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What are your favorite plugins?


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Since some of us are DAW (Digita Audio Workstation) users I thought this would be a cool topic for us to share some info with one another since it's impossible to try all the plugins out there.

Be sure to list your system format and plugin type!

I'm using a Pro-tools LE System on Windows so I hve RTAS plugins

Here is a favorite of mine:

Sampletank 2XL - an awesome program with amazing sample of intruments that you can play via midi controller (I use a Yamaha P-60 digital piano). It has drum kits, voices, organs, basses, pianos, sitars, strings and every other thing you can think of. Almost every sounds parameters are completely controllable. I'm a novice user at best, but even I can get some amazing tones out of it.

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I use the Waves Trueverb plugin (Sonar 3, Windows XP) on damn near everything.

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I'll be interested to see some of the answers here. I have a Pro Tools LE Mbox system here at school, but haven't received the necessary computer upgrades to install it. I've heard that the Antares Auto-Tune plug-in is good. I have the rack unit, though, so I won't be buying the software version. If anyone here knows much about the installation process, shoot me an email or pm. I need some info, but don't want to hijack the thread. Now, let those who possess the knowledge let if flow freely for the interested masses!

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Guitar Rig (on Sonar 3 PE for Windows.) Excellent cab sims. With the right monitors you can get away without any guitar amps in the studio if need be. Very elegant.

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Vinyl by Izotope. It's a combination of a compressor, hig-and low-pass filters, amp model, and noise generator that simulates the sound of a vinyl record. Use it very subtly, with no noise, to warm up a recording by compressing and equing it, or crank it up so your song sounds like an old Edison record.

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Perhaps we should move the DAW discussions to the outer circle?

Anyway, as long as we're here...

I use Waves plug-ins on the MAS platform, as well as the MAS plugs MOTU bundles with Digital Performer.

Waves

I love the Waves Rennaissance EQ and Rennaissance Compressor. I usually go outboard for reverb, but I'll use both the MOTU and Waves delay plugs. I also like the Waves Enigma plug when I'm looking for unusual modulation effects.

The Waves stuff is great. It has gotten expensive over the years...I'm glad I started small a few years ago and then took advantage of various upgrade offers to get the full Gold package.

-Jonathan

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I use the Kjaerhus Audio EQ and compressor, and the Sonalksis EQ, compressor as well as multiband dynamics plugins on most tracks. On some vocal tracks I use Voxengo Voxformer. The Kjaerhus and Sonalksis stuff adds a little magic to anything you use it on, like running your signal through high end analog gear.

Since I got Cubase SX3, I'm back to using rack reverbs. They sound better than any of the plugin reverbs I had. But since then I've gotten SIR, Pristine Space lite and Glaceverb. I'll probably use those as well as the hardware units.

Matt, I've debated getting PowerCore just so I can use the Oxford EQ and dynamics. Between PowerCore and those plugins, that's quite a bit of cash, but we guitarists are always obsessed with getting the best tone possible, so the Oxford plugs are definitely somehting to budget for.

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Paul, I've demo'ed Ozone and was really impressed. I was thinking of getting it in the next couple of weeks until I read the thread yesterday with the comments about pro mastering.

It's one of those situations where you're GAS'ing for something really bad, and then all of a sudden you can't decide if it's the best use of your hard earned $$. It puts your whole life into a tailspin.

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Glade Vanilla Breeze.

I second this one. thats funny!

I have the UAD-1 with all the plug-ins except about 2 of the most recent ones and I like it a lot. I have tons diff plugs from Waves etc. so this gonna sound weird.

I think people (myself included) use them first instead of fixing things with arrangement or intrumentation changes and its one of the biggest problems in music.

We are trying to fix it in the mix more than ever and it doesnt work never will. I havent seen the plugin yet that will turn a bad song in to a good one although I have heard plenty of great sounding shitty songs. HA!

And I realize that people might think this topic should move to the outter circle but I think that as long as the topic is musical or hamer can be involved it can stay right here.

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I use Digital Performer and have several plugins. Out of all of them, my favorite plugin is the PSP Vintage Warmer. I don't think there is a more versatile plugin on the market.

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Well said, Ted! The editting power you have when recording to a computer is great, which makes it great if you're recording a friend's band that kinda sucks, but it's always better to have a great song and get great tone and before it hits the "tape".

We guitarists are all about getting great guitar tone, and I also think a discussion on plugins is relevant to that.

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I agree, Ted. Oddly, when I mix the stuff I record, I try to strip away plug-ins and EQ as I go, and try to only compress and 'verb the overall mix. I ALWAYS end up, in mixing, going down to just a couple modulation things like a little flange on a drum part and some vocal compression.... then apply a multiband compressor to the overall mix and a add little overall room reverb. So often, less is more and simply panning the guitars a little differently or removing a part to let other parts "breathe" beats adding another gizmo.

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Paul, I've demo'ed Ozone and was really impressed. I was thinking of getting it in the next couple of weeks until I read the thread yesterday with the comments about pro mastering.

It's one of those situations where you're GAS'ing for something really bad, and then all of a sudden you can't decide if it's the best use of your hard earned $$. It puts your whole life into a tailspin.

Professional mastering (and the good set of objective ears that comes with it) is always a good idea. If I was going to put a CD directly into the stores, I would have someone else master it.

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This is the last thread I need to be reading. As a hack on several instruments, I already have to deal with guitar, amp, bass and drum GAS. I do NOT need plug-in GAS.

Luckily, I like big, dumb, dry rock recordings. I get by OK with just the basic stuff that came with my Pro-Tools LE setup. Mainly just EQ and a little compression and verb here and there.

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I agree, Ted. Oddly, when I mix the stuff I record, I try to strip away plug-ins and EQ as I go, and try to only compress and 'verb the overall mix. I ALWAYS end up, in mixing, going down to just a couple modulation things like a little flange on a drum part and some vocal compression.... then apply a multiband compressor to the overall mix and a add little overall room reverb. So often, less is more and simply panning the guitars a little differently or removing a part to let other parts "breathe" beats adding another gizmo.

My basic approach to mixing is this:

Start out just setting levels and pan. Just do enough so you can figure out what you're working with. If the performance is lackluster, just scrap this take and start again.

If the take is a keeper, listen for clutter and try to resolve it using panning/level first. If that doesn't do it, figure out which parts are clashing and decide which is more important. Apply EQ and compression to cut/compress the secondary parts. If that still doesn't do the trick, start boosting key frequencies on the dominant part. On rare occasions I'll automate volumes or apply a ducker to clean up a train-wreck.

When layering guitars I like to band-pass filter different parts to give them their own frequency space. My bass player has a really punchy tone, so I often high-pass the guitars and then cut the bands where the top end of the bass is to give it its own space. I'm amazed how many recordings I hear where there's so much stacked up in the low frequencies that it just sounds like mush.

My vocal mic technique sucks, so I always compress the hell out of the vocals.

Once I've gotten everything in its own place I look for parts that need emphasis. I'll often punch up the snare and kick by either emphasising certain frequencies, or if I really need more punch I'll double them with a sample. Sometimes I'll put some delay on the drums to generate a synchopated backbeat, but otherwise I rely on the room ambience for the drums and don't apply reverb.

At that point I just listen for anything else the song needs and tinker...experiment.

Then...walk away. Don't listen for a couple of days. Approach it again with fresh ears.

If I'm going to send out the project for mastering I don't apply anything to the final mix. I don't even trim the beginning or apply the fades. The mastering engineer can do all that, and I don't want to make his job harder by making him undo what I thought was a good idea at the time.

It's fun playing with all this stuff. It helps to have an overall goal for the project before starting in on mixing. On my band's first album I was going for a cleaner, "studio" sound. On the second album we went for a more raw sound. No use sweating the details until you understand the big picture.

-Jonathan

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