FabFilter's Pro-Q 3 is the best sounding, most powerful, most flexible EQ plug-in that I've ever used. If you're familiar with FabFilter's line of products, you'll be glad to know that the Pro-Q 3 continues their tradition of excellence and innovation, with the same informative and intuitive style of user interface that you've come to know and love.

An evolution of the Pro-Q 2, Pro-Q 3 pushes the boundaries of what an EQ is expected to do by incorporating dynamic equalization into its already overflowing toolbox. Some of the other new features include per-band stereo channel selection, so you can EQ just the sides on one band, but the middle of another, (as well as full surround support – check website for details), the ability to view the spectrum of another instance of Pro-Q 3 while you're working in your current instance (seeing the bass guitar spectrum displayed against the kick drum spectrum while you're EQ'ing the kick drum), brickwall slopes, flat tilt filters, and a handful of other goodies. Just when you thought Pro-Q 2 was as good as it gets, FabFilter hits you with these new features you didn't know you needed.

Speaking of which, let's talk dynamic EQ. FabFilter isn't the first manufacturer in the dynamic EQ arena, but by combining their already formidable EQ with the option to utilize dynamic EQ is something special. If you're not familiar with dynamic EQ, it's essentially the same as a multiband compressor, but it uses EQ filter shapes to make very accurate adjustments rather than broad brushstrokes. It doesn't seem like a big difference, but once you use it, you'll understand. In use, you create a band as you normally would, except there's now a little wheel around the gain knob that allows you to control the amount of dynamic EQ applied. There's even a little bypass button for checking your adjustment against the original sound to see if you're helping or hurting. Now the Pro-Q 3 doesn't offer the ability to change the attack and release like some other plug-ins, but its Auto mode is naturally transparent in most cases. I'm new to the dynamic EQ game, so I didn't find myself distracted by the sound, but you may want to download the demo and take it for a test drive if you suspect this may be a deal breaker. I should add that there is an independent threshold control should you want more flexibility.

The takeaway is that having an amazing EQ with dynamic EQ capability in a single plug-in is seriously powerful. For someone who's regularly trying to minimize the number of plug-ins that I'm using (with the aim of maintaining the tone that I worked so hard to achieve in the first place), this is key to my workflow. I regularly use the FabFilter's multiband compressor plug-in Pro-MB [Tape Op #101], so eliminating an unnecessary plug-in instance on occasion is music to my ears. It'll be up to you to decide if the Pro-Q 3 is giving you sound you want, or if you need to bring out more to get your desired sound. FabFilter offers a 30-day trial, so if any of this sounds remotely interesting, or if you want to see if the new features and streamlined workflow are worth upgrading from your current plug-in situation, give the Pro-Q 3 a fair shake.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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