EQ plugins are one of the best creations of this digital era. Without them, it would be impossible to create awesome-sounding tracks at our home recording studios.
There are hundreds of great plugins with great features and sound. You can find free plugins or premium ones. Many plugins are based on famous, classic analog equalizers and if you like analog sound, you can choose them.
I am here to present to you the best equalizer plugins I have used and know that they are great. The list includes free plugins as well as premium ones.
What Is EQ
EQ or equalizer is a tool for audio correction. With EQ you can change specific frequencies on the audio frequency range. It allows you to boost or cut any frequency you need. This way different instruments will sit better in the whole mix.
Equalizers have various controls that let you change frequency behavior. You can cut or boost lows, mids, highs, etc. And because different instruments overlap on the spectrum, EQ is the tool to clean your audio.
There are a vast number of EQs. Some are analog and outboard, some are digital, and so on. Also, you may encounter terms such as parametric and graphic equalizers.
Graphic vs Parametric EQ
Graphic and parametric EQs work the same way and you may have an analog device or digital plugin in both types. The difference is in interface and controls. Everything else is the same.
Graphic EQ has slides for specific frequencies and you can boost or cut these frequencies. Control is like a slide and you can slide them up or down. Many EQ pedals use graphic style. The only downside is that you only change frequencies that device offers.
With parametric EQ you have more freedom. Instead of slides and dedicated frequencies, you have knobs and a full spectrum to tweak. Also, most parametric equalizers have a visual screen to see how you change the EQ. It’s easier to mix with parametric EQs because not only do you hear changes, but you also see them.
Top Premium EQ Plugins
Let’s start with the best premium EQ plugins. All of them are very high-quality, have great features, sound, and a very affordable price. Every home studio owner can buy each plugin.
FabFilter Pro-Q 3
FabFilter Pro-Q 3 is my favorite EQ plugin. Using it is very easy and has amazing features. Works perfectly and is very transparent. This plugin becomes industry standard day by day and many famous engineers use it.
FabFilter Pro-Q 3 is a parametric EQ with all the default features. It’s great for mixing and mastering. Offers features such as dynamic EQ, mid and side processing, you can create up to 24 EQ bands, and much more. Another great option is that you can solo each EQ band and hear that specific frequency.
FabFilter Pro-Q 3 Features:
- High-quality sound
- Up to 24 EQ bands
- The best interface
- You can EQ mid and sides separately
PuigTec EQP-1 & MEQ-5
PuigTec EQ is a great premium plugin by Waves. It’s based on a famous unit made by producer and engineer Jack Joseph Puig who has worked with bands such as U2, Rolling Stones, etc. One of the best sounding plugins for analog gear enthusiasts. When you work with it it’s like you work with a real analog device.
PuigTec EQP-1 is an equalizer with various control options. You can create band shape, adjust gain, control low frequency, attenuation, and boost. Also, it has a VU meter. MEQ-5 is a mid-range equalizer where you control peaks, mid frequencies, gain, etc.
PuigTec equalizer is an awesome plugin for every home recording studio owner. With it, you can create juicy-sounding mixes with analog flavor.
PuigTec EQ Features:
- Modeled after Pultec EQs
- Great control for mid-range
- Awesome analog sound
SplitEQ by Eventide Audio is a new and innovative equalizer made by modern technologies. Its approach is to mixing and EQ is very different and new. The plugin has some of the best features you can find in EQ plugins and works perfectly.
At first, it’s an 8-band parametric EQ. But the real power is in the splitting feature called Structural Split. What SplitEQ does is that it splits audio and you can control Transient and Tonal streams separately. This gives you more flexibility.
SplitEQ is a versatile and professional EQ plugin. You can smooth transients, remove de-ess, reduce snare ring with filters, and more. Has an awesome interface and options like stereo imaging.
- Transient and Tonal split
- 8 EQ bands
- Stereo imaging
SurferEQ 2 is a unique plugin with its features. It’s a parametric EQ with all the controls you need to tweak your audio frequency. Its features consist of a harmonic filter, spectral gate, spectrum analyzer, 64-bit internal processing, and more.
But its uniqueness is in the pitch-tracking option. It can track instruments and vocals, detect pitch and automatically adjust the bands. That is not found in many other plugins. It can be a great helping tool while mixing. You can use it as a starting point and continue with manual tweaking.
- Amazing pitch-tracking ability
- Zero-latency mode
- Asymmetric EQ algorithms
Waves SSL E-Channel
SSL E-Channel is another great plugin from Waves. It’s based on the Solid State Logic 4000 series console and sounds awesome. It’s a graphic EQ and you have to trust your ears to EQ your tracks. This is an EQ and compressor plugin in one package. So, it’s a great combo for mixing and mastering.
It has HF and LF controls, and also split mid-range control for low mids and high mids. The compressor side includes compression, threshold, release, and attack. Also, you have an option to choose an analog circuit or switch it off.
SSL E-Channel Features:
- Great analog sound
- EQ and compressor in one box
- Great EQ for drums
UA Maag EQ4
UA Maag EQ4 is one of the best EQ plugins out there. Very minimalist, easy-to-use, and great sounding gear for your home studio. This EQ is great for everything – instruments, vocals, or drums. Has a very transparent sound and can give a new breath to your tracks.
With Maag EQ4 you get five EQ band controls. You can control sub lows, and various frequencies such as 40Hz,160Hz, 650Hz, and 2.5kHz. Also, you have gained control. This device produces a very clean and natural sound.
UA Maag EQ4 Features:
- Transparent and natural sound
- Great for instruments and vocals
- Great low and high control
Top Free EQ Plugins
For those who want to try some free EQ plugins, don’t have a budget, or just starting engineering, these free plugins are great to learn or create great tracks.
If you want to have a great EQ for free, then try SlickEQ by TDR. This is a premium plugin that is offered for free. Although it has a very minimal design, it is very powerful. You get the frequency and gain knobs for lows, mids, and highs. Also, you have options for high-pass and low-pass filters.
Another great option is in the presets of SlickEQ. You have four options to choose from. And each of them is a different type of EQ. You can choose between German, American, British, or Soviet presets. Each adds a different flavor to your mix.
- Great semi-parametric EQ
- Four different EQ models
- Five output stages
MEqualizer is an awesome free plugin with cool features. It’s very easy to use, a parametric EQ with six EQ bands. It has vintage analog sound and has a beautiful spectrum analyzer and sonogram. It makes the mixing process easier.
Also, MEqualizer has features such as tube saturation and each band has seven filter types. So, you can tweak your sound as you wish. These features give you the ability to do everything you want with your audio. Additionally, you can mix wet and dry signals.
- Seven filter types for EQ bands
- Spectrum analyzer and sonogram
- Built-in tube saturation
Logic Channel is one of the best free EQ plugins by SmackLabs. You get many great options in one box. Based on an analog device, this plugin can make your track sound natural. You must try this plugin to see its real power. Within one box you get EQ, compressor, gate, and filters
With EQ you can control lows, mids, and highs. You can compress your audio and use the gate option too. Also, you can control audio input and output. Logic Channel is a must-have free plugin for every home recording engineer.
Logic Channel Features:
- Great natural and transparent sound
- EQ, compressor, and gate in one box
- For mixing and mastering
Luftikus is a very simple but powerful EQ plugin for home studio owners. It’s free, based on analog devices, and offers great sound. You have options to choose an analog circuit and also use it as a mastering tool.
With Luftikus you can control predefined frequency points. Five in total. In addition to that, you have a high boost for various frequencies. Also, it has a gain switch that can avoid overall gain change.
- Great for mastering and mixing
- Five EQ points with additional high boost
- Simple but powerful
Triple EQ by Blue Cat is a great free, 3-band semi-parametric equalizer plugin. You can control it like a single filter and it makes using Triple EQ easy. Great for beginners. Has a beautiful graph to visually see what you change.
Triple EQ has a low filter, high filter, and boost/cut filter. It’s a very versatile plugin with great sound. Also, it offers channel splitting where you can tweak left and right or middle channels. Great equalizer plugin for small, cosmetic corrections.
Triple EQ Features:
- Great for cosmetic EQ
- Channel splitting option
- Wide range for EQ bands
These free and premium EQ plugins are great tools for every home recording studio. Whether you are a beginner or professional mixer engineer, you need to try one of these plugins. Premium plugins offer awesome sound and features and free ones are great alternatives. Also, free plugins are great for beginners who are in a learning process. Try them and see their power.