I was totally surprised, and ridiculously overexcited (for a damn plugin) when I heard the update news to Fabfilter’s EQ plugin – It’ doesn’t seem that long since version 2 was out.
I’ve got to be honest. I’m going to be biased about this review. That’s because ProQ 2 is probably my most used plugin. I think EQ is THE most important element in the mix engineers toolbox. So if you’re going to invest time and money – I think you want to get the best EQ you can afford, and the one that fits your workflow the best. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this above all other EQ’s I’ve used.
First off, From using for a few weeks, it’s clear that Fabfilter have kept the important elements of the ProQ2 that drew me to it in the first place. For its quality, it’s super light on CPU – I believe even more so than the last iteration; so I can slot it on everything I need to, without making too much of a dent. It’s a super intuitive and ergonomic interface; I love that double-clicking opens up a band wherever you want it, and double-clicking to the left or right ends of the window open up low and high cuts. All that is still present in this update. It hasn’t really changed looks wise, which is good, as I think it’s the best looking EQ you can get. And you can still make it fill the screen if you want! It still has the natural and linear phase options, to maintain the balance between latency and sound quality, which I find especially useful when using those low/high cuts.
There are a ton of new features, which have been carefully and cleverly added without making the plugin sluggish, or cluttered up. I will outline the ones that I’m most excited about, but for an exhaustive list, you can check out Fabfilter’s website, and they’ll cover it all in detail.
This is a process I’m just starting to get my head around. I’ve been using Izotope’s dynamic EQ, but I much prefer the Fabfilter EQ setup, and so was excited to be able to get stuck in on the ProQ3. Dynamic EQ is a process almost identical to a multiband compressor to my understanding, but the filters are slightly different, and you have many more frequency bands to control; In the case of ProQ3 – you can use it on up to 24. It’s been really well designed, so it doesn’t get in your way when you’re not using it, but is easily accessible. It’s as quick as holding the alt key and moving your mouse wheel/scroll, and dynamic EQ appears. The threshold for compression/expansion is set automatically, but you can manually adjust it. The only thing missing here are attack and release functions. They would have added that extra bit of control needed depending on the source audio. But the fact that it’s instantaneously there if you need it gives it a huge advantage for workflow.
Need I say more? It now works in up to 7.1.2 Atmos (AAX only – 7.1 in all other formats). It automatically adapts to whatever channel you put it on. Now it is the EQ on literally everything I do. You can select which speakers to EQ in each channel. More and more stuff is coming my way wanting to be surround format, so this is a timely update for me.
More Mid-Side and Channel Control!
I love mid-side processing, and it’s become a staple part of my mix process. In ProQ3 you can now choose what part of the channel you want to process PER BAND. So you can process the full stereo channel, just L, just R, Just Mid or just side. Amazing. The color of the line changes depending on what channel selection you made for that band, which makes for easy viewing of your process.
Viewing Spectra From Another Signal
This is awesome – for when you’re trying to carve out some room between competing signals, and your ears just don’t seem to be doing the trick, you can now just overlay spectra from another channel, and clearly see where you’re carving space out or boosting on both channels; making the removal of fighting frequencies a walk in the park! Co-incidentally, the Spectrum grab has also improved with the labelling of frequencies that are popping their heads too high over the parapet.
Those listed above are the improvements or additions that I value most in this new rendition of the now classic EQ plugin. There are many more, and the best way to get your head around them all is to try it yourself for free with a 30 day free trial from their website, and then (you’ll most likely want to) buy it afterwards. Once again, I highly recommend the Fabfilter ProQ EQ. In this 3rd version, it’s more improved and more fully functioning, without any additional clutter. You can purchase for approx. $172 or upgrade from v2 for approx $70
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About The Author
Composer/Producer, and keyboard player. He has written and recorded soundtracks for a wide variety of media and co-owns DOsounds.com with Jake Owen, a music production company that gives him an excuse to buy more analog gear.
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