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Recommended processing plugins

What kind of VSTs do you recommend, anything from synth sound creation to mastering and EQ, paid or unpaid?

Benjamin 

Benjamin, earlier I shared my favorite synthesizers — be sure to check this out because it answers the half of your question.

And since I’ve already written about the synths, in this post I’ll go over my favorite processing plugins.

First of all, I’m a happy Ableton user, and most devices I use are built-in: compressor, limiter, equalizers, filters, delays, chorus, beat repeater, bit crusher, and more. Ableton team did an amazing job on making most of their built-in devices so good, and this is yet another reason why I love Ableton.

This is why the list of my 3rd-party plugins I use is really short comparing to what I see on other producers.

Replika by Native Instruments

Replika by Native Instruments. Reverberator and delay hybrid. Price — $49. I’ve downloaded this plugin for free when NI gave as a Christmas gift, just to check how it sounds like. Turned out it has a really nice potential especially for some creative kind of reverb and delay. Love it. Although it’s not free anymore, the quality of the reverb is very decent.

Supercharger by Native Instruments

Supercharger by Native Instruments. Price — $49. Tube compressor. This plugin has very similar story to me as basically downloaded it for free at some of the NI’s giveaways. In general, I’m not a fan of such simplified plugins with a big “make better” knob, but in this case it works pretty well when you don’t want to tweak attack and release of the compressor for too long and just quickly get a result.

Pro-Q by FabFilter

Pro-Q by FabFilter. Price — €149. Equalizer. This is probably the most profound equalization tool I’ve seen so far, it’s useful for both production and especially for mastering. I have to admin that I still use Ableton’s built-in EQ more often, but when I need some more precise and complex equalization, I use this one.

Saturn by FabFilter

Saturn by FabFilter. Price — €129. Saturator and distortion. Yet another great tool from FabFilter, I like that it allows to saturate the signal very gently.

Oszillos Mega Scope by Ben Schulz

Oszillos Mega Scope by Ben Schulz. Price — €20. Oscilloscope. Great tool for finding conflict frequency areas, especially handy in a kick and bass combination. The best thing about this plugin is the ability to work on multiple channels without any routing.

SPAN by Voxengo

SPAN by Voxengo. Free. Spectrum Analyzer. Pretty much the same as Ableton’s spectrum, expect one thing — SPAN can have up to 8 signals at one instance, which is very handy for finding conflict areas. Although, it requires some quite complicated routing to make it work properly.

BitterSweet by Flux

BitterSweet by Flux. Free. Transient shaper. A tiny tool that you probably won’t use everyday, but it can be handy in some occasions.

Added in 2017

LFO Tool by Xfer

LFO Tool by Xfer. Price — $49. A multi-purpose wave shaper. I discovered this plugin very recently but it instantly became one of favourite ones.

That’s pretty much it! Most other plugins I use are Ableton built-in devices.

Fellow producers, what’s your favorite processing plugins? What would you recommend and why? Post in the comments below.

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This post is a part of the “Advice” series. I’m happy to advise on such topics as music production, sound design, performance, management, marketing, and career advice in the music industry and beyond. Send me your questions, too.

3 comments
F1END

As a Live user, I agree with Daniel, the built-in effects have most things covered, but  I’m a sucker for free plugins.

The ones I keep going back to are:

Ambience – Reverb
Limiter6 – Compressor and Limiter
TDR Nova – Dynamic Equalizer

Also, one of the few I have bought is Infected Mushroom Pusher by Waves. It’s basically an “exciter”, but with some other great features.

If you’re looking for a free synth, Synth1 is one of the best there is. Another good one is Tal Noisemaker.

Hope that helps.

Bourian Boubbov

Hi Daniel,
First, many thanks for your generosity
in offering your time to all fellow producers out there and for sharing your knowledge. Good work!!

Megascope is a new one for me and it looks top, but
ProQ and Saturn are Desert Island staples for me. Saturn is a huge part of my bass drum/bass sound. And so is ProQ. Actually I have Saturn on everything if I need warmth, crunch or weirdnes. ( Try the smudge preset from the drop down menu, guys!)
Cableguys. Everything. Shaperbox is another desert island plugin. FabFilter Volcano!
Synths... Just discovering Serum...
I love the Wavestation. I had the hardware thing and I know it inside out. I love the Logic ES2. Immensly deep flexibility. Great for that chippy sharp Psybass attack! LuSH-101 is amazing. So is Aalto! SoundGuru has great synths. U-HE..top stuff. I like tge Looks of Spire and the new fxPansion synth ( forgot the name)
Loving IRIS and Falcon. Falcon is insane but at the end of the day or should I say at the beginning, when I am burning with something I wanna put down to, ehm digits, sound or melody.. I need to go superfast or I lose it sometimes or lose the path, you know. So I guess it’s more of a sound designer’s machine for moments when you are not “working” on a song. ( disclaimer: I need to sit down and learn the thing!!) Cableguys curve is great for additive stuff. NI FM8, Absynth. Loving the sound of kv331 SynthMaster One. However I have to totally agree with you, a few synths, even one ( oh, boy, did I say that?!) that you know really well and you’re much more productive AND creative really!
Keep up the good work!
Loving your album! Some unusual bassdrums in there :0>

Daniel Lesden

Thanks for your inputs, guys!

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