Menu

Digital EQs for Mastering Review - Part 2





We had a lot of interest, interaction and unsurprisingly, requests over our last comparison/review of digital EQs that you can use for mastering. So we figured we would make it a mini series to cover all your requests and fulfill our interest to find out the how and why of digital EQs you can use if you wanted to master some tracks either in the box, or in alongside some fancy pants outboard EQs. 

Check out part one here - Digital EQs for Mastering Review Pt1

In this review showcase we will be comparing five more popular options for digital mastering equalizers: the DMG Equilibrium, PSP MasterQ2, Acustica Scarlet3 MHE-400, Flux Epure v3, SSL X-EQ and for good measure we thought we would throw in the Avid Protools EQ3, because, let’s be honest, a) some of you are going to use it, and b) we thought it was a good baseline to also compare the fanciest digital EQs against and c) just because something is free doesn’t mean it is bad.

 

Here’s what they look like - If you want to go direct to the SHOOTOUTS CLICK HERE and if you want to GET EMAIL UPDATES CLICK HERE

DMG EQuilibrium

PSP MasterQ2

 

Acustica Scarlet3 MHE-400
 

Flux Epure v3

 SSL X-EQ

 Avid EQ3



SHOOTOUTS

We’ve used the same tracks and settings for this shootout as we have in Part 1, with the aim that you can get a good comparison, and that ultimately you can have a mega list of all the EQs we shootout in this series to see which one, in a controlled comparative environment you like the most.   [Then perhaps go buy it and support the people who do such tireless hours making them for us all].

 

SHOOTOUT 1

Low End - Soul

Our comments below player - to open the player in the shootout window so you can add to it click here 


Flux Epure is the most harmonic and extends into the sub lows the most.   The Protools EQ3 seems the least tight and least pronounced in the bass, there is a little less solidity in the lower mid range. Even with the low end boosts the Acustica still does what we are going to call the ‘Sontec style smoothening’ of the top end and instantly reminds us of analog units that this was probably based off we have in our studio collection** and in the Gearshoot database.   We’d recommend doing a jump between test between the Acustica and the EQ3 in succession to get more of a sense of what we are picking up (do it with all of them).   DMG Equilibrium has a good amount of harmonics too it and extends the most up into the mid range which warms up the song overall a bit. SSL is relatively clean, sitting somewhere between the PSP Master Q2 and the DMG Equilibrium and also adds a nice, and unique punch to the kick which we like.   The PSP Master Q2 has the most extension into the low end and brings up the sub bass well, it also seems to add a very subtle openness in the mid range end which could be a useful trick to use.   

 

SHOOTOUT 2  

Mid Range - Rock

Our comments below player - to open the player in the shootout window so you can add to it click here 

Flux Epure is the most aggressive (or in polite speak ‘forward’) compared to the rest of the EQs.   That is not a bad thing, it is definitely not a harsh unpleasant aggressiveness, it has some nice smooth harmonic colour too it and really suits the track here.   The other EQs in this test that show up with some aggressiveness/forwardness would be the DMG Equilibrium.   It doesn’t seem to extend as much harmonically into the forwardness as the Flux Epure, being a much cleaner EQ, but not as clean as per say the PSP Master Q2 which seems out of the bunch to be the most transparent.   PSP has done a real good job here, very transparent and clean - Cleaner than the SSL! The other very clean EQ in the shootout is the Protools EQ3, however when shooting this out against the PSP Master Q2 the PSP Master Q2 is tighter in the low mids and the Protools EQ3 sounds like its has some phasing problems compared to the PSP Master Q2.   The SSL X-EQ adds the most aggression and punch to the kick it is at the same amount of aggression as the DMG Equilibrium but also has a slight push to the width of the signal - the Acustica Scarlet3 also has this characteristic width push with some harmonics too it and the same ‘smoothening’ effect we picked up in the low end test.  The Acustica is a bit tighter than some of the other EQs and has a nice curve to it, it extends into the low mids more than the other EQs, listen to the thwack in the kick ~6-700Hz.

 

SHOOTOUT 3
High Frequencies - Orchestral

Our comments below player - to open the player in the shootout window so you can add to it click here [N.b. there is a temporary problem with the SSL EQ occurring in this shootout, so please pretend it isn't there for the moment and we will have it fixed shortly] 

The PSP Master Q2 extends into the lower mids more than the other EQs but does not have as much extension in the top end - mostly due to the fact it is not as harmonic.   The Protools EQ again has the same amount of (or lack there of) aggression and is nice and clean but exhibits some slight phasing problems and a bit of a feel of ‘losing something’ in the top end.   The DMG Equilibrium is nice and coloured and brings up the top end a lot more, listen to how it brings forward the hi hats etc, and opens out the sound stage width wise.   The Acustica Scarlet3 again shows off its ‘smoothening’ styles and bring up the top end but at the same time smooths it out really nicely - listen to how it changes the placement of where the cymbals and synths sit in the sides - we suspect a possibility of witchcraft involved.   The Flux Epure comes out the most harmonic over all and is nice and bright.   

What we think

Overall these EQs are far closer to each other in terms of their sonic in comparison than our last test (see Digital mastering EQs Part 1).   The differences in these were a fair chunk harder to pick even on super high end ATC monitors, so don't be distraught if you can’t pick up some of the differences!
In these tests the Acustica Scarlet3 MHE-400 stood out quite a lot as its own style of EQ.   This EQ is Acusticas modeling of a Sontec clone (if you want to hear a hardware version of a Sontec Clone we’d recommend the Muller 250EX and Klontz Sontec Style EQs to shoot it out against).   No matter what frequency area the Scarlet is boosting in it still smooths out the top end like the circuity on its analog counterparts and adds that interesting mid range feel.   The PSP Master Q2 is definitely the cleanest of the bunch and does not impart its own sonic on the sound which makes it really useful for surgery, or when you don’t want to color the material.   Protools EQ3 is damn good for a stock EQ, but when compared against its higher end counterparts such as the PSP MasterQ2 the PSP Master Q2 comes out on top not exhibiting the phase problems that the Protools EQ3 has.   If you used it subtly (e.g. a dB or so rather than the semi extreme 5dB settings we are using to showcase) and didn’t tell anyone they might not know ;).SSL, as expected have done a really nice job, the low end in particular is sassy.   The DMG and Flux are the most ‘excited’ EQs of the group we think, which is really useful for opening out the top end in particular.     Ultimately you need to make your own decisions of what you like best.   In the wise words of Ian Shepherd, of Home Mastering Class “it ain’t what you use, it’s the way that you use it”.



Found this review useful? Can we ask you to like our Facebook Page or Sign up to our Newsletter at the bottom of the page so we can let you know when new ones are available?

 

Handy Links -


Check out the SSL E-EQ here

http://www2.solidstatelogic.com/studio/duende?active=4

 

Check out the DMG EQuilibrium here

https://dmgaudio.com/products_equilibrium.php
 

Check out the PSP MasterQ2 here

http://www.pspaudioware.com/plugins/equalizers/psp_masterq2/

 

Check out the Acustica Scarlet3 MHE-400 here

http://www.acustica-audio.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=138&category_id=52&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=189

 

Check out the Flux Epure v3 here

http://www.fluxhome.com/products/plug_ins/epure-v3



Extra info for those interested in how we make our calls on what stuff sounds like -

Listening tests and assumptions are determined, double checked or signed off at Gearshoot HQ on ATC110ASL Pro monitors.   We reckon that they give us a pretty good chance at getting it pretty well in the ballpark of what it is going to sound like on most other people’s monitors.   We also headphone check on Extreme Isolation EX-29’s to hear what is going on in that spectrum and to hear what the world of headphones can show us.

 

*This was based on a basic google search we did, totally unscientific to be frank, but these ones tickled our fancy and we wanted to compare them for ourselves and a few friends we asked and had requested.   We’ll get onto doing more plugin EQs that people like to do mastering with in the future, so just enjoy these for now :) Equally feel free to load in any other EQs we have in the shootout players and let us know which ones are your favorite and why.

 

** Shameless plug - if you have any mastering you need done please consider us so we can buy a puppy and spend more time writing reviews and making shootouts for you ;)

 

Sign up to our newsletter below  Back to the top

 

Subscribe to Gearshoot.com new gear updates