Best EQ VST Plugins: The Definitive List  [2021]

 by 

Jay Von K   -  


Updated: December 27, 2020

Imagine owning a plugin that could vastly improve your mix….

Whether you are an engineer or a composer, your work can have that extra touch once you read this article!

Because here we'll take you through our handpicked selection of the top equalization tools the market has to offer!

Best EQ VST Plugins
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Before we get deeper into this, let’s say a few things about equalizers...

Although once they used to be bulky and heavy pieces of equipment, equalizers are now accessible as VST plugins.

This has not only made them easier to handle, but they feature more possibilities for demanding productions.

Equalizing is an art, and once you master it, your tracks will become more lively, sweet, and even punchy and moving, if that is what you are looking for.

Frankly speaking, EQs can be the difference between a bland and a rousing track.

But to master the art, you need to have the right tools. That’s why here you will find 13 different recommendations to choose from!

Let’s start!

The 13 Best EQ VST Plugins of 2021 include:

1. Fabfilter Pro-Q3

Fabfilter Pro-Q 3
General

Looking for a digital EQ tool but with the beauty of an analog EQ?

Look no further than the FabFilter Pro-Q3.

Admittedly, this could be the uncrowned king and queen of EQ plugins.

Why?

To begin with, the Pro-Q3 brings with it a reassuring equalization functionality.

Pro-Q3

And while at it, the level of precision is something you’ll drool over.

Specifically, it is a 24 band EQ that allows overly precise surgical boost and cuts.

And each band permits selection between up to eight filter shapes besides allowing control over bandwidth, frequency, and gain.

Furthermore, Pro-Q3 features three processing modes, namely; Zero Latency, Natural Phase, and Linear Phase.

What else makes it a winner?

It has an astonishingly clear sound.

Pro-Q3 - Band Controls

Thanks to premium filters, you can move in precisely on the elements you want to boost or cut.

Similarly, you have a sweeping spectral analyzer and dynamic EQ capabilities.

It gives the ability to react proportionately to incoming signals, ultimately ensuring accurate sound shaping.

We could go on and on…

the features list is perhaps the best you can find at it it's class.

All said and done!

The Pro-Q3 is the perfect example of a versatile EQ tool great for typical boosting and correction purposes.

Fabfilter Pro-Q3


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Fabfilter Pro-Q3:

2. Sonible SmartEQ 2

Sonible SmartEQ 2
General

As the name suggests, the Sonible Smart EQ 2 is as intelligent as it goes.

But, even juicier is the limitless sonic possibility it brings to the working space.

Now, while it is more of a general-purpose tool, its functionality stands out.

At its core is the revolutionary Sonible smart: engine™ filter technology, which provides content-aware audio processing.

Smart EQ2

Artificial intelligence makes it possible to achieve unprecedented transparent mixes by fine-tuning tonal imbalances.

Yes!

Smart EQ 2 can analyze your audio and produce a custom filter curve for a natural tonal balance.

Similarly, it can add clarity, additional punch, or even curve out crude parts of a mix with mind-blowing accuracy.

Isn’t that cool?

With AI technology, creating, saving, sharing profiles for your sound can’t get any easier.

You can tune everything to your style.

In other words, you can refine your audio and reach your mixing objectives without putting too much effort.

In essence, the Smart EQ 2 can enhance the detail, clarity, and transparency of your mixes in just a few tweaks.

And if the Smart Q 2 doesn’t satisfy your equalization needs, you can check out proximity:EQ+ and entropy: EQ+ also By Sonible.

proximityEQ+ and entropy EQ+

Proximity EQ+ is particularly reliable if you want to simplify how you manipulate post-production harmonics and noise elements of your audio.

On the other hand, Entropy EQ+ can be handy if you are looking to differentiate harmonic and non-harmonic sound.

Overall, Sonible’s range of EQ’s can help you stay ahead no matter your mixing threshold.



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Sonible SmartEQ 2:
Sonible entropy EQ+:
Sonible proximity:EQ+:
Sonible Special EQ Bundle:

3. Slate Digital FG-A & FG-S

Slate Digital FG-A & FG-S
General

Next, the FG-A and FG-S are part of the impressive Slate Digital EQ bundle.

To begin with, the FG-S presents itself as an aggressive surgical channel equalizer.

Yeah! You read that right.

In reality- it is a digital emulation of a famous British console EQ dating back to the '80s.

FG-S

But here’s the exciting bit, it is rich in harmonics and responsive mid bands layered with thick tones.

The FG-S is fantastic for surgical cutting strokes, particularly if you’re aiming to achieve a more authentic punch on a track.

Well!

Yes, you can always consider it an elegant EQ mix master ideal for a wide range of tracks.

On the other hand, the FG-A is a vintage American equalizer that precisely imitates the long-esteemed API 550 EQ.

FG-A

As an analogue modeling processor, it features classic curves, fat saturation, and more.

That only means it can treat your track in no time.

You’ll also be thankful it uses proportional Q design, which enables near-perfect virtualization.

Granted, it’s a go-to option if you are looking for a musically pleasing edge of a four-band EQ.

Other incredible offerings here include up to 12 dB cut or boost, continuous knobs, and excellent saturation.

Slate Digital FG-AWATCH THE DEMO

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Slate Digital FG-A:
Slate Digital FG-S:

4. Wavesfactory Spectre

Wavesfactory Spectre
General

For starters, Spectre by Wavesfactory brings a little twist to the world of equalization.

Unlike other alternatives that employ typical phase manipulation to boost tones, it leverages on harmonic saturation.

Ideally, it only works to boost, hence will not work for contouring the frequency spectrum.

On the contrary, if you want to advance the body and presence to a tone range, it definitely fits the bill.

Graphical Display

What’s more?

It blends the best features of an enhancer alongside graphical parametric EQ.

That way, it can process the difference between the input signal and the EQ signal.

Consequently, it can work on lone tracks, sub-mixes, or entire mixes with desirable efficiency.

Are you looking for versatility?

Yes!

You’ll appreciate the multi-band enhancing feature and up to ten saturation algorithms.

Filter Controls

It can introduce harmonic content unavailable in the original recording, thereby giving it color and life something impossible via conventional means.

In the end, you can forget about dull recordings and step into a new world of colorful natural sound.

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Wavesfactory Spectre:

5. Sound Radix Surfer EQ 2

Sound Radix Surfer EQ 2
General

Well, Sound Radix Surfer EQ 2 is another interesting radically musical EQ tool.

A reliable pick when it comes to matters timbre shaping, it works based on a simple concept of identifying the basic pitch of an instrument.

In application, as the pitch changes with the note getting played, this plugin provides the option of adjusting selected corner frequency in line with the shift.

That is to say, as the note moves, the frequency band of interest plays along.

Surfer EQ 2

We are diving a little deeper.

It uses synthesizer filters which track the pitch of a monophonic vocal source to keep the timbre of a tone all through the instrument’s voices all in real-time.

Moreover, SurfererEQ 2 has up to seven bands, which can be set to track the vocal source and adjust its frequency accordingly.

7 Bands

Notably, the tool’s pitch can be managed via MIDI notes, essentially allowing EQ bands to get played via a keyboard.

Amazing?

All in all, the superior pitch detection, unique filter algorithms, and a whole lot of other features make this plugin quite meticulous.

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Sound Radix Surfer EQ 2:

6. UAD Pultec EQP-1A

UAD Pultec EQP-1A
General

In all fairness, very few analog equalizers are as famous as the original Pultec EQP-1A.

As you might expect, this is a digital recreation of the classic hardware EQ.

Wondering what makes it tick?

First, for the simple reason that it adds a distinctive sound to any signal that goes through it, that should suffice.

Right?

Pultec EQP-1A

But that’s not all because it is has straightforward controls underpinned by a unique simultaneous boost and cut.

Talk about low and high shelving filter for boosting or cutting at set corner frequencies or high peak boost with adjustable bandwidth, it has it all.

Overall, it does exceptionally well when it comes to identifying individual frequency ranges without compromising heavily on other frequencies.

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UAD Pultec EQP-1A:

7. SSL Native Channel Strip

SSL Native Channel Strip
General

Simply put, the SSL Native Channel Strip is a faithful emulation of the legendary SSL console channel strip.

It delivers the same impressive array of sound and features as the original tool from which it draws inspiration.

In the first place, it is a 4-band equalizer equipped with parametric LMF and HMF sections as well as shelving LF and HF sections.

SSL-Channelstrip

More importantly, the whole EQ can be switched between E and G series EQ to say nothing of the possibility of being applied to the dynamics side chain.

Remember that, the Dynamics section features an independent Compressor and Gate which can be switched two-way among other operations.

So the overly dynamic soft compression characteristics enable seamless transitions.

In a nutshell, this plugin offers great array features to take your equalization needs a notch higher.

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SSL Native Channel Strip:

8. Waves API 550a & 550b

Waves 550A & 550B
General

Get this!

The Waves 550a and 550b VST plugins not only great sounding but are also as versatile as it can get.

As native reproductions of the API EQ, they can be great if you want to incorporate a touch of API sound on your tracks.

Maybe you are already wondering what each has to offer.

Well, the 550a which in principle emulates the legendary API 550A EQ is designed to deliver reciprocal and recurrent equalization.

And that occurs across fifteen points and in five steps of boost split into three overlapping ranges.

Its' low and high-frequency ranges can be selected as either shelving or peaking after which a bandpass filter can get inserted without regard to any other setting.

Then again, the 550b gets plaudits for its four overlapped equalization bands which are beyond comparison when it comes to sweetening or solving problems in your tracks.

Remarkable as sounds, it features seven switchable filter frequencies stretching up to five octaves per band.

But that's not all because it also boasts of Proportional Q functionality that provides for automatic narrowing or widening of the filter bandwidth at higher and minimal settings respectively.

Even better, it allows reversing previous processing, affecting or undoing tonal alterations.

In light of the above features and wide-ranging tonal possibilities, it goes without question that this is a pair of versatile EQ tools worth including in your EQ VST toolkit.

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Waves API 550:

9. UAD Neve 1073

UAD Neve 1073
General

If your audio production collection has space for just one dynamic EQ, then UAD Neve 1073 may be a good bet.

Why?

As an accurate imitation of the classic 1073 preamp and EQ, it remains among globally acclaimed vintage recording tools.

And with the legendary status, you can only imagine the much it can deliver.

If anything, it boasts of a cutting-edge unison technology which, when coupled with Apollo interface mic preamp allows users to achieve unprecedented functionality.

Neve 1073

Isn’t it great that it provides an authentic end to end circuit emulation of a revered audio tool?

With Neve 1073, you can add color and clarity and equalize any source with Neve tone including all ten individual clipping points as in the vintage hardware.

To top it all, it offers presets from top artists to help you get inspiration when stuck.

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UAD Neve 1073:

10. PSP E27



PSP E27
General

Now, if you can’t get enough of a digital multi-stage emulation of analog EQ, this will be worth your time.

A result of collaborative efforts by Avedis Audio and PSP, this plugin is basically a recreation of the analog E27 equalizer.

So what it’s all about?

In the first place, the E27 features three filter bands with each offering +/- 16 dB of boost or cut at nine selectable frequencies.

And it’s low and high filters can operate in bell or shelf mode in just one touch.

The frequencies have been carefully picked to deliver desirable outcomes.

PSP E27 EQ Plugin

You also have the non-linear characteristics and progressive Q to add a special touch on individual sounds, group channels or even an entire mix.

And to allow global level control, it offers a handy analog-sounding preamp stage.

One impressive aspect lifted from the analog version is the slow and fast dial movement's concept.

These allow the production of small but highly accurate or large and quicker boost/cut adjustments, respectively.

Other useful inclusions include the ability to test results of settings and set of presets which are great when getting started.

Most importantly, this plugin comes with a simpler version- the E27se which has fewer controls and a more intuitive GUI.

Overall, if you’re current EQ doesn’t deliver the exact feel and color, the E27 could save you the pain with just the right threshold of character.

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PSP E27:

11. Eiosis AirEQ premium




Eiosis AirEQ Premium
General

Looking for technical and sonic excellence of a clean surgical style digital EQ?

Check!

The Air EQ could be that perfect match.

At face value, it looks relatively clean and straightforward, but that is only the surface.

A little digging reveals an array of features delivering beyond the analog alternative.

Look! AirEQ comes with a revolutionary design put together to allow artistic and pain-free manipulation of resonances.

With parameters namely Character, Strength, Air, and Earth, there is little else to ask.

Eiosis AirEQ

Specifically, Air and Earth are a fantastic new way to modify high and low frequencies.

Thanks to their unique design, you can make adjustments simultaneously and give life to your tracks.

In the same vein, Water allows boost or cut with enhanced smoothness and transparency while Fire adds power, punch, and impact to any frequency.

And to intensify or calm sonic characteristics of EQ curves, the Strength parameter comes in handy.

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Eiosis AirEQ premium:

12. Klevgrand GotoEQ







Klevgrand GotoEQ
General

Yet another dynamic hardware emulating equalizer, GotoEQ is simply a classic digital reinvention suitable for the modern era.

As you might expect, it goes an extra step by expanding on the vintage program sound with dynamic EQ bands.

When it comes to continuous frequency selection, you can adjust the band freely.

Even better, its mid bands provide dynamic attenuation which essentially translates to an exciting music approach.

For the low shelf, it performs a low-end trick with double Boost and Attenuate Controls.

GotoEQ

And with a similar formulation of high shelving, it can deliver a high-end trick.

In use, it can simultaneously boost and cut the low shelf to produce mid-scoop, particularly on bass tracks.

You can also have a go at de-essing vocals or de-harshing overheads by merely engaging dynamic attenuation with the high-mid band playing.

Granted, with Klevgrand GotoEQ, the options are plenty beyond the subtle enhancements.

The UI is clean and intuitive meaning find your way around it in no time.

Klevgrand GotoEQWATCH THE DEMO

All said and done!

The Pro-Q3 is the perfect example of a versatile EQ tool great for typical boosting and correction purposes.

13. Tokyo Dawn Labs TDR VOS SlickEQ EG








Tokyo Dawn Labs TDR VOS SlickEQ
General

For all it represents, TDR VOS SlickEQ is designed with ease of use and flexibility in mind.

Featuring three and a half filter bands including classic Low, Mid, High arranged in a semi-parametric layout, the intuitiveness perhaps is all you can ask.

Apart from the primary controls, the usability and ergonomics of the UI are made far better thanks to additional built-in helpers.

Talk about advanced preset management, undo/ redo actions, and a lot more.

The makeup allows hassle-free access to four distinct EQ modes, each representing a set of separate EQ curves and behaviors.

TDR VOS SlickEQ

Don’t forget, it comes with an auto gain option that serves to compensate real-time changes of perceived loudness during equalization.

And to enable cracking up the warmth with extra harmonic content, it comes with optional EQ non-linearity and an output stage with four distinct saturation models.

With the options, it is possible to go beyond typical distortion to more exciting textures.

The advanced 64-bit multi-rate processing structure that flashes out usual problems of digital EQ operations including frequency distortion and quantization and more.

Other features of interest include up to five output stages, advanced saturation algorithms, and preset management options.

So whether you are looking for functionality, sound quality, user-friendliness, you got it all served in full.

TDL TDR VOS SlickEQ EGWATCH THE DEMO

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Tokyo Dawn Labs TDR VOS SlickEQ:
Tokyo Dawn Labs SlickEQ Mastering:
More EQ Plugins
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TubeTech Equalizer Collection:
Softube Summit Audio EQF-100:
Softube Abbey Road Brilliance Pack:
PSP Audioware MasterQ2:
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Final Thoughts

So there you have it.

We couldn't include every great VST EQ plugin in here, but these are worthy additions in any audio engineer's toolkit.

Of course, whatever you will choose boils down to personal preferences and needs.

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