SmackLabs has announced the release of SL84, a freeware console equalizer in 32-bit VST plugin format for Windows-based digital audio workstations.
SL84 is SmackLabs’ take on the 80 series Neve console EQ. According to the developers, it looks and, more importantly, sounds like the original. Instead of trying to emulate the Neve sound using DSP algorithms, SmackLabs decided to take a different route with SL84.
This freeware VST plugin for Windows uses impulse responses to capture not just the frequency response of the hardware unit, but also the non-linear quirks such as any dynamic change or sonic distortion that occurs while adjusting the controls. This means the behavior of the EQ will be different depending on the amplitude and other characteristics of the input source.
SL84 has dials for low cut, high cut, low shelf, high shelf, and a mid-frequency band control with optional Hi-Q toggle. The higher Q setting would be useful for more surgical cutting, as opposed to boosting which typically sounds better at a lower Q. The frequency selection points for all of the dials are fixed. For younger producers that are used to more modern graphic equalizers, you may find this somewhat limiting, but the restricted options preserve both the sound and workflow of the original units. The plugin also comes with a bypass button for the filter and EQ for easy A/B comparisons with the original input source.
Although currently only available for Windows, this plugin is free to download without registration and promises to be a low-CPU option for an expensive vintage sound. Unfortunately, there are no audio demos on the website, so you’ll need to download the plugin if you want to hear it in action. Thankfully, the plugin is a completely free download on the developer’s website, no strings attached.
SL84 is available for free download via SmackLabs (5.30 MB download size, DLL file, 32-bit VST plugin format for Windows).