Every music producer, sound engineer, or home recordist needs access to EQ (equalization) plugins.
Many Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) have EQ built into them but can sometimes leave a little something to be desired.
Maybe they don’t allow you to apply high- or low-cut pass filters, or maybe they don’t feature the full spectrum of frequencies you need to be able to alter, maybe the effect isn’t overly pronounced.
Whatever the case, it’s perfectly normal to go hunting for tools that can ease the burden of production.
In this guide, we look at the best free EQ VST plugins that’ll help you draw the best out of every track in your mix.
Blue Cat’s Triple EQ By Blue Cat Audio
Some consider Blue Cat’s Triple EQ to be one of the best free VST EQs available. But why is that?
Blue Cat’s Triple EQ is a three band semi-parametric equalizer that can be controlled like a single filter and customizable shape. It comes with low shelf and high shelf filters, boost/cut peak filter, +/-40 dB per band, and a 0.01 to 5 octave bandwidth. This makes it especially versatile.
The plugin features an attractive, simple interface that makes it easy to control and use. It makes it easy for you to be able to see how your signal is being processed.
If you’d like to learn more, then check out the download page and see for yourself, I'm sure you'll end up adding it to your collection. This one is certainly worth a look.
Download: Blue Cat Audio
RealPlugs VST FX Suite By REAPER
Okay, so REAPER’s RealPlugs isn’t just an EQ plugin. It’s an entire FX suite.
But exactly how generous does a company like REAPER have to be to allow users to use their plugin suite? Obviously, they are quite confident in what they offer.
RealPlugs includes ReaComp, ReaXcomp, ReaDelay, ReaEQ, ReaFIR, ReaGate, ReaStream, ReaJS, and ReaControlMIDI. The main plugin we want to pay attention to here, of course, is ReaEQ.
This is an unlimited band IIR based equalizer, with support for filters (shelfs, bands, LPF, HPF, notch, bandpass, allpass), frequency response and phase response display, approximate note+octave of frequencies, per-band bypass control, optional full graph view, and more.
This one could become a real hit at your studio.
TDR VOS SlickEQ By Tokyo Dawn Records
Tokyo Dawn Records plugins are quite popular, and there are a few of them on this list (yes, they have more than one EQ you can take advantage of).
TDR VOS SlickEQ is an easy to use mixing and mastering equalizer, with a semi-parametric EQ layout. It comes with a 64 bit “delta” multi-rate structure, three EQ bands with additional 18dB/Oct high-pass filter, four EQ models (American, British, German, and Soviet), five output stags (Linear, Silky, Mellow, Deep, and Toasted), advanced saturation algorithms, stereo and sum/difference processing options, and more.
Having messed around with this plugin myself (I have yet to unlock its full potential), I can honestly say this EQ is great for shaping the sound of any track.
Download: Tokyo Dawn Records
TDR Nova By Tokyo Dawn Records
Here’s the other Tokyo Dawn Records plugin I wanted to share with you, and it’s called TDR Nova.
This plugin has got a great interface, and it offers parametric equalization, dynamic equalization, frequency selective compression, multi-band compression, and wideband compression. And it is super easy to use.
Having used it quite a bit myself, though, I have one complaint: the effect seems a little too subtle. I have sometimes used two TDR Novas on the same track, and I could even see myself using three.
But for all those times you just need to do a quick touchup, this is a great choice. Worth experimenting with.
Download: Tokyo Dawn Records
VladG Nova-67P By Tokyo Dawn Records
Here’s the last of the Tokyo Dawn Records plugins I wanted to feature here, and it’s the VladG Nova-67P. This one has a little more of that “classic” vibe, you could say, at least based on the graphical interface.
So, what does it do? Well, it’s a parallel parametric equalizer combined with a compressor. The compressor can operate (optionally) in frequency dependent and split-band modes. But all said, it’s basically a parallel dynamic equalizer.
In that sense, it’s basically like a channel strip, and it’s always nice being able to apply multiple effects simultaneously, especially on tracks (like vocals) where you know you’re going to be using several plugins anyway.
Download: Tokyo Dawn Records
Marvel GEQ By Voxengo
Sometimes, free plugins can be disappointing. But I can’t say I’ve ever been disappointed by Voxengo products.
Here we have the Marvel GEQ, which is a track graphic equalizer, voice streaming equalizer, mastering graphic equalizer, 5.1 surround equalizer, and transparent graphic equalizer all in one.
Whether you’re looking to apply EQ to individual tracks or full mixes, this linear-phase 16-band graphic EQ will help you make short work of making your tracks sound awesome.
Luftikus By Ikjb Plugins
The colorful Luftikus is a digital adaptation of an analog hardware EQ. It has fixed half-octave bands as well as additional high-frequency boost.
It comes with 10, 40, 160, and 640 Hz bands, 2.5 kHz shelf, optional boost-only shelf (at 2.5, 5, 10, 20, or 40 kHz), mastering and analog modes, “keep-gain” option, output trim, and improved design for deeper cuts.
Simple and powerful, this is not a plugin you should be embarrassed to add to your collection.
Download: Ikjb Plugins
TinyQ By Ikjb Plugins
Okay, so you’ve got your powerhouse and workhorse EQ. What about all those times you need something a little smaller? What if you just need to make a few quick adjustments and move on to your next duty?
Well, arguably, that’s exactly what TinyQ is for. It comes with four bands (20 Hz to 20 kHz), Butterworth hi- and lo-cut (between 6 and 48 dB/octave), toggle (tiny/large/huge), and a frequency analyzer.
I think this baby is rather handy, and rather versatile given that it’s supposed to be tiny.
Download: Ikjb Plugins
SplineEQ By Photosoundner
SplineEQ is a simple and flexible linear phase equalizer. This Eq plugin doesn’t user filter types, as everything is controlled with the control points that shape the curve. You can easily create new control points by double clicking. You can create up to 60 bands.
Unlike most plugins, the gain goes from -infinite to +60 dB. Using the transpose function, you can shift the curve up and down by up to 10 octaves.
This is a versatile and powerful but surprisingly easy to use EQ plugin. How can you resist?
basiQ By KUASSA
Want a basic EQ plugin? I mean a really basic VST? Then you’ll probably enjoy KUASSA’s basiQ. As its name (and appearance) would suggest, there’s not a whole lot to this plugin.
basiQ, though, is an acronym for Baxandall Simulation Equalizer, which is a three-band EQ. And, naturally, it’s modeled after the Baxandall Equalizer, which features smooth shelves and natural sounding response.
Using the simple controls included, you can shape your sound how you want, and fine tune to your precise heart’s content.
Whether you need to give your track a little more air, shimmer, or oomph, you can do it all with this three-bander.
This is a great plugin for mixing and mastering alike, though in KUASSA’s own words, it is best paired with the Kratos Maximizer, for surgical precision.
MEqualizer By MeldaProduction
The MEqualizer is a six-band EQ with seven filter types per band, integrated tube saturation, harmonics control, and advanced visualization with a spectrum analyzer and sonogram.
Its user interface is incredibly well-designed, and it comes free with the MFreeFXBundle, which includes 37 analysis, saturation and distortion, dynamics, equalizer, filter, mastering, mixing, pitch, reverb, and stereo effects.
The bundle is free, but if you want to unlock all the features available for each plugin, you’ll want to purchase a license at $58.
This plugin is compatible with Windows and Mac.
SonEQ By Sonimus
The idea behind Sonimus’ SonEQ was to take the best parts of some vintage gear and put it all into one plugin.
Along with a meticulous and highly attractive interface, you get three bands (low, mid, high), two musical filters, high-pass, low-pass, preamp stage with bass booster, 64-bit floating point precision, and up to 192kHz sample rates.
This plugin is available as a VST 2.4, VST 3, AAX, and RTAS with support for 32- and 64-bit operation. Both Mac and Windows are supported.
Pushtec 5+1A By Leftover Lasagne
The Pushtec 5+1A is a six-band mid-range and program EQ. This plugin is only available for Windows.
The VST is based on the circuit of two analog vintage EQs and it also comes with some presets.
Reportedly, a lot of users weren’t crazy about the interface, and it took them a while to learn. That said, once they figured it out, they were able to achieve some nice sounds.
Download: KVR Audio Software
ParisEQ By Matt Craig
So, it might seem funny to mention having come this far in this guide, but EQ is quite individual. It’s one of the reasons we decided to cover so many plugins on this list.
Which is to say, some are going to love Matt Craig’s ParisEQ. Others, maybe not so much.
This is a four-band stereo parametric EQ using the same algorithm as E-mu/Esoniq Paris system. It comes with switchable EQ type per band (high pass, high shelf, peaking, low shelf, low pass), adjustable cut/boost for shelving and peaking types, adjustable bandwidth (in octaves), adjustable trim at output, phase-reverse, EQ in/out switches, and 64-bit internal precision.
Users found the interface easy to use, but their main complaint was just that it made the bass sound a little too wooly or fluffy, and highs can be a little too harsh. Like I said, to each their own.
This plugin is compatible with Windows only.
Download: KVR Audio Software
EQ1A Equalizer By Mellowmuse
The EQ1A features a simple, attractive design. It’s a smooth, analog style equalizer with minimal phase coloration. It comes with a high pass filter with variable Q, frequency sweepable low and high shelf filters, sweepable low and high peak filters with variable Q, and bypass.
The plugin is compatible with Mac and Windows.
STEQ By Analog Obsession
Okay, so we had to dig a little for this one, because Analog Obsession has moved all their plugins over to Patreon. That said, it’s understandable that they’d be looking for support from the community.
STEQ is based on a small format console EQ from a well-known tape machine brand. It features easy to use coloration with variable frequency (150 Hz to 7 kHz) on mid band and a fixed “broad” high (10 kHz) and low (80 Hz) shelf.
STEQ is compatible with Windows and Mac.
Moss Equalizer By Stone Voices
Here’s a highly rated, oft downloaded VST. The Moss Equalizer features a range of -150 to +60 dB from 10 to 20000 Hz.
This plugin allows you to change the amplitude-frequency characteristic of your track, which can help you do everything from boosting and cutting to removing unwanted noise.
The Moss Equalizer can also model comb filters (which sounds a lot like a vocoder).
Although it’s only available for Windows, this is an EQ with a lot of potential and a blast to mess around with.
Download: Stone Voices
MQ57 By J1000
As with the Moss Equalizer, MQ57 is highly rated and often downloaded.
The Windows-only plugin is a parametric EQ designed with mastering in mind. It’s quite powerful, but it doesn’t take too long to learn.
MQ57 comes with seven fully parametric minimum-phase filters per channel (five peak, two shelf), two additional cut filters per channel with two selectable slopes, separated or linked mid/side operation for each filter, functions and ranges optimized for subtle mastering EQ tasks, band-pass frequency monitor for five peak filters, 32-bit internal precision with zero latency, and no introduced harmonic or dynamic distortion.
The fact that it’s Windows only and doesn’t support 64-bit might be a deal break in the eyes of some, but others will find this one handy for mastering.
Download: KVR Audio Software
7Q By MANDA AUDIO
If you know about the MT Power Drum Kit (it’s quite popular so far as free drum plugins are concerned), then you will already be familiar with MANDA AUDIO and the quality of products they make.
7Q, of course, is their free EQ inspired by Kjaerhus Audio’s Classic EQ. It was developed as a possible 64-bit alternative with musically predefined bands and Q values.
High and low pass filters are included, and its CPU consumption is minimal.
Whether you’re looking to use it as your main EQ or for individual instrument and vocal tracks, 7Q could be just what you’ve been looking for.
It’s available for Windows and Mac.
Download: MANDA AUDIO
How Do I Learn To Use EQ?
So far as I’m concerned, music production is an art and a science. There are things you can learn in a book, and then there are things you can learn by experimentation and trial and error.
Just because you think or have been told the guitar should be at -12 dB doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the result you’re looking to achieve.
What am I trying to say?
What I’m saying is that while it’s worth reading books or watching videos, at least to get a sense of how EQ works and how it’s used, the best way to learn is to use it yourself and see what kind of results you get by messing around.
Yes, there are certainly ways of putting together a mix, and certain methods that people follow. But at the end of the day, it’s got to work and to feel good to you.
So, don’t be shy. Bust out those plugins and give them a try.
Best Free EQ VST Plugins, Final Thoughts
So, with all these options, you might be wondering exactly how to find your perfect plugin.
Well, you can read up on each one, even check out video demos.
But at the end of the day, the best way to know whether a plugin is for you is just by trying it.
That’s the great thing about being a music producer or sound engineer, to be honest. You get to figure out your own workflow. You get to try different things and see how to create the results you’re looking to create.
So, experiments lots and have fun.