Review: Rob Papen RP-EQ Equalizer Plugin

Rob Papen RP-EQ Review

Rob Papen RP-EQ Review

In a world where parametric equalisers are in a state of overflow ranging from free EQ plugins to ridiculously expensive and where through all the frequencies you can’t even see the bands anymore, why would any good self-respecting VST smith want to even try to compete in this oversaturated area of sound analysis? Well because when you get the idea to incorporate all the features Rob Papen has incorporated into this Equaliser then you are left with no choice but to start programming and hope your idea is good enough and as expected the RP-EQ has quite a few more options than your standard parametric eq.

Overview

RP-EQ Plugin by Rob Papen
RP-EQ User Interface

The RP-EQ plugin is versatile and offers many options from the beginning of your sound design journey right through to the final mixdown stage and even into mastering, it has a sleek look to it with its dark theme and the layout of the plugin is well thought out making it an easy overview and easy to understand but with the press of a few buttons you can make it as complex as you want as the keyword here is modulation.

8 Band Parametric Peaking Equaliser

RP-EQ 8 Band Parametric Equalizer

The RP-EQ’s equaliser not only looks nice but is very easy to work with the colouring of the bands lets you see what frequencies or note you are affecting in the blink of an eye. In the normal stereo mode you can use bands 1 to 8 for your signal and in mid/side mode bands 1 to 4 are for the mid signal and bands 5 to 8 are for the sides, all of the bands can be monitored in solo to get the most out of the band you are working on. Although the knobs for all the controls do seem small they are surprisingly easy to work with especially when you press shift as this allows you to move the controls incrementally. Now all the controls you see here in the picture can be modulated with the XY pad, the Bandwidth (BW), the frequency (Freq) and the gain and that is where the RP-EQ sets itself apart from the rest of the eq’s out there. The modulating of these bands makes it a nice tool to easily start to create the neuro basses that are quite popular right now or just for creating movement in normal contemporary music, personally I like to use it on my drum rack to create subtle changes making the track sound more human and on pads to create some movement.

Spectrogram and Visualizer Section

The spectrogram is an important piece of kit that you need to be able to view what your sound is doing. In RP-EQ you have multiple ways to view your music either just the left channel, the right, both or in mid/side mode, but what is a nice option is that you can not only just show the input sound or just the output sound, but you can also show both at the same time which makes it easier for you to see what you are doing to your piece of music in real time. All of these options are represented in either an FFT spectrogram, a 30 band bar spectrogram or a 30 band (1/3 octave) single line spectrogram. The phase meter in the top right of the spectrogram is very handy for checking mono compatibility.

RP-EQ Spec Module
In the module above you can choose your viewing modes: L, R, L&R or mid/side and whether you want to view the input, output or both.

 

RP-EQ view modes
A few of the view modes in RP-EQ.

XY Pad

The XY pad is what really makes this plugin come alive and set itself apart from other EQ plugins. In this picture you can see path that this pad is going to be taking as it plays with your music and will affect the controls that you have selected to the right of the pad, with the control knobs you can set the amount that the pad will affect the selected controls as the point travels over the x and y-axis, there are some nice presets included for you like this spiral you see here but alternatively you can control the XY pad live or record your own path or even just mangle up the preset by click-dragging the little blue nodes so you can mod and shape it any way you like. As for the timing of the XY pad this can be changed by clicking on the sync button and choosing the timing you desire, The timing and complexity can be even further affected with the Point Q (quantize) the time Q and the space q buttons, by assigning the speed control to say the pitch bend or the mod-wheel this makes it super easy to use, for example, make a vibrato effect or go absolutely crazy on that super complex bass patch your working on.

The possibilities of modulation are really very expansive in this plugin even when you fill up the entire x and y-axis control slots and think oh well that’s it well then you would be mistaken because all knobs in this plugin can also be automated in your DAW shortening the process of creating complex basses and leads by quite a bit and seeing as we all hate to click so much this just makes it all so much easier.

x and y-axis

A/B Save and Recall

RP-EQ BypassBeing able to save and recall what you are doing on your piece is an important and understated tool to have one which personally I have not bothered with much in the beginning but have learned to value its use over time especially when you start to get sick of playing around with your sounds messing them up to a point of no return and having to start all over again, this allows you to keep a little roadmap of where you have been so you can focus on where you are going.

Saturation and Air

RP-EQ Saturation and AirThe Saturation in this plugin can be used in pre and post EQ and the amount can also be modulated in the XY pad, the saturation in this plugin is modelled on the effect of saturated analogue tape and gives the sound a subtle warm effect mostly down in the low-end.

The Air section in this plugin can be seen as an extra band for your eq to boost the higher frequencies giving your track more breathing space or air this works especially well on your vocals at around 30 kHz to bring it out in the mix more or on a mastering chain at 40 kHz. These can both be modulated by the XY pad as well and can be a nice subtle effect in upward or downward sweeps.

Filter Module

Filters have so many uses in modern music from cleaning up a muddy low-end, clearing space in the high frequencies, some “wobbledywoble” here and there and the list goes on and on, the filters in this plugin don’t disappoint and do a good job of well filtering and being able to modulate them in the XY pad and automation means you can create some awesome sounds in seconds.

RP-EQ Filter Module

Both the HP and the LP can be used simultaneously or separately according to what you need and can also be used as a separate module in your chain.

Mono/Stereo Split Filter

This is used so much in modern music and for allot of different reasons the main one being to keep the low end tight without losing the wideness you have painstakingly created in the rest of your track and having this in your plugin makes that easy no matter what kind of track you put it on, for instance on a drum track you can set the split on the frequency your kick is playing to keep it in mono but not lose the stereo field and panning of your hats.

Mono/Stereo Split Filter

Stereo Split
The split is visualized on the spectrogram and the EQ in light grey making it an easy overview of what you’re doing.

Midi Latching ECS & Presets

The presets in this plugin are very expansive with over 300 presets included and a lot more space to save your own, the menu structure is sorted nicely and like the rest of this plugin the overview is really easy and a breeze to sort through.

The midi latching of all the parameters in this plugin is also a nice little feature and being able to save and load your own banks with your presets is a good add on which saves time and clicks.

Midi Latching ECS & Presets

Conclusion

So, all in all, the RP-EQ by Rob Papen is a must have tool in any producers toolbox and is a great plugin to use from the start of your track right down to the finish, use it on your instruments to create awesome soundscapes, weird basses and captivating leads or put it on drum tracks to create that human element and movement, you can use it in your mixing stage to carve out frequencies and give each element in your track its own space and then finally slap it on your mastering chain for the final touches and as an added bonus watch all your plugin chains shrink in size. So as mentioned in the beginning this plugin is versatile to say the least and for the price that is being asked it’s very hard to say no to Mr Papen.

RP-EQ is available for PC (32-bit and 64-bit, AAX and VST for Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 10) and Mac (32-bit and 64-bit, AAX, AU, and VST for Mac OS X 10.6 or higher).

You might also like to read: How To Use EQ

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