Sonoris’s innovative plug-in designs prove that not all digital equalisers sound the same.
There has been a fair amount of discussion on Web forums recently about the common origin of most digital EQs in a single ‘bi-quad’ algorithm, and hence of the possibility that, as it is put, “all digital EQs are the same”. Of course, this is a bit of an over-simplification, and even if it was theoretically true, there would still be practical reasons for different choices of software. Different EQ plug-ins package this algorithm behind different user interfaces, and often add extra features, such as reproducing the non-linear aspects of certain famed analogue EQs.
The two EQ plug-ins under review here have other ways of separating themselves from the herd. Both sound good, look good and have nice clean and open interfaces, but, as we will see, the Sonoris Mastering EQ attempts to up the ante over its competition with its tremendous clarity and flexibility, and the Parallel EQ does the same with its special sound. Both are intended mainly for mastering and whole-mix EQ, and for this review that’s how I used them.
Master Of All Trades
The Sonoris Mastering EQ is extraordinarily flexible. It features seven bands, each of which can be set to high- or low-pass, shelving or bell. Each can be minimum-phase or linear-phase, and each can process either the stereo signal or left, right, Middle or Sides channels separately. (Why would you need both minimum-phase and linear-phase bands in the same EQ? Well, one reason is that the potential problem with linear-phase design — the pre-ringing and smear it introduces — has different audible consequences at different frequencies. In terms of distortion, the worst use of a linear-phase EQ is as a sharp high-pass filter, as that is just where the smearing of pre-ringing is most pronounced — but one of its nicest uses is for gentle brightening, where a broad bell or shelf can bring out nice programme details without harshness, and the transient softening is actually welcomed.)