Giving an immediate indication as to the sort of depth and flexibility it offers, EQuilibrium (VST/AU/RTAS/AAX) runs a setup wizard when you first launch it. A setup wizard! For an EQ plugin!
"EQuilibrium could redefine your expectations of what's possible with a software EQ"
Until now, we've often talked about surgical EQs, vintage EQs, mastering EQs, etc, as separate entities, but EQuilibrium could redefine your expectations of what's possible with a software EQ, enabling you to essentially build your own device from the ground up, using a variety of modeled curves or starting from a preset. So, you could make a pure Pultec EQ emulation, a surgical parametric EQ, a broad mastering EQ or a combination of all three.
The wizard walks you through establishing the default interface and processing setup that best suits the way you want to work and the CPU power you have available. If you're looking to use EQuilibrium as a mastering EQ, for example, you can set up a high-latency, processor-intensive default suitable for detailed work.
Or if you're mostly going to be using it for tracking, design yourself a low-latency setup with a slightly less detailed response. Needless to say, all of this is reconfigurable at any time in the Setup menu.
With all this promise of versatility and flexibility, it comes as a bit of a shock to open your first instance of EQuilibrium and be greeted by... an empty window. If you find this unnerving (which, we must confess, we did a little at first), you'll want to head straight to the preset library and load up one of the many prebuilt setups. These cover specific units, including models by Pultec, SSL and API, as well as EQs for specific instruments and scenarios - see It's all about the curves.
To build your own EQ, double-click in empty space to call up a band. Depending on how you've got the display set up, this will appear as a node on the frequency/gain graph and/or a band strip with knobs and legending. It'll also appear as a marker on a piano keyboard, if you've activated that option. This last novel feature simply relates the frequency of each band to pitch, and dragging the marker along the keyboard snaps the frequency to each precise note. If you know the key of the song you're working on, you can use this for all sorts of advanced tonal work - notching up 'in-key' frequencies in drums, for example, or, conversely, notching out dissonant ones. A fantastic feature.
Bands on the run
EQuilibrium can load up to 32 simultaneous bands, each with up to +/-36dB of gain. In stereo mode it supports mid/side and independent left/right stereo operation, and surround configurations up to 7.1 are covered, too.
"The very colourful frequency analyser looks great and is highly customisable"
Every band offers a choice of curve/filter types - peak, low shelf, high shelf, high-pass, low-pass and notch - and each curve/filter type divides down into numerous modeled and original options. The modeled ones have names that thinly veil the hardware they emulate.
Gain, frequency and Q can all be adjusted in the band strip or the graph, and in the latter, mouse wheel adjusting/zooming and key modifiers cover all the functions you'll need. A particularly notable interface feature is that right-clicking a node solos that band for easy tuning. Another ingenious design touch.
A couple of the curves host additional custom parameters. For example, on the proprietary DMG peak curve, the Gain-Q control determines the interaction between resonance and gain changes, while the Flat Top peak curve's Soften parameter eases back the peak level and, consequently, resonance. The very colourful frequency analyser looks great and is highly customisable via its own drop-down menu. It does a good job of leading you to obvious tonal issues.
Finally, a couple of operations can be applied to all bands at once: gain scaling up and down, and frequency shifting left and right.
Ahead of the curve
If you're familiar with DMG's other EQ, EQuality, you'll already know that EQuilibrium's sonic pedigree is beyond question. DMG CEO Dave Gamble has years of experience under his belt with companies such as Sonalksis and Focusrite, and he has brought it fully to bear on the development and sound of his plugins.
"The depth of control is astonishing and the range of EQ curves truly luxurious"
As mentioned earlier, you can adjust EQuilibrium's CPU/RAM consumption to suit the task at hand: for everyday tracking, the low-latency IIR engine gives good quality and response, and it can be enhanced by introducing additional delay compensation in the Setup dialogue for critical sounds like vocals and solo instruments.
For mastering, where processing delay isn't an issue, there's the FIR engine, with phase linearity and many other precision options. This opens up a whole new world of geekery where you can choose the EQ's phase response characteristics (global minimum, analogue, zero-latency analogue, linear phase and free), with the Free option letting you design your own. There are also twelve Window Shape options, and control over the Impulse Length - longer lengths are more precise but more demanding on your CPU.
The concept of a plugin so versatile and sonically impressive that it renders all others in its category secondary might sound faintly absurd, but with EQuilibrium, DMG might have actually succeeded in making such a thing. The depth of control is astonishing and the range of EQ curves truly luxurious.
Apart from its resounding success as an all-purpose EQ that makes no compromises in terms of sound in order to achieve its incredible flexibility, the (immense) joy of EQuilibrium lies in comparing the effects of the various curves and creating your own custom EQ to suit your particular needs. Highly, highly recommended.