Equalizers and Compressors are an engineer’s bread and butter (although we’re not sure which one is the bread or which is the butter) - but we’re otherwise confident that they must be among the most-used tools when it comes to modern music production. Having recently revealed Gearspaces' ten most talked about compressors, now it’s time for the cherished EQ “bread”. Or was that butter..?

All the plug-ins on our list are cross-platform with Apple Mac & Windows support and compatible with all major AAX, AU and VST plug-in hosts.

DMG Audio EQuilibrium

It’s hard to think of another equalizer plug-in that is as deep and flexible as EQuilibrium. DMG Audio is known for developing plug-ins that are extremely customisable, offering users a plethora of options to adjust not only the incoming sounds but also many options about how the plug-in itself will look, from ‘super-complete’ with all the bells & whistles available to bare-bones basic controls and display info. Besides maybe saturation or “analogue”-style distortion, there’s very little that EQuilibrium can’t do - it’s basically a compendium of equalization curves from past to present with a myriad of deep-tweaking options that makes it arguably the most comprehensive digital equalizer ever made.

Tokyo Dawn Labs Slick EQ M - Mastering Edition

Tokyo Dawn Labs continues to grow their SlickEQ line, and after the highly successful Standard and “Gentleman’s Edition” versions they have delivered something to delight the mastering engineers among us. The Slick EQ M Mastering Edition is all about offering plenty of control over the equalization process but doing so without overloading our brains with too many parameters, and to make it even sweeter it’s just as affordable as all the other Tokyo Dawn Labs plug-ins, so there’s no excuse left for those bad-sounding masters, except for maybe the talent behind the desk!

Soundtoys Sie-Q

A rare German equalizer (with some tasty saturation) has been brought to our computers by one of the industry’s most respected developers - and it’s basically a recipe for success. Added to that there’s the fact that it was given out for free for a limited time - and all together Soundtoys has a major hit. That’s Sie-Q in a nutshell, a simple and effective plug-in that’s instantly satisfying - even more so when you didn’t have to spend a single cent on it. For those who missed out on the initial giveaway, all we can say is - spend more time on Gearspace, we don’t miss stuff like this! All is not lost though, Sie-Q is now available to purchase both individually (at a very reasonable price) or as a part of the all-encompassing Soundtoys 5 bundle.

Eiosis AirEQ Premium

The elegant AirEQ Premium definitely puts a marker down for Eiosis on the equalizer map. This plug-in makes the best out of digital, combining a feature-rich package with excellent ease of use and the highest degree of precision. The highlight here goes to the “fire and water” controls, which can tweak the resonance of the equalization bands in a continuous fashion, allowing for quick flipping through softer or more prominent curves. This plug-in took a while to be developed and was met with high expectations, but it’s safe to say it has surpassed them all to become of one of our community’s favourite equalizers.

Waves Scheps 73

Veteran developer Waves Audio sure knows to make great plug-ins, and the Scheps 73 is another example of how relevant the brand still is. As the name hints this plug-in was developed under the guidance of Grammy®-winning engineer Andrew Scheps and it brings an interesting take on a coveted Neve 1073 preamp/equalizer. This plug-in resembles a console channel moreso than a standalone “rack” unit, presenting a more spacious interface to house two VU meters, two big volume faders and all the classic 1073 features, with three EQ bands, HPF and preamp control to dial in that famous saturation. Could this be the “endgame” plug-in version of the 1073?

Flux Epure v3

With a decade of history passed since its release, the Flux:: Epure is almost a “vintage” plug-in! This classy minimum-phase parametric EQ was first introduced in 2008 and is currently on its third iteration. However, it hasn’t changed too much over the years, retaining its core features mostly untouched while adding support to newer formats such as AAX to keep up with the times. Rest assured the transparent sound, unobstructed interface and Flux::’s trademark A/B morphing slider are all still there! However, rumour has it that Flux:: has been on the move lately, and we wouldn’t be surprised if a big update lands at some point soon.

PSP Audioware PSP E27

Another “old-time” developer that makes our list is PSP with their exquisite E27, their latest equalizer plug-in that emulates the namesake hardware unit from Avedis Audio Electronics. This nifty EQ comes with three equalization bands, each with nine positions, and a preamp module to inject our beloved analogue saturation into your signal. In order to save CPU and screen real estate E27 owners can also use the E27e, a trimmed-down version that gives up the dual-mono and mid-side features in order to offer a more lean package that should be great for large sessions or when system resources are a concern. It’s light on the CPU, but not on quality!

Sonimus Burnley 73

Another take on the venerable 1073 comes from Sonimus with the Burnley 73, but to use a car analogy, if earlier we had a “luxury car” version of the good ol’ 1073 now we have a flashy “hot rod” to drive around Tone City. Burnley not only brings the three iconic equalization bands and high-pass filter but also the behaviour of the preamp section, including both the subtle “LINE” input option and the more aggressive “MIC” input distortion. However, Sonimus added a twist here as there’s a volume compensation algorithm running under the hood that allows the user to crank up the saturation without excessively raising the output level. Zoom!

Acustica Audio Ruby

While some plug-ins on our list have been rocking our DAWs for many years, Acustica Audio’s Ruby is fresh out of the lab. These guys are known for their emulation prowess and they now present a plug-in version of the D.W. Fearn VT-5 vacuum-tube equalizer, a distinctive high-end unit lauded by many engineers worldwide. This is a shared effort between both manufacturers in order to make Ruby an impeccable recreation of the VT-5, and so far the community’s response has been extremely positive, which warrants its place on our list. Definitely worth a go if you love that sound as much as we do.

It’s quite a diverse set of plug-ins this time with something for everyone, from “digital” EQs oozing with features to simple yet effective “analogue-esque” designs, so nearly all modern EQ approaches are covered. Honourable mentions go to Sly-Fi Axis, Lindell Audio TE-100, Sonnox Oxford EQ, and we could name many others as there’s a pile of great equalizer plug-ins out there that we can dig. Check out the Music Computers forum for more in-depth discussion and comparison.

What have you been using to shape your tracks? Are you satisfied with the current state of affairs when it comes to EQ plug-ins? What do you want to see next? Share your thoughts below!