The Best Auto EQ Plugins
The equaliser (or EQ) is one of the most fundamental tools anyone working in the world of sound can use. No video, film, score or voice over you hear is made without using one - they are quite literally essential if you want to create crisp, professional audio for your videos.
However, as with any specialised equipment, EQs take time and skill to learn how to use. Understanding the basics of what each parameter on an EQ vst does is one thing, but knowing how to fine tune the audio spectrum of a voiceover or sound effect so that it has maximum impact and seamlessly sits within your final mix is a whole other ball game. As made clear by all the people googling “setting equalizer for best sound”, it’s not an easy process.
Learning how to properly equalise audio is certainly a skill worth developing, however if you haven’t got the time, or you’re just looking to speed up your editing process, it might be worth investing in an automatic equalizer.
An automatic EQ is an equaliser which automatically (normally using AI) adjusts the levels of different frequencies in your sound source to make it sound its best. Different autoeq plugins work in different ways, some are applied to individual audio channels (i.e. one on your voice over and one on your backing music) to help each element sit better in your mix, whilst others are intended to sweeten your overall mix by working on your master output. Others are designed to combat specific spectral problems like resonant room frequencies and dodgy microphone frequency responses - there are loads of options out there!
The ERA Voice AutoEQ is the perfect tool for anyone looking to quickly get professional quality voice recordings. Like all ERA bundle plugins, ERA Voice AutoEQ simplifies the audio repair process with a minimalist but highly intuitive interface. This means you can effectively EQ and tweak voice recordings, even if you have no technical audio knowledge.
Voice AutoEQ listens to your voice recordings and then, using algorithms under the hood, applies an ideal vocal EQ curve. Vocal processing is highly subjective so Voice AutoEQ also offers the ability to tweak the sound of your EQ with a three way fader.
The fader allows you to find the perfect balance between Air, Body and Clarity so you can get the vocal mix that works best in your project without having to mess around with any complicated parameters. This is the ideal option for content creators looking for a quick and highly effective auto EQ solution.
Sonible’s smart:EQ 2 claims to ‘enhances detail, clarity and transparency […] after only a few tweaks’. It does this with it’s self-learning ‘smart:engine’ which listens to your audio and automatically cuts and boosts frequencies across the spectrum to create natural sounding tonal balance.
It will also carve out any harsh sounding frequencies in your voice recordings without you having to spend hours learning the intricacies of the frequency spectrum.
smart:EQ 2 is a powerful option, but it doesn’t come cheap, at €129 it’s one of the more expensive options on our list. That being said it is the most powerful so if you’ve got the budget for it then why not?
If smart:EQ 2 is a little out of your price range, fear not, we’ve got some great affordable options on this list.
ThirtyOne is a much more affordable intelligent equalizer which boasts 31 bands and also acts as a spectrum analyser. Based on a classic Italian hardware EQ and costing just €19.99, ThirtyOne is a steal.
ThirtyOne is a graphic equalizer which means that it has a slider for each band that can be boosted or cut. This will be an unfamiliar EQ format for most software based video makers, however it’s easy to understand and you should be able to get to grips with it in no time.
This particular auto EQ is designed to be used on your master output. It adjusts each individual band’s level to minimize spectral masking and to balance your frequency spectrum. It can be used in static or continuous modes - static will be kinder on your CPU whilst continuous will give you a more smoothly balanced sound.
ThirtyOne is definitely not as powerful as other automatic equalisers on this list, however it’s low price point and simplicity make it a very good option.
Gullfoss is an intelligent EQ from Sound Theory. Unlike other equalizers on this list, Gullfoss does not use AI to alter your EQ curve, instead it employs a ground breaking computational auditory perception technology which listens to your audio as a human would in order to make changes.
Inspired by the question ‘why do waterfalls sound so pleasing?’, Sound Theory named their plugin after the famous Icelandic waterfall ‘Gullfoss’. Waterfalls generate a sound very close to pink noise which is the maximum amount of sound that can be perceived by your brain, the Gullfoss EQ aims to achieve this with your video's audio, balancing your output to produce the end product that your brain finds most pleasing.
Like HoRNet ThirtyOne, Gullfoss is intended to be used on your master channel rather than on individual channels in your workflow. Unlike HoRNet ThirtyOne Gullfoss will cost you £150, it’s a great piece of software but you may want to consider some cheaper options first.
MAutoEqualizer is a classic, great sounding 10 band equaliser with integrated automatic EQ functionality that will cost you £134, but before you buy it check out the next entry in this list.
MAutoDynamicEq takes everything that’s great about MAutoEqualizer and adds in dynamic bands to help you perfect your audio even further. You do lose a few bands when compared to MAutoEqualizer (7 as compared to 10) but realistically you probably won’t ever find yourself missing them.
Dynamic bands act almost like mini compressors on each of your EQ bands, cutting or boosting frequencies in reaction to the incoming audio signal.
MAutoDynamicEQ is also the cheaper option from MeldaProduction costing only £89 - unless you really want those 10 bands then MAutoDynamicEq seems like the smart choice.
Most of the other automatic equalizers on this list are standard EQs with some in-built AI to help you speed up and simplify your equalizing process. UNFILTER from Zynaptiq is a totally different breed of auto EQ.
UNFILTER removes filtering effects, such as comb filtering, resonance, or excessive equalization from audio which is incredibly useful for audio repair. In the context of video making that means you can remove room resonance, repair poorly mic'd audio and enhance the intelligibility of speech recordings.
To hear how powerful it is at reconstructing sound check out this video.
Be warned, UNFILTER is a very expensive piece of equaliser software. At $359 it costs more than a fully fledged video editor like DaVinci Resolve Studio 16, however it performs excellently and can deliver seemingly impossible miracles of audio repair - UNFILTER is the Messiah of the auto EQ world.
MathAudio Microphone EQ is a useful tool for automatically flattening the frequency response of your microphone.
The frequency response of a microphone is its sensitivity across the frequency spectrum, every microphone has a unique frequency response which shapes the sound that it records. Many microphones claim to have a flat frequency response, however no frequency response is perfectly flat.
Microphone EQ can help you combat this so even if you’ve got a mic of questionable quality you can still achieve a flat frequency response, it cuts and boosts your microphone signal to smooth out your audio.
You can also use microphone EQ to mirror the frequency response of another microphone, this allows you to do cool stuff like transforming an identical pair of microphones into a matched pair for stereo recording.
MathAudio’s Microphone EQ automatically fixes mic problems, so it’s no surprise that Room EQ combats room issues. Unless you have an acoustically treated recording environment (which, let’s face it, you probably don’t) your voice recordings are very likely to have audio problems.
Nearby noise such as air conditioning units, traffic outside or noisy housemates can compromise recordings as can resonant frequencies which occur due to the shape of your room - MathAudio Room EQ won’t be able to help you fix noise problems (although the ERA Noise Remover can) but it can help you get rid of pesky resonant frequencies.
If you do struggle with resonant frequencies in your recording space then the best way to deal with them is with acoustic treatment, however this can be expensive and requires a bit of technical know how - if that puts you off then Room EQ is a quick and easy solution, plus it doesn’t require any DIY.