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The Press Desk 16th February 2018 06:43 PM

10 of the most popular EQ plug-ins right now
 
10 of the most popular EQ plug-ins right now

Equalizers and compressors are an engineer’s bread and butter (although we’re not sure which one is the bread or which is the butter) - but we’re otherwise confident that they must be among the most-used tools when it comes to modern music production. Having recently revealed Gearslutz’ ten most talked about compressors, now it’s time for the cherished EQ “bread”. Or was that butter..?

All the plug-ins on our list are cross-platform with Apple Mac & Windows support and compatible with all major AAX, AU and VST plug-in hosts.


 Pro-Q 2

FabFilter Pro-Q 2

If the GS chatter is accurate, the FabFilter Pro-Q 2 is arguably the king of equalizer plug-ins. It was selected by our members as the best EQ plug-in of 2016 and it continues to top most member’s “favourite” lists. Pro-Q 2 is the pinnacle of plug-in tech, hosting a tonne of amazing features - including up to 24 bands, many filter shapes, automatic gain compensation, an interface resizing tool with full screen capability, three phase modes - and to wrap it all up we have the highly innovative FabFilter interface which is widely acclaimed as one of the very best out there. Pro-Q 2 is also highly optimised and runs with zero latency, which makes it a very enticing tool to tackle any situation where equalization is required.



 EQuilibrium

DMG Audio EQuilibrium

It’s hard to think of another equalizer plug-in that is as deep and flexible as EQuilibrium. DMG Audio is known for developing plug-ins that are extremely customisable, offering users a plethora of options to adjust not only the incoming sounds but also many options about how the plug-in itself will look, from ‘super-complete’ with all the bells & whistles available to bare-bones basic controls and display info. Besides maybe saturation or “analogue”-style distortion, there’s very little that EQuilibrium can’t do - it’s basically a compendium of equalization curves from past to present with a myriad of deep-tweaking options that makes it arguably the most comprehensive digital equalizer ever made.



 Slick EQ M - Mastering Edition

Tokyo Dawn Labs Slick EQ M - Mastering Edition

Tokyo Dawn Labs continues to grow their SlickEQ line, and after the highly successful Standard and “Gentleman’s Edition” versions they have delivered something to delight the mastering engineers among us. The Slick EQ M Mastering Edition is all about offering plenty of control over the equalization process but doing so without overloading our brains with too many parameters, and to make it even sweeter it’s just as affordable as all the other Tokyo Dawn Labs plug-ins, so there’s no excuse left for those bad-sounding masters, except for maybe the talent behind the desk!



 Sie-Q

Soundtoys Sie-Q

A rare German equalizer (with some tasty saturation) has been brought to our computers by one of the industry’s most respected developers - and it’s basically a recipe for success. Added to that there’s the fact that it was given out for free for a limited time - and all together Soundtoys has a major hit. That’s Sie-Q in a nutshell, a simple and effective plug-in that’s instantly satisfying - even more so when you didn’t have to spend a single cent on it. For those who missed out on the initial giveaway, all we can say is - spend more time on Gearslutz, we don’t miss stuff like this! All is not lost though, Sie-Q is now available to purchase both individually (at a very reasonable price) or as a part of the all-encompassing Soundtoys 5 bundle.



 AirEQ Premium

Eiosis AirEQ Premium

The elegant AirEQ Premium definitely puts a marker down for Eiosis on the equalizer map. This plug-in makes the best out of digital, combining a feature-rich package with excellent ease of use and the highest degree of precision. The highlight here goes to the “fire and water” controls, which can tweak the resonance of the equalization bands in a continuous fashion, allowing for quick flipping through softer or more prominent curves. This plug-in took a while to be developed and was met with high expectations, but it’s safe to say it has surpassed them all to become of one of our community’s favourite equalizers.



 Scheps 73

Waves Audio Scheps 73

Veteran developer Waves Audio sure knows to make great plug-ins, and the Scheps 73 is another example of how relevant the brand still is. As the name hints this plug-in was developed under the guidance of Grammy®-winning engineer Andrew Scheps and it brings an interesting take on a coveted Neve 1073 preamp/equalizer. This plug-in resembles a console channel moreso than a standalone “rack” unit, presenting a more spacious interface to house two VU meters, two big volume faders and all the classic 1073 features, with three EQ bands, HPF and preamp control to dial in that famous saturation. Could this be the “endgame” plug-in version of the 1073?



 Epure v3

Flux Epure v3

With a decade of history passed since its release, the Flux:: Epure is almost a “vintage” plug-in! This classy minimum-phase parametric EQ was first introduced in 2008 and is currently on its third iteration. However, it hasn’t changed too much over the years, retaining its core features mostly untouched while adding support to newer formats such as AAX to keep up with the times. Rest assured the transparent sound, unobstructed interface and Flux::’s trademark A/B morphing slider are all still there! However, rumour has it that Flux:: has been on the move lately, and we wouldn’t be surprised if a big update lands at some point soon.



 PSP E27

PSP Audioware PSP E27

Another “old-time” developer that makes our list is PSP with their exquisite E27, their latest equalizer plug-in that emulates the namesake hardware unit from Avedis Audio Electronics. This nifty EQ comes with three equalization bands, each with nine positions, and a preamp module to inject our beloved analogue saturation into your signal. In order to save CPU and screen real estate E27 owners can also use the E27e, a trimmed-down version that gives up the dual-mono and mid-side features in order to offer a more lean package that should be great for large sessions or when system resources are a concern. It’s light on the CPU, but not on quality!



 Burnley 73

Sonimus Burnley 73

Another take on the venerable 1073 comes from Sonimus with the Burnley 73, but to use a car analogy, if earlier we had a “luxury car” version of the good ol’ 1073 now we have a flashy “hot rod” to drive around Tone City. Burnley not only brings the three iconic equalization bands and high-pass filter but also the behaviour of the preamp section, including both the subtle “LINE” input option and the more aggressive “MIC” input distortion. However, Sonimus added a twist here as there’s a volume compensation algorithm running under the hood that allows the user to crank up the saturation without excessively raising the output level. Zoom!



 Ruby

Acustica Audio Ruby

While some plug-ins on our list have been rocking our DAWs for many years, Acustica Audio’s Ruby is fresh out of the lab. These guys are known for their emulation prowess and they now present a plug-in version of the D.W. Fearn VT-5 vacuum-tube equalizer, a distinctive high-end unit lauded by many engineers worldwide. This is a shared effort between both manufacturers in order to make Ruby an impeccable recreation of the VT-5, and so far the community’s response has been extremely positive, which warrants its place on our list. Definitely worth a go if you love that sound as much as we do.


It’s quite a diverse set of plug-ins this time with something for everyone, from “digital” EQs oozing with features to simple yet effective “analogue-esque” designs, so nearly all modern EQ approaches are covered. Honourable mentions go to Sly-Fi Axis, Lindell Audio TE-100, Sonnox Oxford EQ, and we could name many others as there’s a pile of great equalizer plug-ins out there that we can dig. Check out the Music Computers forum for more in-depth discussion and comparison.

What have you been using to shape your tracks? Are you satisfied with the current state of affairs when it comes to EQ plug-ins? What do you want to see next? Share your thoughts below!

Asher Bay 16th February 2018 07:27 PM

My boy Ruby made it to the big league:cowbell:

Ive moved on from his plugins years ago, but no Slate though... thats a first and a surprise considering how popular his plugins are. Im happy to see Flux Epure finally getting more attention and respect. Well deserved for the patient sleeper.

I have tried and owned a lot of eqs, probably 100+ which is kind of ridiculous. More of a collection rather than a toolbox lol. Ive since cut it down to one handful in actual use.

With that being said I would eventually place Toneboosters EQ4 in the top 10 but only when it goes AAX. Yes I am jealous and spiteful lol. It is a fantastic inexpensive EQ with dynamic functions and is a joy to use due to the well thought out layout and keybinds. I would also add Sonimus StoneEQ. Again inexpensive but can easily hang and imo surpass the more expensive options.

I'd also like to add a few sleeper EQs for others to try that aren't necessarily "Top 10" but I rarely see these mentioned but I hope more people will add on to this list:

ApulSoft ApQualizr2
Sir Standard EQ

Rapollo 17th February 2018 01:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Asher Bay (Post 13145392)
Ive moved on from his plugins years ago, but no Slate though... thats a first and a surprise considering how popular his plugins are.

I'm the same, his plugins are wonderful of course but I've moved on too - I feel like people are torn due to the push on the new subscription model as well as most of his modules still being limited to the virtual rack wrapper.

This is a perfect list and pretty much what I expected. Glad to see the PSP E27 and Sonimus - the Burnley and StonEQ are fantastic.

Asher Bay 19th February 2018 03:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rapollo (Post 13146102)
I'm the same, his plugins are wonderful of course but I've moved on too - I feel like people are torn due to the push on the new subscription model as well as most of his modules still being limited to the virtual rack wrapper.

This is a perfect list and pretty much what I expected. Glad to see the PSP E27 and Sonimus - the Burnley and StonEQ are fantastic.

kfhkh

It is truly awesome to have so many options available with quality plugins to suit almost any budget.

Swing 19th February 2018 06:46 PM

My jaw dropped when I first used the ominpresent EQ strip on the Mixbus 32C DAW. Harrison might generate a decent cash flow if they created the same EQ for use on other DAWs.

b0se 19th February 2018 07:48 PM

Great list. Happy to see Ruby in there, that beast is a game changer for cohesive ITB tube sound. E27 is also TOTL.

Another shout for StonEQ (Sominus), very efficient and nice sounding EQ. My go to 'quick' channel EQ.

db9d9 15th March 2018 02:18 AM

+1 for Burnley73 and Slick EQ. Great to see them make it to the top.

fuzulu 16th March 2018 07:56 PM

I love that lil free bee (for a limited time) by Overloud.... the Gem 550... brand new & wow... great sounding eq, fell in love at first use,
Also Im am surprised to see no uad eqs in here, been digging their pultec pro recently

MogwaiBoy 17th March 2018 10:26 PM

Great list. Pro-Q2 and Slick EQ M are favs of mine.

I find myself leaning on Waves API 560 too - there's just something about it.

Mario-C. 2nd April 2018 11:16 PM

DDMF 6144 Eq sounds fantastic.
DDMF 6144 equalizer musical neve style

ZenMaster 3rd April 2018 08:14 AM

Acustica Audio Pink2 freshflowe

Diogo C 9th April 2018 10:33 PM

I wonder if stuff like Gullfoss, sonible, Neutron and other "smart" solutions are the future of equalization...or if in twenty years we'll still be rocking 1973s and Pultecs.

Rolleum 9th April 2018 11:08 PM

I bought the Audified Klangfilm RZ 062 at the eastern sale , and have it now for one week. Never had such a smooth and transparent EQ itb, feels like hardware. The highs are really shining, stunning how they managed to import that valve feeling to the digital domain.

Diogo C 10th April 2018 02:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rolleum (Post 13248526)
I bought the Audified Klangfilm RZ 062 at the eastern sale , and have it now for one week. Never had such a smooth and transparent EQ itb, feels like hardware. The highs are really shining, stunning how they managed to import that valve feeling to the digital domain.

Did Audified improve the CPU performance?

It was quite heavy when it first came out....and my i7-3770 is getting a bit old. abduction

Rolleum 10th April 2018 11:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diogo C (Post 13248850)
Did Audified improved the CPU performance?

It was quite heavy when it first came out....and my i7-3770 is getting a bit old. abduction


I dont know. It just takes 2 seconds to load the RZ 062, but when its loaded, I got no problems, and it runs flawlessly with other plugins (around 20). Hehe, we got the same CPU, I got the 3770T. I got no need to buy a new CPU, still sounds great and still fast enough for me cooge

MarsBot 13th April 2018 08:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diogo C (Post 13248850)
Did Audified improve the CPU performance?

It was quite heavy when it first came out....and my i7-3770 is getting a bit old. abduction

I just checked and it's still at version 1.0.0 so it's the same. I also tend not to reach for this one except in special cases because of the heavy CPU load. Hey, maybe I should stop buying any new plug-ins and save the money for a new computer so I can run more of the good CPU-heavy ones I already have :)

Justin Case 14th April 2018 09:14 AM

Love Ignite Amps PTEq-X (can believe it's free) and FF Pro-Q :)

Vern 18th June 2018 04:15 PM

I use the Sie-Q as well as the Scheps 73 quite often in mixes. The 73 is very nice overall for saturation; and the Sie-Q is also great for saturation as long as you don't want to do any precision EQ.

While I tend to apply most EQ on my console, the EQ that I find myself using the most ITB is the Boz Digital Labs Hoser EQ. Great fully parametric EQ plugin that adds some nice mojo, saturation, and is very musical. Too bad it didn't make the list.

Moon Unit Sound 22nd June 2018 11:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diogo C (Post 13248460)
I wonder if stuff like Gullfoss, sonible, Neutron and other "smart" solutions are the future of equalization...


I think it's high time digital starts doing what digital does well. And that's automated, intelligent, surgically-precise manipulations of audio in ways that hardware just isn't capable.

Right now, it just seems like digital is spending all its' time trying to sound like analog, instead of just letting analog be analog.

And yes, I'm going to sound like one of the fanboys, but the way I see it, Acustica Audio has the emulation code cracked moreless. Whether or not Acustica winds up on top is up for debate, but either way, their technology wins the game, and I think the other plugin providers are either going to have to adopt it, or go dream up some other creative and cutting edge tools not offered in the realm of electronic circuitry.

outcast_arm 7th November 2018 01:26 PM

SSL Duende X-EQ howdy

RedBaaron 31st December 2018 07:30 AM

Surprised no mention of Balance Audio Magpha EQ. Really an all-around useful, smooth eq , with a fairly light footprint. The best part is that the easy toggle between Mid Side or Stereo, makes it a sort of cross between an eq and a stereo imager.

I've also always thought the Active/Passive Pack from Softtube is way, way underrated. All three sound great, are easy to use, and work well together.

MogwaiBoy 1st January 2019 12:01 AM

Pro-Q 3 makes Q 2 obsolete now :)

bill5 1st January 2019 01:57 AM

Honestly there are so many great free EQs out there I can't imagine ever paying for one.

swartzfeger 1st January 2019 09:16 PM

Crave DSP. Better than Q2 and less than half the price.