You might have read pieces I've written banging on about all the analog gear I use already so I just wanted to write a little something about my favourite plugins. I do my best to use as few as possible but plugins are extremely useful and very few studios can live without them. There are many that I’ve left off this short list but these seem to be the one I use every time.
PSP Vintage warmer.
My favourite compressor plugin, it also provides useful saturation effects. The beauty of this plugin is that it gives you a larger than life, beef, fulness. I use it on the elements of the mix that need to be the biggest. You can use it on everything or the mix ends up being too busy and there’s not enough space for everything. It is very versatile with the drive knob and it also has multi band modes and an EQ for the top and bottom and a brick wall limiter. It takes a little while to get used to as the controls are not like a normal compressor but once you’re used to it the sound is awesome.
Acustica Audio Nebula
I don’t know what Nebula is but it’s awesome. They have developed a different way of making plugins by sampling really hardware units somehow. No idea how but it works. Within nebula you have various different libraries which can be EQs, compressors, preamps, reverbs all kinds of things. This thing really really does get close to the feeling of analog. The 3 dimensionality that I’ve spoken about in other articles. It really is amazing but it is very hard work for the computer and it causes endless problems but somehow when you hear how it sounds you forget all the problems it gives. My favourite libraries: The Neve 5088 master bus, doc fear eq, german mastering console, n14, fate compressor.
Fabfilter pro L
This is my favourite software limiter. Works great as the final piece in the mastering chain. Makes things as loud as you want them while still keeping the perceived dynamics. I find it useful sometimes in the mix too. If something has a lot of dynamics that you want to control a bit then this can really help to do it in a transparent way without artefacts. As is the case with software compressors, if you ask them to do too much e.i. reducing the signal by lots of decibels then normally you can hear the compressor working and it doesn’t sound natural. That’s a big difference between software compression and analog compression, analog tends to be more transparent when compressing a lot. The way round this when using software compressors is to layer up the compressors with 2 or more plugins with each plugin doing a bit of the work and reducing by just a couple of dBs then the compression sounds more natural.
This is an emulation of a real valve passive equaliser which is usually used for mastering. To my ears it doesn’t sound like an analog equaliser but it still has a very special quality. It does something really cool to the top end and it has a mid/side matrix so you can process different elements in the stereo field. I usually use it for making things wider. If you add top end or some air to the side material and have more low mids in the middle you create a nice feeling of space. To me it’s not a very natural sounding plugin but I love it.
There are probably more plugins that I use all the time but I just thought I'd mention these. Check them out if you get the chance!