The Best Free EQ Plugin

I’ve talked at length on here about my love of FabFilter’s Pro-Q 3. In my FabFilter Pro-Q 3 review, I called this my favorite plugin, EQ or otherwise and specifically mentioned if I could only have one plugin, this would be it because it’s the only plugin in my mix which I use on virtually every single track. The downside of course is that this is a premium plugin, so I decided to find the best free EQ plugin which is specifically comparable to my favorite plugin in FabFilter’s Pro-Q 3.

Best Free EQ Plugin

best free eq plugin

After comparing a number of free EQ plugins, I recommend TDR Nova.

TDR Nova from Tokyo Dawn Records is a fully featured parametric EQ which works as an excellent free alternative when your stock EQ isn’t cutting (or boosting) it.

Note that while TDR Nova is free, it comes with a premium edition, referred to as the “Gentleman’s Edition”. Thankfully it’s not a situation where you get next to no settings with the purely free version (otherwise I wouldn’t recommend it) and truthfully the upgrades with the premium edition are just small improvements to things you already get with the free version.

The free version of TDR Nova is lightweight, comes in VST2 and VST3 formats, and comes with a number of presets as well as the ability to save and add your own.

Spectrum Analyzer

If you’re familiar with FabFilter’s Pro-Q 3 or have seen any of the EQ cheat sheets I’ve made and featured here, you’ll likely see that TDR Nova’s spectrum analyzer is very similar.

tdr nova spectrum analyzer

Very intuitively, you create bands by double clicking and can change the frequency and gain adjustment simply by dragging the point around. You can also adjust the Q setting with the mouse wheel.

Each band can also be adjusted to be a number of EQ filter types in the traditional bell as well as a high shelves and low shelves.

High and low pass filters are controlled by separate controls on the left side of the plugin which I don’t like as much as treating it like any other band which you can do with most other EQs, but the ability to make them is obviously still there.

You can also view the spectrum pre or post the EQ adjustments you make, so you can see what the frequencies look like after the adjustments you’ve made.

Mid/Side Processing

A great feature you won’t find on too many stock plugins is its ability to EQ just the sides, mid, left, or right channel in addition to the standard stereo processing.

This can be useful when EQing a single track, like an instance where all the drums have been mixed down to a single track and you want to high pass filter out everything below 100 or 200Hz on the sides to keep the low end centered.

Dynamic EQ

Arguably the best feature which TDR Nova boasts is its ability to make any band a dynamic EQ band.

tdr nova dynamic eq

Most of the instrument EQ guides I’ve shared on here feature at least one if not multiple bands where I recommend dynamic rather than static EQ moves.

Dynamic EQ is oftentimes more transparent than traditional/static EQ adjustments because it only adjusts and adjusts more or less as necessary.

This includes the ability to set a compression style ratio on any band for more or less of an adjustment, depending on the amplitude at that frequency.

When using the band as a dynamic EQ band, you also have compressor like attack and release features to really dial in the exact dynamic adjustment that you want.

Not only can you make any EQ band in TDR Nova dynamic, you can also sidechain EQ just like with FabFilter’s Pro-Q 3, meaning you can have an external source’s level dictate the behavior of a band’s adjustment on your track.

This enables you to achieve more transparent results without having to gut an entire other track with sidechain compression, for example (see sidechain EQ vs compression).


That’s not to say that TDR Nova is without a few drawbacks. While FabFilter’s Pro-Q 3 allows you to create up to 24 unique bands, you’re limited to 4 bands per instance of the plugin (plus a built in high and low pass filter).

While the premium edition unlocks more options, the filters are also relatively limited on the EQ slope setting choices on the free EQ version.

While you have the option to process the audio by channel (mid, sides, etc.) like I mentioned earlier, this is a universal setting for that instance of the EQ.

This is compared to Pro-Q 3 which can make any band target any channel specifically. You’d have to open multiple instances of TDR Nova on the same track to get this same effect.

You also can’t layer multiple views in the spectrum analyzer (frozen peaks, pre/post EQ, etc.) like you can in Pro-Q 3 to really see the difference between the before and after live.

Another feature which is unique to Pro-Q 3 is the ability to see frequency collisions between tracks which have instances of the plugin on them so you can achieve a cleaner mix.

All this to say, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles which make Pro-Q 3 my favorite mixing plugin, but if you’re looking for a very serviceable and more importantly FREE EQ plugin workhouse which is likely better than that of your DAW’s, give TDR Nova a try.

Download TDR Nova here for free.

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