8 Essential Plug-ins
These plug-ins, alongside what you get with your main DAW software, should easily cope with pretty much anything thrown at you. Whether you’re tracking, writing or mixing, these all help get on the way,
...and they're not all as expensive as you may think...
1. Antares | Auto-Tune from $129 - or Celemony | Melodyne - From £129
- ok, nothing new here! These days we need to have dedicated tuning software of some sort. Yes, the Auto-Tune sound is familiar but there are many versions like Auto-Tune EFX and Auto-Tune LIVE to the full version. Should you want to tune by a slightly more subtle and creative way then Melodyne may be your thing. It allows vast tuning and timing control with the ability to re-create new harmonies and melodies. Most DAW's come with something for dealing with out of tune vocals these days anyway, even cut down versions of the above - which is why I suggest getting either / or, pretty essential these days...whether we like it or not!
2. Sonnox | Codec Toolbox - £35
- No excuse to provide poorly coded Mp3’s or AAC files, and especially without any Metadata. The Codec Toolbox from Sonnox provides High-Quality conversion and embedded within the file ISRC codes and catalogue numbers. Artist and composer information can be added, it’s a simple and effective plug-in that doesn’t cost the earth, but adds a level of professionalism to your end result.
3. SoundRadix | Auto-Align - $149
- I’m a fan of 'phasing' as an effect - but not when it’s in my source material! Auto-Align helps massively when using muti-mic’d drumkits, or guitar amps - anything where more than one mic has been used on a recording. A simple but effective plug-in that helps your audio sound as tight as it should do.
4. Wavesfactory | Trackspacer 2.0 - $59
- A great little plug-in which really allows you to create space in tracks. Effectively TrackSpacer 2.0 is using a side change input from what track you want to create space alongside. Frequencies can be chosen, and it's simple to suddenly have extra space by turning the dial especially if tracks are busy or building up around the same EQ areas.
5. Synchro Arts | VocALign Project - £238.90
- If R'n'B backing vocals are your thing - then you’re probably already using this! For aligning and tightening vocal double tracks, harmonies, backing vocals, even harmony guitar parts, this is the plug-in for you. A simple way of using a source piece of audio and then aligning the target audio to the timing of it works wonders. For Voice Over and Dialogue users as well VocALign is an essential plug-in.
6. Sample Magic | Magic AB - £34.90
- An essential plug-in by Sample Magic for comparing your session against other tracks. Rather than importing to spare tracks, just bring the required target material into Magic AB where you can drop this on the master buss and compare and match volumes between them. Ok, it may not get you totally there against Mastered Releases, but it certainly helps the focus and raises your own game.
7. Blue Cat Audio | FreqAnalyst - FREE
- Nothing better than checking your mix through a high-quality spectrum analyser. Blue Cat Audio FreqAnalyst is one of the best, and it’s free. Essential.
8. Slate Digital | VMR - From £129
- If you’ve never demoed the Slate Virtual Mix Rack, then you really should. Probably the biggest change to mine and many other engineers workflow has come by using this plug-in. No more opening many insert windows as all the Slate plug-ins load within the VMR in one window. Choosing the type of EQ, compression and enhancement has never been simpler with processor chains simply created. The Slate Virtual Console Collection can also be added to run within the same Mix Rack and the new Slate Custom Series Bundle along with much more in their design pipeline. Probably one of the best sounding complete bundles available. There may be other plug-ins that you use alongside or supplement, but if I had to start completely afresh today, this would be my first purchase. Essential.