When tracking vocals and instruments at home, getting a decent quality signal going in is always a challenge. To tackle this problem, we’ve selected some of the best EQs under $1000 to take your input stage to the next level.
There are many reasons for using EQ while tracking. This goes beyond managing frequencies correctively to avoid doing so in post-production. Instead, the idea is to use the EQ as an extension of the instrument or microphone to create the best performance possible.
Unlike most plug-in EQs you’ll come across, a decent hardware EQ allows you to make extreme frequency boosts across the spectrum whilst still sounding musical. It gives you the power to shape and balance each take to fit a particular section of a song or match voice recordings for more seamless ADR.
How to find the best EQs under $1000?
It’s important to note that some of the best hardware EQs are passive EQs. This means they require preamplification and will benefit from being chained to a compressor with discrete makeup gain.
Building a quality input stage at home is not cheap, but there are ways to save plenty by avoiding the pro studio route.
Klark Teknik EQP-KT
The Klark Teknik EQP-KT is an affordable recreation of the classic Pultec EQP-1A program EQ from the 1950s. Designed with Midas input and output transformers and 12AX7 and 12AU7 tubes, it gives you as close a user experience to the original as you can expect for the money.
Even if you’re not looking for a Pultec-style EQ, the EQP-KT is a good starting point for building your recording front end with outboard gear. Moreover, as a beginner, you’re far more likely to develop a feel for frequencies with this type of EQ than you would using a plug-in.
- More from Klark Teknik
Klark Teknik EQP-KT
Golden Age Project EQ-81 MKIII
Another reasonably priced vintage-style option is the EQ-81 MKIII from Golden Age Project. This 4-band inductor EQ is based on the design of the famous Neve 1081 console EQ from the early 1970s.
You have two switchable bell/shelving filters for your high and low frequencies, each with five selectable bands, and two midrange bell filters with a Hi Q feature.
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Golden Age Audio Project EQ-81 MKIII
SSL 611 EQ
If you’re looking for a high-end EQ sound, 500-series is a great option for building your tracking rig module by module. The 611 EQ from Solid State Logic is a versatile module based on the channel strips in the E-series consoles.
The controls may be tightly laid out to accommodate this format, but you still have the precise level of control you’d expect from an SSL console-style EQ with variable Q on both of the mid bands.
In addition, you can switch between two characteristically different EQ circuits. The “Brown” from the early ’80s is known for its musical sound and allows you to cut or boost by 15 dB. Meanwhile, the “Black” EQ circuit is more precise with a tighter low-end and 18 dB of gain to play with.
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SSL 500-Series 611 EQ
Heritage Audio PEQ-2
After acquiring Lang Electronics, Heritage Audio released the PEQ-2 single-channel passive program equalizer. It has some useful variations on the Pultec-style design, such as more selectable frequency bands and the ability to cut/boost a different set of bands.
Overall, the layout and easily visible controls make it very easy to use in both tracking and mixing situations, and the variable Q-factor control allows you to shape the contours of your high-frequency curves more precisely.
- More from Heritage Audio
Heritage Audio LANG PEQ-2 Equalizer
Rupert Neve Designs 551
You get all the warmth and the desirable transformer sound you’d expect from a vintage EQ, with an intuitive layout that really suits modern music production.
Whether you are aggressive or more subtle with your EQ adjustments, the 551 is sure to surprise your ears on any source you decide to use it on.
Rupert Neve Designs 551
More about the best EQs under $1000:
- Pultec-style EQs
- All about EQs
- Everything vintage
- The Magic of Passive EQ
- Thomann’s guide to Equalizers
*This post about the best EQs under $1000 contains affiliate links and/or widgets. When you buy a product via our affiliate partner, we receive a small commission that helps support what we do. Don’t worry, you pay the same price. Thanks for your support!
- Klark Teknik EQP-KT: Klark Teknik
- Golden Age Project EQ-81 MKIII: Golden Age Project
- SSL 611 EQ: SSL
- Heritage Audio PEQ-2: Heritage Audio
- Rupert Neve Designs 551: Rupert Neve Designs