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FabFilter Pro Q3 vs. Kirchhoff EQ – Which Plugin Is Better?

FabFilter Pro Q3 vs Kirchhoff EQ Which Plugin Is Better

When it comes to selecting a high-quality dynamic equalizer, two names often come up in the conversation: the FabFilter Pro Q3 and the Three Body Kirchhoff EQ. Both plugins offer robust features and unique capabilities, catering to a wide range of music production needs.

Released on November 29, 2018, the FabFilter Pro Q3 has maintained its status as a benchmark in the EQ plugin market for the last few years. Its clean interface and powerful features make it a go-to EQ plugin for many producers and audio engineers.

The Kirchhoff EQ, released in November 2021, aims to surpass the Pro Q3 by offering a broader range of features, including various emulated analog EQ curves and additional settings. With its extensive range of curves, filter types, and dynamic processing options, Kirchhoff EQ allows for unparalleled flexibility and creativity in sound shaping.

This article provides an objective comparison of these two powerful EQ plugins, examining their features, usability, and sound quality.

Let’s dive in…

Features, Performance, and Usability

FabFilter Pro Q3

Fabfilter Pro Q3 Vs Kirchhoff EQ Plugin

One of the standout features introduced with Pro Q3 is dynamic EQ, which has since become a standard in the industry. It’s user-friendly, requiring just a few clicks to set up. The GUI is sleek, clean, and highly responsive, designed to facilitate a fast and efficient workflow. The noise floor on Pro Q3 is impressively low, below -165 dB, which is beyond the audible range for humans.

Pro-Q3 EQ Highlights:

  • Dynamic EQ: Pro Q3 stands out with its dynamic EQ capabilities, including an auto-threshold feature. This feature is particularly useful as it adjusts the threshold based on the input signal’s volume, ensuring consistent performance regardless of volume changes earlier in the chain.
  • User Interface: The Pro Q3 is praised for its intuitive and clean user interface. It’s designed to streamline the workflow, making it easier to use in most situations. The simplicity and effectiveness of the Pro Q3’s controls, such as the simple range control for dynamics, make it a favorite among many producers.
  • Consistency: Thanks to its auto-threshold feature and user-friendly interface, the Pro Q3 offers consistent and reliable performance. It’s less prone to bugs and performs well across different systems.
  • Efficiency: The Pro Q3 is optimized for efficiency, using minimal CPU resources, which is crucial during complex mixing and mastering sessions.
  • Industry Standard: FabFilter has become a standard in the industry, with extensive resources available, including tutorials and expert reviews. This makes it easier for users to learn and master the plugin.

Buy at Plugin Boutique: Fabfilter Pro-Q3

Three Body Kirchhoff EQ

Three Body Kirchhoff EQ VST Plugin

In addition to clean digital EQ, the Kirchhoff plugin offers a range of emulated analog EQs, including Neve and SSL styles. This versatility allows for more creative possibilities. While Pro Q3’s dynamic EQ is straightforward, Kirchhoff’s dynamic EQ offers more advanced features, allowing for split EQ focusing on attack or sustain.

The analog emulations provided by the Kirchhoff EQ are strictly about replicating the frequency response curves of classic hardware units, without including the non-linear behaviors such as harmonic distortion or saturation typically associated with analog gear.

This means that while the Kirchhoff EQ can mimic the shape and response of various analog EQs (like Neve or SSL), it does not add the “warmth” and “character” that come from the nonlinearities of actual hardware.

Kirchhoff EQ includes a unique feature where EQ bands can be panned left or right in Stereo Left/Right mode, enhancing stereo imaging capabilities.

Buy at Plugin Alliance: Kirchhoff

Kirchhoff EQ Highlights:

  • Advanced Features: Kirchhoff offers a wide array of features, including different EQ shapes, formant types, phase options, modulation morphing, and an envelope follower.
  • Analog Curve Emulations: Kirchhoff EQ provides emulations of analog EQ curves, such as the Pultec curve, within a digital interface. However, it lacks the option to emulate the saturation of these analog EQs, which could have added more value.
  • Noise Floor: Kirchhoff EQ prides itself on having a cleaner noise floor than the Pro Q3. However, it’s important to note that the Pro Q3’s noise floor is already well below the audible range, making it effectively inaudible in practical scenarios.
  • Interface Design: The Kirchhoff EQ’s interface, while powerful, can feel cluttered and less intuitive, with tiny text menus posing a challenge on high-resolution screens.
  • Sound Quality: Many users, including those with Apple’s M1 machines, have reported a preference for Kirchhoff’s sound quality. It delivers a slightly different tonal character that some producers find more appealing.
  • Bugs and CPU Usage: However, Kirchhoff EQ has been noted to have more bugs and higher CPU usage, which can be a significant drawback during extensive mixing sessions.
  • Price Point: Kirchhoff EQ is generally more affordable than the Pro Q3, making it an attractive option for those on a budget. It often comes with discounts, which can make it an even more cost-effective choice.

For even more in-depth details, also read my Kirchhoff EQ Plugin Review

My Choice

I mostly use the FabFilter Pro Q3 for its efficient workflow, and clean, precise EQ for quick adjustments. Its user-friendly interface, intuitive dynamic EQ, and low noise floor make it ideal for my EQ tasks. The Pro Q3’s sleek design and responsive GUI ensure that my mixing and mastering processes are smooth and efficient, allowing me to focus more on the creative aspects of production.

On the other hand, I also threw the Kirchhoff EQ plugin in my mixer channel several times for its advanced dynamic EQ features and unique stereo panning capabilities offer greater control and flexibility when I need more detailed and creative sound sculpting, also for its nice presets to start with.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between the FabFilter Pro Q3 and the Kirchhoff EQ ultimately comes down to personal preference and specific needs. If you prioritize a clean, user-friendly interface and reliable performance with minimal CPU usage, the Pro Q3 is likely the better choice. Its industry-standard status and wealth of learning resources also add to its appeal.

On the other hand, if you seek advanced features and are willing to navigate a more complex interface, Kirchhoff EQ offers impressive capabilities at a lower price point. Its sound quality and feature set can be highly rewarding, provided your system can handle its demands.

As FabFilter aims to maintain its position at the top of the EQ plugin market, I envision a future version of FabFilter Pro-Q4 introducing several innovative features such as AI-powered capabilities for EQ suggestions, automated frequency correction, and smart preset generation based on the audio material I’m working with. Who knows…

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