For this video let’s look at free parametric EQs - some of which completely mimic the Pro-Q 3 whereas others have similar functions.
2S EQ is somewhat simple, but it offers 9 filters starting with a high pass and low pass filter, then we have 7 filters that can have their frequency, Q value, and gain altered. All of this is showcased within a window with the left and right channel response.
For the demos, let’s create a curve with the Pro-Q3 and then mimic it as close as possible with these free EQs. I’ll use some of the Pro-Q 3’s advanced functions like dynamic bands and mid-side processing to showcase where these free plugins either fall short or match its functionality.
Let me know in the comments if they sound similar or miss the mark.
This is probably the most bare-bones EQ on this list since it only offers 3 filters - a low shelf, a mid-band that’s fully parametric, and a high shelf. If we click an icon in the top left, we get access to dials at the bottom.
Again this one is pretty simple,but if some of the FF-Pro Q3 is a little overwhelming with all of its functions, try this simplified version.
Let’s see if we can use these 3 bands to nearly match our original Pro-Q 3 curve.
Colour EQ has 6 filters, but these offer a little more flexibility with different filter types. For example, the low and high filters can be cuts or shelves, or in the case of the highest filter, can be 2 different types of bell filters, and can have Q values changed.
Let’s try to match the Pro Q 3 curve with this EQ.
QRange is a linear phase EQ with 12 bands - each of which can be any of 5 filter types, and can be placed on the stereo, left, right, mid, or side image. The analyzer and overall interface look a little dated, but it’s hard to complain when it offers this type of functionality.
Aside from the dynamic bands, this one can do a lot of what the Pro-Q 3 can do. Let’s take a listen.
MEqualizer may seem simple at first but when we right-click a band, we can access different filters, the Q, amplitude, and frequency, and stereo placement. In the utility section, we can alter the type of processing from stereo L & R to stereo Mid & Side, and more.
One nice feature is that the analyzer tags higher amplitude frequencies and their respective notes.
There are a lot more features with this plugin, some of which the Pro-Q 3 doesn’t have, but let’s try to match up the sound with our original curve.
With this EQ we get 6 filters, each of which can be 9 different filter types - most being fully parametric. The analyzer shows the input and output which is helpful, and the output gives us an adaptive function to amplify or attenuate the overall level to match the input.
Let’s take a listen to this one matching our original curve.
This is a simple one, but if you like T-Racks it might be worth your time - it offers 6 bands made up of high and low pass filters, low and high shelves, and 2 fully parametric mid to high-frequency bands. Like the Pro-Q 3, you can affect the stereo, left/right, and mid/side.
Let’s take a listen to it.
For this entry I’m going to cheat a little bit - Equalizer 4 isn’t free; however, it offers a demo that doesn’t expire, lets you access the plugin in its entirety, and without it being forcefully bypassed or any noise or cut-outs being added. With that in mind, it’s worth showing you.
It lets you create up to 16 filters, which can be a bell, high and low shelves, high and low pass, and band pass filters which can vary in their dB/octave slopes.
Each band can be made dynamic with variable attack and release, ratios, option circuit drive which is a cool addition, and automatic settings.
Like the Pro-Q 3 we can solo each band, and importantly, change the stereo placement and enable analog behavior in the curve.
One more great feature is an AI assist that shifts the response to preset curves - so if you want something really similar to the Pro-Q 3, definitely check this out. And if you do choose to buy it, it’s very reasonably priced at roughly $30.
Let’s take a listen.
I’m going to cheat just one more time, and talk about this paid-for plugin, but, like the last chapter, the demo has absolutely no limitations.
This one lets you create up to 32 bands - all of which can be dynamic, with really in-depth parameters including side-chain triggers, frequency-specific triggers, and more. The types of filters you can choose from are impressive, and you even get some emulations of popular analog filters.
Like with the Pro-Q 3 we can choose the stereo placement, solo the bands, and introduce different types of phase.
Additionally, we get a piano roll at the bottom to help keep amplified frequencies in key, and attenuated ones out of key.
This one is a bit more expensive than the last entry, but again, the demo gives you full and unlimited access to the plugin.
Let’s take a listen.
Last up we have this graphic EQ, but with variable frequency and amplitude - that said, we’re missing the ability to change the filter type and the Q value, but we still get options for stereo placement. The default let’s us alter frequencies on the left and right.
This can be switched to mid and side or other configurations in the routing window. We can introduce oversampling as well and set the phase to linear in the settings window.
Lastly, this plugin introduces subtle harmonics which help fill out the sound.
Let’s see if we can get this one to sound similar to our Pro-Q 3 curve.