“Woah, what reverb is on those vocals?”.
In an ideal world, we’d all love to be able to respond to that question like this!
“It’s just 4 original 1957 EMT 140 Reverb Plates that I have located in a separate room out the back of my little bedroom studio, did you know each one weighs 170kgs?”.
But realistically, due to costs, space restrictions and the actual rarity of the vintage audio gear, only an elite few in the audio world have the pleasure of working with such incredible pieces of equipment, let alone owning them.
That is where the wonderful world of plug-ins enters the fray.
Plug-Ins allow us to be able to process our audio through complex algorithms that have been painstakingly and surprisingly accurately modelled off these beautiful but oft-expensive pieces of vintage audio equipment.
We’ve compiled a list of five of our favourite plug-ins and what we consider to be the best in their field!
Disagree? Do you have your own thoughts on what 5 plug-ins you can’t go without?
Share your thoughts and knowledge in the comments section below.
Compression/Limiting ”“ UAD – LA-2A
Compression is one of the most widely used tools in the audio production industry.
It can do a wide variety of things, from boosting more quiet parts of the signal, to trimming louder transients to provide a more rounded, smoother sound.
There are many incredible hardware compressors in the world but the iconic Teletronix LA-2A has long been a studio favourite.
Universal Audio has upgraded their original LA-2A plug-in and it’s an incredible improvement. They have chosen to model 3 different LA-2A’s to give the user more complete control and help them better achieve their desired sound.
Many professionals have been blown away by the accuracy of the processing achieved by Universal Audio and now you can achieve similar results to some of the most iconic vocal producers for a fraction of the price.
E.Q ”“ Fab Filter ”“ Pro Q2
Equalisation is the staple ingredient of achieving a clean, well defined mix.
Separating frequencies that clash allows your different parts to shine, even when all are being played together.
The FabFilter Pro Q2 is easily one the most forward thinking equalisers on the market.
Its mixture of simpleness and intuitiveness combine to make it an incredibly powerful but usable tool.
Adding a filter on your EQ band is as simple as clicking where you would like to add it on the GUI (graphic user interface).
Identifying where filters are needed is made even easier by the impressive frequency spectrum analyser, which is built in to the interface so you have a visual representation of all frequencies in your recording.
Therefore, with very little work you can identify which frequencies need to be cut and which need to be boosted to achieve an even mix.
Reverb ”“ WAVES – EMT 140
The famed Abbey Road EMT reverb plates ”“ we’d absolutely love to be able to have those sitting in our studio for when we need them but due to countless reasons, this is not a realistic possibility for many.
Fortunately, WAVES have painstaking modelled each of the four reverb plates, giving the user the option to choose between each of the four iconic plates on one single interface.
The four plates give the user a wealth of differing reverb options, providing an array of sounds ranging from 1 to 5.4 seconds.
Apart from the differing sonic qualities of the four plates, there are a host of other parameters to increase its flexibility:
– A drive control to set the THD characteristics of the in/out amplifiers and the plate sheet itself
– Ability to control the amount of analog noise and hum
– Four original bass cut positions to avoid rumbles (or increase them, if you’re into some deep drones)
– Crosstalk between the stereo inputs to get a stereo leak effect
Delay ”“ UA RE201 Roland Space Echo
Ranging from the melting warmth of a simple reverb to the scary unpredictability of an oscillating delay mess, the Roland Space Echo has cemented itself as a favourite for all audio adventurers out there.
Universal Audio have yet again done a fine job with the modelling. The Plug-In version is definitely a match for the original version but thankfully requires less servicing.
Although the interface looks rather confusing on the surface, once you start scratching you soon realise how much fun you can actually have with this plug in.
You can add a warm, dripping reverb sound to your vocals by utilising the spring reverb modelling or you can get as extreme as you want, adding modulating delays to your guitars.
Saturation/Overdrive ”“ Fab Filter Saturn
This is the plug we turn to if we’re not quite happy with some of our sounds. If we find one of the stock instruments E.G a simple soft synth is sounding a little too ”˜stock’ we just dial in some gain on the Saturn and it can transform it sonically into something completely unique sounding.
It’s excellent to automate on your soft synth to achieve a sweeping crunchy lead sound and the modulation parameters can help provide some old analogue warmth.
When dialled in correctly, it can have a lovely boosting effect on vocal tracks, which can completely transform the sound of your mix.
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Content provided by the Team At Studios 301