Minimal Audio Morph EQ Review
Minimal Audio released Morph EQ ($49), a creative equalizer plugin for Windows and macOS.
The developer describes Morph EQ as a “perfect companion for sound design and sonic exploration, offering new and innovative types of filter control.”
Morph EQ Review – The Innovative EQ that you didn’t know you needed?
Minimal Audio is still relatively new on the scene, but with the excellent Rift multi-FX plugin and now Morph EQ, they already have a reputation for creating forward-thinking software. After being incredibly impressed with Rift, I have high hopes for Morph EQ. Still, I’ll keep an open mind because forward-thinking can be dangerously close to overthinking, resulting in a less innovative and convoluted product.
There’s also a segment of potential users who are too quick to label forward-thinking plugins as gimmicks at their loss. I was lucky enough to get an early look at Morph EQ and find out if it’s overthought or the innovative EQ I didn’t know I needed.
What is Morph EQ?
Morph EQ is a parametric EQ offering seven filter types with Mono, Stereo, and Mid-Side routing modes. That sounds relatively ordinary, but when you add the ability to assign any filter type and mode to each individual filter, then arrange them in series or parallel, it quickly sounds far more expansive.
As far as the endless mix and match possibilities will take you, the real heart of the plugin is the Morph knob and macro controls. The Morph function allows each filter to travel through a user-designed morphing path from the original filter point via morph points. The included macro controls allow further real-time adjusting of filter parameters in some very creative ways.
Minimal Audio calls it an “Expressive EQ Designer,” and a quick look will tell you that it’s less about mixing and more about sound design and removing limitations.
Morphing and Unlimited Filter Points
Getting started with morphing is simple; create a filter point, then click and drag to the desired location of your morph point. With the Morph knob at 0, the filter is at its original filter point, and at 100, it’s at the final morph point. You can add as many morph points as you like, creating simple or complex paths. Morph EQ is a very visual plugin, so manipulating the position of morph points, and the curve of the path between them is a simple click and drag. That means you can create sharp exaggerated shifts or more progressive routes and, of course, combine the two.
In addition to limitless morph points, you can add an unlimited number of filter points, which is both amazing and dangerous if you are a victim of never knowing when enough is enough.
EQ automation typically deals with short-term issues, like boosting/cutting a specific element in a particular part of a song. It’s sometimes used to create moving filter effects or stereo effects, too. But, it can also create problems in your processing chain. Even without processing problems, it could be extremely tedious trying to replicate anything like the kind of animation that Morph EQ provides.
The Morph knob might be the heart of the plugin, but the macro controls aren’t far behind.
Shift – Acts like a filter cutoff control by adjusting the frequency of the entire EQ at once.
Pinch – Moves all filter frequencies closer or further from the center of their frequency range, compressing or expanding the EQ.
Spread – Offsets the left and right channels in Stereo mode.
Scale – Boost or invert the peaks/resonance of all filters.
You can use the Macro controls to create massive filter sweeps, vowel/formant effects, shifting stereo effects, and most things in between. As useful as they all are, I found myself most drawn to the Spread control and probably Scale next.
Since the Spread control only adjusts filters that are in Stereo mode, you can have these shifting effects that include some constant elements. Thinking of it musically, I likened it to using an anchor note beneath harmonically-shifting orchestration, and I know it’s not the same thing, but in my mind, that’s a good fit.
I don’t need to say much about the GUI; it’s straightforward to use, and optional info/guides explain every feature well. I will highlight a few convenient features, though, like Undo, Redo, Cycle(through filters), and my favorite, the Headphone icon that isolates a single filter’s influence on the sound. It also has an Adaptive-Q mode for analog-like resonances.
Over 100 presets included.
There are plenty of demos that showcase Morph EQ’s ability to create choppy/glitchy animation, so I wanted to try something a bit less involved.
Taking a string ensemble voice and tweaking the Spread (with a couple of additional filters in mid-only mode to add an anchor), Scale transformed the natural sound into more of a Tron Strings sound beautifully. Pushing the Scale further negative gave more of a real-but-broken sound, and the force with which you transition is up to you; it’s lovely.
If you want a conventional parametric EQ for mixing, look elsewhere. Yes, Morph EQ has a basic parametric EQ at its core, but everything else would be overkill. If you’re into sound design and filter animation, Morph EQ is an absolute dream. The Morph knob allows you to do, with one knob, things that would have taken hours of tedious automation, yet you don’t sacrifice an ounce of control.
Minimal Audio’s new Morph EQ is creative, innovative, a bit wild, and I love it.
More info: Morph EQ ($49)
Minimal Audio Morph EQ Review
Minimal Audio’s new Morph EQ is creative, innovative, a bit wild, and we love it.