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Tim Cant checks Digital EQs in new Plugin Boutique Top 5 Friday

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In Plugin Boutique’s latest episode of Top 5 Friday, Tim Cant takes a look at some popular digital equalizer plugins.

5. Photosounder SplineEQ

It’s the EQ that every graphic designer wishes they could use as well. SplineEQ gives you Bezier splines to set the curvature for each band, so you can dial in unusual curves – asymmetrical ones, extra steep ones, and other weird shapes.

As well as settings for each curve, SplineEQ lets you affect the entire plot at once, with controls for scaling gain and transposing to move the entire frequency set up and down. It’s also got some very heavy frequencies in there – it can boost up to 60dB, so you’ll be glad there’s a limiter in there too.

4. Voxengo PrimeEQ

In with that understated Voxengo design is PrimeEQ. It’s a modern-style graphic EQ that lets you bring bands into existence with a single click – nothing but the best for 2019’s EQ connoisseur.

PrimeEQ doesn’t have bells and whistles – it’s an extremely quick EQ with a focus on getting to where you want to be as quickly as possible. It can load up to 32 bands with 13 filter types for each, and will show you exactly what each filter band is doing to the overall signal using its display. There’s also an Undo History so you can easily get back to old settings. All the mod cons.

3. sonible smart:EQ 2

With its Artificial Intelligence filters, smart:EQ listens to your input and suggests a more balanced approach for an individual track or an entire mix.

When you start generating a smart curve in Smart:EQ 2, the first thing to do is to identify what instrument you’re feeding it, so that the plugin can make appropriate suggestions. There’s a long list of options from voice, bass and hi-hats to instruments like trombone and clarinet. You hit the capture button and play the audio into smart:EQ, which gives you a suggested curve, which you can then scale and tweak however you like.

Recently, the version 2 update of smart:EQ put mid/side filters into the mix, so you can differently EQ mono or stereo information using it.

2. Wavesfactory Spectre

Classic analogue EQs have generated a myth in audio production: that you should always cut instead of boosting. This was because of the EQ bands’ tendency to add to a signal’s noise floor, but modern, digital EQs don’t suffer from this.

Spectre, being thoroughly modern, actually uses harmonic enhancement under the hood to do its thing, and this actually leads to a boost-only EQ design, which would have been unthinkable for producers and engineers of the past.

But in the end, what you get with Spectre is an EQ that boosts sounds not just in level but in richness, emphasising the parts of the sound that are already there in order to create a great result.

1. FabFilter Pro-Q 3

The king of all EQs, and one of the most highly regarded plugins out there, Pro-Q 3 is immediate, easy, looks great, and sounds great too.

Far from just doing standard EQ, Pro-Q 3 suggests notches to bring down when you hover over the spectrum, allows you to set individual bands to mid, side, left or right channels, can match your audio input to a sidechained source track, and can detect masking frequencies on other tracks with a Pro-Q 3 on them or connected via sidechain input.

Pro-Q also gives every band the ability to go dynamic, has ‘brickwall’ filter types for insanely steep but great-sounding audio, lets you operate in fullscreen mode, can automatically adjust output gain, and has loads more features.

Check out these and more equalizer plugins at Plugin Boutique

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