Top 12 Hardware Equalizers 2022 (Analog EQs For Mixing & Mastering)

Top 12 Analog Equalizers (Hardware EQs For Mixing & Mastering) | integraudio.com

If you’re a mixing or mastering engineer interested in switching to hybrid or want to upgrade your arsenal, you’ll love this article. In it, we’ve rounded up the Top 12 Analog Equalizers 2022.

Let’s say you decide to try what hybrid mixing or mastering is. The first thing you want to pay attention to is EQ. And that makes sense because it’s often the first thing we arm ourselves with when we work on a track.

Or you are an experienced engineer, and you want to upgrade your equipment, or you want to be aware of the situation on the market. In that case, don’t hesitate to scroll down and see what we have in store for you.

Top 12 Analog Equalizers 2022 (EQs For Mixing & Mastering)

1. Drawmer 1974

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Versatility and extraordinary musicality are how you can describe the Parametric 4-Band EQ Drawmer 1974.

The British company Drawmer has been on the market since the early 1980s. During this time, they have become one of the most popular studio equipment manufacturers in terms of recording, mixing, and mastering. Their units include a variety of noise gates, compressors, equalizers, saturators, and more.

Drawmer 1974 is a relatively new model that was introduced in 2019. It’s a Parametric 4-Band Equalizer that will give you a vintage sound. It has control over all the necessary areas of the frequency spectrum and filters. Plus, you’ll be able to use this unit on individual instruments and the mix-bus as a whole. Let’s analyze the features of this EQ in more detail.

Key Features:

  • Low Control
    You will be able to cut or boost low frequencies from -12 to +12 decibels. As for the frequency spectrum itself, it ranges from 35 to 700 hertz. Also, in the Low section, you can adjust the octave of the Slope from 6 dB to 9, 12, and Peak.
  • Adjust Low Mids
    The Low-Mid adjustment range is 55 hertz to 2.1 kilohertz. There is also a Bandwidth knob, which allows you to adjust the octave from .35 to 3.3. And, of course, you will see the Cut/Boost control from minus 12 to plus 12 dB.
  • High Mid Section
    As for the Cut/Boost and Bandwidth knobs are the same settings as in the previous section. Speaking of the frequency range itself, you will have the ability to affect the High Mids from 400 to 14K.
  • High-Frequency Settings
    In this section, the octave of Slope selection is only in the 6 and 12-decibel modes. However, you can cut or boost high frequencies from 1.2K to as low as 14K hertz.
  • High & Low Cut Filters
    You will find these two controls on both sides of the unit. For example, the operating range of the Low Cut filter reaches from 10 to 225 Hz. As for High Cut, this knob is on the opposite side and covers 4 to 32 kHz.
  • Adjust Your Gain
    As for adjusting the amount of signal, there is only the Input knob. On this unit, you can tune it from -15 to +15 decibels.
Drawmer 1974 Best Analog EQ Under $1000? Mix & Mastering Parametric Equalizer

Character & Sound:

Drawmer units are known for their musical sound, and 1974 is no exception. It means that it will work perfectly on most instruments and groups of instruments. You’ll be able to boost the upper frequencies and get no harshness.

Pros:

The Drawmer 1974 is an excellent parametric analog EQ in the medium price range. Its main advantage is its versatility. Apart from that, you get a pretty clear appearance, so you won’t spend a long time puzzling over the settings.

Cons: 

The unit does not have a separate Output control, only Input. The connection is by XLR cables only.

Good For:

The Drawmer 1974 is suitable for almost any instrument – bass, guitar, vocals, drums. You can also safely use it for stems and the whole mix-bus.

2. Warm Audio EQP-WA GainMod

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The Warm Audio EQP-WA gives you versatility and a nice tube sound.

The Texas-based Warm Audio guys have been producing studio gear that can compete in quality with the famous expensive units for more than a decade. The main advantage of their products is that they are recreations of well-known models but at a more affordable price.

So, Warm Audio offers compressors, EQ, preamps, microphones, and DI boxes.

The Warm Audio EQP-WA is made in the likeness of the famous Pultec EQP-1A. It is a single-channel tube equalizer that will give you control over low and high frequencies.

You will also have a separate Bandwidth control and an EQ section switch. Let’s look at all of these things one by one.

Key Features:

  • Turn the EQ Section Nn or Off
    The Bypass switch is on the far left of the front panel of this unit. Even if the EQ section is turned off, the audio singalong will still pass through the transformers and the tube amplifier, which will give some flavor. Experiment with this to see what’s best for the material.
  • Boost Your Frequencies
    You will have two Boost knobs separately for Low and High frequencies. The range of the gain boost here is from 0 to +12 decibels.
  • Two Cut Knobs
    Like with Boost, you will have two Cut knobs that attenuate frequencies. You can use them with Boost and give your signal completely new textures. The attenuation range here is 0 to -18 dB.
  • Select Your Range
    Use the frequency spectrum knobs to choose which areas you want to boost or cut. For example, for Low, you would have a range of 20 to 800 Hz. As for High, there are two separate knobs for boost and cut. The first is from 3 to 16 kHz, and the second is from 3 to 20 kHz.
  • Use a Bandwidth
    This center knob will help you adjust the width of the treble booster from a sharp cue to a pretty wide cue. You can use sharp for surgical manipulation and wide for more musical and natural tone shaping.
  • Makeup Gain Control
    You will find this small control on the back of the unit. You can adjust the two units for the stereo signal so that their levels are the same. However, this can be another creative tool, as it adjusts the effect on the signal that passes through the tube amplifier.

Character & Sound:

The character of sound of this unit can be called “warm and tubey. And it is not strange because this is what we all love tube audio gear for. It will make your signal richer and help it cut through the mix better.

Pros:

The Warm Audio EQP-WA is a great tube equalizer priced under $1,000. You’ll get a similar sound to the legendary Pultec unit because it features premium tubes and quality transformers.

Cons: 

It is a single-channel equalizer. So if you want to use it on your mix-bus, you will need to have two of these units.

Good For:

The Warm Audio EQP-WA behaves perfectly with almost any type of the source.

You can use it for bass DI, guitars, vocals, and other instruments. Also, if you have two of these units, they will work unsurpassable on stereo signals, both groups of instruments, and entire mix-buses.

3. Elysia xfilter

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The Elysia xfilter Class A Stereo EQ will give you great finishing touches for mastering.

The German company Elysia has been in business since 2006 and provides excellent audio products for both studio and stage. These guys are not concerned with making replicas of well-known equipment. On the contrary – they are trying to make brand new units, which should surprise with good sound quality.

As for the Elysia xfilter, it is a stereo equalizer with two bends and two shelves. You can choose whether Q is sharp or wide and use some other useful features. Since it is a stereo unit, all its settings will work for both sides.

Therefore, you won’t need to match knobs to achieve a balanced stereo for a long time.

Key Features:

  • High & Low Mid Control
    You will have two sections to control Low Mid and High Mid. These are essentially two bends that you can reduce or boost from -13 to +13 decibels. As for the range, the Low Mid starts at 45 to 2K kilohertz, and the High Mid starts at 300 to 16K.
  • Set Your Shelves
    The other two regulators relate to the shelves. You will be able to add or remove gain here from -16 to +16 decibels. The frequency range in the Low section is from 20 to 900 hertz, and in the High, from 700 to 28K.
  • Wide or Narrow Q
    You will find two separate buttons on the unit that will adjust what your Q will be for bends. Just press them to turn on Narrow mode. Otherwise, it will be somewhat wide when the mod is off.
  • Low and High Cut
    Thanks to the separate Low and High Cut buttons, you can turn your shelves into filters, which will be especially useful for mixing and mastering. Plus, you’ll have the ability to provide a low resonant cut, which will work well for bass.
  • Passive Massage
    Another xfilter function is called Passive Massage. With this button, you can turn the roll-off around 17K and a small boost of 12K. It can be especially cool for mastering, where you don’t want to have too much top-end brittle.

Character & Sound:

The sound character of the Elysia xfilter is quite transparent. You can make your signal both thin and quite thick. In some cases, the sound can turn silky and crispy.

Pros:

The Elysia xfilter is a quality rack-mounted stereo equalizer made in Germany. Its assembly and housing are quite rugged and reliable. In addition, it will surprise you with its very lightweight, which is only 2 kilograms.

As for the price, it is just over a thousand dollars, which is not that much for high-quality units.

Cons: 

At the moment, we do not see any factors that can be called disadvantages. For more information, we advise you to read the reviews on the web.

Good For:

Elysia xfilter is great for both mastering and mixing individual tracks and groups of instruments. In particular, it can behave well on drums, vocals, bass, and any other instruments.

4. SSL 500-Series 611 EQ

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The sound of the legendary equalizer in a compact unit format is about the SSL 500-Series 611 EQ.

SSL consoles have long left their mark on music history, as they produced some of the world’s best music. If anyone doesn’t know, they are large mixing boards that include every possible tool.

Now imagine taking the EQ from that console and using it in your home studio. That’s exactly what our next unit will be.

As you might guess from the name, the SSL 500-Series 611 is a five-hundredths rack-mount EQ with the circuit of the SSL 4000 E Series console. Unlike standard rack units, this one is much smaller, and the interface is vertical.

Looking at its appearance, you’ll see the familiar colors of the knobs, which means the division into several frequency spectrums. Let’s take a closer look at this unit.

Key Features:

  • Black or Brown EQ
    You get two modes of operation, and consequently, two different flavors of EQ called Black and Brown. It references the different versions of consoles that were released between 1981 and 1989. Switch between the two thanks to a separate BLK button. Also, in Brown mode, you can boost up to +15 decibels, and in the Black mode, you can boost up to +18 decibels.
  • Low Frequency Control
    The two knobs responsible for the lower frequencies are at the very bottom. The range knob varies between 30 and 450 hertz. You will also have a separate button toggle between Bell and Shelf modes.
  • Adjust Low Mids
    These knobs are blue. Here you get a range between 0.2 and 2.5 kilohertz. There is also a third knob, which controls whether the Q is narrower or broader.
  • High Mid Frequencies
    Just like in the legendary consoles, the green knobs are responsible for the High Mid information of your material. Here you will also have the Q, Gain, and frequency selection knobs, ranging from 0.6 to 7 kilohertz.
  • Control Your High-End
    The two red knobs are responsible for the high frequencies. Like the bass control, you will have a button to toggle between Bell and Shelf, Gain, and select an area with a range from 1.5 to 16 kHz.

Character & Sound:

The SSL 500-Series 611 EQ can provide you with a “big” sound, like the legendary console. You’ll be able to easily cut through the right instruments in the mix without getting any artifacts, as is often the case with digital versions of analog gear.

Pros:

A compact format and a recognizable sound are how the SSL 500-Series 611 EQ can be described.

You get extensive control over the frequency spectrum and as many as two flavors of equalization. As for price, this unit is not super expensive and costs about $700.

Cons: 

To use this unit, you will need a separate 500 series rack. The SSL 500-Series 611 EQ does not have LED indicators or a signal scale. Also, the knobs are close, which may be somewhat uncomfortable for people with large hands.

Good For:

The SSL 500-Series 611 EQ fits almost any instrument but separately. And it is not strange because the same principle of work was in the console. So you can work on the kick drum, snare, bass, guitar, vocals, piano, and more.

5. Great River 32EQ

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The Great River Harrison 32EQ gives you four equalization bands and two filters.

Harrison consoles were widely used in the music industry in the ’70s and ’80s, and they created more than one hit of that time on them. For example, Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

The American company Great River decided to create a separate equalizer used in this console, but in the 500 formats, to allow music professionals to use that very legendary sound.

The Great River 32EQ is a four-band EQ with two Low and High Pass filters in a 500 series compact rack format. You will also have the ability to switch between Shelf and Peak modes.

In general, the unit is very easy and clear to use, so there are not many options – only what you need in the first place.

Key Features:

  • High Frequencies Control
    You will find the two knobs for controlling the high frequencies on top of the unit. In particular, you will be able to select here in the range 800 Hz to 16 kHz with the option to turn Peak on or off. As for the gain, you can boost and cut from -12 to +12 decibels.
  • Hi-Mid Options
    Like the previous section, you can boost or cut the high midrange from -12 to +12 dB. As for the frequency spectrum, it is from 400 Hz to 8 kHz.
  • Adjust Your Lo-Mids
    It is worth noting that both sections, responsible for the Middle frequencies, are overlapping. Therefore, you will have the possibility to manipulate the Low Middle with a choice between 200 Hz to 4 kHz. As for the gain, the settings are the same as in the previous sections.
  • Low Frequency Knobs
    As for the low frequencies, you will be able to remove or boost them in the range of 40 Hz to 800 Hz. Also, a separate button is responsible for turning Peak on or off.
  • Hi and Low Pass Filters
    A nice bonus of this equalizer is the presence of the two filters in the form of red knobs, which you will see at the very bottom. High-Pass is available from 25 Hz to 2.75 kHz, and Low-Pass from 160 Hz to 20 kHz.
Great River Harrison 32 EQ - The BEST TOP END??

Character & Sound:

The Great River 32EQ has a great analog warm sound with rich mids and soft highs. In addition, many users note that the sound quality of this unit’s filters is simply outstanding.

Pros:

This unit has a compact size, excellent sound quality, and a clear interface. You will have all the necessary frequency bands, two filters, and the ability to switch between shelves and peaks.

Cons: 

You will not find any LED signal indicators. Also, because of its small size, the unit may be a bit awkward to use for people with large hands, but this is something you have to put up with when choosing the 500-series format.

Good For:

The Great River 32EQ is suitable for almost any material that must be processed or stand out in the mix. You can safely use the unit on a kick drum, snare, toms, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals, etc.

6. MXR 10 Band Equalizer Silver (Graphic EQ)

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If you need a quality EQ that you can use specifically for guitars, the MXR 10 Band Equalizer Silver would be a great option.

Equalizers in stomp-boxes are a good solution if you need to implement tonal shaping of your guitar tone.

It will be extraordinarily useful, both in the studio and on stage. All because you will be able to influence individual frequencies, both based on your creative needs and the environment where you play.

The MXR 10 Band Equalizer is a Graphic EQ that you can use for just about any guitar that involves plugging in for amplification. As you can see from the name, there are ten bands, one Gain control, and one Volume control.

There’s also a nice feature of splitting the signal into two parts. Let’s see what else the makers of this pedal have in store for us.

Key Features:

  • 10-Band EQ Section
    The range of frequency control here is really extensive – the pedal has as many as ten bands, ranging from 31.25 hertz to 16K kilohertz, plus or minus 12 dB each. In addition, there is LED lighting for each band, which can be useful when used on stage.
  • Gain Control
    This slider is on the right side of the panel and will give you an extra boost to your signal. Similar to bands, you can also increase or decrease the signal by 12 decibels in both directions.
  • Adjust the Volume
    On the left side of the front panel, you will see a slider responsible for Output Volume Control. It will also allow us to increase or decrease the signal by 12 decibels.
  • Noise Reduction
    Usually, you can get extra noise or hiss if you boost frequencies. The developers ensured that this was not the case in this unit and implemented the Noise Reduction circuitry here. So the sound of this equalizer will be quite high quality.
  • Secondary Output
    The MXR 10 Band Equalizer has two signal outputs. So you can use it, for example, for two different amplifiers simultaneously and still get equally processed EQ signals. Quite a nice bonus as a guitar pedal.
MXR Ten Band EQ Pedal Review

Character & Sound:

The MXR 10 Band Equalizer is transparent enough to transform the frequency spectrum of your instrument at will. For example, remove unnecessary midrange frequencies if you want to make the tone more scooped.

Or you want to add a bite around 4K – move the sliders higher, and you’ll immediately see the difference.

Pros:

It is a fairly versatile equalizer in the form of a guitar pedal, which will give you a wide field for manipulating the frequency spectrum. Thanks to the Gain function, you can also use it as a boost before the front end of your amplifier. It also has a useful signal-splitting option.

Cons: 

Some users complain that the LED backlight is too intrusive. Also, you should only use the pedal with the 18 V DC power supply that comes with it.

Good For:

The MXR 10 Band Equalizer Silver is best suited for use on electric guitar and electric bass guitar. In addition, you can also apply it to electric acoustic guitars and anything with pickups.

7. API Audio 550A Discrete 3 Band EQ

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Focused and natural sound is how you can describe the API Audio 550A Discrete 3 Band EQ.

API is another legendary firm that produced consoles that made many hits. They started producing boards back in the late 60s, and this equipment took its place in top studios around the world. And it’s all thanks to its legendary sound.

Now we will talk about the API 550A Discrete 3 Band EQ. Originally, this unit was also a channel part of the recording consoles and has become an industry-standard over time as far as EQ is concerned.

It has only three knobs, which combine the ability to select frequencies and boost or cut. Also, you can have two filters. Let’s take a look at what’s available here.

Key Features:

  • Dual Concentric Parts
    This unit uses Dual Concentric Parts, which means that each knob has two parts. Thanks to the blue one on top, you can select the desired frequency. The silver one under the bottom is responsible for adding or removing gain, which is 12 and +12 dB.
  • High Frequency Spectrum
    As for the High-Frequency control, you can find this knob on the very top of the front panel. Here you can select the range from 2.5 to 20 kHz. It will give you quite a large field of action.
  • MF Section
    MF stands for Medium Frequency and is centered. Use the blue knob to select the desired frequency from 200 to 5K Hz. That way, you can make the midrange much more expressive and punchy.
  • Low Frequencies
    When it comes to the Low Frequencies control, you will find the corresponding setting at the very bottom. With it, you can boost or cut the lows in the range from 50 to 400 hertz. Pretty good for adding some bottom-end to your signal.
  • Use Two Filters
    Also, at the bottom, you will have a separate FLTR switch that brings the Hi and Lo Cut into the circuit. Lo Cut will cut -3 dB at 50 Hz and Hi Cut -3 dB at 15K. This way, you can filter out unwanted frequencies.
  • Turn Bands Into Shelves
    In addition, you will have two separate LF and HF buttons at your disposal. You can turn the two bands of high and low frequencies into shelves, thanks to them.

Character & Sound:

Even if you put the API 550A on your signal without any EQ adjustments, your sound will be more focused and tighter. Overall, the unit sounds very natural. Even with extremely high-frequency settings – you won’t get any harshness.

Also, Q gets tighter if you cut or boost the gain, bringing a natural sound.

Pros:

The API 550A is a compact discrete EQ that has a legendary sound. You’ll get a natural response and all the frequency spectrum manipulation you need. Plus, in addition to the equalizer itself, there’s also the ability to include High and Low Pass Filters.

Cons: 

You’ll need a 500-series rock to use this EQ because the equalizer is designed specifically for it.

Good For:

Since this unit was originally used in the console, you can use it on whatever material you want. For example, this could include kick, snare, bass, vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, and more.

8. AMS Neve 8803 StereoEqualizer

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A stereo EQ with unsurpassed sound quality and versatility is the AMS Neve 8803 Stereoequalizer.

Rupert Neve is a British-American designer of audio mixing gear, which engineers and producers used for many legendary pieces of music and albums. In particular, such studios as Abbey Road and Sound City used this equipment, and if we talk about specific artists, it is, of course, The Beatles, Nirvana, and Aerosmith.

Such brands as Neve Electronics, Rupert Neve Designs, Focusrite, and AMS Neve are associated with Rupert Neve.

The next unit on our list is from the AMS Neve brandthe 8803 StereoEqualizer. It is a two-channel, four-band EQ with Hi and Lo Pass filters in a standard rack format. In addition, the developers also put USB output, which is not often seen on this kind of gear.

Key Features:

  • Lo & Hi Pass Filters
    You will have two Hi and Low Pass Filters for each channel. Just press the knob to turn them on – the red LEDs will immediately tell you if they are working. As for the High Pass filter, its frequency range is from 30 to 300 hertz, and Low Passis from 1.5K to 18K.
  • Low Frequencies Section
    Here you will only have two knobs – Gain and Frequency Selection. You can select low frequencies from 33 Hz to 440 Hz. Also, by pushing the LF GAIN knob, you can switch the bell curve to the shelf.
  • Pick Your Low Mids
    In addition to the Lo Mid Gain and Frequency Selection knobs, you also get a third option – the Lo Mid Q setting from 0.3 to 7. As for the frequency range, it is from 120 Hz to 2 kHz.
  • Set The High Mids
    You will have the same layout as the previous one in the Hi Mid section. Here you will also be able to adjust the gain and Q. As for the frequency selection, it ranges from 0.8 kHz to 9 kHz.
  • High Frequencies Section
    Like the low frequencies, you will have two knobs at your disposal – one Gain and the other Select Frequency Spectrum, which includes from 1.5k to 18 kilohertz. You can also turn the shelf on by pressing the Gain knob.
  • USB port
    A great bonus of this unit is the USB port. Thanks to it, you will be able to control and monitor the settings thanks to the special software and save the necessary presets.
Neve 8803 Dual Channel Hardware EQ - Expert Review

Character & Sound:

With the AMS Neve 8803 StereoEqualizer, you can achieve the sound quality of your sources. Of course, if they are of high quality in the first place. It is musical and can add richness and, in some cases, dynamics. As for the filters, they make the signal round and smooth.

Pros:

AMS Neve 8803 is a high-end equalizer suitable for both mono and stereo signals. You will have enough bands to transform the signal and add characteristic coloring and excitement. Plus, there’s a USB port, making it even easier to control and recall.

Cons: 

There is no Link button between the channels, but the software can solve this problem. Also, some users have noted that they wish the knobs were more robust. And, of course, this unit is quite expensivemore than $1,500.

Good For:

The AMS Neve 8803 StereoEqualizer is suitable for almost any instrument, from drums to vocals. You can use it on either a mono signal or many instruments. Originally, this unit wasn’t designed for mastering, but you can safely try mixing with it.

9. Behringer FBQ1502HD Ultragraph Pro (Graphic EQ 2)

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The Behringer FBQ1502HD Ultragraph Pro is a budget-friendly option that may be a good solution for tweaking your monitoring system.

Everyone knows about Behringer as a manufacturer of fairly affordable audio equipment. Because of this, the company’s products use quite different estimates of users and are often criticized. But no matter what they saythe guys at Behringer do everything to provide the best units for their price.

The next EQ on our list is the Behringer FBQ1502HD Ultragraph Pro. You’ll have as many as 15 equalization bands at your disposal and some useful features such as the Feedback Detection System and a separate Sub-Out.

Can you use it for mixing? Most likely, yes. But there are several features here that indicate that this equipment may be more suitable for correcting your monitors or PA systems in concert settings. Let’s try to understand why.

Key Features:

  • 15-Band EQ
    You will have 15 different bands controlling frequencies ranging from 25 to 16K kilohertz. Each fader lights up red, so you’ll find it easy to use this equalizer in a dark studio room or at a concert.
  • Feedback Detection System
    An important fact is that this equalizer has the FBQ function, which stands for Feedback Detection System. When you turn it on, it will immediately show you the critical frequencies that need to be adjusted. It will be indicated by blinking fader lights. It can also be used as an audio analyzer.
  • Connect Your Subwoofer
    If you look at the back of the unit, you will see a separate subwoofer output. This way, you can run all the audio system components through the equalizer. There is also a crossover with an adjustable low-pass selection from 30 to 200 Hz.
  • Switchable Low-Cut
    A separate Low-Cut filter is also available on the front panel of the equalizer. Thus, you can get rid of unnecessary rumble and thus clean your signal, for example, in live performance conditions.
  • Planet Earth Switching Power Supply
    The FBQ1502HD is powered by Planet Earth Switching Power Supply and allows you to use power from 100 to 240 volts. Therefore, you can use the unit almost anywhere in the world. It should also provide noise-free audio, good transient response, and low-power consumption.

Character & Sound:

The FBQ1502HD will give you plenty of opportunities to adjust the audio spectrum, as 15 faders are responsible for one or each frequency. In general, the sound promises to be noiseless and of high quality.

Pros:

It’s a pretty versatile equalizer for its price, which is pretty crazy – it’s about $100. For this money, you also get a separate subwoofer output, low-pass filter, and FBQ system, thanks to which you can remove the problematic frequencies.

Cons: 

Some users claim that the output of this unit is quite low, so you will need to crank it louder. Also, some people don’t like the strongly bright backlighting of the faders.

Good For:

The Behringer FBQ1502HD Ultragraph Pro will be a great solution when used in a studio that does not have such a good acoustic treatment. In addition, the equalizer can serve well for live performances to better tune the PA system based on the particular characteristics of the environment.

10. Rupert Neve Designs Portico 511

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Rupert Neve Designs Portico 511 will serve you as a great preamp for professional audio recording.

As we all know, equalizers can be used in recording and mixing. But in audio engineering, there is another stage that somewhat affects the signal’s frequency spectrum, which is preamplification. Preamps are studio equipment that amplifies audio and can give it some coloring, character, and the ability to manipulate frequencies at an early stage of creation

Next on our list is the Rupert Neve Designs Portico 511 preamp. It has only a few knobs that allow you to adjust the gain level, High Pass Filter, and a phase flip button. But the cherry on the cake will be the Silk feature. Let’s talk about all of this in more detail.

Key Features:

  • Gain Adjustments
    You get as much as 72 decibels of gain. The red knob will be responsible for this. By the way, it is stepped so that it will be quite useful for recall. On top of that, you will have another Trim knob, which will give you the ability to add or reduce 6 dB of gain.
  • High Pass Filter
    Quite a useful feature – the Portico 511 has a built-in High Pass Filter, which operates from 20 to 250 hertz. You can immediately get rid of unnecessary rumble at the recording stage.
  • Add Some Silk
    Most important among this unit’s features is the Silk feature. It adds order harmonics to your signal. In addition to this, you will have a Texture knob, which allows you to adjust the amount of saturation. That way, you get a vintage sound and a modern, crystal-clear tone.
  • Flip the Phase or Use 48V
    Additional unit features are the Phase reversal button and the inclusion of 48-volt phantom power. It means that you can easily use the preamp for condenser mics.
Rupert Neve 511 Pre - First Impressions

Character & Sound:

The Silk function will give your signal thickness, expressiveness, and clarity. In addition, the preamp has transformers based on Rupert Neave’s design, which engineers actively used in the ’70s. Thus, your sound can get a characteristic vintage coloring.

Pros:

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 511 is a great all-round preamp that will give you vintage and quality sound. And that’s not strange since it’s a product of a brand that bears the name of an audio engineering legend.

Plus, on top of that, this piece of equipment has a pretty good price tag of about five hundred dollars.

Cons: 

Some users have noted a slight looseness of the knobs, but this is probably only an isolated case.

Good For:

You can use this preamp on almost any source. You can use it to record drums, vocals, guitars, bass, and any other instruments.

11. API Audio 5500 Dual Equalizer

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A high-end analog EQ that’s great for mixing and mastering is the API Audio 5500 Dual Equalizer.

Earlier, we already talked about the discrete equalizer from API, and now it’s time to take apart the full rack version, which you can easily use not only for mixing but also for mastering. It is the API Audio 5500 Dual Equalizer.

It is worth saying that this is a high-class equalizer, so it costs accordingly. You will hear the effects on the sound as soon as you bring it into your circuit, as it will be affected by the transformers mounted in it.

All in all, you will have 4 EQ bands for each of the two channels and the ability to include shelves. In addition, you will be able to change the number of gain steps.

Key Features:

  • Adjust Your Low-End
    All controls here are the same as in other units from API. Each knob consists of frequency selection and gain settings. As for the low frequencies, it is possible to boost or cut from 30 to 400 hertz. In addition, you can turn on the shelf mode thanks to a special button, which is located nearby.
  • Low-Mids Selection
    With the silver knob, you can choose exactly how much gain you want to boost or cut from -12 to +12 decibels. As for the frequency spectrum selection, the blue knob will show you the low-mid selection from 75 Hz to 1K kHz.
  • High-Mid Frequencies
    The same operation scenario applies to High-Mids. The frequency spectrum overlaps somewhat with the previous control and gives you a choice between 800 and 12.5K.
  • High-End Range
    The last band will be a High knob with 2.5K to 20K kilohertz. In addition, just as with the low frequencies, you will have the option to go into shelf mode. To do this, press the appropriate button.
  • Range Selectors
    The gain adjustment in units from the API is frequently made in 2 dB steps. But the good news is that you can change this here. You will have two Range knobs for each channel with the ability to switch to 1, 0.5, and 0.25 dB. It will be especially useful for mastering when you only need minor tweaks.

Character & Sound:

The sound character of the API 5500 Dual Equalizer is extremely musical and of high quality. As soon as you turn on the unit, even without any drastic EQ adjustments, you will still hear your sound becoming brighter and more expressive. Overall, the EQ will provide you with focused low-end, punchy mids, and crisp highs.

Pros:

The API 5500 Dual EQ is a professional-level unit that is also versatile. You will have ample opportunity to work on the frequency spectrum and extraordinary sound quality, which is inherent in the gear of this rank.

Cons: 

The only disadvantage of this unit can only be its high priceit is about 3 thousand dollars. But this is quite justified by the quality of this equalizer.

Good For:

This unit will work great for almost any instrument. You can safely use it for drums, bass, vocals, keyboards, guitars, etc. Besides, it’s perfect for stereo signals, i.e., instrumental buses and masters.

12. SSL Fusion (Mastering Processor With EQ)

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SSL Fusion is a wonderful mastering processor with EQ and even a compressor.

SSL is another titan in audio engineering, as they also created the famous consoles. Now we will talk about their Fusion processor, which has many features and extraordinary sound quality.

This unit can be a to-go tool for mastering almost any genre, pop, hip-hop, or rock and metal. The creators gave it a Saturator, EQ, high frequencies compressor, and even a stereo widener.

Also, it has even a few secret things that the company did not tell anyone, even for several years after the release. Let’s talk about it more specifically.

Key Features:

  • Add Some Vintage Drive
    The first section will give saturation to your signal, which is made possible by the two knobs, Drive and Density. With them, you can add extra harmonics and slight saturated compression. As a result, your mix will become more expressive and colorful.
  • Violet EQ
    At this unit’s release, this type of equalizer was the first new development by SSL in more than 25 years. The Violet EQ section has four knobs, two for lows and two for highs. For example, you can add a low-end between 30 and 90 hertz, as for the highs, from 8K to 20K.
  • HF Compressor
    This unit also has a separate HF Compressor section to help you control the upper frequencies and prevent any brittle sound. Here you will have two knobs – Threshold and X-Over.
  • Hidden LMC Compressor
    If you hold down the HF Compressor button for more than 5 seconds, it will turn into the LMC Compressor. It is exactly the hidden function we talked about above. This kind of compressor is known to be quite aggressive and good for smashing your drum bus.
  • Stereo Image
    SSL Fusion also has a Stereo Image section, which will help make your mix much wider. This feature is based on mid-side processing and has two controls Space and Width. The latter controls the side signal level, while Space manipulates the low frequencies in the sides.
  • Custom Transformer Circuit
    On the right side of the front panel, you will find a separate button responsible for enabling Custom Transformer Circuit mode. It will give your audio signal a harmonic content in the lower frequencies and some sparkle in the high end.

Character & Sound:

The nature of the SSL Fusion sound can vary depending on which function you are using. With Violet EQ, you can add brightness to the signal and some foundation in the low frequencies. As for Stereo Image, it makes your sound wider. And the Vintage Drive will give you more energy and excitement.

Pros:

SSL Fusion is an excellent professional mastering processor that has many useful features. With it, you can turn your already good mix into something incredible.

Cons: 

In the Violet EQ section, you will not have the ability to control the midrange frequencies. As for the price, it is quite large and consists of a guideline of 2 thousand dollars.

Good For:

This processor is great for both mastering and sums of instruments. Other than that, you may well use it on individual tracks.

Verdict

As you can see, there are quite a few analog equalizers, which in our opinion, are the top ones. They have different functions and characteristics in the sound and appearance format. To avoid confusing you, at the end of the post, let us give you some useful tips on how exactly to choose the gear.

Of course, first of all, decide on the budget. It is an important point because analog equipment is quite expensive. Nevertheless, you can find relatively affordable options. For example, number 4 on our list is the SSL 500-Series 611 EQ. If you want a budget version of a tube EQ, look at number 2, which is the Warm Audio EQP-WA.

If you are a connoisseur of real quality and can afford expensive studio gear, a good option would be #7 API Audio 550A Discrete 3 Band EQ and #8 AMS Neve 8803 StereoEqualizer. Also, #11 API Audio 5500 and #12 SSL Fusion are good units.

Also, note that EQs are available in the Rack and 500 series. The latter is more compact but often works in mono, so you need two of these EQs. In addition, you’ll need to have a separate 500-series rack with special slots to insert and use these units.

Try new things, experiment, and discover new possibilities. That’s how you get the most inspiration, drive, and experience. Good luck!

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