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The Best EQ Plugins for Vocals in 2022

The human singing voice is unique in the world of music in that every voice on the planet is distinctive from one person to the next. The individual character is part of what makes recorded vocals so special, but at the same time, this individuality brings different challenges during the recording and mixing stage.

Making a vocal sit naturally in a mix can be quite the task, and alongside your compression technique, EQ is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal.

Developing a solid understanding of the best EQ Plugins for vocals is imperative if you want your productions to sound polished and professional.

So without further ado, here is our guide to the best EQ plugins that could transform your next production from bedroom demo to polished, pro-sounding studio release.


Headliner’s Choice: Oeksound Soothe2

Features:

  • Latency completely halved from the previous version

  • The interface allows you to zone in on the frequencies most needing EQ

soothe 2 is one of the best plugins for vocals we've tested. While being most famous for its ability to tame harshness and edgy qualities in recordings, it’s now become regarded as a must-have plugin by producers around the world. As a dynamic resonance suppressor, it compliments traditional EQ plugins perfectly, and may actually reduce your reliance on traditional remedial EQ techniques that can quickly colour the sound of your recordings. 

Its stunning interface makes EQing as enjoyable as it could ever be, and the fact it can double up as a compressor makes it quite the workhorse. It’s a plugin that can reduce not only harshness but sibilance, uneven tonal balance and muddiness on any vocal recording.

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FabFilter Pro-Q 3

Features:

  • Excellent sound quality

  • Parametric EQ offers full control

One of the most comprehensive tone-shapers you could ever hope to get your hands on, FabFilter Pro-Q 2 has a deservedly fantastic reputation, with its beautiful interface which provides all the sonic information you could feasibly need. When it comes to deciding on the best EQ plugin for your vocal productions, this software will serve you very well for shaping and cleaning your vocal stems.

It’s used equally between professionals and novices, with plenty of features that are both advanced and easy to use. Newer features included in Pro-Q 3 include EQ matching, a ‘Natural Phase’ mode, auto gain adjustment, and more.

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Waves SSL G-EQ

Features:

  • Digital recreation of SSL G Series

  • 4 Band Semi Parametric EQ

You probably won’t be surprised to see Waves joining the party, and the SSL G-EQ is a fantastic option for additive EQ on vocals. Note that this plugin is one that mostly excels in having your vocals cut through the mix, or if you are after aggressive results. You can go fairly extreme with this one, and it has a very characteristic mid-range boost. What sets it apart from the Waves E-Series is a slightly different curve and more gain variation.

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UAD Harrison 32C

Features:

  • One of the best analogue-style options

  • Great recreation of the desk it is named after

Considering the physical Harrison 32C was the preferred desk of famed engineer Bruce Swedien, this should help put you at ease with this great EQ plugin from UAD, which is fantastic for vocals. You can really lose yourself sculpting the tone you’re after, while it’s also brilliant for the more specific EQ jobs.

The filters are some of the very best from the list here, and the midrange can be pushed impressively far. If you find yourself working with vocals that are sounding harsh, the Harrison 32C has proved a saviour for many engineers.

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Sonnox Oxford EQ

Features:

  • Impressive for low noise and distortion

  • High-quality sound that matches the name

Considering the original console from which this plugin takes its name would cost you an absolute fortune, the Sonnox Oxford EQ will give you fantastic bang for your buck when it comes to EQing your vocals. A firm favourite among mix engineers, many of the best features from the likes of SSL and Sony can be found here.

Here we find another wonderful and intuitive interface, and there are four different EQ types for you to play with. Expect very musical and transparent results.

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Waves API 550

Features:

  • Based on another legendary piece of gear

  • Impresses on both subtractive and additive EQ

While being semi-parametric, this Waves API digital recreation is a highly functional plugin when it comes to choosing the best EQ for your vocals. Rolled into one plugin are the 550A and 550B EQs, which both give you lots at your disposal when it comes to taste and tonality.

The number of features has made this another firm favourite when it comes to vocal productions. And having both the 550A and 550B EQs means you’re essentially getting two plugins for the price of one. Both can serve your vocal chain excellently, depending on your taste and what you are seeking to achieve.

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Tips and Tricks Cheat Sheet for Amazing EQ Results on Vocals

  • A lot of people tend to go overboard when EQ'ing vocals. Adopt ‘less is more' as your mantra and remember the subtle results almost always sound best. People know what the human voice should sound like, so overdoing the EQ can often give very unnatural results. If you find yourself needing to apply excessive EQ, it can sometimes be best to go back to the drawing board and consider re-recording the vocal. 

  • Be in a mixing mindset before recording. Sometimes, it’s too late to achieve the sound you’re after once it's committed to tape, so to speak. Develop a solid understanding of good microphone technique and invest in the best vocal microphone you can afford. (See our guide to affordable mics here). Aim for as close to the final sound as you can achieve when tracking vocals. In short, make sure you’re working on great results from the recording, rather than trying to manipulate a bad recording into a good mix.

  • This goes for EQing in general, but cut first and boost later. For example, it’s generally best to cut the highs rather than boost the lows. This will give you warmer vocals. Also, cut room sounds and other unwanted resonances before boosting anything.

  • Avoid boosting or cut more than 5dB if you can ant cut everything below 50Hz. Frequencies this low aren't required in the context of your mix and can wreak havoc on compressor performance. 


Further Reading:

Best headphones for recording vocals

How to EQ vocals

How to record vocals