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  • Writer's pictureCosmic Academy

5 Reasons We Love FabFilter Pro-Q 3

Your EQ curves probably shouldn't look like this... but it does look cool 😅

The list of quality plugins available to music producers in 2022 is extensive. Amongst the many paid and free options out there, FabFilter is a plugin company leading the way with their innovative and easy to use plugins. Pro-Q 3 (Equalizer) is one of the most popular plugins on the market for a reason–the value far exceeds the price!

Let’s take a look at 5 features that make FabFilter’s Pro-Q 3 a must-have in your toolkit.

*This is not a paid advertisement! We just think that this plugin is absolutely incredible and has helped MANY music producers make better music. 💪

1. Auto-Gain

This is a feature every EQ and Compressor should have. FabFilter Pro-Q 3 will auto compensate the volume for any move you make in the plugin. This is important when shaping a sound through an equalizer. For example, you might want to brighten up a piano. You open up an EQ and use a high shelf to raise the level of everything 6khz and above. In that process however, the overall volume of your piano went up. This added volume can influence your perception of “how the piano sounds” because we often think louder sounds better. The original intention was to reshape the piano and make it brighter–not raise the overall volume. If you wanted the piano to be louder you would’ve just used the volume fader. Pro Q’s auto-gain compensation eliminates this problem. As we boost, or subtract, the plugin will always try and keep your instrument at the same level. Any changes you hear in that signal are a direct result of the EQ moves you made–not a change in the sound's overall volume.

2. Dynamic EQ

Pro-Q 3 is more than just a regular equalizer. The plugin allows you to convert any typical EQ curve (bell/shelf) into a dynamic instance. Think of dynamics as the difference between the loudest and quietest parts of a signal. Take a vocal for example–the singer might fluctuate in volume as they’re recording. The difference in volume between the louder words, and quieter words, is the dynamic range. Dynamics are extremely common in music and instruments. What makes dynamic EQ so valuable is the fact that it reacts to the dynamics of the instrument in real-time. If you were to scoop some mids out of a vocal, (bell curve -5db at 600hz) that shape remains constant through the whole performance. It doesn’t matter if the singer is loud, quiet, singing higher, or lower–that EQ will lower the volume in that band by 5db. Dynamic EQ is not static. It reacts to the signal it’s being used on. This is done with a threshold

(same as compression). The EQ turns on and off when the signal exceeds the threshold, and does more or less work based on how much the signal exceeds the threshold. Dynamic EQ is an extremely practical way to EQ dynamic instruments and sounds in the mix.

3. Spectrum Grab

Spectrum grab is one of the most unique and fun features to use in Pro-Q 3. While your signal is playing, the plugin will display its frequency response and allow you to grab any peaks in that spectrum for adjustment. For example–you have a snare drum that has an extremely loud fundamental tone around 170 hz. Pro-Q 3 will visualize the frequencies of that snare as it plays and you can literally click the loud 170 hz peak on the plugin and drag it down to an appropriate level. This speeds up your workflow and makes it so much easier to address specific problems in your signal.

4. Show Collisions

Making elements fit together in a mix can be difficult. When your ears aren’t trained, or experienced, you often want to rely on your eyes to see where these competing frequencies exist. “Show Collisions” is a feature that can simultaneously display the frequencies–from multiple instruments–on top of each other. This makes it very easy to spot any overlap between instruments.

5. Piano Roll

By clicking the piano icon in the lower left corner, you can open up a piano roll that stretches across the bottom of the plugin. This allows you to click any key on the piano and it creates an EQ shape at that corresponding frequency. This is extremely helpful when you know the key of your song and you’re trying to locate the root, 3rd, 5th, etc.

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