Plugs: Must Haves?

Discussion in 'Microphones & Recording' started by Greg Malcangi, Oct 29, 2001.

  1. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Oct 12, 2000
    It's a bit quiet around here so I thought this spark things up a bit:

    There has been quite a lot of talk about ADCs and clocking issues but there is another very important factor in making your PT setup sound like a professional tool, the plug ins. There are hundreds out there and the vast majority sound crap! So here is my personal preference for quality sound:

    EQ - McDSP's Filterbank has been king of the hill for quite a while but from all reports the Sony Oxford EQ is a whole new step up in sound quality.

    Compression - The Bomb Factory compressors and the Waves C4 (multi-band) have been the best but again, after the EQ, there is anticipation of the soon to be released Sony Compressor plug. For ease of use and fairly good sound quality Waves' Renaisance Vox and Bass are worth a mention.

    Multi Effects - For a couple of years and still the best, Wave Mechanic's PitchBlender.

    Reverb - DigiDesign's own Reverb One raised the stakes for plug in reverb and there is still nothing out there to touch it in the plugin world. There aren't even that many outboard boxes that can compare. Kind Of Loud's RealVerb is worth a mention as the best surround reverb plug.

    Delay/Echo - Line 6 Echo Farm is still the best. The Digi Rack delay/echo is usable and Waves Supertap has some useful features. This area is a little overdue for a big step up in quality, IMHO.

    Dither/Mastering - Waves' L2 plug pretty much blows everything else away. Rich, clean sound even with lots of compression. Other contenders are the built in PoW-R and Waves L1 Ultramaximiser.

    Guitar Effects - Line 6 Amp Farm caused a stir on it's release and is a useful plug to have around. Not good enough to replace the real thing though.

    Exciters - In both the analog outboard world and the plug in world there has always been only one dominant force: Aphex Aural Exciter. The plug doesn't sound quite so sweet as the outboard though.

    Synth Plugs - Bruno and Reso are usable tools although I believe Virus is currently regarded as the best.

    Pitch Shifting - Don't do this very often so I'm not too sure. Serato has a good name but the Digi Rack pitch changer really sucks! A couple of years ago I heard a number of pitch plugs side by side. The Serato Pitch & Tune sounded the best on vocals but not on some instruments.

    Others - Although I haven't heard it, I believe McDSP's Analog Channel is worth looking at. A lot of people swear by Metric Halo's Channel Strip. I personally don't think it sounds very good but it is useful if you are running a bit short on DSP.

    Anyone agree/disagree or want to add to the list?

  2. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    I was counting on Digi's booth at AES this year to peep the new generation of plugs. Guess I'll have to do some actual work now. This sucks.
  3. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    I bet all the plug in guys will have their own rigs set up to demo the newer stuff, Sony Oxford will be there I belive.

    I agree WITH ALL of Gregs suggestions!

    I would add that the Bomb Factory Fairchild, 1176 and Pultec plug ins are also excelent.

    Anyone had a hand the Renaisance de-esser? I found the earlier version from waves wanting...I would love to hear about the new version.
  4. stedel

    stedel Guest

    I really like the plug that comes out of the computer and when you switch the power on you can boot up.
    Other than that I've been following sound quality issues on (shh----other forums-----)and am looking foreward to hearing what people think of newer stuff like the Sony plug ins after thay've sat with them for a while.I think I read that Julian had beta status with the GML plug in, so let's mix.I'm following all this with keen interest by the way as it's helping me decide my own system.
    which, BTW, leads me to the post I'm about to put up.Kind regards :cool:
  5. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Oct 12, 2000
    Hi Jules,

    I have used the renaisance de-esser. It's very simple to use and did a good enough job. I can't say it was spectacularly good or spectacularly bad. I never used the old version so I can't compare.

    Isn't there a demo available?

  6. droog

    droog Active Member

    Nov 3, 2001
    i find mcdsp's compressorbank to be quite excellent also (as well as the rest of their stuff)

    newcastle, oz
  7. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Oct 12, 2000
    Hi Max,

    Yep, the Compressorbank is certainly worth a mention. Especially compared to the many compressor plugs out there that sound truely awful! I personally prefer the Bomb Factory compressors but granted there's not a lot in it.

    Although the Compressorbank and the Bomb Factory compressors are very usable, I have to say that there is no compressor plug out there that really sets my ears on fire. Maybe I've got unrealistic expectations but I'm hoping the Sony compressor will raise the stakes.

  8. Irene

    Irene Guest

    I would put a vote in on the 'other's' category for Digi's Lo-Fi and Sci-Fi. They really can do some interesting stuff if you like dirt and twist.
    Agree with your views generally Greg.
    It would be great to have a strong intuitive delay plug-in however I should explore the TimeBlender more before moaning on....
    Channelstrip sounds tinny to me a bit like Master X can but thinner.
    If we are counting RTAS (and soon HTDM) too, Native Instruments have some really excellentplug-ins

    I've hopped over from Jules' hi,

  9. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Oct 12, 2000
    Hi Renie,

    Thanks for joining in! I haven't played around with Digi's Lo-Fi or Sci-Fi, after your reccommendation though when I've got some more free time I'll give it a bash.

    TimeBlender has some nice effects, definately worth playing about with. I wouldn't say it was particularly intuitive though! I'm hoping someone will come out with a killer delay plug, I think we're overdue.

  10. Eric Bazilian

    Eric Bazilian Distinguished Member

    Dec 23, 2000
    McDSP is generally pretty hard to beat for most things. A friend and I (who have fairly dissimilar sonic tastes) did a knock-down drag-out shoot out involving RenComp, Focusrite, Bombfactory and CompBank and agreed that, although all the above had their own color/character, Compressor Bank was the most transparent and flexible of them (though I still always go for my Daking hardware compressor at home). Filter Bank is pretty terrific as well, though the interface is a tad tiresome at times.

    I did bite the bullet and buy the Sony Oxford which I must admit has raised the bar in terms of "respectable" sonic quality, though I still do find myself going for some of the FB presets fairly often.

    The most conspicuously absent here are the indispensible DaD Tape and DaD Valveplug-insmade by DuY. Without these two I would never have bought my first Pro Tools system, in fact. Valve adds a serious and pleasing fatness to everything, though it must be used in moderation. Tape does really sound, in fact, like the tape machines that it models. I'm also using McDSP's Analog Channel a good bit lately, mostly AC2, which is the tape modeller. Again, on close comparison it really is a more transparent plug, though it has so much flexibility that it is real easy to mess up a good mix real badly. I generally just slap on the "80's 2-track" preset of DaD Tape (which seems to be an emulation of an Ampex ATR 1/2" machine) at either 15 or 30 virtual ips.
  11. ckevperry

    ckevperry Active Member

    Nov 7, 2001
    I'm with Greg on compressors. Nothings does it for me, and it is a big gap for me with PT. The EQ's (especially now with Sony) have been very usable in my mind but never compression. Even my RNC will put that magic on something far better than the best compresor plug.
  12. Irene

    Irene Guest

    The Sony compressor has a lot of hopes riding on it's little back. Considering it's in use by some already it's not making the waves (sorry Waves :D !!) that the Sony EQ has.

    Channelstrip is making a fashion come back-why don't you like it much Greg?.

    The new logic EPIC TDM bundle could be the answer to my delay truoubles as I really like their tape delay plug-in, and a couple of the others, some are quite thin sounding to me though. Will TDM internal math improve their sound-I can't see Emagic wanting that??!!

  13. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Oct 12, 2000
    Hi Renie,

    << Considering it's in use by some already it's not making the waves (sorry Waves !!) that the Sony EQ has. >>

    That's because the only people using it are beta testers. In order to become a beta tester you have to agree not to discuss any of the details of the product being tested. In other words you can't read anything into the lack of "waves" at this point in time.

    << Channelstrip is making a fashion come back-why don't you like it much Greg?. >>

    Maybe it's the style of music I'm making, but in my studio and despite many attempts, I've never encountered a situation where Channelstrip sounds as good as Bomb Factory compressors and McDSP Filterbank.

  14. ckevperry

    ckevperry Active Member

    Nov 7, 2001
    I don't doubt the compressor will be nice. I am betting on this because so many engineers come direct out of PT and mix on the sony boards...not for the mix bus they say, but for the EQ and compression.

    Plus, its not a bad feat for a company to "revitalize" protools with a single plugin. :)
  15. Produceher

    Produceher Distinguished Member

    Oct 27, 2001
    OK I own, or at least have tried just about every plug in available. I'm a creature of habit so here all the Plug ins I would HAVE to buy again if I had to start all over.

    My standard EQ is the Focusrite. I use it on Ac Guitars and Filtered loops and such. Never anything critical or surgical.

    For low end EQ it used to be Filterbank but the Pultec has replaced it. I think I just miss looking at the real thing. Kick, Snare & Bass

    For critical EQ the Sony Oxford wins hands down. Lead Vocals a must. Before this Plug, I would have to reprint the Ld Vox thru my Daking EQ.

    I agree with most as far as compressors. I used to put one in the start of a mix and then take it off before I was done. The best Vocal compressor for Pro Tools is the Fader. (Can't wait Sony)(The Oxford Console one is quite good. If used on Kick, Snare, Bass & Vocals - Pro Tools will be a true mixing enviroment)

    The exception is Channelstrip on the Stereo Bus. I made an SSL sounding preset which I've been using since day one. I've emailed this to about 150 people on the DUC and you can send me an email request for it. (I'm not bragging, I was just psyched to find this use)
    I then use TCMasterX moderately after the Channelstrip. I like what it does to the top end which means I can use less on the individual channels.

    Reverbs I think hardware still rules (have a Lex 300) although I haven't tried Reverb one.

    For delays I still prefer Digi's. I've always liked the PCM42 so I've never found a need for anything fancy.

    Special Stuff - Love the Virus, Bruno (only for Vocoder) Sound/Time Blender and Enigma for Wah. Amp Farm rules for special guitar. (Don't use it to replace a real tube amp) SansAmp is great for anything from Bass to Vocals.

    Serato Pitch & Tune is a must (although I try to use Beat Detective) Vari Fi for scratching.

    One other thing I've noticed is that I use almost no Waves Plug ins. When they first came out they were a must have. Over time I slowly stopped using all of them. I think they need to regroup. They (especially EQ) sound cheap to me. Like Mackie EQ.

    Also although I love the McDSP stuff, I agree with Eric Bazilian. Too many options makes it confusing. Instead of presets I prefer less knobs. I cut my teeth with Pultecs, Neves, LA2a's and LA3a's. Very few knobs gets good sounds quickly. That's just me.
  16. Produceher

    Produceher Distinguished Member

    Oct 27, 2001
    I almost forgot. I couldn't have gotton thru the last few years without Autotune.

    I'm hoping 2002 will be the year of everyone (including me) stop using this tool.

    At least maybe not using it in Automode. We could comp the vocal, hear 2 or 3 lines out of tune, then fix only those lines in graphic mode.

    Of course then you'll notice 2 more. And before you're done, you've done every line. (Oh well) :D

Share This Page