Sponsored by Orfium

"Orfium is a new music platform that pays royalties when anyone uploads a video to Youtube containing your music."


We run through a selection of our favourite hardware EQs for dance production, explaining what makes them so good and offering suggestions for similar plugins.

SSL E-series

What makes a good equaliser? It’s a question that’s almost impossible to answer without asking two or three more. What kind of sound are you looking for? What kind of signal are you processing? Do you want it to sound clean or dirty? How precise do you need to be? EQ choice is just as subjective, personal and application-specific as any other aesthetic decision in the creation of music, and producing dance music presents its own set of challenges; there are industry-standard EQs used in rock production which aren’t necessarily suitable for typical dance applications, and vice versa.

Producing dance music presents its own set of challenges for EQs.

Objectively, there’s no such thing as the best EQ. Can you really compare a vintage mastering EQ with the surgical filters found on a cutting-edge digital mixing console and say that one’s ‘better’ than the other? Of course not. But you can pick out a selection which should equip you for just about every equalisation task you might come across. What every producer needs is a selection of different tools for the job. In this article we’ll run through some of our favourites and explain what makes them work so well for electronic music production. We’ve also enlisted the help of a few producers and engineers to offer their insight along the way.

We’ve limited our selections to hardware models for a couple of reasons. First off, we needed to narrow down the options slightly – there are thousands of EQ plugins to pick from and a lot of them are so similar that it’s hard to separate them. Narrowing it down to hardware allows us to focus on the broader styles of EQ, from precise, surgical types through to broad, coloured models for adding character. Secondly, most of our choices are also available as software emulations, so if you’re in the market for software you can take these hardware suggestions as starting points for your search.

Thanks to Chi-Thien Nguyen, aka Chopstick, of Suol Records, Matt Colton of Alchemy Mastering, Neville Watson and Alan Braxe. Between them they’ve used pretty much any EQ you care to mention and their input was invaluable in putting together this feature.

So, without further ado, and in no particular order, allow us to present our totally subjective guide to some of our favourite EQs. Furious that we didn’t include anything by Neve? Let us know in the comments below.

27th February, 2014

The Best... is brought to you by



New Orfium Feature: Get paid royalties every month when anyone anywhere in the world has uploaded a video to YouTube containing your music.

Orfium elegantly blends a full-featured music store, music social network, and licensing platform with a powerful back-end for rights management while also providing the most flexible and fair terms for artists. With no long-term contracts and 80% of retail revenue is paid directly to artists, Orfium eliminates legal and financial risk while generating revenue to rightsholders to make them happy and end the tyranny of excessive takedowns.

Learn more at www.orfium.com.

* SoundCloud only offers ad-based monetization with a 10-20% payout and all music is made available to non-paying users which generates very low earnings on a per-stream basis

** Digital distributors and record labels typically keep an estimated 47% of Spotify and Apple Music earnings leaving their artists with only about 23% and 24.5% respectively

*** Spotify forces artists to participate into a “Freemium” model where most users don’t pay for music which generates very low earnings on a per-stream basis and significantly dilutes overall earnings per stream

  • Glen R

    I love you all.

  • The No1 Roalnd guy

    You missed KUSH! for higher, simply the best.

  • The No1 Roalnd guy

    PS I dot think you acknowledged that precision cuts are a different ballgame to those beautiful wide sweeps. Different tool.s.

  • Raygun

    for me, Pultec for bass. Cambridge for tight cuts. and natives for gentleness. If that makes sense. Either way, keep up the good work.

  • Sizzle MacDonald


  • John

    The most important Eq curve for dance music is the 24 or preferably 48 dB/Oct slope highpass filter. It allows producers with even average abilities to create low end and low mids that are complex and layered yet intelligible. Most producers I know have an Eq doing just this on good percentage of the tracks in every song. I’d say that for and EQ to truly be the EQ of dance music it would need to be able to not only do this but be available to do it on 10 or more (usually more) stereo tracks at the same time. This is where the humble native EQ in most daws shines with its low DSP rent high flexibility. It might not be the most glamorous or best sounding EQ but it might do more for the bass than even a pair of hardware pultec or even a gaggle of dsp pultecs. Add in its pre and post internal spectrum analyzer and it seems pretty amazing.

  • SugaMouth

    I Love the IK Pulteq, it just makes most things sound better. Too easy to get carried away with it though.

  • Slee

    Just some notes on availability of these EQs as emulations. Both the API 500 series and Sonnox Oxford have officially licenced plug-in versions from Universal Audio.


  • Ivanrocks715

    KEEP up the phenomenal work guys!

  • Rasi

    I own a clariphonic myself, and I don’t think there’s a better eq to focus and lift the highs on your 2-buss. Personally, I’m getting ready to sell my SSL E-series EQs so that I can pickup an Electra from Kush…

    He’s doing it right.

  • Xicotam

    Awesome magazne with loads of very useful tricks and insights for the general producing general producers that just don’t have the means to approach music with real world professional knowledge. Very grateful and wish you a continuesly sucessful and quality ensured publication of such! 100% support :)

  • matt jenkins

    Um how there is no baxendall eq here is just beyond me. The most used and useful eq of all time. Didn’t get a look in.

  • Mike

    Kush isn’t a secret anymore, the word is out. The best, most intuitive and creative EQ and Compressor I’ve ever used. Slow to upgrade completely to AAX, but worth the wait.

  • Tushar

    Oh .. I love SSL EQ man ! its the amazing shit u can ever get 😀

  • Jon

    what about the millennia NSEQ-2, the GML 8200 and Maselec Mea 2 ? (there’s also the Crane IBIS)

  • Lex

    That mackie EQ is fucking shite, I can’t believe you put that next to the SSL, which is the mutt’s nuts.

  • Will Brodeur

    I use the 5500 in my mastering rig everyday. It’s stellar for fast program, passes every transient perfectly. Big bold sound. Not what I would call transparent but perfect for electronic music.

    Will Brodeur
    lacquer channel mastering.

  • Vic

    Elysia Xpressor is one notable absence from this list… the Elysia stuff is practically made for electronic music, so clean and precise.

  • Ruslan

    So why you not tell anything about NEVE EQ’s?

You currently have an ad blocker installed

Attack Magazine is funded by advertising revenue. To help support our original content, please consider whitelisting Attack in your ad blocker software.

Find out how