Every engineer has dreamed of having the best analog gear in their studio. From compressors to eq’s, to effects racks, we all have a dream list to add to. Softube has recently been bringing these dreams to life. With their newest plugins from a team-up with Empirical Labs, they are bringing some of the most well-known rack pieces to your computer with the Lil FrEQ, the Mike-E Comp, and the Trak Pak!
How We Reviewed Lil FrEQ
Looking at this plugin I knew it was going to be great right from the start. Empirical Labs is known for their amazing gear and hardware and getting the chance to try it out in a digital format was a unique treat. This plugin has much to do with its 8 processing sections that offer great diversity in the sounds you can achieve.
This analog gear approach to eq is amazing. It sounds great on all sorts of instruments from drums to guitars. The Lil FrEQ gives a natural sound based entirely off of analog to whatever instrument or track you use it on. Look through these features to see just what Softube and Empirical Labs put into this.
Empirical labs Lil FrEQ Features
Layout – This plugin is modeled directly after the Empirical Labs Lil FrEQ hardware. With their work with Empirical Labs Softube was able to make not only a visually appealing software version of the EQ but also an audibly accurate version.
4-band EQ – You have the option to turn on and off each individual frequency band, as well as control the bandwidth, frequency, and gain. You also have low and high shelf controls along the left side
Tape De-Esser – This de-esser is great for controlling those built-up frequencies that are harshing the sound. Normally with de-essers built into other plugins, you are going to only have the option to turn it on and maybe adjust the threshold. In the Lil FrEQ you control the actual frequency range it is responding to for a more detailed end result.
Order – It is normally standard for a plugin to have everything in a set order for processing. While you cannot control the placement of everything in the chain, you can control whether or not the de-esser comes before or after the EQ.
Softube is a versatile company that makes sure its products are useful on as many platforms as possible. If you use any of the popular DAWs like Logic, Pro Tools, Studio One, or anything else, you should have 0 issues when installing the Lil FrEQ.
|Memory||8 GB of RAM or more recommended||8 GB of RAM or more recommended|
|Operating System||10.12 – 10.15 (Big Sur Compatibility coming soon)||Windows 7, 8, or 10 (64-bit)|
This plugin comes to you in a digital download. Make sure you have set up an iLok account because that is where all your licenses from Softube are maintained.
If you are looking for an EQ modeled directly off of an already existing piece of equipment, you cannot do better than the Lil FrEQ. There are other EQ’s that are similar in concept, but none are as affordable as the Lil FrEQ.
- Total Price: $249
Bonus & Extras
I’m always impressed with the presets that Softube includes in their plugins. In the YouTube review we released, you get to hear presets for the piano, drum bus, and overheads. All of them sound fantastic whether they are subtle or drastic differences. They have a helpful ranking system that allows you to keep track of your favorite presets that you use regularly.
Freak with a FrEQ
The Empirical Labs Lil FrEQ is an impressive yet simple plugin that allows you to work with some of the craziest sounds out there to improve them. This EQ responds beautifully to all sorts of instruments while adding its own slight coloring that is welcome on any of my tracks. Soon we will be taking a look at the Mik-E Comp and Trak Pak which are both parts of the Empirical Labs Complete Collection with Softube.
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Jarrett is a hardcore Lover-Jazz Lover-Rock Lover-Blues Lover-just a music lover. He has the hair to match — Jarrett and provides in-depth insight into all things guitar and music engineering.