Best pultec plugin 2020

Best pultec plugin 2020 DEFAULT

Pultec Plugin Shootout

My favorite way to explore and learn the sounds of new gear and plugins is to compare them to ones I already know. I've been using the Waves JJP PuigTec EQP-1a for years. I recently received the Softube PE1C (based on Tube-Tech's enhanced version of the Pultec) and the Univeral Audio UAD Pultec emulation. All three are based on the Pultec hardware EQ so I wanted to find out how much they differ from each other.

I dialed up a good sounding setting for both a drum loop and a guitar part and automated the bypasses of all three plugins. In both sound clips you'll hear 2 bars of no plugins, then 2 bars of the Waves, 2 bars of Softube, 2 bars of UAD, then 1 bar of flat again, 1 bar of Waves, 1 bar of Softube, 1 bar of UAD. You'll hear a few pops and clicks when the bypasses are switching, try your best to ignore them and focus on the changes in tone.

I don't like to try to describe how things sound in words, I just like to hear what each plugin does differently so in the future I know which one to pull out to get the sound I'm going for. The quickest way to learn what your gear and plugins sound like is to shoot them out against each other. Take a few minutes and listen closely, don't try to make your mind up that one is better than another, just try to find the subtle differences between them. When choosing which plugin or piece of gear to use I'm always thinking in both terms of functionality and sonics. Everything I know about the sonic properties of my gear is from my experience using them, doing shootouts is a quick and easy way to learn about my gear and their subtle sonic differences.

Drum Loop

Here's the settings I used for the drum loop. I wanted to hear a little more top and bottom end, notice that I'm using the boost and attenuate control on the low end, this helps give me a bass boost without getting too boomy. P.S. there's one extra bar of no effect at the end.

Drum Loop
Guitar Loop

Here's the settings you're hearing on the guitar. I wanted to cut some of the muddy-ness out and just pretty it up a bit, but also chill out the top a little too so it wouldn't sound harsh.


If you would like to see more, please go to Ben Lindell's blog


First released in , Pultec equalizers are one of the few pieces of gear to have achieved mystical status in the recording world. Original units in mint condition can fetch upwards of $10, on the market. Like a lot of other pro audio gear, the magic lies in an all-tube circuit design, and the unique way that this design lets you boost and cut at the same time. They fell out of fashion for a while, but have seen a resurgence over the past two decades thanks to plugin emulations and popular mixing engineers like Chris Lord-Alge.

These are some of the best Pultec plugins around.

What Makes a Pultec Unique?

Pultecs are certainly mysterious.They are one of the oldest types of equalizers and have an all-tube design. It was also the 1st.  EQ to be based on a passive filter circuit. What makes them so unique is that unlike a parametric EQ a Pultec can boost and attenuate the same frequency at the same time, which allows for some serious EQ mojo!

How Does a Pultec Work?

The design was among one of the first EQs ever created, and as such the control scheme can be a little confusing at first. The boost/attenuation controls for the low band are linked, and these overlapping filters are great at bringing out character of low end instruments.

The low frequency section is a four-band selectable shelving filter. The magic kicks in, as you can create really unique curves via boosting and cutting simultaneously. A boost-peak EQ rules the highs, with selections between 3kHz and 16kHz. Unlike the low section, there is a bandwidth control. There&#;s also a high-shelving section that&#;s great at adding clarity and air to the top end.

Such is the positive benefits the unit can have on the signal that there is a technique where you simply run the audio through the Pultec &#; without it set to effect anything. This would obviously be a feature of the hardware version, but there are plenty of affordable Pultec-style EQs available.

Best Pultec Plugin Overall: UAD Pultec EQP-1A

uad pultec collection

It’s no surprise that Universal Audio has created the best Pultec emulations you’ll find in a plugin. The bundle brings all three of the famous models to life. This means the glow of the tubes, the amplifier overload, and the push of the transformers impart analog magic to your mono or stereo tracks. You get the fat low end of the EQP-1A, shape the mids like only the MEQ-5 can, and create soaring highs with the. HLF-3C. The only downside is that it requires UAD-2 or Apollo hardware to run.

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Most Unique Pultec Plugin: URS FullTec Program Equalizer

urs fulltec program equalizer plugin

While many plug-ins provide multiple variations of the Pultec in a cascading fashion (at least visually), this plugin from URS is a single unit split into five frequency bands. There is also input and output level controls as well as metering and a phase switch, so you can easily maintain proper gain staging. It’s also usable in a number of DAWs and comes in VST, AU, TDM, and RTAS formats.

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Best Pultec Plugin Under $ PSP Audioware NobleQ

psp audioware nobleq eq plugin

PSP’s take on the famous passive equalizer brings some modern ideas to the timeless design. The midrange and highshelf sections can be independently selected to boost or attenuate. You also have the option of adding in two types of tube flavors or bypass that altogether. It uses a “rounding algorithm” to create a more realistic tube response and make not only the sound, but the way the plugin reacts, more like hardware.

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Pultec Plugin That&#;s Most Like Hardware: Softube Tube-Tech Equalizer Collection

softube tube-tech equalizer collection

This package includes meticulous software emulations of two of the most famous hardware units – the PE1C and ME1B. Together they are a great complement to one another in a single, consolidated plugin that can do some truly magical things with the sound. In terms of sound this might be a top 2 option if you&#;re researching the best Pultec plugins.

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Best Pultec Plugin Under $ IK Multimedia TrackS EQP-1A

ik multimedia tracks eqp-1a plugin

IK Multimedia left no stone unturned here, modeling two hardware units with their proprietary DSM and SCC technology. Output section based on a variety of types of tubes that can be run in left, right, linked, or M/S. It works within the TrackS ecosystem.

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Best Free Pultec Plugin: Ignite Amps PT-EQx

ignite amps pt-eqx plugin

For freeware you won’t find a better Pultec than this. It includes three models in a single interface with independent switching so you can control the lows, mids, and highs very deliberately. Ignite’s own triode stage gain modeling provides selection between four different tube types, and additional frequencies, and refined filtering. It works in VST/3 and AU in bit. As far as best Pultec plugins go this one is worth an audition even though it&#;s free.

Download HERE for free!

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the fxs's Avatar

use the search function.
there are up to 20 threads about this topic.

Village Idiot

Labs's Avatar


Originally Posted by the fxs➡️

use the search function.
there are up to 20 threads about this topic.

And 20 different answers.

Cant you demo some?


Oh yes, I have demoed the Waves and Softube emulations. I prefer the Softube one, but due to my constraints (no home Internet), I would like to be able to try what would seem to be the favorites from this community, because the time I get elsewhere, when Internet is readily available, will be limited. Therefore I am compiling data on which to demo further.

The Softube Tube-tech ( Pultec copy ) emulation is good indeed
Nomad Factory has Pulse-tec
IK Multimedia T-Racks Vintage EQ EQP-1A
-there are others


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beingmf's Avatar

For my ears, the low-end Pultec trick came across most convincingly with Nebula (I only have PTQ, but I guess Cooltec is definitely on par). The top end is silkier in the Cooltec (tube) compared to the PTQ (solid state), but I prefer other units for that application anyway

an actual pultecplugins and the actual hardware is night and day when you go into the proper environment and work into a mix big big big difference. There is too much pultec obsession here..hehe


Originally Posted by Chaellus➡️

an actual pultecplugins and the actual hardware is night and day when you go into the proper environment and work into a mix big big big difference. There is too much pultec obsession here..hehe

Whatever the truth in this, that wasn't the question asked. Not everyone has the choice.

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I like the affordable NI/softtube one quite a lot, as I do the rest of the tube series bundle


Originally Posted by psycho_monkey➡️

Whatever the truth in this, that wasn't the question asked. Not everyone has the choice.

truebut if the choice is not availablejust rent one otherwise you will be swimming up a feverous stream trying to compare. My opinions is to just make a good mix. A comparable emulation has not arrived yet.

Has anyone compared the new MCAudioLab EQ1 from sknote with other pultec emu plugins If so what were your findings?


Tested and compared on different material:
UAD Pultec / Pultec Pro
Softube Tube-Tech PE 1C / ME 1B
Waves PuigTec EQP1A / MEQ5
IK Multimedia T-RackS Vintage EQP-1A
Nomad Factory Pulse-Tec + BT Equalizer PEQ2B
OverTone DSP PTC-2A
URS Fulltec / BLT (although it's not a % emulation)

For me the winner is without a doubt: UAD
Sometimes you only have to use it in default setting and it gives your sound already a boost!
Softube, Waves and T-RackS are also good (as alternatives).

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nickelironsteel's Avatar

softube is a plugin of a very bad pultec clone. a clone of a clone of a clone.

to my ears NEBULA.

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dasoundjunkie's Avatar

My Studio

🎧 15 years
The SkNote EQ-1 is the only one that I still like, it doesn't model a Pultec but the Mc Audiolabs' EQ It sounds huge, gives you 2 different topologies (tube/solid-state) and allows you to overdrive the input for some great harmonics. IMHO the best one out there and at also the cheapest!

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imloggedin's Avatar

My Studio

🎧 15 years

HANDS DOWN Nebula! UAD does not even compare. The Poolteq and Doc Fear programs are amazing. You will not get high boosts out of any algorithmic plugin like you can in Nebula.

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KarmaPolice's Avatar

I really dig the Waves one. It´s the only one I got but I used to have a
UAD at work and the UAD Pultec didn´t blow me away like the Waves when
I used it for the first time. Same is true for the IK which I demoed a while ago.
My 2 eurocent

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I've never used uad, but how the hell has psp's noble q not had a mention?


Originally Posted by machinated➡️

I've never used uad, but how the hell has psp's noble q not had a mention?


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hyposonic's Avatar


Originally Posted by machinated➡️

I've never used uad, but how the hell has psp's noble q not had a mention?

plus it's super cheap.

I like both NobleQ and for color the Waves Puigtec is nice I use the UADs as well in the studio, and they're great as others have said, but I wouldn't say it's hands-down better in use than the other two alternatives I have.

One thing not discussed in this thread is application. When/where/what are you using a Pultec? For me the most common applications are gross tonal rebalancing of a mix (a glorified olde tyme car radio tone control) and color. When the spectrum of a mix needs to be "tilted" to emphasize high or low end or correct too much of either, there are other interesting tools that sometimes work better. Elysia's Niveau Filter is a really simple way to tilt the spectrum in either direction, and it sounds great. Similarly, I sometimes rely on PSP NeonHR when I have to push harder –*it's more transparent and preserves what's already good in the signal better than other shelves. When I'm going for added Pultec color, I confess I often reach for the Waves Puigtec first, followed by NobleQ, before bothering with the more accurate UAD Pultec.

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eagle's Avatar

My Studio

🎧 10 years

For me, UAD
I also have Nebula, but it's a pain in the to use and an enormous CPU hog, so it rarely sees light here.

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rog's Avatar

My Studio

🎧 5 years

I like the Puigtec a lot, though I admit I'm not overly concerned with how much it sounds like a hardware Pultec. It just works well and sounds nice.

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nickelironsteel's Avatar

nebula to me is like tracking, you have to commit to a sound a print it. got a pair of mastering pultecs eqp-1s3 and in the box i often use the nebula one because it IS that good.

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Ragan's Avatar


Originally Posted by machinated➡️

I've never used uad, but how the hell has psp's noble q not had a mention?


For me it's UAD then PSP. I often use the PSP to save UAD horsepower.
I like the Puigtec too. I think UAD is the silkiest up top.

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beingmf's Avatar


Originally Posted by nickelironsteel➡️

got a pair of mastering pultecs eqp-1s3 and in the box i often use the nebula one because it IS that good.

Yes, definitely! I've tried algorithmic "emulations" like Waves and PSP because of the workflow advantages, but they're a joke compared to Nebula. Harsh, interchangeable, cheap, no dimension.

What's your favorite pultec style EQ?

Hey guys,

I wanna know what pultec EQ you mostly use for mixing low-end, or vocals. Please let me know your reason why you particularly use that one!

Thank you!

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I mostly use the UAD Passive EQ Collection.
It includes HLF-3C, MEQ-5, and the EQP-1A

I also use IK Multimedia's EQP-1A, that I had before I went UAD.
IK's plugs are surprisingly good.

I recently discovered Logic Pro X's Vintage Tube EQ.
They all are good, you can get good results you just have to tweak them.

The IK one is not bad.

Having said that my new Pultec workhorse is the Noise Ash RuleTech.
It sounds great even flat. One of the best plugins in general in my opinion.
It is also on sale at the moment

I often use noble Q by PSP.
it has a lot of options and eq settings.
Compared to my hw clone it's a tiny tiny bit muddier. But it has a nice low-end without muddying too much.
I compared both the logic tube with uad version and psp. They are slightly different but wouldn't say either is much worse or better.

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Drumsound's Avatar

My Studio

🎧 15 years


Originally Posted by gdoubleyou➡️

I mostly use the UAD Passive EQ Collection.
It includes HLF-3C, MEQ-5, and the EQP-1A

I also use IK Multimedia's EQP-1A, that I had before I went UAD.
IK's plugs are surprisingly good.

I recently discovered Logic Pro X's Vintage Tube EQ.
They all are good, you can get good results you just have to tweak them.


Originally Posted by mattias78➡️

I often use noble Q by PSP.
it has a lot of options and eq settings.
Compared to my hw clone it's a tiny tiny bit muddier. But it has a nice low-end without muddying too much.
I compared both the logic tube with uad version and psp. They are slightly different but wouldn't say either is much worse or better.

I have both of these. I feel the IK is more of a 'has a tone' that our monkey brains perceive as being tube-like. The NobleQ seems more of similar operation, with added options but less of its own 'sound.'

The Sonimus Son EQ (the free one) also does a really cool pultec inspired but different thing that I like a lot. I need to buy the pro version, just as a thank you.

My current go-to for the pultec thing is Analog Obsession's Rare v Be sure to hit it at if you give it a whirl. Surprisingly 3D. I also like what the tubes in PTEq-X do to the bass. The low boost/cut, not as much. I like that one more for the HF boost. I've also used IK's EQP-1A a lot and would recommend it. PSP NobleQ was good the one time I used it to make a tom stick out, but I didn't like the valve on it and I'd use Pro-Q on the mixbus before I used NobleQ there.

I bet the Noise Ash has some of the best bass response out of all of them. Jeezo's demo was pretty convincing in that regard.

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Zenmindbeginner's Avatar

I use Black Rooster Audio and NoiseAsh.

Black Rooster for when I want maximum aggression and punch NoiseAsh when I want thick & flavorful with a bit of texture. Black Rooster’s output volume doesn’t display the actual cut or boost values, so in that sense NoiseAsh is a bit more scientific. The Puigtech never gets used much anymore even though it’s a very good plugin. The Puigtech seems a bit more stiff and doesn’t quite have the nuanced response like the more flexible Black Rooster and NoiseAsh plugins. The High Pass Filters in the NoiseAsh RuleTech are paired with the Midrange Pultec or the entire Heritage channel Black Rooster Audio’s hpf and lpf module is separate so I end up using that a bit more to save on CPU usage.


Originally Posted by audioloud➡️

The IK one is not bad.

Having said that my new Pultec workhorse is the Noise Ash RuleTech.
It sounds great even flat. One of the best plugins in general in my opinion.
It is also on sale at the moment

Do you think it's better than the SonEQ Pro? There's a huge price difference in there too.

Logic Pro X's Vintage Tube EQ is probably the best built-in DAW option, but for a little $ it's hard to beat Sonimus' SonEQ Pro for low-end, vox, and just about anything else. My ears are happy so far (two weeks of intensive use).

Last edited by Tommy Zai; 22nd October at AM.. Reason: grammar


Originally Posted by llanea➡️

Do you think it's better than the SonEQ Pro? There's a huge price difference in there too.

In my opinion no competition.
The RulTech is on every mix while the SonEQ is in some folder somewhere

The best I've heard ITB (vs hardware) is TimP's Dual Tech. I did a shoot out of the $3K Pulse HW vs ITB options last year:

Pultec HW vs SW - Pulse vs Plugins

FWIW Rule Tech was not only the most picked algo (by far), it was the most picked out of all of them. It's worth mentioning that those with HW experience tended to pick both the HW and Dual Tech together.

Some notes:

- That was using Purple V2. It's now V3.

- I stumbled on Apogee's EQP-1A post shootout and am a big fan of it for general mixing and tracking, it's very clean, zero latency and uses hardly any CPU. It doesn't alias at all either, no matter how hard you drive it. You can stack that all over a mix and not have to worry about anything. A great workhorse. Same with their Opto-3A.

- On vocals UAD's Pultec wins out for me. I swapped that into my vocal chain and it won't be leaving. You can hear it working here on a KU5A. Only other EQ was a couple of cuts via MDW5.

If you're native only and can't be arsed with Nebula, I'd recommend Rule Tech for colour and/or Apogee for cleaner.

YMMV etc :¬)

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Niclas.G's Avatar

Love the Black Rooster version! And the IK one.

Acustica audio has a freebe red eq thing that also does that low end magic. Not a clone at all thought.

these 2 X DJR units.

The UAD Pultec Collection is quite good. The UAD Manley Massive Passive and the SPL PassEQ by Plugin Alliance both can do the Pultec trick but a lot more beyond that.

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Schmeckitup's Avatar

+1 for the Apogee. I also have and love the PSP Noble but don't use it now that I have the Apogee.

I hear so much about apogees plugins now.
Both the pultec and the opto3.
They are available as native i see. I thought they were apogee dsp only.

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Night Stalker's Avatar


Originally Posted by audioloud➡️

The IK one is not bad.

Having said that my new Pultec workhorse is the Noise Ash RuleTech.
It sounds great even flat. One of the best plugins in general in my opinion.
It is also on sale at the moment

I agree, for native options the noise ash ruletech is awesome.

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H-Rezz's Avatar

I compared all the ones I have and all are great, but Noise Ash Rule Tech stood out as my favouritesometimes love stuff just going through it with no EQ I also do that with IK stuff more as a saturator

Compare with..

Logic Pultec
PSP Noble
UAD Legacy Pultec

1. Apogee - EQP-1A (love Apogee's take)
2. Noise Ash - RuleTech

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dickiefunk's Avatar

My Studio

🎧 15 years

I’m using the IK EQP-1a and like it.

I use UAD Pultec and SonEQ. They both sound great and I find them very similar. Plus I love the drive knob in the Sonimus plugin!

Gear Nut

Nowadays I use SlickEQ GE with Custom Models presets. Wich are explained on theirs web.
I have few another algo Pultec emu, but this one sound most interesting for me.

Fuse Audio Labs VQP, lovely.

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Uad Pultec Legacy for master fader as I want a little less color for that.

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razorboy's Avatar


Originally Posted by Digipope➡️

Nowadays I use SlickEQ GE with Custom Models presets. Wich are explained on theirs web.
I have few another algo Pultec emu, but this one sound most interesting for me.

Eh? Does SlickEQ do the Pultec thing? The TDR VOS SlickEQ GE is on for $

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razorboy's Avatar
Wow Thanks.

and a special thinks goes to TDR for pricing their products in even dollar amounts instead of the effing
$,,, that the marketing insects of the world use.

Plugin 2020 pultec best

The Top 20 Best EQ Plugins in Music Production

Because there are so many EQ plugins in the music production landscape, I think it’s necessary to create the be-all, end-all list of the top 20 best EQ plugins today. If you’re a producer, I’m sure you understand how important EQ is — after all, it’s how you:

  • Create a balance between all the sounds in your track
  • Make things sound warm and full, light and airy, or clean and present
  • Get rid of muddiness or unwanted frequencies
  • Add organic, old-school analog flavor to digital sounds

Great EQ work is fundamental to achieving clean mixdowns and creating great tracks. But, you have a ton of EQ plugins to choose from — let’s start by breaking these down into two main categories of plugins and two types of EQ we want to apply.

Categories of EQ Plugins — Digital vs. Analog Emulation

Digital EQs are probably what you are most familiar with, and what you use most often. These are the stock DAW EQs where you can see a frequency spectrum, select a frequency, and start carving away. These EQs are precise, visual, and pretty user friendly. What they usually lack, though, is personality and flavor. Enter the analog emulation EQs…

Before the advent of digital music, sound engineers relied on physical EQ units to shape their mixes. What these analog EQs lacked in precision and flexibility they made up for in warmth, character, and musicality (in essence, how natural they feel). Lucky for us, we don’t need to hunt down a Pultec EQ from the s and spend top dollar just to take it home — plenty of plugin creators have made emulations of these old favorites. That said, before we jump into the Best EQ plugins, let's take a look at EQ applications.

Types of EQ Applications

I’m not going to teach you how to use an EQ plugin in this article. If you’re interested, I recommend checking out:

Before we go any further into the best EQ plugins in today's music production landscape, here is a 2-minute round-up of the absolute basics that you need to know when it comes to EQ.

Generally, though, you can think of two types of EQ uses: reductive (taking away frequencies) and additive (adding frequencies).

Broadly speaking, the precision and flexibility of digital EQs are well suited for the detailed work necessary for reductive EQ, while the flavor and warmth of analog emulation EQs lend themselves nicely to additive EQ boosts.

Of course, this all depends on what you are trying to achieve, so tread carefully here. To shed more light on our process for EQ, how about a list of the 20 best EQ plugins? These are the EQ plugins you must have in your arsenal to be making the best tracks you can.

Please note, we are not recommending that you go out and buy 20 different EQ plugins, this is simply our go-to list of the EQ plugins we use the most.

To learn more about what plugins you need and when you need to buy them, check out our Ultimate Plugin Guide.

That said, let’s get on with it!

Best Digital EQ Plugins

Best EQ Plugins - FabFilter Pro-Q 3

1. FabFilter Pro-Q 3

Price: $

UX: The design of Pro-Q is a UX designer’s dream. It has a clean interface with color coding and intuitive controls that contribute to a very quick learning curve.

Character: Like many FabFilter plugins, Pro-Q is clean. You’re provided with virtually endless flexibility in the number of frequency bands, mid-side proportions, and a variety of natural/linear phase options. This EQ can make massive changes to your sound while still providing a transparent feel.

Uses: Pro-Q’s flexibility makes it a great choice for a variety of use cases. If I had to pick one, it is great for shaping software synths — all you need is one instance of Pro-Q to clean up low-end mud and carve away resonances to improve a variety of sounds.

Pro tip: How about 7 different pro tips? Its auto-gain feature is a must-use, allowing you to hear the difference in sound coloration without being influenced by changes in volume.

Best EQ Plugins - Sonnox Oxford R3

2. Sonnox Oxford R3 EQ

Price: $

UX: The design feels a bit old school and is reminiscent of the stock Pro Tools EQs.

Character: The Oxford EQ is a great mix of digital flexibility with analog flavors. It’s four EQ modes provide different types of curves that allow for EQ moves ranging from surgical cuts to musical boosts. The price isn’t cheap, but this EQ sounds “expensive”.

Uses: The best uses vary based upon the mode you’re using. I love managing the mid-range of a vocal with the musical characteristics of the British EQ. The Speciality Constant Power EQ is an essential tool for broad boosts during mastering.

Pro tip: On a master chain, if you’re just missing a bit of coloration you want, add in the Oxford EQ with Type 4 (Speciality Constant Power EQ) to make smooth boosts or reductions of dB.

Best EQ Plugins - Slate Eiosis AirEQ

3. Slate Eiosis AirEQ

Price: $15/month (as part of the Slate All-Access Pass)

UX: A beautiful mix of digital visualization and analog aesthetics, this is a very pleasant EQ to use.

Character: The Air EQ has a flexible character — it has the ability to employ broad curves with it’s Water feature or add power and punch with Fire making it an easy choice for this best EQ plugins list.

Uses: This EQ is another one-stop-shop plugin. Need to add high-end air to a dull vocal recording? Appropriately named, the air feature’s results are top of the line. Need to add fullness to the bottom of your bass without making the track feel boomy? Earth is your move.

Pro tip: On a master chain, apply mid-side reductive EQ and adjust the Strength feature. This is effectively a Wet/Dry on the plugin, giving you optimal flexibility when shaping your stereo image.

Best EQ Plugins - MetricHalo ChannelStrip3

4. MetricHalo ChannelStrip3

Price: $

UX: Straight up ugly. It looks old and feels old (thankfully though, it doesn’t sound old).

Character: As the name suggests, ChannelStrip sounds like a channel strip. The EQ is transparent and clean, but it isn’t the most flexible (no variable slopes on the LP and HP) — while this can hold you back in some regards, it does force you to think as if you are mixing on a real console desk and be selective with your moves.

Uses: This EQ won’t provide you the endless flexibility you might need to manage complicated resonances or intricate mid-side work. It is a great choice for instruments of any kind, though, because its mid-range is rich and musical. After hearing it, there’s no wonder why Serban Ghenea uses it “on every session.”

Pro tip: On vocals, add a subtle broad cut around Hz and a subtle broad boost around Hz to make the lead vocals pop out with extra clarity.

Best EQ Plugins - Soothe 2 EQ

5. Soothe 2 EQ

Price: $

UX: Sleek and cool. Soothe2 is visual and easy to use.

Character: Soothe2 is different from every other plugin on this list. It is a “dynamic resonance suppressor”, meaning that it analyzes and removes resonant frequencies in real-time. This is invaluable when dealing with real audio that has been recorded through a microphone.

Uses: The most obvious use for Soothe2 is on vocals. You can dynamically address sibilance on the high end and boominess on the lows. Not only does it sound great, but it is a huge time saver.

Pro tip: Add Soothe2 to piano tracks and use it to tame the high frequencies. This will help you make the most out of the power of high-velocity piano notes without suffering from harsh attacks.

Best Analog Emulation EQ Plugins

Remember how I mentioned that analog emulation EQs are modeled off of real pieces of gear? Well, all gear is not created equal — there are four famous analog EQs that have been emulated time and time again: Pultec, API, SSL, and Neve.

  • Pultecs were innovative EQs when they were first introduced in the s and brought transparent warmth to a variety of sounds
  • APIs provided punch, clarity, and more flexibility than their counterparts, and were known for being especially musical
  • SSLs provided precision and controlled brightness, making them a popular choice for cleaner pop music
  • Neves carry a distinctly rich tone that helped shape both rock music and the early sounds of dance music in the s

There are a variety of emulations of each, plus some remakes of some lesser-known EQs, below:


Best EQ Plugins - Waves Puigtec EQP1A and MEQ5

6. Waves Puigtec EQP1A and MEQ5

Price: $59 (for both)

UX: These plugins are the real deal. They look just like the original hardware units, with one exception — an output gain knob (thank you, Waves).

Character: Smooth, warm, and fat, these plugins are modeled specifically off of Joseph Puig’s own hand-crafted hardware units. Their overlapping frequency bands allow for unique resonant filtering, and the division of the Pultec into two plugins allows you to save on CPU if you don’t need all the functionalities of the original unit.

Uses: Virtually endless, but this EQ sounds magical on vocals — for example, use the high shelf boost of the EQP1A to open up the top end of vocals at 16kHz. Adding a low shelf boost at 60 Hz or Hz for bass does wonder in creating body and warmth.

Pro tip: At the end of your vocal chain, boost at 20Hz (yes, 20Hz) and attenuate at 20kHz for an old-school tube feel.

Best EQ Plugins - UAD Pultec Passive EQ Collection

7. UAD Pultec Passive EQ Collection

Price: $

UX: One step up from Waves, but very similar. These plugins are designed to look and feel like the real thing.

Character: I’ve used the Waves and UAD Pultec emulations side by side for years, and I have to say that UAD wins out on this one. The EQ just feels a little smoother and warmer than the Waves emulations. Of course, though, it comes with a significantly higher price tag.

Uses: The same as above. Another trick you can try is both boosting and attenuating the low end at Hz to take advantage of the overlapping curves (which creates some cool resonances).

Pro tip: Need an extra 2% of an analog feel on a sound? Throw one of these plugins on your channel and don’t touch anything.

Best EQ Plugins - Softube Tube Tech

8. Softube Tube-Tech

Price: $

UX: Very similar to both the UAD and Waves versions.

Character: Somewhere between the two versions above. If you want something a little richer than the Waves version, but don’t have a UAD unit to run their plugins, the Softube Tube-Tech is a great option.

Uses: A great choice for any of the same moves as the UAD and Waves plugins.

Pro tip: Crank the Dip gain on the MEQ5 to identify which frequencies are adding most to the warmth or presence of a sound. Once identified, turn off the Dip and add a subtle boost at that frequency.

Best EQ Plugins - Ignite Amps PTeq-X

9. Ignite Amps PTeq-X

Price: Free

UX: It sort of feels like a toy version of the other Pultec emulations

Character: Is this the best Pultec emulation around? No. But if you don’t have one in your arsenal, you should go download it now. For a free plugin, this thing sounds awesome.

Uses: You should get the picture by now

Pro tip: Add a final push of warmth to a synth bus with a very subtle boost at Hz or Hz.

Best API Emulation EQ Plugins

Best EQ Plugins - Waves API

Waves API

Price: $49

UX: Intuitive and straight-up cool. Anyone with minimal music production experience can immediately understand how to work the (which definitely cannot be said about other API EQs), but its simplicity doesn’t stop you from feeling like an analog EQ master.

Character: The API sound is unique. You can really push frequency bands to stand out, but there is something magical in the API that doesn’t make them feel harsh. You can push sounds to be loud and proud, but they don’t feel overstated.

Uses: The features 10 bands, each spaced an octave apart (doubled or halved frequencies between each band), so you don’t have a huge amount of specificity you can leverage. That makes the a great choice for broad tone shaping after your surgical EQ work is finished.

Pro tip: Add boost at 16kHz to the end of your vocal chain. This sits above most sibilance, so you can add amazing-sounding “air” to vocals without undoing your de-essing work.

Best EQ Plugins - Slate FG-A

Slate FG-A

Price: $ (or $15/month as part of the Slate All-Access Pass)

UX: Purists be warned, this is an API EQ without the look of the original hardware. In the end, this is a good thing, because the original is definitely not an intuitive interface. The setup is simple enough — frequency bands on the left, the amount of gain on the right.

Character: This is an API emulation, not a (like above). This means we have a lot more flexibility in our choice of bands to EQ. While this EQ still isn’t intended for surgical work, it provides more granular controls to be able to “fill in the gaps” in a sound. And, as expected with an API, it maintains a pleasant, smooth musicality.

Uses: This is a great “problem solving” plugin. Not enough body in your vocal? Add in some warmth in the low mids. Do your drums feel dull and flat? Give them a broad boost on the high end? This plugin fills the gap between the broad curves of an API or a Pultec and the surgical capabilities of digital EQs.

Pro tip: On a bass, use the low band to boost at Hz (to add warmth and weight) and the low mid band to attenuate at Hz (to get rid of the mud).

Best EQ Plugins - Red Rock EQ

Red Rock EQ

Price: Free

UX: Kind of like the Ignite Amps PTeq-X for Pultecs, the Red Rock EQ just feels like a cheap version of the other API emulation plugins.

Character: This is not the greatest plugin I have ever used. It probably will not be the greatest plugin you have ever used, either. But if you want an API EQ, and you aren’t ready to pull the trigger on a paid emulation, this is your best bet. It offers pretty smooth curves and can smoothly recolor sounds.

Uses: The same as the Waves API Think broad, smooth coloration, not detailed surgical work.

Pro tip: Balance the mid-range of instruments by adjusting the relative volumes of each octave (each band on the is spaced out one octave apart).


UAD SSL E Channel Strip

Price: $

UX: Do you want to feel like a legendary, old-school producer or engineer? This UX will get you there. True to the original channel strip, the EQ on the SSL E Series features four adjustable bands plus HP and LP filters.

Character: Expensive. It just sounds like the real deal, through and through — this plugin is faithful to the original, which offered an unmatched blend of versatility and character.

Uses: Some of the most famous records of the last 50 years were mixed exclusively on SSL consoles (Tupac, Nirvana, Britney Spears…). From adding warmth and shine to instruments, to handling the tricky high-mids of vocals, to adding boom to hip hop s, SSLs became so popular because they sounded awesome for almost any use case. The UAD SSL E Channel Strip does too.

Pro tip: Add top-end shine with the HF filter above 10kHz, and then toggle the Bell button on and off to see if you prefer a full shelf boost (On) or just a bell-shaped boost (Off).

Waves SSL E-Channel

Price: $59

UX: Sort of a mirror image of the UAD version of the SSL console with a slightly cleaner look.

Character: I’ve heard it both ways — UAD is better, Waves is better. In the end, the sounds of these two plugins are very similar. Both provide the versatility and power you would expect from an SSL console.

Uses: The same as the UAD version. With the HP filter and two bands that cover Hz, it’s a great choice for managing low-end mud in a sound.

Pro tip: Boost a vocal at a couple of frequencies above 1kHz that sound good. After the EQ, apply some light compression to tame those boosts.

Smacklabs Logic Channel

Price: Free

UX: You’ll notice a trend here - the toy version of the Waves and UAD plugins!

Character: Look, it’s a free plugin. Does it sound amazing? No. Does it sound pretty good for something that could be in your plugin library five minutes from now? Sure does. This plugin is also modeled off the series SSL (not ), so it is meant to sound a bit different.

Uses: Same as above. Generally a good choice for individual sound shaping, but can also be applied for some broad bus EQ.

Pro tip: My pro tip here is to download it and try my other pro tips if you don’t have an SSL EQ at your disposal already!

UAD Neve

Price: $

UX: This plugin is “old school cool”. The design is pretty simple, but it is insanely powerful.

Character: Warm, analog, lush, fat. You get the picture. If you want warmth on a sound, this plugin (or the Waves plugin below) is your best bet.

Uses: The Neve is an EQ and a preamp. This means that the EQ is applied when we record a sound — or in the case of digital synths and samples, at the beginning of our plugin chain. Think of these EQs almost as a sound design tool — not only will it recolor a sound, but it adds gloriously rich saturation and buzz to sounds when you drive the input.

Pro tip: Trying pushing a kick or a bass at 60Hz. Commence speaker explosion.

Waves Scheps 73

Price: $59

UX: A similar design to the UAD version, but the Scheps 73 Neve emulation offers intuitive stereo and dual-mono controls. This plugin is more versatile than the UAD version, and fortunately, the versatility doesn’t come at the expense of complication.

Character: Pretty much the same as the above, but slightly less rich and warm.

Uses: Again, same as the above. But, the advantage of the Scheps 73 comes in its dual-mono capability, meaning that we can easily EQ the left and right channels separately. This is a great way to add a little extra stereo width to sounds like strings and pads.

Pro tip: Click the Link I/O button and crank away on the input gain. These will create increased harmonics and distortion and will automatically balance your boost with a reduced makeup gain.

Other Analog EQs

There are a handful of other analog-modeled EQs that are worth mentioning. We had to only pick three, so here are our favorites:

UAD Manley Massive Passive

Price: $

UX: Straight up sexy. To be honest, it can look overwhelming at first sight. But once you get comfortable, this thing is a beast.

Character: This is one of the most sought after mastering EQs in the world, and Manley has officially endorsed the UAD emulation. It sounds smooth, lush, and adds density and body.

Uses: This isn’t a plugin for tweaking individual sounds or surgical EQ work. This is for busses or your master chain. Use it to add the last 10% to a mix with its creamy high end and warm tubes.

Pro tip: Add a subtle boost across the high end of your mixdown to add extra presence without inducing any harshness.

Soundtoys Sie-Q

Price: $99

UX: Simple, mysterious, and classic. You have a fixed low control, a fixed high control, an adjustable mid control, and a Drive knob. That’s it!

Character: This EQ is modeled off of the lesser-known Siemens Wb. This EQ’s value comes from its smooth and airy high end — you can get away with pretty extreme boosts.

Uses: This plugin is perfect for controlling brightness. I love adding it towards the end of a vocal chain for extra air or dialing back on the digital brightness of software synths.

Pro tip: Couple this with the Soundtoys Decapitator. Boost with Decapitator to add some extra warmth, and then add back in your high shelf with Sie-Q.

Arturia Pre TridA

Price: $99

UX: Intimidating. There is a hell of a lot going on here. Each EQ pot has its own volume fader, and given that it also has dual mono capabilities, that means 8 separate faders for 8 different frequencies.

Character: Edgy, yet smooth mids and highs. There were only 13 of the original consoles ever made, but you’ve probably heard s of records mixed on them — The Beatles, Bowie, Elton John, etc. The sound of this EQ is synonymous with the pop music of that era.

Uses: Air and presence on vocals, boosting the mids for body on drum groups, and even cranking the input gain for some distortion or extra harmonics.

Pro tip: Like the Scheps73, EQ the left and right channels slightly differently in the dual-mono mode for extra stereo width.

Wrap Up

You have tons of tools at your disposal, and I like to think that the best tools for you are the ones that you know best. That said, having a range of EQs in your arsenal is incredibly important for being able to effectively utilize both reductive and additive EQ in a variety of settings. Figure out which families of EQs you’re lacking, and pick some of our best EQ plugins in to fill in those gaps.

Pultec Eq Plugin Comparison / Plugin Shootout - Vocal - VST Plugins

The Pultec EQ is one of the most revered pieces of analogue equipment ever made. Any mention of it is usually followed by some form of the words &#;magic&#; and &#;musical,&#; and it&#;s been a standard piece of studio equipment for over 60 years.

The first Pultec (EQP-1) came out in the early s. Pulse Techniques founders Ollie Summerlin and Gene Shenk hand-built every unit themselves until the company closed its doors in

That was until the early s when Dr. Steve Jackson, electrical engineer and materials scientist, spent the better part of a decade meticulously researching each original component to its precise specification. Thanks to detailed conversations with Gene Shenk himself, Jackson ushered Pultec into the 21st century.

People loved the EQP-1 upon release, probably because it was the first passive program equalizer ever. Radio stations initially adopted the Pultec because it would &#;add that ‘final touch’ to the balance of good program material.&#; It could also be used &#;to greatly improve the quality of program material previously recorded on equipment of inferior quality.&#; (Quotes are from the original Pultec manual!)

Pultec EQ Design

The Pultec EQP-1 is a passive all-tube equalizer with an amp circuit. The amp restores the level that is reduced when a signal is fed into the unit. This basically means that the level remains the same regardless of whether the EQ is switched in or out.

First, this is useful for comparing an unprocessed signal to an equalized one since there&#;s no false sense of something being better because it&#;s louder.

Second, it means the unit, by design, lowers the level and then boosts it again with tubes. Tubes add harmonic distortion, depth, and richness we associate with incredible sounding equipment. This is most certainly part of the &#;magic&#; of the Pultec EQ. Even with the EQ off, the Pultec adds something great.

The low-frequency section of the EQP-1 is a shelving EQ with both boost and cut at four selectable frequencies: 20, 30, 60 and Hz. The high-frequency section is a bell EQ with both boost and cut at seven center frequencies: 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 12, and 16 kHz. The Bandwidth can also be adjusted from sharp to broad. The high frequencies can then additionally be cut at 5, 10, and 20 kHz using a shelving EQ.

Pultec EQ Trick

The original manual for the EQP-1 says you shouldn’t boost and cut the same frequency. It&#;s funny that that&#;s been the go-to trick for decades now. As a result of experimenting with the legendary Pultec EQ, engineers discovered that something unique happens when you dial in the boost and cut at the same time.

The boost has more gain than the attenuation has cut, and the two controls work on slightly different frequencies. Engineers find it hard to describe exactly what it does—the magic is best heard yourself. On the low end, it adds body to the selected frequency without any muddiness. You can get that fullness without any compromise in clarity, which is extremely desirable.

Pultec Magic in Your Home Studio

Original Pulse Techniques EQs are hard to come by. They were built so well that they tend to work forever, and they sound so good that no one wants to part with them. And if you do find one, they regularly go for $10,+!

Though the company closed in the early &#;80s, Pulse Techniques was revitalized by electrical engineer Steve Jackson starting in the early s. He made it his personal mission to faithfully recreate the original Pultec EQP-1, which he did successfully. He&#;s since expanded the Pulse Techniques line to include the MEQ-5 midrange EQ, series modules, a full line of mastering EQs, and more.

Steve Jackson&#;s Pultec EQs are indeed the &#;real deal&#;—not just clones. But because of that, they&#;re very expensive. The current Pultec EQP-1A is $; double that for a stereo pair. The best way to get Pultec EQ in your home studio is through plugins!

Pultec Passive EQ Collection by UAD

Best Way to Get PULTEC EQ in Your Home Studio_2

UAD plugins are regarded for being some of the best analogue emulations currently available. They go into painstaking detail to bring old school magic into the digital realm, and the Pultec Passive EQ collection is a testament to that.

The collection includes models of the iconic EQP-1A, the MEQ-5, and the HLF-3C filter. As with all UAD plugins, however, you need dedicated hardware to run them, like one of their interfaces or satellites. It&#;s worth it, because Universal Audio makes some of the top plugins on the market.

Also, if you do purchase their hardware, you&#;ll get the Pultec Pro Legacy plugin for free, which is the MEQ-5 and EQP-1A in a single plugin.

PuigTec EQs by Waves

Best Way to Get PULTEC EQ in Your Home Studio_3

Waves modeled Jack Joseph Puig&#;s own Pultec EQP-1A and MEQ-5 to develop the &#;PuigTec&#; plugins. You&#;ll find they&#;re almost identical to the hardware, but with an added gain control as well as a VU meter.

The PuigTec EQ&#;s are super affordable, making them the perfect introduction to high-quality Pultec style EQ in your home studio. They can regularly be had on sale for 1/10th the price of the UAD emulations.

Tube-Tech EQ Collection by Softube

Best Way to Get PULTEC EQ in Your Home Studio_4

Plugin developer Softube has a close working relationship with hardware producers Tube-Tech. They&#;ve collaborated on two of Tube-Tech&#;s applauded designs: the CL 1B compressor, and their Pultec clones, the PE 1C (EQP-1A) and ME 1B (MEQ-5).

Softube combines both Pultec style EQs into a single, easy-to-use plugin. The layout should be familiar!

PTEq-X by Ignite Amps

This Pultec EQ plugin is free! Reminiscent of UAD&#;s Passive EQ Collection, Ignite includes the HLF-3C filter alongside the EQP-1A and MEQ Naturally, everything is modeled right off the OG hardware, so you can get a feel for Pultec style EQ for free to see if it suits your tastes and workflow.


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