As we discovered in our recent deep dive into software that recreates vintage gear using modern techniques, there's a wealth of tools at the modern producer's disposal that deliver the sound of legendary (and expensive) gear at an accessible price point.
Here we round up six of the best EQ emulations on the market, perfect for adding an analogue-inspired sound while shaping your frequencies.
1. Universal Audio Pultec Passive EQ Collection
Formats: Mac/PC | Price: $186/$149 | Buy
Not one but three classic EQs. You can do the famous low-end trick with the EQP-1A, make mid-range tweaks and enhancements with the MEQ‑5 and surgically remove unwanted frequencies (or even add a lo-fi effect) with HLF‑3C. Or just run your audio through any of them for that classic analogue sound.
2. Waves PuigTec EQs
Formats: Mac/PC | Price: $35/£35 | Buy
And while we’re on a Pultec tip we should include Waves’ version, their bundle of two ‘Puigtec’ EQs. As with the UA collection you get the MEQ-5 for your midrange but not the HLF-3C. However, this collection might boast a higher dollar price in RRP but Waves plugins are so often on sale that the original price is pretty meaningless. It’s just 30 bucks as we write this, for example!
3. IK Multimedia T-RackS EQ 81
Formats: Mac/PC | Price: $99/$99 | Buy
The sound of original Neve mixing desks is sought after and, like many classic consoles, has been emulated in software either as a channel strip or individual elements. This IK plugin takes the EQ from the 1081 console and beautifully recreates it for a DAW near you, including all the punch and presence of the original desk. A beauty.
4. Universal Audio Neve 1073 Preamp & EQ Collection
Platforms: Mac/PC | Price: $149/£149 | Buy
There’s little that UA hasn’t touched in the world of vintage gear, and we just had to include an emulation of the original British Neve 1073, so why not just include a bundle that not only gives you that original EQ but a preamp too? The original 1073 is less about adding saturation or colour but more about lift, clarity and presence and it’s all here in this fantastic emulation.
5. Waves API 550
Platforms: Mac/PC | Price: $35/£35| Buy
Another entry for Waves, but these plugin experts do like taking a legendary piece of studio hardware and replicating it in exacting detail. This time it’s the iconic ’60s API EQ which was developed with the original company and delivers a 10-band graphic equaliser for more precise control over your frequencies. With switchable distortion, you also get optional vintage colour on tap.
6. Brainworx Mäag EQ4
Platforms: Mac/PC | Price: $39/£39 | Buy
One of the less vintage and more modern EQs here, the original is found on recordings by everyone from Madonna to Black Eyed Peas. EQ4 is not transparent, it’s an additive EQ that’s used to add sparkle and ‘air’ to your tracks, with vocals in particular benefitting from its sweet character. Not cheap but currently on sale for just $40 here…