Freakishly powerful.

  • A potent sound shaping tool with eight processing sections to achieve the sounds you want faster
  • A flawless recreation of the Lil FrEQ hardware unit, featuring de-essing
  • Developed in conjunction with Dave Derr and Empirical Labs Inc.



Included in Empirical Labs Complete Collection

Modern analog flavor, tasty price.
All 3 Empirical Labs products in one bundle. Learn more

Equalizer & De-esser / Console 1 Ready

Empirical Labs Lil FrEQ

USD 149 USD 199


The warm and punchy analog sound of the Empirical Labs Lil FrEQ makes it something of an oddity in the world of equalizers. But it’s no sideshow. With its heart-shaped box of tricks, mighty analog tone, and de-essing chops, we’re hard-pressed to think of a more powerful analog EQ. It’s what makes Lil FrEQ the ace in the hole for so many high-profile recording engineers and mixing professionals. When your equalizer features eight different processing sections, you can ditch the multi-plug-in setup and get on with it. Our native software version—expertly modeled under the watchful eye of Dave Derr himself—gives you all that tone-shaping and correction power, plus supernatural sound quality, and flavor galore. In a word, it's un-freakin-believable.


Designed by Experts, Built on Legacy

Softube has a long history of modeling professional gear. After nearly two decades working in collaboration with premium pro audio brands like Tube-Tech, Solid State Logic, Chandler Limited®, Weiss Engineering, and Trident, we have a solid track record recreating indisputable classics in software form that sound precisely like their hardware counterparts.

Empirical Labs Lil FrEQ is built on this legacy, and we took the same meticulous approach we always do – everything needs to be exact, with skillful recording, precise testing, and fine-tuning to sound exactly like the hardware that inspired it or even better. Nothing less.


Have a listen


Funhouse: Eight Processing Sections

With a super-useful parameter set spread out over an unheard-of eight sections of processing, Lil FrEQ offers you the ability to instantly A/B the effect of each section as you adjust and fine-tune them. Because, in addition to a master bypass, each of Lil FrEQ’s eight sections features its own dedicated bypass switch. Lil FrEQ lets you do with one EQ what you’d normally need to combine several other tools to do. Lil FrEQ helps you mix faster and gets you the sound you want quicker.


Freak Show: The DS Section

Step right up, folks! Witness this never-before-seen de-ess function. The Lil FrEQ DS section combines tunable filters and a level independent high-frequency detection circuit that restrains excessive high frequencies, such as sibilants or other sharp transients, especially in the absence of lower-frequency content. It also acts as a unique soft-knee, high-frequency limiter and can even emulate analog tape. With talents like these, you can see why Lil FrEQ is the vocal EQ of choice for countless engineers and has been used in numerous hit records, major live performances, and to shape vocals, snare, and bass. It’s not every day a freaky little EQ spawns a de-esser, but Lil FrEQ’s DS section is just that good.


Freaks Flock Together: The EQ

For all its unusual traits Lil FrEQ is dependably classic in some respects. Take, for instance, its four sections of fully parametric EQ (LF, Lo Mid, Hi Mid, and HF), each section with individual gain, bandwidth (Q), and frequency controls. The conventional becomes extraordinary when it's executed to this level. Every component is masterfully modeled to give you a better workflow. The result is soaring sound quality that stands out from the crowd.


Freak Scene: The User Interface

The big white knobs set the scene. Immediately, you know you're working with high-quality craftsmanship and legendary analog sound, all in a super intuitive interface—to include those blue markings. They let you accurately simulate the settings of one of the most classic British EQs. We authentically modeled not just the look of the Empirical Labs Lil FrEQ but also the care and intention that goes into making it easy to use and a whole lot of fun.



This product supports
Extended Features

We love VU meters, Bakelite knobs, and analog quirks. But we want modern precision and workflow. The answer? Softube Extended Features. Easy-access panels with the innovations you need close at hand


Learn more


Carnival of Soul

Lil FrEQ succeeds in being uncommonly powerful and musical with just the right hit of analog warmth. The unique set of un-EQ-like features Lil FrEQ boasts make it an incredibly valuable tool in your box. It can replace several plug-ins in a signal chain and gives you better sound faster. If you’re going for super punchy and fat-sounding drums, less harsh cymbals, a natural-sounding vocal track, or just trying to fit a ho-hum acoustic guitar recording into the mix, Lil FrEQ is the gal for the job.

Destined to become a modern classic—just like her siblings, Distressor and Fatso—Lil FrEQ punches like no other, does uber-transparent correction work, and is a wickedly-aggressive and singular tone shaper. She’s totally unique. She’s our Lil FrEQ.

Tape Tip

Try your hand at using Lil FrEQ's one-of-a-kind de-ess section to emulate analog tape:

  • Set to HF LIM with the frequency at 6KHz
  • Adjust until the frequencies harshly pile up
  • Let the de-ess section kick in
  • Hear it integrate and smooth out the high end
  • Done!


Raised by a family of engineers, Dave Derr has gone from a chance encounter at Radio Shack to having his gear used in every major studio and on thousands of records. A rocker in his own right, his name is now synonymous with analog warmth, but he's not resting on his laurels. On the contrary. The humble genius behind Empirical Labs continues thinking and tinkering and incrementally improving on the already amazing array of products he’s gifted the music industry. Products like Fatso, DerrEsser, and Distressor. It's that work ethic and empirical spirit that has made ELI so well-regarded in the pro audio sphere. Its products are real-world tested and built to get the better of obsolescence. Softube couldn’t be prouder to be part of the Dave Derr and Empirical Labs legacy with our authentic emulations of their modern analog classics: Mike-E, Lil FrEQ, Trak Pak, and the Empirical Labs Complete Collection.

Learn more about our partnership with Empirical Labs

Console 1 Ready

This plug-in can be used within Console 1, our mixing system. Click to learn more.



Itching to know all there is to know about our Empirical Labs + Softube suite of products? Or just want to get up and running as quick as you can? Either way, we got you covered. Book a private video session with our product demonstration team today. Learn more


Book your session now


In short

  • An expertly modeled recreation of the ELI Lil FrEQ hardware
  • Available for the first time as a native plugin
  • Developed in collaboration with Dave Derr and Empirical Labs Inc.
  • Eight process sections with bypass switches to A/B the effect of each section
  • 4-band fully parametric EQ with sweep-able frequency and bandwidth (Q)
  • De-ess (Level independent dynamic EQ)/ HF Limit (High Frequency Limiter)
  • Extremely powerful and punchy
  • Featuring the legendary ELI sound
  • Product features

    • An expert component modeled native plugin version of the Empirical Labs Lil FrEQ hardware
    • Input Gain after Meter with clip indicator
    • Vintage style High-pass filter: 18 dB/octave
    • Super smooth High and Low shelving EQ
    • 4-band fully parametric EQ: LF, Lo Mid, Hi Mid, and HF: +-14 dB
    • Super-wide to super-narrow bandwidth and generous frequency ranges
    • Blue markings for vintage British style of equalization
    • DS section – the same as the famous DerrEsser
    • Individual bypass on all bands and sections
    • Punchy, fat and analog sound
  • System requirements

    All Softube products require a computer with appropriate DAW host software (none of which are included).

    Versions from 2.5.38 and newer of the Softube plug-ins have the following minimum requirements:

    All native versions

    • Mac OS X 10.13 up to 12
    • Windows 10 and 11 64-bit 
    • Mac: Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7 / Xeon / Full Apple silicon support (M1 or higher)
    • Windows: Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7 / Xeon / AMD Quad-Core or newer
    • Screen resolution larger than 1280x800
    • 8 GB RAM or more is recommended, as well as at least 8 GB hard disk space for installation (individual plug-ins take less space, while sample libraries may require additional disk space)
    • Softube account
    • iLok account
    • Internet access for downloading installers and managing licenses
    • iLok generation 2 and up, if you intend to use an iLok key for authorizing your plug-ins (note that a physical iLok USB key is not a requirement)

    In theory, any 64-bit VST, VST3, AU, or AAX (Pro Tools 11.0.2 or higher) compatible host application should work. However, due to plug-in host differences between DAWs - and our own rigorous testing standards - we only officially test our plug-ins and instruments in the most recent versions of Pro ToolsLogic ProCubaseAbleton LiveStudio OneReaper, and Cakewalk. Softube plugins are not tested in non-listed systems, but they most likely work as long as the system requirements are met. We cannot guarantee a solution for issues in unsupported systems.

    Note: We have checked the basic functionality of our plug-ins, and Softube Central, under Apple Rosetta 2.

    With regards to the different VST formats, we strongly recommend using VST3 as some of our plug-ins have features that are not present in the older VST format. Supported sample rates: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, and 192 kHz, in both mono and stereo. The most recent maintenance release of your DAW application is recommended. AAX DSP is not currently in active development. TDM/VENUE is no longer supported (old downloads are available on the Legacy Installers page).

    Find the Softube installer you need both Softube Central and individual plug-ins.

    AAX DSP version

    • For AAX DSP you need to meet the above requirements for the Native versions. You also need to have an Avid HDX processing card. For plug-ins available for AAX DSP, see Which Softube plug-ins support AAX DSP?
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