FabFilter Pro-Q3 Equalizer Quicker Review
FabFilter are known for their beloved high quality range of mixing plugins.
From Compressors, to Saturation and De-Essing, FabFilter have a solution for it all
Pro-Q3, their flagship equalizer plugin in our opinion is the best EQ plugin on the market. (There’s a reason it’s in our top 50 VST list)
What Makes Fabfilter Pro Q3 Different (to other EQ’s)?
“Beautiful sound. Fantastic workflow. These are the foundations of FabFilter. Continually challenging and rethinking industry standards, FabFilter creates powerful audio plug-ins with superb sound quality and innovative interfaces. ” – FabFilter
The incredible Pro-Q3 has an extremely easy to use but versatile design, with all the lovely FabFilter GUI and Workflow qualities we all love.
Pro-Q3 is essentially the only equalizer plugin you will ever need.
It continues FabFilter’s philosophy of adding every single necessary feature, while cutting out the fluff and wrapping it up in a nice bow.
Every possible feature you might need from an EQ is all contained in this one, super intuitive plug in
Pro-Q 3 offers everything that a demanding engineer could wish for:
From linear phase operation, zero latency, to per-band mid/side processing as well as full surround support (up to Dolby Atmos 7.1.2) as well as a built-in, fully customizable spectrum analyzer & more!
It comes up in almost every ‘best EQ’ post on reddit for a reason…
Pro Q3 Features
Fabfilter have really secured the bag with this one. The amount of features included in this EQ is just insane & we’ve listed them below.
Features Quick List:
- Professional mastering-grade EQ plug-in with exceptional sound quality
- Up to 24 bands with a huge range of filter types
- Dynamic EQ option for every band
- 6-96dB/octave slopes for all filter types
- Additional Brickwall slope for the High Cut and Low Cut filters
- Per-band Stereo, Left, Right, Mid, or Side mode
- Zero Latency, Natural Phase, and Linear Phase processing modes
- Extremely efficient processing and low memory usage
- Surround sound support, including Dolby Atmos 7.0.2 and 7.1.2 formats with flexible surround sound channel linking
- Adapts automatically to stereo, mono, and surround channel layouts
- Intelligent multiband selection and editing
- Intelligent band solo mode
- Powerful real-time spectrum analyzer
- External spectrum visualization from any other Pro-Q 3 instance in the session, including collision detection
- Spectrum Grab: grab and adjust a peak directly in the spectrum analyzer
- EQ Match for imposing the tonal characteristics of one signal on another
- Piano Display switches the frequency scale to musical note values
- Separate mastering (3/6dB) and mixing (12/30dB) display ranges
- Undo/redo and A/B comparison
- Beautiful, responsive, resizable GPU-accelerated graphical interface with full-screen mode
- MIDI Learn with option to control the currently active band
- Retina support on macOS and High DPI support on Windows
- Available in VST, VST3, Audio Units, AAX Native and AudioSuite formats (64 bit, 32 bit)
Perhaps the most compelling reason to look at the Fabfilter pro q3 is the ridiculously effective new Dynamic EQ function.
Pro-Q 3 adds the ability to switch any of its 24 bands to Dynamic EQ mode, with a simple, elegant workflow.
This essentially means that you can set individual bands to work in a similar way to multiband compression, with a bit more precision and less audio squashing.
Just raise (or lower) the outer Dynamic Range ring (around the Gain knob) to apply smooth, almost surgical adjustments to you chosen band. These adjustments will react to your audio signal depending on the threshold set.
Or an intelligent algorithm can automatically choose program-dependent attack, release, and knee settings, while the Threshold can be set automatically, according to the input signal level, or manually.
And, of course, dynamic EQ bands continue to operate with perfect analog matching and support Linear Phase mode.
Pro-Q has long been able to work its equalization magic, on the mid/side channels in a stereo signal, as well as left and right independently.
This functionality becomes even more flexible with Pro-Q 3.
Each individual band can now be set to process only the Mid, Side, Left, Right, or Stereo channels.
This means that users can get truly surgical with their stereo frequency-shaping on a band-by-band basis.
Pro-Q 3 adds to Pro-Q 2’s multitude of filter types, with the all-new Flat Tilt shape. This applies a flat tilting correction curve to the entire spectrum.
Imagine a scenario where you’ve done all your major EQ work, but realize that you just want the whole channel to sound brighter.
Flat Tilt means you can go in after the fact and adjust the balance of the eq, essentially “tilting” the frequencies one way or the other.
That’s definitely something you can’t easily achieve using stock EQ.
The default filter shape for a new EQ point is a bell filter
Interesting shapes can be created by changing the filter slope to a value other than the default of 12dB/Oct
For those occasions when even the super-steep 96dB/octave roll-off slope isn’t precise enough, Pro-Q3 has added a new, Brickwall slope, for the ultimate in top/bottom attenuation.
On top of the standard low cut, high shelf and notch filter curves, there are some really useful alternative shapes available if you dig a little deeper.
FabFilter definitely doesn’t lack options when it comes to Filter Types, and customization.
This is a genius feature!
All you have to do to find and tame a peak is, leave your mouse pointer under the spectrum for a few seconds and it will turn purple, freeze to a maximum setting, and display frequencies for the biggest peaks.
Grabbing any peak will automatically create a new EQ band with a bell filter set up to the appropriate Q.
There is an additional mode – Permanent Spectrum Grab.
In this mode, the spectrum is locked in this frozen state until you click the background.
When you combine Spectrum Grab, with the new and improved spectrum analyzer, you’re on the way to creating some dope mixes.
You can also activate the new collision detection, by clicking the analyze button on the bottom part of the plugin.
Here you’ll be able to select any other instance of FabFilter Pro Q 3 in your session and view clashes between the source signal and the spectrum of the selected channel.
In our opinion, there hasn’t been an easier way to carve out any clashing frequencies between 2 channels.
Inverse gain is another extremely well thought feature of FabFilter Pro Q 3 and is the perfect feature to speed up your resonance taming workflow.
With just a couple clicks, you can now invert any EQ points’ gain curves (meaning you can turn them down extra quick).
This is extremely useful when taming resonant frequencies in your tracks, and a very welcome addition to the FabFilter arsenal.
What Can I Use It For?
Other than all of the usual use cases for an EQ, the FabFilter Pro Q 3 feels like so much more than an EQ.
Here are some of our favourite things to do with Pro Q 3:
Taming problem frequencies
We like rough sounding audio, so we tend to work a lot with samples and recordings that are low quality.
Taming resonances and any other problem frequencies is usually one of the first steps that need to be taken, when working with imperfect recordings.
For this job, we wouldn’t even consider using anything other than Pro Q 3
With Pro Q 3, finding a problem frequency and taming it is easier than ever
With the Spectrum Grabber you can literally instantly grab perfectly made eq points for any of your main frequencies in your audio.
The Band Solo function means you can also listen to the exact frequencies you’re removing, so that you’re never taking out too much.
If you want to learn more about removing problematic resonance, read more about taming resonant frequencies.
Getting your kick, sub, and bass to play nicely with each other is one of the toughest challenges we face as producers
Especially when working in sub-optimal listening environments.
In the analyzer section, you can select any other track that has an instance of Pro-Q3 to display in addition to that of the input.
Every frequency range that has frequencies “fighting” between the two channels, are highlighted in red, fabfilter calls these “collisions”
What I can do now is look for areas where either have a significant amount of energy, and make a cut on the other element to give that element some room.
This is the perfect trick to make your low-end frequencies balanced and playing together nicely.
Using Mid/Side to Balance Background Vocals
Vocal balancing always tends to be quite challenging and when you have a lot of vocal tracks it can be hard to get the mains and backgrounds sitting nicely together.
Since we typically pan our background vocals around the mix to create width, we can accentuate the side bands and reduce presence in the mid band
This gives your main vocals more space in the mix
Drop a Pro Q 3 on your background vocal buss.
Set the stereo placement to mid, then use the split function to create separate mid and side bands.
From there, you can boost the side band and cut the mid band, creating the illusion that the background vocals are louder, while carving out space for the main vocal.
FabFilter Pro-Q3 Equalizer Quicker Review
Fabfilter Pro Q 3 is in our opinion, the best and most versatile clean EQ on the market.
With an incredibly efficient CPU performance and a plethora of options and features, you’ll never feel like you’re lacking something from Pro Q 3
The interface looks absolutely beautiful, and the workflow has been meticulously thought out, to make Pro Q 3, essentially the lasst equalizer plugin you’ll ever need.
We also think it’s worth upgrading too — so if you have the FabFilter Pro-Q 2, the new features of Pro Q 3 make the package even more awesome than before.
Check out another awesome article on how to compress your bass perfectly.
Or check out our taming resonant frequencies tutorial.