Suggestions for a plugin EQ shootout?

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by BobRogers, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    This article got me thinking about EQ comparisons that I have done in the past. In particular, I auditioned the Sonnox EQ a year or two ago at the time that I bought the Sonnox Reverb. I ended up not buying the EQ. I liked it a lot, but I liked the stock PT EQ plugs just about as well, so I couldn't see paying for a small upgrade. I've heard so many people rave about the Sonnox that I wonder if I gave it a fair shake. Of course, this might be a matter of people looking to squeeze the last little bit of improvement. Or it could be that their ears are better than mine. But the fact remains that I didn't really test the Sonnox EQ in any systematic way. So...if you were trying to make a systematic evaluation of EQ how do you do it? What do you use for sources? Do you try to compare very subtle treatments? Exaggerated treatments? How do you try to make them "equal?"
  2. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    First thing I always do is check to see if warps out of shape near Nyquist. If an analyzer is not available you can set a peaking band right up at 20KHz with a Q of 1 and see if you can get a good "air" boost going... the generic "RBJ Cookbook" algorithms used in many plugs are so badly warped at 20KHz that the bell shape will have narrowed to a tiny spike, and boosting will barely make any difference at all.

    <edit> I'm assuming a samplerate of 44.1KHz

    Any EQ plug that fails that test gets rejected out of hand as I have better options already!

    Beyond that I tend to judge them over a period of time based on how quickly I can get results. "Clean" digital EQs with no saturation should sound pretty much the same provided you can precisely match the frequency response, so I think good ergonomics and things like Gain/Q interaction are what really makes the difference.

    I'm a happy FabFilter user myself....
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Dan, a video tutorial on this example would be wonderful!

    Bob, have you watched this?
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Good test. Had not thought of that. Tried it out on the Digi and I could clearly hear the change with a Q of 1. If my 54-year old ears can hear it, it can't be a spike at 20k. (I don't have a really good analyzer. I should. Can you recommend one?)
    I watched the FabFilter Pro-Q video. Is that what you meant? Now that's a big step up in features. I really like the stereo options and the spectrum analyzer. Now both the Oxford and the UAD Cambridge (nudge, nudge) had the choice of three type of relationships between Q and gain. When I tried the Oxford that feature didn't really float my boat, but I gather there are people who really like it. Am I missing something? Anyway, I'll stick with the Digi for now.
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I wish Dan would do many more tutorials, including a visual test like what he just explained
    I learn a lot this way.

    How are the other plug-ins Dan?
  6. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Voxengo SPAN is excellent and free: Real-time audio spectrum analyzer plugin (AU, VST) - SPAN - Voxengo

    If you're on windows and using VSTs you might also want to grab Christian Budde's VST plugin analyser, which can also measure phase response, compressor transfer curves and a load of other stuff: Christian's Blog ยป Measurement

    I think this is just about being able to dial in results quickly: if you find one you like it should just mean you need to tweak the Q less as you adjust your gain. I'm used to being able to quickly adjust the Q with a flick of my mousewheel, while dragging a node to set frequency and gain, so the lack of those options in Pro-Q doesn't bother me.
  7. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    All excellent!

    Pro-L and Pro-G replaced all my other limiter and gate plugs respectively. Pro-C also gets a lot of use, though sometimes its too transparent and I need something more aggressive... amazingly useful sidechain routing / filtering and MS stereo options however, in both Pro-C and Pro-G. Did I mention that Pro-G can do upwards expansion by the way? :cool:

    The "Creative" plugs are really good as well: I use Timeless for most of my delay duties, and Volcano shows off the filter algorithms that (as we already know from Pro-Q) are definitely not just the standard biquad algos most other people are using. Both have more modulation options than you are ever likely to need.

    I really like the synths as well: "One" was my first introduction to FabFilter, and is actually amazingly useful considering its just one oscillator! Twin2 gets more use however: while its not totally perfect (I would like to improve the envelopes mainly) it uses the same tasty sounding filters as Timeless and Volcano, and (like all the FF plugs) the ergonomics are superb: tweaking or building sounds from scratch is so quick and easy that it can become part of the creative writing process, and I find I rarely bother with the presets as its quicker and more fun to dial in the sound directly.

    Videos here: - FabFilter tutorials
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    That's my take as well. Basically nothing that you can do with one curve that you can't do with one of the others. It's just a matter of what feels best and what you are used to.

    BTW, I downloaded the Fabfilters demo and the gate kicks butt. I had a live vocal track that had some bleed that I had to really baby with some other gates, but with the metering and controls on the Pro-G it was dead easy. I tried the EQ briefly. Again the metering is very helpful. I haven't tried the mid/side processing yet. I'll wait until Alice comes home next weekend and see what she thinks, but with the educational discount the Pro bundle looks good to me.
  9. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    A quick heads-up: it now kicks even harder with a new Ducking mode: FabFilter News

    I wasn't allowed to mention it till now... ;)

    In typical FabFilter style it goes way beyond mere voice-over ducking and provides Ratio and Knee controls so you can dial in aggressive beyond-limiting / over-compression type settings, which is loads of fun on drums.

    (BTW. I might be able to get you another 10% off by referring you. Don't know if that that will work together with the edu discount, but PM me if you want to try.)
  10. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Very nice. Alice and I worked with them this weekend and ended up buying the Pro Bundle (eq, gate, compressor, limiter). Great deal with the edu discount. Great sound, very easy to use, nice graphical interfaces, great feature set. I'm really impressed.

Share This Page