Prohomemusic brings you the list of top 10 best EQ VST & AU plugins 2018. Equalizers are the most important tools to achieving tonal balance in audio production and engineering. Like I always say, we live in amazing times where you don’t have to break a bank to make music. DSP has come so far, we can now flawlessly do our audio processing tasks completely in the digital realm with amazing results. As a result of this; there are countless plugins released every year, but some stand out as unique and very useful. This in turn leads to their popularity with more people using and recommending them after being impressed by their efficiency.
After a painstaking research and first hand experience with most of these plugins, prohomemusic brings to you the top 10 best EQ VST & AU plugins in 2018.
Fabfilter is as fabulous as ever, and they showed that in this beautiful EQ offering. To start with, this plugin has the best interface ever in the EQ realm. The UI is so user friendly it makes you want to just ‘equalize’. The design is appealing so much I’m beginning to see lots of EQs around trying to copy the looks lately. Looks apart, Fabfilter’s plugins are known to sound as beautiful and effective as they look. This EQ is an ultimate EQ capable of meeting all your equalizing tasks day in day out. Nothing beats it at doing detailed surgical cuts and corrective EQing. It is as well very capable faasoft video converter license of delivering a handful amount of boosts without sounding unnatural. It is a feature packed plugin that will do every task that’s expected of a basic EQ and more.
With awesome features like separate Mono version, mid-size processing, linear phase mode, 24 bands, very accurate spectral graphic display, band soloing, low CPU usage and more, owning Pro Q-2 is a no-brainer. That’s after demoing it for yourself of course. It should be noted however, that this is a clean EQ without any coloring of any sort.
Official webpage: FabFilter Pro-Q 2
DMG is another DSP developer that puts out nothing but great processors. Though the company has three EQs in all including Equality and Equick, Equilibrum is their mega EQ. Unlike Pro-Q2 above which has floating controls for each band, Equillibrum displays the controls for all available bands at once at the bottom part of the UI. A cool thing about Equillibrum is that its interface and the visibility of these control parameters are highly customizable. You can entirely do away with the bottom placed controls by using just the band nodes. You can also choose which one suits you most out of its various metering options.
Aside from the UI flexibility it offers, it is so detailed and easy to work with due to the its numerous filter types, three different phase mode selections, unrivaled mid-size processing which makes it suitable for mastering e.t.c. To cap it all up, Equillibrum can deliver both clean and colored tone.
Price : £179
Official webpage: Equillibrum
Tokyo Dawn Labs TDR VOS SlickEQ (Gentleman’s Edition)
The free version of this amazing plugin was featured on our list of top 10 best free EQ plugins with download links. Should we remind you again that the plugin was birthed out of the collaborative efforts of three of the best DSP programmers in the industry? Yes! This plugin was made with contributions from Vlad Sound’s Vladislav Goncharov (of Molot and Limiter No.6 fame), plus Herbert Goldberg and Fabien Shiver, the geeks at VOS and TDL, so you know it is top notch. The Gentleman’s Edition of the plugin being the paid version, packs on board all the features of the highly rated free version which were highlighted in the article linked above and adds more useful ones.
With additional features like spectral graphic display, low-pass filter, the tilt EQ function, and more, SlickEQ GE makes equalizing a very flexible and easy task.
Price – €30
Official webpage: TDR VOS SlickEQ – Gentleman’s Edition
It’s an international affair when PSP Audio, the highly regarded polish DSP plugin developer decided to model one of America’s classic EQs – the Avedis E27. This product was actually endorsed by Avedis, and is some sort of collaborative project between the two companies. One prominent question is ‘does the plugin sound similar to, or as good as the original?’ Well, I don’t own the original to make comparisons with, but I’ve come across numerous owners of the hardware online who gushed about how good and close sounding it is to their hardware units.
Talking about the plugin features, PSP E27 has 3 filter bands, each one provides 16dB of cut or boost on nine different frequencies. These can be extended for more flexibility by switching on the x2 button, which offers a sum of six bands in all per channel. With its EQ matching features, the left and right channels of stereo signals can be linked to mirror the same settings on the two sides, or processed separately. There’s also a mono-stereo feature which applies slightly different settings under the hood to the left and right channels to give a broader stereo field to mono tracks. Plus lots of other features like, ‘PA11’ preamp module, non-linear characteristics, progressive Q, high pass filter, mid-Sides processing, 28 KHz boost button, e.t.c. PSP E27 is not only smooth and sweet sounding but fully featured.
The only important feature missing on the plugin is high cut filter. Included in the bundle is a simpler edition named E27se, which has a simplified single GUI with streamlined features. The E27se is handy for quick EQ tasks.
Price – $149
Official web page : PSP E27
Slate Digital VMR (FG-N)
Slate Digital is known to always come through when it comes to making effective premium looking and sounding audio effect plugins. The duo of Fabrice Gabriel and Steven Slate’s flair for precisely recreating hardware effects in the digital world is unrivaled. The Virtual Mix Rack is a revered plugins bundle that houses numerous great processors of all sorts, with a handful of EQs in there. The most widely used and praised ones being the FG-N(Neve) and FG-S(SSL). The spotlight here is on the FG-N, being the most loved EQ module among the lots.
This EQ is modeled after the classic Neve 1073 EQ, and it accurately delivers the character of the hardware it models. Slate FG-N nicely recreates the line saturation drive of the original hardware with the red knob in the section labeled ‘LINE’. With the subtle lovable color it imparts, this EQ often sounds good on various audio sources it is used on.
Price – Subscription based, check site
Official web page : VMR 2.0
UAD Manley Massive Passive
UAD can be likened to Apple Inc. of DSP developers’ world. Like Apple’s iPhones,UAD make great premium plugins, no doubt ; but people also have problems with the restrictions they tend to exert by sticking with hardware DSPs and dongles. In spite of all these, they still have huge followership and a plethora of great plugins. Also, they are very good at match-modeling classic hardwares, and Manley Massive Passive is one of those emulations. As indicated by the name, the UAD Manley Massive Passive EQ is modeled after the stereo tube hardware equalizer by Manley Labs, which is one of the revered widely used gears among pro level sound engineers. As expected of a UAD product, not only does it look like the the hardware but it sounds so close to the original.
The plugin, like the hardware is a stereo 4-band passive EQ, with parallel band configurations as a result of frequency overlap across its bands. This means if you boost the same frequencies in two different bands, the gain doesn’t get increased twice, but auto adjusted accordingly. Each of the bands can be switched to either cut or boost, and also be used on bell or shelf modes. It also has high and low-pass filters, a gain make-up stage and transformer-balanced outputs. Finally, it comes with a dedicated mastering version. A true masterpiece of an EQ by UAD it is.
Price – $299
Official webpage : MANLEY MASSIVE PASSIVE EQ
Eiosis AirEQ premium
The Eiosis brand is owned by Fabrice Gabriel, who is a partner and chief programmer at Slate Digital. Air EQ was first released in the early 2000s under the Eliosound brand. It got a total overhaul in a few years back with a fairly new, intuitive and highly configurable user interface. By default, the upper half of the UI window features a nice graphical display with a FFT-style frequency analysis. The plugin has a total of nine bands, including dedicated shelf and filter sections. One of its unique features is the character and strength controls dubbed ‘Water’, ‘Neutral’, and ‘Fire’ which are assignable to each band, thereby adding more to its flexibility.
The particularly special ‘Air’ and ‘Earth’ bands are a pair of dedicated, fixed-frequency, low and high shelving equaliser sections which can be toggled on or off. There are two bell responses available: the constant-Q and variable-Q bells for surgical cuts and boosts. However, the only downside to the plugin design is that the bands can only be adjusted using dedicated knobs and cannot be manipulated within the graphical display. But with all it’s unique features, coupled with ease of use, low CPU hit, zero latency processing and more, you can always turn to Eiosis Air EQ as your go-to EQ without being let down a bit.
Price – $149
Official webpage : AIREQ PREMIUM
Waves Scheps 73
Like the LA2A in the compressor plugins world, the Neve 1073 classic equalizer is the most modelled analog equalizer in the EQ plugins category. A handful of plugin developers have their version of the EQ out, and Waves being one of the biggest players had to deliver their own take on it. Of course you can bet they delivered accurately. To make this vision feasible, they teamed up with the veteran Grammy awards winning sound engineer – Andrew Scheps, whose personal EQ unit was particularly modelled.
Like the original hardware, the plugin is a three-band EQ. It has the high shelf, the low shelf, and a peaking mid band, each of which offers up to +/-15dB gain. The high band is fixed at 12kHz, the low band covers four frequencies which goes from 35Hz to 60, 110 and 20Hz respectively. While the mid-range has seven frequency settings that can be toggled from 0.36kHz, to 0.7, 1.6, 3.2, 4.8, 7.2 and 10kHz. The added 10kHz mid-range setting is one of Scheps’ customisations, the feature idea was borrowed from the Neve 1078 design. Finally, it has an 18dB/octave high-pass filter which goes from 5kHz to 80, 160, and 300Hz.
A very impressive feature on the EQ is the preamp section, which was modeled to emulate the hardware saturation and harmonic distortions with a drive knob to adjust to taste. The plugin comes in both mono and stereo versions. The stereo version allows switchable stereo, M/S and dual mono processing. With the link button disabled, the left and right parts of the stereo can be processed differently. Considering all these mentioned features and more, the Scheps 73 is arguably the best Neve 1073 modelled EQ plugin out there.
Price – $59
Official webpage : Scheps 73
Plugin alliance / Brainworx Maag EQ4
Brainworx in collaboration with Maag decided to release a digital version of the Maag EQ4 analog EQ which is famous for its smooth air band boosts, and they delivered it perfectly. The real catch here is the Air Band. Believe me when I say in my own experience, that I’ve never used any other plugin with as this much lush and open high boost. Maag EQ4 plugin delivers just the right kind of air, sparkle, and sheen to open things up nicely without getting honky or harsh. Don’t get carried away by the sweetness of the top end though, as this is not the only good thing about this plugin because it is actually an all-round sweetener. One of it’s striking quality is the ability to deliver a tight low end as well.
The Maag EQ4 plugin is actually a six-band EQ, and considering it is not a parametric EQ, that’s a lot of bands to work with. The availability of these much bands does not make working with the plugin complex, because all of these bands operate at a fixed frequency except for the Air band. All the bands filter types from the bottom which starts at 10Hz all the way to the top are all bells, except for the shelf at 2.5kHz. Finally the Air band sits at the extreme end with a knob which can be dialed from 5kHz to 10kHz, 20kHz, and 40kHz. With this EQ, little movement of the knobs makes so much difference because the bands are fairly wide, hence the amount of gain generated with little boosting is noticeable.
Price – $229
Official webpage : Maag Audio EQ4
Acustica Audio Ruby
When Acustica Audio came into the scene, they wanted to change the conventional approach to DSP programming and audio software plugins development. So they came with their own innovative technology which has been effective and evolving over the years. Their plugins are based on a cutting-edge non-linear Vectorial Volterra Kernels technology. Using this technology, their plugins are built on dynamically capturing samples of original hardware gears. This helps them recreate unprecedented sonic quality in the digital world that are very similar to the original hardwares down to the tiniest details and transient response. Employing this technology, Acustica Audio created the Ruby EQ which is an official endorsement and a faithful emulation of the D.W. Fearn VT-5 EQ.
The hardware VT-5 is a highly sought-after vacuum tube equalizer which are strictly handmade to perfection by Mr Fearn himself, hence the huge price of around $10000 USD. The original hardware equalizer uses passive LC circuitry with class-A triode vacuum tube stages for the input and output. The input transformer is made by Jensen. You can bet Acustica captured the sonic nuances of these components well in their plugin. The preamp Section recreates the sonic coloration of the original unit down to the unique harmonic distortion. Customary of them, most of their plug-ins come with a switch to turn on/off the preamp function. If you’ll prefer a clean signal processing, simply turn off the preamp on the plugin.
It also has an “Input Trim” knob with which you can adjust the internal gain control. The “Output Gain” control knob lets you match the original loudness of the audio after applying equalization. Like Maag EQ4, one striking feat this plugin pulls off better than most other out there is its ability to add air to vocals without getting sibilant.
Price – €235.00
Official webpage : ACQUA – Ruby
Waves SSL G-Equalizer
This is one of those classic plugins that have been around for long, but still maintain their good reputation and still get used by lots of professional mixers because they just work. Developed under license from Solid State Logic, the Waves SSL 4000 bundle actually contains three EQs in all. The EQ section on both the SSL E and SSL G channel strips- which can be used alone by bypassing the dynamics, and a stand alone EQ which is a more detailed version of the G channel EQ. The focus here however, is on the stand-alone G channel EQ.
The SSL-G EQ is a digital replication of the SSL G Series EQ292 which are known for their signature character and color. This stand-alone version of has four bands for more control. Though it looks similar to the E series EQ, it has its unique features like having a slightly different curve, and offering a greater gain change than the E-Series EQ. It also has a pre-boost dip and a pre-cut rise, plus a broader Q for overboard boosting and cutting. The analog button turns on the emulated signal noise of the hardware console, which can be turned off if not needed. A tested and trusted awesome plugin for analog coloring.
Price : $129
Official webpage: SSL G-Equalizer
There you have the list of top 10 best EQ VST & AU plugins 2018 people!. Note that the stated prices are the current prices as at when this article was written. If it were not a top ten list, these other other EQ plugins would have made the list (call them the worthy mentions) : Sonimus Burnley 73, Soundtoys Sie-Q, Brainworx BX2 digital, Soundradix SurferEQ, Flux Epure V3, Sonnox Oxford EQ, Kush Elektra, Elysia MusEQ, Waves Api 550, Acustica Audio Gold, and DMG Equality.
I hope this list will help in making your EQ plugin shopping decisions easier. For an insight into how to rightly use EQs, read Explaining the simple use of EQ in music mixing. If you are cash strapped at the moment but still need good third party EQs to mix with, then check the list of Top best free EQ VST plugins with download links for amazingly free highly effective EQ plugins. For more recommendations, read top best compressors VST plugins 2018. Happy music making!.
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