Austrian developers Sonible released their first plugin in 2015, the well-regarded frei:raum. frei:raum incorporated a number of different equalizer-based features and algorithms, all brought together to essentially semi-automate certain key mixing tasks and help create a faster workflow and fewer mix headaches.
  • Audio Plugin 3-in-1 EQ for processing spectral balance, spatiality and harmonic & inharmonic signal components, Linear-phase 7-band equalizer, Three separate zones: Smart EQ, proximity EQ, entropy EQ, Smart EQ: Automatic adjustment of the spectral.
  • The core of frei:raum is a fully interactive equalizer with state of the art mastering quality. Each band can either be used in classical mode for manual EQing, or in the unique 'smart' mode, offering automatic detection and removal of problematic resonances in different frequency bands.

Since then, Sonible have continued to develop the various frei:raum features, which can now be had as a series of three separate plugins: proximity:EQ+, entropy:EQ+ and smart:EQ+. The three plugins complement each other well and can still be bought together as the EQ+ Bundle, but it’s the last one, smart:EQ+, that we’ll be taking a closer look at here.

smart:EQ+ is an 8-band linear phase EQ, and can be used in much the same way as a regular EQ plugin for a variety of sound sculpting and corrective tasks. However, it’s signature feature is a smart mode that can be applied using the middle four bands, and which analyses the incoming signal to calculate an optimised frequency curve that can then be applied to your audio material, subtly smoothing out frequency kinks and unwanted resonances, and simultaneously bringing up softer parts of the signal.

The new adaptive equalizer from sonible continuously analyses audio signals and optimizes them in real-time. Smart:EQ live has your back, so you can focus on the things that really count when mixing live. Levels of unlimited possibilities – frei:raum opens up an inspiring new dimension of editing options. Read more Add to cart.

The custom frequency curve can be applied to the analysed sound very quickly and simply if you like the sound of what it’s doing right away, or you can continue adjusting the individual smart bands to finetune the result of the processing, adding more of the effect to certain frequency ranges or even using applying “cuts” on bands to add a negative version of the smart curve, de-emphasising the processing in that area.

The overall idea is that smoother and better spectrally balanced sounds can be achieved quickly and efficiently, using just a few smart controls that semi-automate the process, while also avoiding some of the dangers and side-effects of overly complex corrective EQing applied manually with lots of different settings and adjustments.

So while not exactly a fully “automatic EQ”, the smart filters do indeed promise to take a lot of the manual work out of corrective EQ tasks and favourably open up your individual sounds with rather less effort than you might be used to, and with results that you may not otherwise arrive at by doing everything manually.

It sounds great, in principle – let’s take a look and see how it works in practice.

Moving the cursor over each node on the display reveals the current Q width of the band and highlights it’s info pane above.


The interface has a nice modern design and is fully scalable, making it very fast and easy to read and work with (being able to set a different default size setting would be a nice addition in a future update).

All of the controls and aspects of the interface have a familiar and intuitive quality that makes it very easy to get going quickly, from the EQ frequency graph with its draggable nodes to the colour-coding of the band info sections and their respective curves on the graph.

Should you ever find the attractiveness of the coloured bands a little too distracting, there’s also a button labelled blind:flug that switches the main equalizer graph window to a more old school display with three rotary knobs for each band. This is very useful for those situations where you just want to finetune frequencies and band widths using only your ears – a very welcome feature.

blind:flug display mode shows three rotary controls for each band instead of the flashier graph and nodes.

Smart filters

As well as the regular bell, hi- and low-cut and hi- and low-shelf filter types, the middle four EQ bands can be set to the “smart filter” type, identifiable by the magic wand icon, and which are the core standout feature of the plugin.

With the smart filters activated, playing back your audio with the plugin on an insert allows smart:EQ+ to analyse it and, after a few seconds, create a custom frequency contour from the material. Now, when you adjust the smart filter nodes, you’re pulling up or down this unique contour rather than making a flat, smooth change across all effected frequencies. The result is effectively the same as if each node actually represented a cluster of micro-nodes that are pre-tailored to your audio material: as you make simple cuts and boosts, you’re still maintaining some of the relative difference between neighbouring frequencies around the focus frequency, resulting in more natural, smoother-sounding EQ adjustments.

As you implement the smart curve, there are a couple of other options available in the Master section. Turning up the Smoothing control for each smart band gradually smoothes out the micro peaks and valleys, returning the curve to a more conventional smooth line at 100%. This seems to be partocularly useful for taming and shaping the smart curve in the higher frequencies, where some pre-ringing can occur when making significant smart boosts.
Also in the Master section, you can select from two overall smart filtering modes: standard is optimized for broadband signals i.e. most things from rhythm guitars and synths to full mixes, while speech is the best option for dealing with speech tracks, voiceovers, and vocals specifically.

With analysis mode complete after a few seconds of playback, the pause icon is replaced by the checkmark.

In practice

You’d be forgiven for being skeptical at first of any plugin algorithms ability to pre-determine how you want things to sound. But fortunately, we can report that smart:EQ+ really does provide a simple and highly useable way of tweaking sounds and performing surgical EQ adjustments that it might usually take much longer to do manually (using a host of small individual cuts and boosts, which may still not deliver as transparent results as smart:EQ+ can muster).

In fact, it turns out in practice that the smart curves diagnose and deal with problems and imbalances with mixes that are not even entirely identifiable as problems to begin with, making the plugin less of a semi-automatic replacement for some typical donkey work and more of a great addition to any mixers existing box of tools and tricks.

The smart filtering seems to work best on melodic, fairly broadband material such as guitars, synth pads, and vocals. It’s not perfect for every application, tending to typically fare less well with drums and percussion, with some smearing of transients, but only in a way one would perhaps expect from any equivalent linear phase processor.

Aimed at everyone from music producers to mastering engineers and those working in post-production film and broadcast audio, smart:EQ+ could be particularly useful for those short on either time or experience of the finer points of fine-grade EQ adjustments and sound sculpting.


Smart:EQ+ identifies and addresses resonances and micro-adjustments that it would take much longer to tailor manually or with a regular EQ, resulting in smoother, more polished sounds, faster.
It’s ideal for corrective EQ, quickly finding and taming resonances and frequency clutter, evening out and opening up sounds while generally avoiding undesirable side-effects or inadvertently unbalancing the spectral image. Recommended.

Price: €129 – SUMMER SALE OFFER: €89 until July 21st!
Developer: Sonible
Platforms: PC/Mac (VST/AU/AAX)
Buy now: Plugin Boutique


Alternative options:

Looking for an EQ plugin that perfectly suits your requirements, whether that’s a smooth linear phase mastering equalizer or the best go-to workhorse EQ? Check out our list of 30 of the best EQ Plugins.

Intelligent Equaliser Plug-in For Windows & Mac OS

As I drag the smart ‘EQ band’ around, the jagged line shows the actual correction being applied: note that a smart ‘boost’ in this case is actually applying a cut in the mid range. On most sources, the smart curve is much more subtle than in this screenshot.

The first product from Austrian developers Sonible aims to raise the IQ of EQ.

According to Google, the name of Sonible’s intriguing EQ plug-in translates to English as ‘free space’. I’ve called it an EQ plug-in because Sonible do, and it’s true that Frei:raum can behave as a conventional parametric equaliser. However, its EQ-like interface exists mainly to provide familiar and frequency-sensitive access to other features, including reverb removal and the ability to rebalance the pitched and noise components of a source. It’s available in AAX and VST formats on both Mac OS and Windows, and also as a Mac Audio Units plug-in.

Get Smart

All the action takes place within one neatly designed, clean-looking interface, which can be switched between three different modes and changes colour accordingly. Through the green window we find what seems on first inspection to be a standard-issue plug-in EQ, with five parametric bands sandwiched by high and low shelves. And so it proves, until you click the little magic wand icon that forms part of each band’s control group. This turns the band into a ‘smart filter’; play back a representative section of the audio source and Alt-click this icon, and Frei:raum will begin to ‘learn’ its frequency characteristics. The analysis takes a few seconds, and once it’s complete, your EQ band is no longer a blunt instrument but one tailored to the frequency content of your source.

A ‘smart’ EQ band can be configured just like a dumb one — you click and drag a little circle up or down to control gain, and sideways to set its centre frequency, or up and down with the Alt key held to change the bandwidth — but its effect on your music is very different. For one thing, it’s much more subtle. If you drag a smart band to the position that represents a 10dB boost for the standard EQ, chances are it won’t boost any one frequency by more than a dB or two, and at any given frequency, doing so might well actually impose a small cut instead.

The documentation doesn’t explain the process in detail, but it seems that when Frei:raum ‘learns’ something, what it’s actually doing is inspecting the audio for peaks in the frequency spectrum, before somehow deciding which of these are actually musical, and which are unwanted resonances. Applying ‘boost’ in a smart EQ band strengthens the musical frequencies and attenuates the undesirable resonances, while ‘cutting’ does the opposite. The action is also frequency-sensitive, with the most ‘correction’ being applied at the centre of the band, and none at all outside its extremes. As you move the band around, a very wiggly line appears to indicate the actual transfer function that’s being applied.

Sonible’s Alexander Wankhammer told me that “based on the design of the algorithm, it tends to work best on quite ‘dense’ sounds, where each spectral region has some kind of ‘useful’ signal component”, and my experience bore out this statement. I tried the smart EQ on a variety of individual tracks and buses, and across the master bus. Mafia pc game free download. Initially, at least, I found that whatever it did was quite seductive, but I couldn’t put my finger on why, or how exactly it was changing the sound. When I came back to my projects after the dust had settled, however, I wasn’t always so enamoured of it. Switching the bypass button in and out definitely changed the sound in a subtle way, but it was often very hard to decide whether the processed sound represented an improvement, or merely a difference; and quite often, the results of ‘cutting’ were just as sonically pleasing (or not) as those of ‘boosting’. As a result, only a few instances of Frei:raum as a ‘smart EQ’ made it into my final mixes. However, that’s not to say that it’s not a valuable addition to your plug-in folder. Where a source does have a clear tonal imbalance to start with, Frei:raum will usually pick up on this; and even when I ended up not using it, the settings it came up with often suggested useful ways in which conventional EQ could be applied to the same track. That being the case, it would be nice if it were possible to scale the action of the ‘dumb’ EQ bands to roughly match the amount of processing they apply in ‘smart’ mode; as it is, switching a band from ‘smart’ to ‘dumb’ usually produces a jarring tonal change, as the ‘dumb’ version is much more drastic for any given setting.

Close To You

Here, I’m applying a big global reduction in the amount of room reverb on my source, but this is shaped to be more prominent in the upper mids.Smart EQ is, in any case, but one of the arrows in Frei:raum’s bulging quiver. Click on the ruler icon, and the interface turns blue, indicating that you are now in ‘proximity EQ’ mode. The implication here is that Frei:raum can somehow retrospectively reduce the distance between microphone and source, but it would perhaps be more apt to describe what it does as changing the balance between direct and ambient or reverberant sound. Again, this can be restricted to specific frequency regions using EQ-like ‘bands’, but there is also a gobal Proximity control that affects the overall wet/dry balance, plus Strength and Smoothing parameters.

The third string to Frei:raum’s bow, denoted by a magenta hue, is described as ‘entropy EQ’. The sound produced by most musical instruments can be thought of as having two components: a pitched element consisting of a series of sine waves in a stable harmonic relationship, and an unpitched or inharmonic noise element which is unrelated to the pitch of the note. Examples of the latter might include the ‘chiff’ of a flute, pick noise on an acoustic guitar or mechanical noise in a piano. The idea behind ‘entropy EQ’ is that Frei:raum can separate out these two components and allow you to rebalance them, again either on a global or a frequency-specific basis.

Neither of these operations is completely unprecedented. For example, Zynaptiq’s Unveil is a very sophisticated plug-in dedicated solely to reverb removal, while Frei:raum’s entropy EQ inhabits territory that’s already occupied by applications such as Melodyne. However, they are hardly standard tools yet, and Sonible’s implementation of both in an EQ-like, frequency-dependent interface is definitely a fresh idea.‘Entropy EQ’ can rebalance the pitched and unpitched components of a source sound.

In practice, both are easy to use, and as ever with this sort of sophisticated DSP, results vary considerably from source to source. I found it hard to achieve any useful reverb reduction before unnatural artifacts became apparent on drum overheads; yet proximity EQ did a remarkable job of salvaging a trombone that I’d been forced to record in a small room. The ability to target both processes to specific frequency regions has clear advantages, too. Bad room sound is often bad precisely because it contains honks and resonances at particular frequencies, while issues such as excessive sibilance or pick noise tend to manifest themselves mainly in the high frequencies rather than across the board. In the course of my testing, I didn’t run into any real-world applications for entropy EQ that would be beyond the scope of other processors such as multiband dynamics or transient-shaping plug-ins, but I’m prepared to believe that they exist!


Three In One

Cutting-edge technologies tend to be pricey to start with, and Frei:raum was no exception. As we went to press, however, the price was about to fall to a more reasonable $299 — and for that, of course, you get not one but three innovative DSP processors. Their combined implementation within a single EQ-like interfaces makes good sense, and all of them are straightforward to use, though unsurprisingly, the plug-in imposes a fairly hefty CPU load, so wouldn’t be usable across every channel in a busy mix.

I confess to being uneasy at the way in which ‘smart EQ’ is presented as waving a magical DSP wand that simply makes things sound better, but if you’re less of a control freak than me, you’ll probably find that it often does have that effect! For me, the most obvious customer for this plug-in is the harrassed and time-poor engineer working in audio post-production, for whom its combination of easy-to-use reverb reduction and magic-wand waving could be just the ticket. And though it probably can’t be considered a must-have for music production and mastering, there are plenty of potential applications here too, and it’s definitely worth downloading the time-limited demo and exploring what it can do for you.

Sonible Frei Raum Mac Download Mp3


  • Three innovative audio processing algorithms in a single plug-in.
  • The EQ-like interface makes it easy to focus Frei:raum’s action on trouble spots in the frequency spectrum.


  • Frei:raum’s ‘Smart EQ’ is often very subtle, especially compared with the conventional equaliser.


Frei:raum packages some very sophisticated DSP in a friendly and familiar interface. Not everyone will need what it does often enough to justify the asking price, but if you frequently have to rescue bad recordings, it could prove very handy.