Equalizers are an essential part of every audio engineer’s toolkit, along with compressors and reverb effects. If you feel that your digital audio workstation’s stock EQ lacks quality, try substituting it with one of the free plugins listed in this article.
An EQ allows you to shape and balance the frequency content of individual tracks and the overall mix. By amplifying or attenuating specific frequency ranges, EQs can be used to highlight or de-emphasize certain instruments, remove unwanted noise, fix clashing frequencies, and achieve a more harmonious mix.
EQs come in many shapes and sizes, including parametric, graphic, semi-parametric, dynamic, and linear-phase designs, among others. Each type offers unique characteristics and uses, and choosing the best one depends on your current project.
Some plugins also include a spectrum analyzer and sonogram to help you identify the problem frequencies visually. However, it’s always best to listen to your ears and rely on critical listening instead of visual aids whenever possible.
Best FREE EQ Plugins 2023
These are the best FREE EQ Plugins available in 2023:
- TDR Nova
- TDR VOS SlickEQ
- Cockos ReaEQ
- lkjb QRange
- lkjb Luftikus
- Blue Cat Triple EQ
- Fuse Audio RS-W2395C
- Rare “BPB Edition”
- Warmy EP1A Tube EQ V2
- Sonimus SonEQ
- Voxengo Marvel GEQ
- Blindfold EQ
- DDMF ColourEQ
TDR Nova stands out as the GOAT among free EQ plugins. This versatile freeware equalizer effortlessly tackles various tasks, from tracking to mastering.
One of the standout qualities of TDR Nova is its adaptability. It seamlessly transitions from a standard parametric EQ to a precise dynamic EQ, multi-band compressor, and even a de-esser.
While the advanced features are easily accessible on the front panel, they remain unobtrusive when using Nova as a straightforward parametric EQ.
In all of my projects, TDR Nova takes the spotlight as my go-to EQ. It delivers a reliable, transparent sound quality while providing all the necessary EQ features for my mixing and mastering endeavors.
I also use it in my sound design work. The frequency spectrum of multi-layered cinematic sounds like braams and impacts can be hard to tame, and that’s where Nova’s dynamics section comes in handy.
Additionally, this plugin offers a preset manager, undo/redo functionality, copy/pasting parameter values, and a host of other convenient features to enhance your workflow.
So, if you’re looking for a workhorse EQ that can handle all mixing and mastering tasks, this incredible free parallel dynamic equalizer will do the trick.
If you only want a single free EQ VST, download TDR Nova.
TDR VOS SlickEQ
TDR VOS SlickEQ is a user-friendly mixing and mastering equalizer with exceptional sound quality. It offers three bands of EQ control (low, mid, and high) and four different EQ modes to shape your audio in unique ways.
SlickEQ is the result of a collaboration with Variety of Sound and Tokyo Dawn Labs. These two legendary freeware plugin developers joined forces to create what is arguably one of the best free equalizers right now.
One of my favorite SlickEQ features is the “Auto Gain Compensation” mode. It maintains a consistent volume while the user adjusts the equalization and saturation.
This allows me to hear the impact of the applied EQ changes accurately without worrying about volume fluctuations. Our ears perceive louder as better, so having the EQ plugin automatically compensate for the volume helps me make correct decisions when mixing.
SlickEQ also includes four different EQ curve shapes. The provided American, British, German, and Soviet modes each have different sonic characteristics, essentially making SlickEQ a four-in-one plugin.
The equalizer is fully transparent by default, but you can optionally apply non-linear behavior to color the sound. It is easy to fine-tune the harmonic content and perceived warmth using the subtle but great-sounding output saturation stage.
When using SlickEQ on the master channel, I consistently rely on the German mastering preset as my starting point. It adds a pleasing touch to the mix without sounding overwhelming.
MEqualizer is a feature-rich 6-band equalizer plugin that you can download for free as part of MeldaProduction’s freeware bundle. It provides seven filter types per band and a smooth real-time frequency spectrum display in the background, which is convenient for music producers who like visual feedback.
It also offers some interesting sound coloring features inspired by analog EQ hardware but implemented with a contemporary twist.
MEqualizer’s standout features include the ability to add harmonics to individual bands, visualize notes on the frequency graph, and easily control parallel EQing with the Dry/Wet mix knob. The note visualization feature can be useful when you’re learning how to EQ, as it makes the frequency values seem less abstract and more practical.
I love MEqualizer’s ability to function as both an M/S and L/R equalizer, a combination that’s hard to find in other freeware equalizers. I also enjoy the integrated tube saturation and auto-gain compensation, which are great options to have in the early stages of mixing a project.
While MEqualizer boasts user-friendly functionality, the interface may initially present a slight learning curve. The overlapping control parameters and visual aids can make it challenging to discern between them. However, MEqualizer is easy to use once you figure out the control layout.
The main drawback preventing MEqualizer from being hailed as the best free EQ VST plugin is its cumbersome download and installation process.
MeldaProduction bundles all of its plugins into a single installer, resulting in an unnecessarily large download. Additionally, during the installation, you must manually deselect any undesired plugins, adding to the inconvenience.
ReaEQ is an exceptional parametric EQ plugin that is lightweight, transparent, and highly precise. It can be downloaded for free as part of the ReaPlugs VST FX suite by Cockos.
One of ReaEQ’s standout features is its virtually infinite flexibility. The plugin offers unlimited bands and an extensive range of filter types per band. These include shelf EQ, band EQ, low-pass, high-pass, band-pass, all-pass, and notch-pass filters.
If you’re looking for a surgically precise and transparent parametric equalizer, ReaEQ is one of the best options available for free. It is also lightweight, allowing you to run multiple instances simultaneously without straining your CPU.
The interface doesn’t look fancy, but it is very user-friendly. It provides easy mouse controls and modifiers for editing the bandwidth of points in the graph, which significantly speeds up the mixing workflow.
ReaEQ also offers frequency and phase response displays, along with a note and octave display for frequencies, enhancing the overall user experience.
Because of its CPU efficiency and ease of use, I use ReaEQ as the main EQ on my portable DAW. It’s also my go-to EQ when mastering individual audio files while working on sample packs.
The unlimited bands and precise controls are extremely handy when removing unwanted frequencies and resonances from rendered WAV files.
lkjb QRange is an advanced IIR linear phase EQ plugin. It features twelve sortable bands that can work as peak, shelf, and cut filters.
The equalizer is highly flexible, offering adjustable cut filter steepness, Stereo/Left/Right/Mid/Side routing per band, global gain for loudness adjustments, and a freely resizable user interface. It also has a latency-free minimal phase mode and a gain match feature.
QRange’s frequency analyzer can display the pre- and post-EQ frequency spectrum in real-time. It is possible to fine-tune the analyzer’s range, which is great if you need to customize it for a specific use case.
The plugin’s main drawbacks are its high CPU load and latency. The latency is quite noticeable in default settings, but this can be remedied by turning on the latency-free mode.
On the other hand, QRange’s main advantage is its outstanding sound quality. It sounds very musical, even at high gain boosts in the upper-frequency range.
I often use QRange to add air and sweetness to percussion sounds. It’s incredible how it can boost the desired frequency range by 10 dB or more without noticing unpleasant sonic artifacts.
lkjb Luftikus is an outstanding free EQ VST plugin that captures the warmth of vintage analog equalizers. It resembles the renowned Maag EQ4 plugin, a high-end offering available at Plugin Alliance for $229.
The open-source Luftikus features fixed half-octave bands, a high-frequency boost, and the capability to make deep cuts without altering the overall gain.
The unique “Keep-Gain” allows users to make EQ decisions based on the frequency response instead of perceived volume. I absolutely love this feature as it helps me avoid the pitfall of falsely detecting increased loudness as an EQ improvement.
Luftikus is particularly useful for enhancing detail and clarity in the top end. It preserves the top-end frequency structure, boosting the target area of the spectrum without causing harshness, artifacts, or nasal resonance.
The plugin’s simplicity and clear, user-friendly interface invite you to engage and explore its features with ease. You don’t have to be an EQ expert to get the most out of Luftikus. It’s one of those highly intuitive plugins that both beginners and mixing professionals can put to good use.
When I compared Luftikus to the Maag EQ4, the curves aligned almost exactly, with the Luftikus offering slightly more air boost at the max setting.
So, look no further if you want to get professional-quality results with a free EQ plugin.
Luftikus offers some additional workflow enhancement features, like the double-click-to-reset knobs and a mastering mode that makes the knobs “stepped” to simplify decision-making. It is one of the best free equalizer plugins at the moment.
Blue Cat’s Triple EQ
Blue Cat’s Triple EQ is my go-to compact equalizer plugin for simple mixing tasks and minor corrections. I use it as the first plugin in the chain on instrument tracks when recording a new project.
As a user-friendly 3-band semi-parametric EQ, it’s incredibly easy to navigate, offering a low-shelf filter, high-shelf filter, and boost/cut peak filter.
What I appreciate most about Triple EQ is its remarkable simplicity and WYSIWYG design. The real-time graph showcasing the computed frequency response gives me a precise overview of the sounds I’m working on.
Other standout features include the rather extreme ±40 dB range on each band, automatic gain compensation, and zero-latency processing. The latter makes Triple EQ perfect for tracking during a recording session.
The ‘Smooth Update Mechanism’ is another brilliant feature. I can tweak parameters in real-time without getting annoying ‘click’ noises and similar artifacts.
The included random preset generator is a surprising feature because equalizers are typically there to add order to our mixes instead of chaos. However, randomization can be handy when using Triple EQ for sound design. I put it to good use when creating drones, atmospheres, and other types of sounds where I can be more creative.
Blue Cat’s freeware equalizer has become an essential part of my mixing toolkit because of its compact design and straightforward features. With only three EQ bands, it effortlessly handles small adjustments and corrections, allowing for speedy frequency balance tuning.
RS-W2395c is a free Baxandall equalizer plugin developed by Fuse Audio Labs in collaboration with Roger Schult. It combines the vintage charm of a classic 1950s Baxandall EQ with today’s state-of-the-art plugin technology.
With its uniquely musical vintage character, the W2395c excels at honing the midrange and applying broader tonal sculpting to bass and treble areas of the frequency spectrum.
I’ve found its high-shelf filter particularly useful for enhancing percussive sounds and for adjusting the tonality of instruments and vocals. Its low band offers a clear, tight control of sub frequencies, making it an indispensable tool for balancing the tone of kick drums and bass guitars.
W2395c’s simplicity is another one of its strengths. However, it still offers some degree of flexibility, letting you switch the low band from 80 to 110 Hz and the highs from 2 to 5 kHz.
The semi-parametric mids come with three different Q factors, providing enough variety for surgical or broad sound shaping of the midrange. And I absolutely love the Drive control – it gives a pleasing grittiness to the EQ’s otherwise immaculate tonal character.
Being free makes the W2395c even more exceptional. It breathes life into anything from dynamic vocals to dull-sounding guitars and does an excellent job on the mix bus. It truly is a hidden gem in the world of free EQ VSTs.
PTEq-X by Ignite Amps is a free emulation of the legendary Pultec EQs. It captures all the nuances of vintage passive program equalizers and enhances them with modern-day convenience and functionality.
This free EQ VST plugin consists of three separate equalizer modules: the MQ5 mid-range equalizer, the PEQ1A two-band equalizer, and the HL3C filter module.
PTEq-X’s unique triode stage analog modeling across four different tube types adds a layer of warmth and depth to your mix that is unmatched in other free EQs. It replicates the classic tube saturation associated with analog gear, providing an extra layer of harmonics that can be very useful in the mixing stage.
The two-band PEQ1A module lets you perform the Pultec push/pull trick, which is an excellent way to focus the low end while making it more prominent in the mix. Perfect for use on the drum bus!
In my personal experience, PTEq-X gets you as close as possible to the classic Pultec equalizer sound without shelling out hundreds of dollars for a hardware EQ. Definitely a must-have for any audio engineer on a budget.
Whether you’re looking for a vintage-style EQ for tracking, mixing, or mastering, the PTEq-X provides a level of control and quality that’s hard to believe is free.
Rare “BPB Edition”
Rare “BPB Edition” is a special version of Analog Obsession’s free Pultec EQ plugin, created exclusively for the Bedroom Producers Blog. It offers 4X saturation and a few other workflow enhancements not found in the original plugin.
Drawing inspiration from the legendary Pultec hardware, this passive equalizer introduces modern features that make it more convenient for use in a modern DAW.
A notable addition is the optional pre-EQ gain stage, allowing you to saturate the signal before it enters the EQ circuit. With dedicated Boost and Attenuation controls for each of the two EQ frequency bands, you can shape your sound with surgical precision.
The included oversampling feature ensures impeccable audio quality, although resulting in a slightly increased CPU load. You can engage oversampling by clicking the Analog Obsession logo on the GUI.
Warmy EP1A Tube EQ V2
Warmy EP1A Tube EQ V2 is a free plugin with smooth EQ curves and a warm tube sound. It is the freeware counterpart of the popular Waves EQP-1A plugin.
Compared to Waves EQP-1A, this free EQ VST sounds more transparent at lower gain settings. The tube saturation becomes more prominent when overdriving the input. It also offers up to 16X oversampling, which isn’t available in the Waves plugin.
Its core feature set includes low and high-frequency boost and cut controls, bandwidth shaping, input and output gain adjustment, and a mix control for parallel processing with minimal effort.
The plugin also offers an EQ bypass control for isolating the tube saturation and Undo/Redo controls which can be useful for reverting to the previous setting.
The latest version of Warmy EP1A Tube EQ improved its accuracy in emulating the original hardware model. I absolutely love its analog-style sound, which works incredibly well for adding character to dull recordings.
SonEQ is a user-friendly freeware equalizer that merges the features of old-school EQs in one neat package. It offers low, mid, and high-frequency band controls, along with a special pre-amp section to fine-tune your sound. It also features high and low pass filters, which are handy for cleaning up unwanted noise and hum from the signal.
I’m a big fan of SonEQ’s saturation algorithm, which flawlessly captures the warm and fuzzy tones reminiscent of vintage tube amps. Its intensity is extremely flexible, allowing me to add a subtle touch of warmth or crank up the distortion for a more pronounced effect.
During the early 2010s, SonEQ stood out as one of the best analog-inspired freeware EQ plugins, gaining a strong reputation for its exceptional musical sound. While other plugins may have surpassed its popularity, the simulated analog circuitry in SonEQ continues to deliver outstanding audio quality that I truly appreciate.
SonEQ also offers a unique feature called the “WOOW” control. It’s an all-pass filter, which creates a subtle sense of depth and spaciousness when applied to the audio signal.
SonEQ is particularly useful for adding character to bass guitars, snare, and kick drums, but it can handle much more. Yes, getting the frequencies right might take a bit of practice, but it’s well worth it for the rich, musical sound you can get with it.
Marvel GEQ is an outstanding linear-phase 16-band graphic equalizer plugin by Voxengo. I’ve found it to be an invaluable tool, especially for mastering and applying subtle tonal balancing to the final mix.
This free graphic EQ allows you to manipulate 16 different frequency bands, offering a +/- 12 dB gain range per band. It also offers multi-channel operation with up to 8 in/out channel pairs.
One of Marvel GEQ’s standout features is the freehand drawing mode. It lets you sketch the desired EQ curve directly onto the interface, making it easy to fix the tonal balance quickly. It brings an element of creativity and precision that is hard to find in other graphic EQ plugins.
The plugin also features flexible internal channel routing, mid/side processing, and a swift 9-millisecond processing latency that makes it suitable for tracking.
Combined with a user-friendly, resizable interface that supports Retina and HighDPI displays, Marvel GEQ’s aesthetics are as clean and smooth as its performance. If you’re looking for a free mastering EQ, Marvel GEQ should be on your list.
EQ560 is a faithful digital emulation of the 1967 classic API 560 10-Band graphic equalizer. With its low CPU usage and extremely small memory footprint, it is perfect for use on multiple channels across the mix without any performance drop.
The distinct ‘Proportional Q’ feature intuitively widens the filter bandwidth at lower boost/cut levels and narrows it at higher settings. This makes for a unique and musical EQ curve that resembles the natural response of vintage equalizers.
What impresses me most about EQ560 is its versatility. Whether I’m enhancing the crunch of a gritty bass synth, refining the top end of a vocal, or reducing boominess in an acoustic guitar track, the EQ560 steps up to the task. This ‘can’t-go-wrong’ characteristic is what makes EQ560 a favorite of mine for quickly fixing clashing frequencies in a busy mix.
Though it could benefit from a gain knob for more comfortable gain staging, the pros unquestionably outweigh the cons. Its simplicity, usability, and exceptional sound make it one of the best free EQs on the market.
Blindfold EQ by AudioThing is a free EQ VST plugin that doesn’t display frequency labels. It discards the conventional user interface conventions, forcing you to rely on your ears instead of visuals.
With its four essential bands – low shelf, low mid, high mid, and high shelf filter – you can control the tonal balance without any frequency, gain, or Q indicators.
The Soft Clip function manages peaks in a uniquely musical way, avoiding hard clipping. Meanwhile, the ‘Analog’ button introduces saturation and a subtle high-frequency roll-off, starting around 12 kHz.
Blindfold EQ is equal parts an EQ plugin and an ear training tool. It offers a novel approach to mixing that can help you focus on the sound itself and teach you to trust your ears.
ColourEQ offers an innovative “super-parametric” equalizer design based on a unique, higher-order filtering scheme.
Contrary to what its name might suggest, ColourEQ is a fairly transparent equalizer. The ‘colour’ doesn’t refer to sound coloration but to the customizable GUI palette.
What sets this plugin apart is its two distinctive filter types per band: Type A and Type B. Type A offers a smooth, rounded curve, perfect for gentle frequency boosts, while Type B features a double-peak filter, providing surgical precision for treating specific frequencies.
What’s truly remarkable is the sonic purity and musicality achieved by ColourEQ; it cuts through the digital harshness common in other EQs, instead delivering a warm, “creamy” timbre that’s hard to come by in an EQ plugin.
The icing on the cake is its relatively low CPU usage, ensuring a smooth performance even when using multiple instances.
How many equalizers do you need?
The truth is, you don’t need more than one EQ plugin to mix a song. All equalizers offer similar functionality with some notable, but not essential, differences.
You could pick one great free EQ VST and use it in all your projects. No one would notice, except for you, because the quality of your mix depends on your mixing skills, not the features of your equalisation plugin.
However, for some of us, there’s a benefit to having multiple equalizer VST plugins available in our DAW.
I’ll try to answer this with a real-life comparison. As someone who types thousands of words weekly for Bedroom Producers Blog, I have a simple trick that I always go back to when I don’t feel like writing an article.
It is as simple as switching to a different keyboard. Not the MIDI keyboard, but the actual QWERTY keyboard that I use to type articles.
When writing an article, especially a long one like this list of freeware equalizers, I sometimes hit a mental wall, and I can’t continue writing. There I am, happily describing my favorite freeware equalizers, and all of a sudden, fatigue comes in, the inspiration is gone, and I probably need to take a break until tomorrow.
That’s where the trick comes in!
I pick up a different keyboard and continue typing. The simple fact that the tactile feedback is different completely resets my brain and gives me more fuel to continue typing.
For this very reason, I collected multiple keyboards over the years, from cheap portable Bluetooth models to fancy ones with mechanical keyswitches.
I noticed that a similar thing happens with equalizers, compressors, and other plugins that I often use. Having the option to switch things up in the middle of a tedious project keeps your workflow interesting and might help you finish the job faster.
So, just like switching the keyboard helps me continue typing, using different equalizers during a long mixing session helps me focus and continue working even after I get tired.
For more freeware plugins and instruments, return to our Free VST Plugins page.