Plugins We ❤ By The Function! (EQ)
It’s rare to meet anyone that’s used every plugin, matter of fact, it’s probably Impossible. I’ve definitely used my fair share, and I’m sure you have too. We decided to present a “Top 3 or so” of sorts on each of our favorite plugins, by their function. If you’ve been using a few different models for the same function, I hope this short series sheds a little more light on why we like the plugins we do. We encourage you to chime in through our forum to tell us why you like the ones you use, and what you think about our opinions on the plugins we list. Here goes…
SONNOX 5 BAND
I’m sure many of you use Sonnox Plugins, If you don’t, you should! In Pro Tools I’ve used the TDM version mostly, and it takes up a basket load of DSP, so with our system we weren’t able to go crazy with them on every track, but in use this EQ performs masterfully for a plugin. I have to say, I almost always prefer hardware in most functions (compression, and EQ), but the 5-Band from Sonnox is definitely at the top of the line for plugins. The main attribute is their decramping feature. In most EQ plugins, the bell curve of a boost is actually far more uneven than it looks, so the Sonnox EQ plugins are designed to even out that on both sides of the bandwidth boost. You should definitely read the info from their site to learn more about why it’s such an improvement. Other than that, the EQ actually sounds very clear, and pristine (but not clinical) as well. I know I’m a huge fan of the Sonnox on vocals, and I’ve used it on glockenspiel and marimba as well, basically anything that has a lot of great high frequency information that I want to really shine through. As you can see from the photo, you’ve got everything you’d want in this EQ, 5 parametric bands, a high pass and Low pass function, as well as shelving options. What’s really very interesting are the EQ Types that you can select from. The “types” space allow you to select from modifications of the EQ that relate to wider Q settings for mastering, more precise settings for surgical manipulation, SSL E console based EQ, as well as British EQ in which the Q rises with gain boosts.
The reaction of the GUI is fine, you can achieve some really precise EQ settings and although I prefer to navigate with a control surface, using a mouse to control the EQ won’t make you want to tear your hair out.
Waves API 550A
Many companies try to recreate hardware these days, but I have to say Waves has done an excellent job with their API EQ line. This 550A is a favorite of mine on vocals, and drums or basically anything I want “transient shimmer” on. The 550A and B have a few things in common and look very similar, but their sounds are very different. The 550A emulation is great for what it is, a three band EQ with shelving and bandpass filter options. I generally like to push this EQ a little to see if the analog emulation really ads something extra, and it performs well with varying levels of input. I actually think with the stepped boosts/cuts this is a little easier to replicate settings with especially if you are working with a mouse. This was developed in association with API, so you know Waves had their blessing, as well as, their input on what really made the original hardware unit special.
If you are looking for an EQ to put across your master bus. For me, this is it. Many have said, there are some great items that just make music sound awesome when they run through it. Although, this is a plugin and it processes 0’s and 1’s. I do get the feeling this emulation adds that analog flair. It’s got one set bandwidth control and two settings for low frequency and high frequency. Simple as that. I feel like my tracks are fatter and have more energy with light settings through the Pultec on the master bus. I never push this too hard, but it definitely ads a glue effect sonically and that’s a great thing when it comes to master bus processing. One extra thing to note, is the less often used Boost and Attenuation knobs. As you can see, the Low and High frequency settings have their own Boost controls and the gain setting for attenuation across both ranges is set by one knob on the far right labeled “Atten Sel”.
There are many more EQ’s we like, The Waves Q-10, H-EQ, and Linear Phase EQ’s are also worth mentioning. In my opinion, it’s all really about what you’re using it for, but most of these EQ’s can be used in a myriad of situations. If you like distinct recognizable sounds look toward an emulation much like the 550 or the Pultec, and if you are just looking to effect some changes in your signal without an alter in timbre or coloration, you’ll want to look more towards the Q10 type plugins. Next up, Compression!
**Did we miss anything? What are your Top 3 EQ plugins? Let us know in the forum!**
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