ZL Audio Releases FREE ZL Equalizer Dynamic Equalizer Plugin


ZL Audio launched the ZL Equalizer, a freeware 16-band dynamic equalizer plugin for Linux, macOS, and Windows.

You can install the open-source plugin by downloading the correct installer for your OS from the ZL Audio GitHub page.

Until recently, it was easy to recommend TDR Nova as the best freeware dynamic EQ. Competition is always a good thing, though, so it’s nice to see another excellent dynamic equalizer that is available for free.

ZL Equalizer is an AU and VST 3 release the developer describes as a 16-band minimum-phase dynamic digital equalizer.

In addition to the 16 frequency bands, the ZL Equalizer has 8 filter types, 5 stereo modes, and 7 variable slopes.

ZL Audio states that the plugin delivers high-quality audio with a “64-bit floating-point processing and decramping technique, and outstanding performance is ensured in both low-end and high-end.” 

The dynamics can be altered via the adjustable threshold, attack, release, and side-chain frequency, among other parameters.

Furthermore, the interface provides an “interactive spectrum graph, smart collision detection, and smooth animations.”

The developer has also included the option to switch between light and dark mode, which is always handy. 

Overall the ZL Equalizer is quite a full-featured release and gives a lot of options for a free plugin.

Note that none of the installers for the ZL Equalizer have been notarized. This may result in warnings from your AV software.

ZL Audio also states, “You should decide whether to trust the installers using the provided link. Alternatively, you can build the plugin from the project source code.”

The .exe extension download is for the Windows version, the .dmg file for macOS, and the .zip file for Linux. 

There are already several demos on YouTube showcasing the ZL Equalizer, so you can get a feel for the plugin without committing to a download. We have shared some here, as well.

The ZL Equalizer is currently in a pre-release version. The developer dropped the 0.0.1 release on January 26, the 0.1.0 release on February 17 and the current version, released last week, is 0.1.12.

ZL Audio has released numerous free and open-source plugins via GitHub. 

Other releases from ZL Audio include the ZL Warm distortion/saturation plugin, ZLL Makeup loudness make-up plugin, ZLL Match loudness matching plugin and ZL Inflator distortion/saturation plugin.

The developer has also released the free MIDI pitch tool, which compares MIDI with vocal pitches.

Download: ZL Equalizer (FREE)


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    • It’s still in beta so it having bugs isn’t surprising. If you have the time, maybe you can report them to the dev.

  1. This is one of the best Free Dynamics EQs I have seen.
    16Bands of DynamicEQ with such low cpu usage. Its amazing!

    I tried using it as a ‘soothe’ alternative (setting up 16 bands of dyn eq across the spectrum). It did well taming the resonant frequencies.

    I also tried using it as a ‘Track Spacer’ alternative (setting up 16bands of dynamic eq responding to the side chain signal), It worked very well, suppressing the ‘masking’ frequencies.

    Congrats ZL Audio for creating a very useful plugin.

  2. This is the equalizer I wanted. A very cool plugin, although it is still a beta, it is of very high quality. Thanks to the developer, and thanks to the author for the article!

  3. If this doesn’t become plugin of the year I would be shocked. The fact that he managed more or less replicate Pro-Q 3 (even the CPU usage) and released it for free and as an open-source software is amazing! It’s both a great and valuable tool for beginners and professional in mixing and mastering, as well as a source for learning and inspiration for current and future developers.

    To think we have received both a free neural network learning amp sim (Neural Amp Modeler) a la Kemper/ToneX, a FFT/spectral compressor/resonance suppressor (nih-plugs Spectral Compressor) a la Soothe, and now a free Fabfilter Pro-Q 3 alternative all within a year or so is just incredible.

    I hope that he will enable GitHub sponsors on account, or create a Patreon or something. Definitely a developer who deserves support so we hopefully get to see more plugins from him.

    • Tomislav Zlatic


      Hi JonB, it’s definitely an amazing plugin! Please feel free to post your suggestions for the plugin of the year here. I’d love to hear your thoughts, and from the other readers, too.

  4. It seems to reliably lock up Reason 12 (latest) with an audio/buffer loop that makes me have to End Task. Sad as it might be useful.

  5. Wow. I bought the Tonebooster EQ4 a while back and was convinced it couldn’t be beat for the low price and functionality, but this one seems to have nearly all the same functions and even for free. The only thing I was missing in my EQ was the ability to use another part of the spectrum as sidechain for dynamic EQing and this one even seems to have that. That’s awesome. Dialing in the dynamics smoothly isn’t always easy though. Even at slowest attack it still tends to slam down nearly instantly with a firm “pop”, but when adding a tiny bit of RMS it stops responding at all, even at lowest attack. That weird, but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth and check back later for updates.

    Thanks for the nice freebee!

    • Why not give feedback to the developer about the odd behaviour? That’s how you can help to improve things!

      By the way: free TDR Nova has all the features you mentioned!

      • I often do, when I’m invested enough, but you kinda just took away the reason I may have had, because I never noticed free Nova could do that too. I thought only the GE had that option. Thanks for the tip, I’ll check it out!

        • Now that you say it: I’m not totally sure whether it’s a Nova GE specific feature, since I switched to GE version at some point

  6. The “minimum phase” claim got me confused for a bit. I can confirm it’s a regular/standard phase EQ. Saved you a google search.

      • Zero latency, natural and analog phase are all minimum phase eqs. They all try to mimic behavior of analog eqs.

        • That’s correct. I haven’t extensively researched it, but linear phase EQ always has latency, afaik. The different types of phase shift affect sound differently. But Dan Worrall on youtube will do a much better job at explaining that.

  7. I used pro-q, then switched to ReEQ and TDR Nova (was looking to upgrade to GE, but found some others that help with resonance) and SmartEQ among others, but this is not bad. I might replace ReEQ/TDR Nova for me. Reaper 7.X

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