Best Free EQ Plug-In in 2022 (Reviews and Comparison)

  • James Parker
  • January 28, 2022

If you are someone learning sound design or music engineering in college, high school, or in your free time, invest yourself in an equalizer plug-in. Equalizers are the key to having clean, balanced audio and altering sounds into effects. The reason that stops people from buying one is the expensive price tag.

Thankfully, there are free equalizers online. The question is which one would you choose. We’ll be judging five free equalizer plug-ins on criteria. Is the interface usable for both beginners and professionals?  What PCs can it work on?  And does it carry all the audio filters without needing to buy an upgraded version?

If there is a standstill between two or three plug-ins, we will dive deeper into how they operate on different PCs based on the bit rate, the CPU and RAM usage they can run, and who can work with the most audio programs based on their plug-in file.

COMPARISON CHART

IMAGE PRODUCT
1. Blue Cat’s Triple EQ
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2. TDR Nova EQ
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3. Ignite Amps PTEQ X
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4. Kiive Audio Warmy EP1A Tube EQ
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reaxcomp 5. ReaEQ
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1. Blue Cat’s Triple EQ

The Triple is a three-banded equalizer by Blue Cat that operates with a semi-parametric model. This means the filters can be controlled in real-time or paused to help beginner and professional sound engineers to listen and understand the sound’s execution on their recording.

Like Nova, the Triple has an interface that allows users to manipulate the band above the audio recording by clicking on it or entering values on the effect analogs. What makes it unique is semi-parametric model lets you listen to the recording while working in two or multiple audio channels. 

The two main channels are the left and right to listen to the panning of effects from the direction of the left and right ears. These channels can have their volumes be adjusted independently. The last channel is in the middle, which can manipulate both the left and right volumes simultaneously.

When you combine all three, they can create a building and fading effect of the audio recording. And it can automatically detect and correct volume gain when you play it back or in real-time.

Triple also works with Windows and Mac on their modern versions, both in 64 and 32-bit. Unfortunately for Mac users, they will need an Intel processor to operate this plug-in.

2. TDR Nova EQ

The Nova is an audio equalizer made by Tokyo Dawn Records. This plug-in is programmed to parallel dynamic algorithms, meaning it can process and divide the audio into smaller sections while preserving the original recording.

It can handle the process with two different equalizer settings, parametric and dynamic equalization. And three different types of compression types, frequency selective, multi-band, and wideband.

The frequency can be manipulated in real-time or paused. You can mess around with the equalization and compression with the band above the audio recording. The user interface is adjustable and adaptable, from a simplified setup for beginner sound engineers to complex for professionals.

The beginner interface has fewer effect analogs and encourages new Nova users to manipulate the band manually to listen and experiment to achieve different sound results before finalizing the audio. The professional interface has more analogs for experienced Nova users to try out the advanced effects, like low and high filters on their recording. And if you are ready to learn more, the Gentleman version carries Smart Operations preference to teach the plug-in the filters you want to convert the sound of the recording into something new.

What makes Nova great is the accessibility it has for Windows and Mac users. With Windows, it can be used with Windows XP SP2 to the currently new Windows 11. And can be used with Mac OS X 10.9 to its current version, macOS Monterey. However, for Mac owners, Nova can operate on their systems at 64-bit while Windows can work in 64 and 32-bit.

3. Ignite Amps PTEQ X

This next equalizer is a 3-in-1 module set from Ignite Amps. The PTEQ allows you to access three modules, each with its own audio filters to manipulate audio frequencies on one interface from top to bottom.

The first module is the mid-range equalizer that allows PTEQ users to drop the frequency down and cap the peak of the frequency. Below is the bandwidth module, allowing users to control the frequency from high to low, the treble and bass boost, and reduce the force of the effect by attenuating. The last module is the filter cuts that control the low and high frequency to a cleaner sound.

Unlike the Triple and the Nova, PTEQ does not have an audio chart to look at in real-time or pause. This plug-in is more likely to be used with an audio program limited by effects and can operate the plug-ins with their audio chart.

The analogs may have values labeled above them, but it can be hard to read and know which channel of a selected frequency is trying to adjust.

For both Windows and Mac users, this plug-in works with their modern versions. The only thing stopping them is the processor type. Windows will need an Intel Pentium 4 or an AMD Athlon XP processor. And Mac will need an Intel SSE2 processor.

4. Kiive Audio Warmy EP1A Tube EQ

So far, out of all of the equalizer plug-ins, Kiive Audio provides the most simple interface plug-in. The Warmy EP1A Tube has a beginner-friendly analog interface compared to the PTEQ’s. The tube part of the name comes from the two value displays underneath to read the effect value amount you put into the audio.

The interface contains a left and right channel as both sides of the interface each have a boost and cut analog. In the middle is the bandwidth analog, which labels the audio value from sharp to broad. And there’s an input volume dial to adjust microphone gain, output to adjust the playback volume, and mixing to pan the sound from left to right.

While it doesn’t have an audio chart, the beginner-friendly interface is a great learning tool for anyone, especially for students trying out audio engineering for the first time. Professionals might see this plug-in as too simple to use and would find themselves wanting an equalizer with more sound filters.

Warmy also works well with modern versions of Windows with an Intel or AMD processor and Mac with an Intell processor. Both will need to be operated in 64-bit.

5. ReaEQ

reaxcomp

Down to the last equalizer, the Reaper or ReaEQ is the oldest plug-in on the list. It can be used all the way back to Windows 98. And it was last updated in 2016. It may have aged, but a vintage musician and a retro sound designer may find its interface charming and fun.

It’s also a CPU-friendly program if you want an equalizer with low CPU and RAM use. Instead of analogs, Reaper uses filter meters to prevent the difficulty of setting a value. To make it easier, it allows users to type in the box to the meter. Some of these meters come with an option dropbox with preset filters to adjust the frequency on the audio chart.

It can be beginner-friendly at first. However, it can become overwhelming as this equalizer has 9 different interfaces, each with its own audio filter function. One of these interfaces allows Reaper to code value with JavaScript. This is great to use if you are a game programmer creating MIDI music. And speaking of MIDI, it has MIDI control.

It may not be available for Mac users. But for Windows, it is best used for Windows 7 or 8 rather than higher. The reason why is that the coding of JavaScript is more likely to operate better and would not require JavaScript upgrades for those Windows versions.

Conclusion

Now that we have gone over all 5 free equalizer plug-ins, it’s time to choose which free equalizer is the winner. The best free equalizer plug-in you should use on a budget is the Blue Cat’s Triple. TDR’s Nova almost came close, but an upgrade for their Gentleman version cost 68 US dollars to access more features. Triple stays free while updating and adding features over time.

When it comes to free audio plug-ins, the user should ask about three things. What is PC usage and performance, what audio programs can they use it with, and is it easy to learn? The Triple Equalizer has answered all three.

It has no CPU latency or loads while it’s idle and optimizes itself to your audio program’s CPU usage. This plug-in is perfect for most audio programs that can work with VST, VST3, and AAX plug-ins with modern Mac and Windows PCs at 32-bit and 64-bit rates. And last but not least, the interface is beginner-friendly and can be used in a professional environment.