EQ is one of the most basic—and important—tools you have as an audio engineer.

But there are so many different EQs out there, how do you know which ones are for you?

You might be thinking your DAW’s channel EQ is perfectly fine. But not all EQs are the same. There’s more types than you might think.

Jul 09, 2013  Building on a decade of the world's most intensive modeling research, UA has recreated the famed Pultec EQ experience for the UAD Powered Plug-In Platform -. Jul 15, 2016 Three amazing software EQP-1A emulations. Universal Audio Pultec Passive EQ Collection. Another in a series of older UAD plugins that have been reworked and rejigged with better sonics and more options, the Pultec Passive Collection includes a virtual EQP-1A, MEQ-5 and HLF-3C low- and high-cut filters. Euphonic musical colors. This module is based on what is universally known as one of the best and most musical program EQs ever made, the Pultec® EQP-1A.Extremely accurate modeling of two real world units, known to have 'the sound', with sonic performance that is indistinguishable from the originals, thanks to IK's DSM™ and new SCC™ resulted in this great sounding plug-in. Pultec EQP-1A Emulations. One of the most widely used hardware EQs out there, we are fortunate that so many plugin companies have emulated the classic Pultec EQP-1A. We’ve got options from UAD, Waves, IK Multimedia, Avid and others. I’m partial to the UAD version, but there are many serviceable recreations of this Pultec on the plugin. Universal Audio’s Pultec Pro Legacy plug-in combines the Pultec MEQ-5 Midrange Equalizer and the Pultec EQP-1A Program Equalizer, two of the most.

Here’s the 15 best EQ Plugins on the market today:

This article will teach you about the common styles of EQ and how to use them to shape the perfect sound.

Let’s dive in!

Analog EQ

Early EQs were all analog. Some of the earliest equalizer designs are still around today.

Engineers covet these analog beauties for the musically pleasing way they shape sounds. The musical qualities are the result of the unique circuit design of each unit.

Certain EQs became so sought after that plugin designers developed software to emulate them as closely as possible in the digital domain—leading to a mind-boggling ocean of plugin choices.

So what are the different styles of analog EQ? How do they work? What are they used for and where do they work best?

There’s no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing an EQ. But there are some helpful guidelines that will help you get started with the classic designs.

Pultec-style EQ

The Pultec EQP-1A is the most sought after EQ ever. Well-preserved original units can sell for over $10,000.

The Pultec EQP-1A is the most sought after EQ ever.

Fortunately for us, the EQP-1A has a long history of software emulation. Today’s Pultec-style plugins can sound good—if you know how to use them.

Pultec-style EQ can work wonders to subtly boost top end or extend lows. It can even make broad EQ enhancements without sacrificing any of the original vibe of the sound.

Since the EQP-1A hails from the earliest era of equalizers, it’s control scheme is a little less intuitive than modern designs.

The bandwidth control affects both the high and low band, but low band works differently from the high band.

For the low band, the boost and attenuate knobs are both linked to one of four frequency options. This quirk allows you to both boost and cut at the selected frequency.

The overlapping filters create a steep bump that’s fantastic for boosting the fundamental frequencies of low end instruments.

The high band has separate frequency options for boosting and cutting with overlaps at 5 and 10 kHz.

These controls are interactive and can result in some unique equalization curves.

Best Pultec EQ VSTs

Free Plugin: Ignite Amps PTeq-X

Ignite Amps PTeq-X is a fantastic (and free) way to get started with Pultec-style EQ. It works just like the original so you can get a sense for creating those quirky overlapping curves.

Cheap Plugin: Waves PuigTec EQP-1A

The Waves PuigTec EQP-1A is a well-emulated, workhorse Pultec EQ. It’s very affordable if you can catch it on sale.

Pro Plugin: UAD Pultec EQP-1A

The UAD Pultec EQP-1A is the industry standard software Pultec. UAD spared no expense in creating the perfect Pultec for your DAW.

SSL Channel EQ

SSL console strips did a lot to inform our idea of what a modern EQ is.

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SSL console strips did a lot to inform our idea of what a modern EQ is.

Classic features we’re familiar with today like integrated high/low-pass filters and variable Q were popularized by these consoles.

The SSL consoles are famous for their incredibly powerful filters.

The sharp high/low-pass filters, precise frequency ranges and extremely narrow Q options make this a EQ a first choice for surgical suturing and dramatic tonal changes. Their character is precise but aggressive.


Free Plugin: Smacklabs Logic Channel

Smacklabs Logic Channel is a good entry-level SSL EQ. This free plugin models the entire SSL channel strip, so you can try out the classic SSL-style compressor and gate/expander while you’re at it.

Cheap Plugin: Slate FG-S

The Slate FG-S comes bundled with their very affordable VMR channel strip collection. The FG-S packs all the features and sound of the aggressive, surgical SSL channel EQ.

Pro Plugin: SSL Native Channel Strip

SSL recently jumped into the software game with its own line of plugins—including an in-house version of their classic console channel strip. Why not go straight to the source?

API-style EQ

Experienced engineers often refer to API as the “American” sound in contrast to the “British” Neve tone.

They’re two sides of the same classic console coin.

If you’re a fan of music from the 60’s and 70’s, there’s a good chance some of your favourite records were recorded one of these desks.

The classic API EQ comes in a three band (550a) or four-band (550b) flavour.

The bands don’t have individual Q controls, but the EQ is designed so that the Q becomes progressively sharper as you apply more extreme cuts or boosts.

It’s intuitive and keeps you from worrying too much about the Q setting.

API-style EQ splits the difference between surgical and sculpting. Mild settings can be very transparent, while extreme cuts or boosts can be dramatic and vibey.


Free Plugin: Bee-Happy 550

Bee-Happy 500 is a free API-style plugin for those looking to start with classic 70’s console EQ.

Cheap Plugin: Sly-Fi Axis

Sly-Fi Axis is part of the UBK family of products that includes the innovative Kush Audio hardware and software. This EQ is an API on steroids that’s meant to exaggerate the analog colouration of the original.

Pro Plugin: Waves 550a & 550b

Waves 550a and 550b are fantastic native emulations of the API EQ. These are great-sounding and versatile plugins to get the API sound on your tracks.

Neve-style EQ

Neve consoles are the world’s most prized vintage recording equipment.

From the early sixties until the mid-eighties, Neve Electronics produced consoles legendary for their warm, musical sound.

The preamp section of the Neve console strip often gets the most attention, but the EQ is a big part of the Neve sound.

Neve EQs are another great option for broad, smooth cuts and boosts with lots of character.

Neve EQs are another great option for broad, smooth cuts and boosts with lots of character.

There are several different flavours of Neve EQ from the various revisions of the console, but they mostly share the same architecture with a high-pass filter, two or three parametric mid bands and one fixed high band.

The fixed 12 kHz high band found on the Neve 1073 EQ is famous for its ability to add air to vocals, drum rooms and overheads.

Best Neve EQ VSTs

Free Plugin: Smacklabs SL84 Console EQ

Smacklabs SL84 Console EQ will give you a taste of the Neve EQ sound for free. It’s accurately modelled using IR technology.

Cheap Plugin: Sonimus Burnley 73

Sonimus Burnley 73 is super economical way to get the sound of a 1073 on to your tracks.

Pro Plugin: UAD Neve 1073

The UAD Neve 1073 is a tremendously accurate emulation of the classic 1073 preamp and EQ. It’s incredibly smooth and musical with tone that screams Neve.

Digital EQ

We all drool over the analog EQ beauties. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t extremely useful and creative tools that don’t have anything in common with the classics.

Digital EQ is essential for any DAW. It’s the most precise tool in your EQ tool box.

Pultec Eqp-1a Vst

Reach for digital EQ when you want to make changes without colouring your sound at all. In the right hands, digital EQ can be powerful, flexible and utterly undetectable.

Reach for digital EQ when you want to make changes without colouring your sound at all.

It’s a first choice for “problem solving” duties like notching out room resonances.

Best Digital EQ VSTs

Free Plugin: Your built-in DAW EQ

Most DAWs come bundled with a capable digital EQ. We’re talking about stock DAW plugins like Ableton EQ Eight, Logic Channel EQ, and Avid EQIII. These are all effective entry points into digital EQ.

Free Pultec Eq

Cheap Plugin: Voxengo PrimeEQ

Voxengo PrimeEQ is a robust, well-designed digital EQ from a respected company. Look no further if you’re after a nice workhorse digital EQ.

Pro Plugin: Fabfilter ProQ 2

Free Vst Download Site

Fabfilter ProQ 2 is the most technologically advanced EQ on this list. The raw power of this EQ is staggering—it’s a singular feat of DSP engineering. Listing all its incredibly powerful features would take far too long, let’s just say this a top-tier professional EQ!

Great Equalizer

There’s a whole world of EQ out there.

Best Pultec Eq Plugin

It’s such a fundamental tool that engineers will always have strong opinions about it. And that means that designers will always be creating new and better versions.

Pultec Eqp-1a Vst Download Full

Wading through that water is daunting and exciting at the same time.

But now that you know a little bit about the types of EQ, go head try some of the plugins on this list. You’ll find out which EQ works best for you!

  • Sound Quality
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Equalization is the heart of mixing besides where you place the faders. If you have a great EQ you can add all kinds of sweetness to the sound of your tracks and it will make for an intangible that means all the difference in the world between bland and high quality. That being said very few analog equalizers are as famous as the original Pultec EQP-1A, for the very reason that it does the job by adding a very special sound to anything you pass through it. Unfortunately the original units cost several thousands of dollars per channel and remakes are not much cheaper. But in the world of ITB mixing there are several options that try to capture the sound of the Pultec. Universal Audio was one of the first major players to go all out and make a really competent Pultec emulation with their EQP-1A plug-in. But the question always arises: does it sound like a real Pultec? More on that in a minute.
The Pultec Pro plug-in is really two plug-ins in one that come with separate modules for the EQP-1A and the MEQ-5 midrange equalizer. I use both regularly. The controls are very simple (as with a real Pultec). You have a low shelving filter where you can boost or cut at set corner frequencies. There is a high peak boost, with variable bandwidth and finally a high shelf cut at selectable corner frequencies. With the MEQ-5 unit there is a low mid peak boost, a low mid to mid cut and a high mid peak boost, all at selectable, set frequencies.
So does it sound like a real Pultec? Well I have heard and used a real Pultec and various analog copies of the original and I'd say that no the UAD version doesn't sound exactly like one. But it's close enough in sound that you get similar effects from the material you use it on in the mix as if you were using the real thing. With the plug-in there is a subtle lack of dimension and fullness as compared to the actual hardware. That's not really a problem if you're used to mixing ITB and aware of the usual differences between hardware and software emulations.
If you're fine with working ITB and accept the UAD Pultec on it's own terms it's a wonderful, characterful, software EQ. I find it great for fattening up a bass drum or bass guitar, for taming harshness on electric guitars, for adding a sense of vibe to an otherwise bland track and for making something sound a bit thicker and dirtier when it's too clean and thin. It's really a fine EQ. The drawback is that dialing in too much will usually result in mud. To avoid that is a matter of not using a Pultec on every single track and being careful about how you dial it in. But on the whole I like the sound of the UAD version and I find it goes a long way towards giving some vibe to ITB mixes. I highly recommend it.