HoRNet SW34EQ Plug-in Review

This review of the HoRNet SW34EQ is definitely long overdue but I felt like I needed to sit with this one for a while and really incorporate it into my workflow to be able to make a fair assessment – for better or for worse.

The HoRNet SW34EQ is an analog model of the EQ section from an Otari Soundworkshop 34b Series Console located in the Main room at Virus Studio in Siena, Italy.  The SW34EQ doesn’t just model the EQ curves but also the op-amp saturation characteristics of the original unit as well as the hiss.  For the most part, the unit exhibits even harmonics but as the input is driven, a lot of odd harmonics start to surface and boy do they sound great.  With all that said, the Analog characteristics can be turned off with just one click of a button.

Click to download and try the Demo

Features of the HoRNet SW34EQ

  • 4 band equalizer
  • high and low shelf filters
  • 2 parametric filters with three different Q
  • low cut filter at 40Hz with 18/dB octave slope
  • analog emulation with saturation and hiss
  • Mac OS X (>=10.5 intel only) and Windows support
  • 64bit compatibility both on Mac and Windows
  • Audio Units VST2.4, VST3 and RTAS format

How I Typically Use the HoRNet SW34EQ

Although every mixing situation is different, I find myself using this plug-in 3 ways more often than not.

The first one is by driving the input section until it lights up red.  Yep that’s right this plug-in sounds amazing when you start digging in and and hammering that input section.  I find it works best for percussion and acoustic instruments but I am willing to try it on anything because it just sounds so damn good.

My next typical use is by exploiting those 2 mid range knobs.  I’ll set the Q very tight (all the way to the right) and then start taking away frequencies that I don’t like.  The workflow and sound of the subtractive EQ on this plug-in, reminds me very much of the SSL style emulations but can sound much better in certain situations.

The last typical use is boosting with this plug-in.  Again coming back to those 2 mid range knobs, I just find they sound incredible.  I would normally set the Q to the widest setting (all the way to the left) and then start boosting up where I feel I need some colour.   I almost always have the analog section engaged.  I find that it’s not just adding the EQ curve but it’s also adding some extra spice that makes the frequency range bite more.  My favourite instrument to boost this mid range with is Pianos; sounds great for helping dark pianos cut, without them sounding too thin.

The Positives

  • The harmonic distortion is just beautiful and sounds better than some much more expensive plug-ins I own
  • The workflow is pretty simple and I like that it doesn’t show the values.  I know some people might not find that very helpful but at the same time I think it truly does force you to use your ears
  • The EQ sounds very classy.  Even though it can sound pretty clean, even when it’s driven it still sounds really good.  For the extremely low price, it’s the only thing that I’ve found that comes close to an SSL style EQ [sound wise] and workflow but actually sounds good.
  • Those two mid range knobs are “money in the bank” every time (for boosting and cutting)

The Negatives

  • The fact that it isn’t AAX is a bit of a bummer but it’s not a deal breaker because with the BlueCat MB-7 mixer you can host this plug-in inside Pro Tools without any hiccups
  • The GUI isn’t very inspiring to say the least but to it’s credit it is very easy to navigate and definitely gets the job done.  Something a bit nicer would be a great though.
  • I though the High Shelf or the Low Shelf sounded good but not great and found other EQ’s that did a better job.

Overall Thought’s About The SW34EQ

This HoRNet SW34EQ has a lot of positives going for it and even the few negatives don’t negate the fact that it just sounds friggin’ good.  It really is starting to become part of my workflow and is basically in every new session at this point; usually multiple instances.

I’d give it a 9 out of 10 mainly because there were a few negatives that I feel could be improved on but for the price and quality, I think I would be doing a disservice but not letting people know about it.  This is a very easy BUY NOW purchase for me and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a nice analog emulation style EQ.

Video Source: HoRNet SW34EQ Review