Waves Q10 vs PSP MasterQ2 vs FabFilter Pro-Q 2
Here is a quick comparison and shootout of two older digital precision EQ plugins vs one much newer digital EQ Plugin.
Let's have a quick summary so you can dive in and listen for yourself to see how these EQs have changed over time.
We will be looking at the Waves Q10 vs the PSP MasterQ2 vs a much more modern EQ, the FabFilter Pro-Q 2.
The Waves Q10 EQ first came out in 1998 and has been a favourite of many engineers for studio mixing and live FOH mixing.
The version we have tested is the original version prior to the 25th anniversary update. Check out the details on the new update on their website—great new features and interfacing have been added.
We are going to be comparing it to something a little bit newer (but not by too much), the PSP MasterQ2—another highly versatile digital EQ that has been around since 2004.
The FabFilter Pro-Q 2 is a much newer addition to the Digital EQ market, having been released in 2014. We will be testing the Pro-Q 2 set to natural phase.
Here’s what they look like - If you want to go direct to the SHOOTOUTS CLICK HERE
FabFilter Pro-Q 2
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First checking with the boxtones of the units, the main difference is from the PSP MasterQ2.
The Waves Q10 stays a lot more true to the original program, whereas the PSP MasterQ2 seems to roll off some of the top end and gets a bit more mid warmth.
In the low end the Waves Q10 is more of a clean punchy EQ—listen to how the kick punches out a bit more in comparison to the PSP MasterQ2. The PSP MasterQ2 (even though it's set to the same Q as the Waves Q10) sounds like a broader, warmer boost that extends up more into the lower mids than the Waves Q10 does. The PSP MasterQ2 also sounds as though it brings in more of the sub lows into the kick and bass. The slightly warmer feel coming from the PSP on the low boost could also be from the slight rolling off on the top end that the PSP has on its boxtone.
The FabFilter Pro-Q 2 sounds very clean and transparent. It sounds tighter and more defined than the Waves Q10. There also are not any artefacts like there seem to be in the top end of the PSP MasterQ2.
On the mid range boost the PSP MasterQ2 sounds wider and warmer than the Waves Q10. The PSP has a slightly harmonic feel to it whereas the Waves Q10 comes off cleaner and more surgical sounding. Listen to the soft guitar plucks in the background on this one.
At the 2.5kHz boost the EQs exhibit the same sort of traits, the PSP MasterQ2 sounding warmer and smoother and the Waves Q10 sounding cleaner and a bit more forward, but seems to sound slightly phasey in the area around 5kHz compared to the Fabfilter Pro-Q 2, which would add some extra zing to things like synths. The FabFilter Pro-Q 2 sounds smoother and cleaner than the PSP MasterQ2, but tighter in the low mids than the Waves Q10.
On the top end the PSP MasterQ2 sounds brighter and wider than the Waves Q10 (which is a nice difference compared to how the PSP MasterQ2 slightly changes the top end on the boxtone). The Waves Q10, however, remains very transparent and true to the original program passing through it—boosting the top end but in a very clean clear way and adding that phasey excitement on the 'No More' breathy lines, making them jump out a bit more than the other two EQs. The FabFilter Pro-Q 2 sounds the widest and cleanest of the 3 EQs—very bright, but smooth with a hint of lushness.
What we think
Both of these older EQs sound great and have stood the test of time very well when compared to something modern like the FabFilter Pro-Q 2. Both of the older EQs excel in their own characteristic way and definitely have good usability. The Waves Q10 has a very clean surgical feel to it and can transparently work wonders, and would work nicely on backing vocals where you want that extra lift it seems to add on breaths. The PSP MasterQ2, whilst still being a very clean surgical Digital EQ (say in comparison to something like a Lindell TE-100 or a Neve 1081—load them up and have a listen), has a touch more character than the Waves Q10—great for shaping and getting surgical while still adding a touch of width and harmonics. The FabFilter Pro-Q 2 is the smoothest, most transparent and natural sounding (to our ears) of the three.
Graphs showing phase of plugins
The following graphs show the differences in IR magnitude:
Waves Q10 - 10dB Boost @ 10kHz
PSP MasterQ2 - 10dB Boost @ 10kHz
FabFilter Pro-Q 2 - 10dB Boost @ 10kHz
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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.