Here’s why FabFilter Pro Q3 is so good:
- Dynamic EQ
- Mid/Side Processing
- Filter Shapes
- GUI & Workflow
- Spectrum Grab
- Multi-channel Overlay
FabFilter’s Pro series of plugins have been a staple in music studios around the world. With intuitive workflows, pristine sound quality, and sleek looks, it’s more than likely that your favourite music has been mixed with FabFilter plug-ins.
Probably the most famous of these, FabFilter Pro Q3, is on top of every list of the best EQ’s ever made. That being said, is it really as good as people say it is?
In this article, we’re going to cover 7 Features (which we use all the time), that make Pro Q 3 the best Equalizer plugin you can get in 2021.
Why is FabFilter Pro Q3 So Good?
Probably the first calling card of this incredible Digital EQ, is it’s precision and transparency.
Other than what you tell it to do, FabFilter’s Pro Q 3 does not affect your sound in any other way.
Razor sharp frequency cuts, and the almost surgical level of precision you can set your Pro Q3 to have, makes it a benchmark for professional EQ’s everywhere. It does everything you want it to do, without leaving a trace of it being there.
There are however times when you might want to have a more colorful equalizer plugin, to add sweetness to your top end etc.
This is probably the only downside to Pro Q 3, It is very much a precise and transparent equalizer.
2. Dynamic EQ
Probably one of the most important features of FabFilter Pro Q 3, the Dynamic EQ mode. In fact, any bell or shelf band can be switched to dynamic mode.
Dynamic EQ bands are awesome when you want to combine the characteristics of a compressor, with standard linear phase equalization. This lets you set active EQ bands, that only attenuate your signal, whenever you want it to.
Essentially, Dynamic EQ makes your filter shapes follow the audio, rather than having a static amount of cut or boost.
This is extremely useful when you want to remove clashing frequencies, but only when they become too much of a problem.
For instance, if you have a resonance you want to remove, but when you remove it, it affects an integral part of the sound, dynamic EQ will remove it enough for it to stop causing issues, but also keep some resonant information there, so you don’t ruin your sound.
One of my favourite things to do with Dynamic EQ is sidechaining.
Setting up a Dynamic notch on your bass channel, then routing your kick to it, instantly creates space for both elements, without permanently changing the frequency characteristics of either.
3. Mid/Side and Processing modes
Another one of my favorite features within the FabFilter Pro Q 3, is the per-band stereo controls.
You can select from the usual Mid and Side modes, to Stereo as well as a Left and Right mode.
These Mid/Side as well as additional mode are available for every single new eq band you create within Pro Q 3, allowing you to create some very complex equalization.
This is extremely helpful during the mastering process, where you can use Pro Q 3, to remove the 0-25Hz Mud in the Mid channel and 0-100Hz on the Side channel. In addition to this, you can keep adding new EQ bands on top of this, as well as have dynamic bands too.
In addition to the Mid/Side modes, you also get to choose from 3 different types of processing:
- Zero Latency mode
- Linear Phase mode
- Natural Phase mode
While these modes of processing could be an entire article on their own, to keep it short, these modes affect the phase relationships in your EQ.
The Zero Latency mode has perfect analog matching, while keeping the latency at zero. This is the most efficient mode that Pro Q 3 has, but with more drastic Low or High cuts, you can alter the phase response of your input signal.
90% of the time this is not an issue, but, when it is, a Linear Phase processing mode can really help you out.
Linear Phase mode leaves the phase untouched, only affecting the magnitude of the frequencies you’re processing.
While this may not be an issue to most beginners, for advanced users, this amount of customizability in your EQ is an absolute must.
4. Filter Shapes
Each band you create within Pro Q 3, can be a multitude of different filter shapes.
The filter shapes you get are:
- Low Shelf
- Low Cut
- High Shelf
- High Cut
- Band Pass
- Tilt Shelf
- Flat Tilt
The Tilt Shelf and Flat Tilt filter shape are probably the most interesting of these. These filters allow you to basically tilt the entire frequency spectrum one way.
These modes preserve all other cuts, but tilt the base-line of your EQ.
This lets you instantly change the frequency balance of your audio, which can be extremely helpful, to quickly and easily make things brighter, or darker and more muffled.
Each Filter also has adjustable filter slope which adjusts the “steepness” of your filter. The slope settings range from a very subtle 6 dB/octave slope, to a 96 dB/octave slope, as well as a brickwall setting.
FabFilter Pro Q 3, is the best EQ plugin you can get right now, that’s as simple as it is.
There aren’t any other EQ plugins, that offer just as much as Pro Q 3 does, while retaining the same intuitiveness fast workflow, that this plugin is so well known for.
5. GUI and Workflow
Like all other FabFilter plugins, the GUI of Pro-Q3 is simple, sleek and beautiful.
The main part of the dark GUI consists of a large interactive EQ display, with splashes of colour, wherever you add or change something
Using Pro Q3 is extremely satisfying, and it looks great, but none of it matters if the workflow isn’t up to par. That being said, the workflow of Pro-Q3 is also absolutely incredible.
While transparent and precise EQ’s exist, there’s nothing that stands up to the usability and workflow of Pro Q3. Everything you might ever want to do with your EQ is all in one page, completely within reach and never more than one mouse click away.
When buying Pro Q3, the main consideration you should have is workflow, if you’re investing in an EQ plugin of this caliber, usability and speed is probably the most important thing of all.
6. Spectrum Grab
Another feature that’s all about convenience and maximum ease of use is, spectrum grab.
Spectrum grab allows you to instantly see your main resonant frequencies, and pull them down (or up) with a simple mouse click.
By holding down your left mouse button on the spectrum analyser, while audio is playing, will enter you into spectrum grab mode. Pro Q3 will now analyse incoming audio, and display frequencies that are the most present in your audio signal.
This lets you quickly locate and adjust problem frequencies, or even accentuate any frequencies you want to be more present. The awesome auto-gain feature also helps when making larger cuts or boosts.
If you want to find out more about taming your resonant frequencies, check out our awesome guide on removing resonant frequencies.
7. Multi-Channel Overlay
One of our favorite features of Pro Q3 is the multi spectrum overlay.
This essentially allows you to display two frequency spectrums in one plugin window.
This is extremely helpful when you’re balancing your vocal tracks or instruments, for example, kick and bass.
If you’re trying to shape the bass in a way to compliment your kick drum, overlaying the kick frequency spectrum over your bass lets you easily find the overlapping frequencies.
In fact, Pro-Q3 even has Collision detection. If there are frequencies clashing between the two channels, the Spectrum will show the clashing area in red. This makes it so easy and so simple, to create incredibly tight balance between all of your instruments, just by using an EQ.
Why is FabFilter Pro Q3 so good?
On the surface, it’s extremely simple and intuitive, while offering as much functionality as you will ever need.
From plentiful filter types, really useful alternative shapes, built in spectrum analyzer, as well as full Mid/Side and Dynamic EQ functionality, FabFilter Pro Q 3 offers everything an EQ needs.
In addition to standard EQ functions, Pro Q 3 is full of unique features and ingenious solutions to problems every producer runs into. Efficiency is the key, and the FabFilter Pro Q 3 excels in efficiency, in a way no other equalizer plugin manages to.
Hopefully we helped to clear up, why we think Pro Q 3 is so good. There is a reason it’s in our list of the top 50 VST plugins in 2021!
That being said, Pro Q 3 can be expensive, so if you’re more interested in Free EQ plug ins, check out our roundup of the 10 Best free Equalizer plugins
Toms is a music producer & DJ, born and raised in Post Soviet Latvia. Currently based in Brighton, Toms has had over 6 years of experience with all things production and in that time, he’s done a tonne of cool stuff! He’s played multiple festivals, had experience in the field with mixing & mastering and even become a freelance journalist in the music industry.
Toms currently creates music under the alias Sovereign. Producing music that’s intimate and subtle, while full of edge and energy, the young producer combines the artistic sounds of Trip Hop artists like Massive Attack, with the energy and youthfulness of producers like Flume, Jamie XX and Yaeji. You can check his stuff on Soundcloud.