. The Pro EQ makes fixing these issues clear, simple, and direct, in spite of its size, all without sacrificing the pedal’s natural creative side.
Though the slider set is a touch cramped, it takes just a little familiarization to develop a second sense for where each control is situated. Fishman wisely installed detents at the midpoint of each slider’s range, enabling no-look adjustments (or dimly lighted ones).
It can be super useful in the studio before your signal hits the desk, too. And experimenting with different profiles can recast the whole mood of a song.
Together, the five EQ controls enable fairly precise adjustments of your output. The bass cut, which works within the 10 Hz and 160 Hz range, is situated on the outboard-left edge of the pedal, and the ability to quickly defeat low-frequency rumble is a source of great comfort. The remaining controls can also make fast work of a problematic frequency causing feedback, ugly resonances, or complicating a relationship with a specific amp or P.A. system. The bass, middle, and treble controls each offer 12 dB of boost or cut, which creates a lot of range to work with. The rightmost brilliance control, which in most cases works like a fine-grit sandpaper for the top end, has a smaller boost envelope of just 9dB in the boost or cut direction. It’s centered at 10 kHz, which enables a lot of additional, and very specific tone-shaping power in a critical frequency range. The two knobs at the top control input trim (so you can regulate the strength and drive of an incoming signal) and a master output that lets you control your level out to the PA or amp once you’ve shaped your tone to taste. There are hidden controls on the Pro EQ, too. Holding down the pedal for three seconds enables a phase flip, which can be undone by repeating the process.
Call Off the Dogs
Though it’s a masterful fixer in a Harvey-Keitel-in-Pulp-Fiction sort of way, the Pro EQ isn’t entirely about emergencies. It’s also a creative device that gives you the ability to paint in broad or fine strokes. Making space and fine-tuning in the fashion of a mix engineer is fun and rewarding, particularly when you consider the small and satisfyingly old-school and mechanical means of operating it. But it’s also fun to shape weird, exaggerated psychedelic-era Beatles or Jesus and Mary Chain EQ profiles. It can be super useful in the studio before your signal hits the desk, too. And experimenting with different profiles can recast the whole mood of a song.
I know. It’s an EQ pedal. It looks boring. But it’s not. I had loads of fun both fine tuning and creatively mangling acoustic tones. And for that breadth of capabilities, the Pro EQ stood out as one the most creative pedals I’ve tinkered in a while. The ease and size multiply that satisfaction and make it fun to imagine how it might work in your rig, whatever that might be.