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Top 10 Plug Ins

Ernest Buckley

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Hey Gang,


Now that plug ins are getting to a point where they are very close to the hardware counterparts, I feel it would be productive to share some plug ins that we use often with success. I`ve always been reluctant to download free plugs from folks I don`t know so I apologize if this list is limited to mostly Waves, Soundtoys, and UAD... anyway, I`ll just go down the list from the 10th most used/favorite to the most used... here we go.


10) Waves Abbey Road Plates... got this on sale for $59 bucks a while back. Use it mostly on the drums Aux to give the kit some space. Sometimes I throw it on an entire mix just to give everything more space as well. (EDIT: I absolutely love the UAD EMT 140. It has replaced the Waves Abbey Road. The comparison I would make is, the EMT 140 is lush, 3D like, and detailed; whereas the Waves is 2D and lacks the lushness).


9) Soundtoys Decapitator and the Klanghelm IVGI... both plugs add harmonic distortion. The Klanghelm is free. I use it mostly on individual tracks to add some character.


8) Soundtoys Little Plate... got this one for free this pass Thanksgiving. Honestly, I love this plate. Its so simple and sounds so friggin` good.


7) Waves Renaissance... I`m a big fan of this collection, especially the EQ and compressor. I use the EQ on guitars a lot and the compressor gets used on bass, vocals, some times drums.


6) Waves H Comp / H Delay... another collection from Waves that I got for free but is used on lots of tracks. What I love mostly about the compressor is the mix button. I think plugs should all include a mix button... it just makes such a difference. The H Delay is my first choice for delay...


5) UAD ATR-102... very few plugs can have this much affect on a track. I use the ATR on my stereo buss and could not be happier. Its one of those plugs that you put on a track and wonder how you worked without it.


4) UAD Studer A800... love this plug on individual tracks and on the stereo buss. Love it especially on drums where it adds some bump to the low end and softens the top end.


3) UAD Massive Passive... I use this for mastering... of all the EQs I`ve used, this is the one I use and love the most. It just has such a gentle way of massaging the mix.


2) UAD Classic Limiter Collection... these compressors rock my world. If you had to go with one collection for compression, this is the one. Not sure what else to say, it works wonderfully on vocals, bass, individual drum tracks, etc...


1) UAD SSL 4000 E Channel... I put this first because I track mostly through it now thanks to Unison technology. This is where the sound starts for me. I really love the EQ on it and of course, the pre itself.


What are your Top 10 plugs?

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A few that come to mind are below:


Fabfilter Pro-Q 2


It's just simply one of the most flexible and visually intuitive equalizers out there, and it sounds great.


UAD SSL 4000 Bus Compressor


I know of few things that can glue a track together better than this, and I love that 80's/90's sound.


Waves or UAD 1176 emulations


I use the cheap and cheerful versions as opposed to the newer, hungrier editions, but I find that either brand captures the 1176 tonalities quite well. Of all vintage compressors, I find myself using the 1176 most.


Klanghelm VUMT


A low-cost virtual VU meter, this is a must have (for me) for recording. I love checking levels with it, in addition to using Cubase's built in meters.


PSP Lexicon PSP 42 and PSP85


Great classic delays...


UAD EMT-140, EMT-250, AKG BX-20, and Lexicon 224 reverbs


A great collection of reverbs all around. I love the BX-20 on snares and side stick.


UAD Precision EQ and Precision Limiter


This is the final stage of my mastering chain, and I love them both. Sometimes I'll slap the Ampex ATR in the chain for added glue.




The plugin that intrigues me the most right now is the UAD Empirical Labs Distressor, but I don't need another compressor right now.





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Since this seems to be pertaining to audio effects (not creative effects or synths)



1. iZotope Ozone

I mean, 'nuff said.


2. Fab filter

Doesn't distort.


3. Valhalla reverbs

sound good


4. Sausage fattener

Simple, good sounding distortion


5. WOW filter

Does a lot, good in automation.


6. NI Transient shaper

Simple, gets the job done.






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  • 4 months later...
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Funny, almost all I use is free stuff. Amazing what's out there.


- OB-xd: great Oberheim synth

- Azurite: nothing fancy, I just like their reverb

- Voxengo: "OldSkool" reverb

- Neo Piano: nice Yamaha C7 grand piano sim

- MT Power Drum


Of course this doesn't count the stuff that comes with the DAW. Most give some incredible "built in" stuff.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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In terms of plug-in effects I think my favourite or most frequently used would be:


1) Waves SSL E-Channel

-Very versatile channel strip, can be useful for any kind of track, EQ and workflow is very intuitive. Analog-style EQ forces you rely more on your ears rather than looking at a graph. Low CPU usage.


2) Valhalla VintageVerb

-Very simple to dial in the type of reverb sound you want. Presets can already get you 50% of the way there, just tweak it to taste


3) CLA Classic Compressors by Waves

-Again, another simple to use solution with a good sound. With fewer controls it forces you dial in a sound quicker


4) Waves H-Delay

-Although I just use it subtly, it can easily liven up a dry vocal recording. Fast workflow


5) Drum Shaper by XLN Audio

-Probably one of the most useful plug-ins you can use for live drum recording as well as drum samples. Can be used to liven up a drum sample or cleanup and control a live drum recording in non-ideal acoustic environments.

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