Empress ParaEQ MKII Deluxe Review (short take)
Verdict and Review Summary
It really helps to know a little bit about frequencies and signal processing to get the most out of this pedal. But even if you don't, tinkering and treating it as a more traditional EQ can get you just about any clean or overdriven tone conceivable.
This is the most versatile EQ pedal I've ever used. It has also given me more usable sounds than anything else I've tested. It has a gain and frequency control for lows, mids, and highs, along with a sweepable Q control for each band and four filter controls.
It takes some time to figure out, but it's a fascinating break from a traditional EQ pedal. You can adjust the frequency range...of a frequency. This has a wah like effect, like keeping a wah pedal in a top or bottom cocked position. The gain control allows you to push one of the low, middle, or high frequency ranges through the mix.
I tested it with an electric guitar and acoustic guitar, and there were just a ton of usable settings and positions to work with.
For most of our product reviews we take our own photos, in-house. Thank goodness for portrait mode. For those interested in using these photos, that is completely fine with us as long as you give us credit and don't claim the work as your own. Simply linking to guitarchalk.com near the photo is totally fine.
We use partner links to retailers we trust, like Sweetwater. If you click through our orange buttons and make a purchase, we might receive a commission at no extra cost to you. This helps support our site and keep us ad-free. Thanks to everyone for the continued love over the years. We appreciate you! - Bobby and Danielle
Compare to other EQ pedals
The ParaEQ is hard to compare with other graphic EQ pedals, simply because it's set up so differently. I don't know of another EQ pedal that gives you frequency and gain controls for three frequency bands, but maybe I'm just missing the boat (let me know in the comments section). Still, you can use this table to do some basic comparison, including live pricing.
Compare More Pedals
If you want to drop some more pedals into the comparison table, search our database for what you want. It doesn't have everything, but it has a lot, and we're adding to the product list regularly.
Empress ParaEQ Price Guide
Sweetwater is the primary retailer carrying Empress pedals. We've also seen the ParaEQ Deluxe on Amazon and eBay. Check the table below for updated pricing and availability.
Pricing updated Thu, March 30th, 2023.
Pricing from Major Retailers
Price Alert Tool (lowest price among listed retailers)
Price History (lowest price among listed retailers)
Price History for Empress ParaEq MKII Deluxe Equalizer and Boost Pedal
|Current Price||$349.00||March 25, 2023|
|Highest Price||$349.00||March 11, 2023|
|Lowest Price||$349.00||March 11, 2023|
Last price changes
|$349.00||March 11, 2023|
IDEAL FOR: Recording, EQ'ing clean tones, boosting, replacing/supplementing a graphic EQ.
Sound quality, versatility, and tone profile
On the high frequencies you have a distinct crispness, which can be used to correct tone issues you might have with your dry signal, or to just introduce a brighter tone. Moving the frequency control sounds like a wah pedal rocking back and forth, which really expands the reach of each band, aside from just being able to adjust their gain.
The low end is the opposite, and can help tame a bright signal or inject a really specific type of low-end into your tone.
Set the gain first, then the frequency.
Tunnel of Reverb does a great job with the demo.
It takes a little bit of time to figure out exactly what the tweaks you make are doing. Sometimes the changes are subtle, so I'd recommend some tinkering and exploring to get used to the capabilities of this EQ.
I also noticed that it's very consistent about preserving your guitar's tone and not simply covering it up.
Click the bypass on and off a couple times and you'll hear how close it is to your dry signal.
Boost and Flexibility
The boost will give you some grit pretty quickly, which can sound harsh if you don't tamp down the higher EQ. I'm honestly surprised at the amount of overdrive you can get out of it, because it's not a dedicated booster pedal.
As a whole, the attractiveness of the tone is the flexibility.
Because it can pretty much sound like anything from an EQ and frequency standpoint. Note that we tested mostly with a clean signal on an electric and acoustic guitar.
Control, use case, and flexibility
We've touched a lot on the controls just by going through the sounds that the Deluxe is capable of, but we'll summarize here. Because the wide scope of control is the the ParaEQ's biggest selling point.
Here's a summary of the controls:
- Frequency and Gain: For highs, mids, and lows
- Q controls: For highs, mids, and lows
- Shelving Filters: Global
- Highpass and Lowpass Filters: Global
As I alluded to in the previous paragraph, there's a learning curve with the controls. It's not always totally clear what you're changing or how the sound is being adjusted, so you need to take each knob and experiment one at a time.
Frequency, gain, and boost have the most immediate effect, while the Q controls are little bit more subtle.
I would recommend adjusting freq/gain for highs, mids, and lows first, then adjusting the global high and low pass filters.
Price and Value
Check the price guide above for updated numbers, but as of writing this review, I was happy with the ParaEQ Deluxe's price point. While it's more expensive than most EQ pedals we've seen, it's a more advanced and feature-rich unit.
Take the Boss GE-7, for example.
I like that pedal, but it makes sense to me why the ParaEQ Deluxe would be a lot more expensive.
Particularly for clean tones and recording, the ParaEQ is a solid investment.
Frequently asked questions
9V DC at 300 mA
While it isn't marketed as a preamp pedal, the ParaEQ Deluxe has enough functionality that it could serve that role, minus the balanced output.
Per the question above, I wouldn't necessarily view the ParaEQ Deluxe as an amp replacement, perhaps with the exception of an acoustic guitar. But it's one of the most thorough EQ pedals on the market, and overkill in a good way.
For clean tones and recording, or to tame a sound that you're not totally happy with, we'd recommended it confidently.
If you have questions about our Empress ParaEQ MKII Deluxe review or the pedal itself, get in touch via the comments section below. I'll jump in and help out as much as possible.
Thanks for reading and supporting us. We appreciate all of you very much.
Comment Policy: You're down to leave a comment? That's awesome. Keep in mind that comments are moderated and rel="nofollow" is in use. Please avoid any spammy keywords or a domain as your name, otherwise your comment will be deleted. Let's stay on topic, keep questions relevant and have a meaningful conversation. All the best.