Plugins, plugins: my “go to” list | #sounddesign #mixing

I don’t know one sound designer, mixer or producer that does not love plugins. We’re always talking about them, looking for new ones, worried about their upgrades….. and we are always asking each other: hey, what are the plugins you use? Which ones you like the best?

And, after a Twitter follower asked me about this (hey, Chris Miller, that’s you!), I decided to write a post about this: plugins. I know, it’s obvious but never occurred to me before.

Before I start talking about me, just want to share a similar article from The Sound Keep blog, called The Top 5 Must-Have Plugins for Sound Designers: a nice post about the plugins Jeremy Rogers uses to create his sounds and libraries. Good stuff there.

So, lets start.

FabFilter ProQ-2 | EQ (mix and sound design): a great, great, great eq. It’s clear, natural screenshot_pro-q_fullsounding (doesn’t color at all), up to 24 bands and has some amazing features (linear and natural phase modes, mid-side processing, band solo mode, EQ mach feature via sidechain, and much more). Really the best EQ I’ve used in a long time.

Waves SSL G | EQ (mix): some people told me that the UAD and Slate Digital are better but I have never used them. So, for me, it’s the best SSL eq I know. The best feature of this plugin is that it adds some “air” that sometimes is not there, when you eq the top end. It’s great for vocals, guitars and overheads.

Waves PuigTec | EQ (mix): the EQP-1A is an amazing eq for lot’s of instruments, but specially for snares. It can give that hump and the high end that it needs on many occasions, without making is sound confusing and too harsh.

Logic X | EQ (sound design): it’s clear, it’s free, easy to use, doesn’t color the sound, has mid-side processor and has a good pre/post analyser. For simple tasks, is my go to EQ (when I’m working on Logic, of course).

Waves H-Comp | Compressor (mix and sound design): it’s a great compressor for general use: bass, kick, guitars, keys…. when you don’t want to color the sound too much, but wants a good compressor with many options and possibilities, this is it.

1176 | Compressor (mix): there are a lot emulations from this classic hardware, and the one I like the most is the UAD version. Unfortunately I don’t won a UAD hardware, but I do have the Waves version, and it’s pretty good. I use specially for overheads, guitars uad_fairchild_670and vocals. Because it’s kind of aggressive sounding (adds brightness and presence, “energy”) It’s not a general use compressor, but works great when you want to push something up on the mix.

Fairchild | Compressor (mix and sound design): another classic hardware with lots of versions. And, again, the UAD is on the top. Sounds amazing, and adds harmonics to the low end that makes you hear that bass you want to heard even on small speakers. I explained this on the post “All about that bass that you hear, but isn’t really there“.

Logic X (Platinum Mode) | Compressor (sound design): a free, good, clear and easy to use compressor for that simple task you need, without using too much of your’s computer processor. Its graphic analyser is great to see the compressor working on the sound, specially for this starting on the business.

Audio Ease Altiverb 7 | reverb (mix and sound design): simply the best convolution reverb available. It sounds amazing, has a lot of stock IRs and you can change the “space” you loaded to fit your needs in many ways. If I had to take only one reverb to a desert island, this would be the chosen one.Altiverb7-large

Lexicon PCM Reverb | reverb (mix and sound design): the best plate reverb plugin I’ve used (maybe along with UAD 140) is in this bundle. This plate sounds as good as a hardware one (I’ve tested and compared, I can guarantee). For vocals, is THE reverb, but you can use in many other ways.

SoundToys Echoboy | delay (mix and sound design): a great delay for doing crazy stuff. Specially on guitars and vocals. Also, simulates really well some guitar pedals, like the Memory Man.

Waves H Delay | delay ( mix and sound design): great for everyday use, and you can also do some experimental things with it (due to the variable pitch delay time behavior and the Infinite feedback support). It’s ping-pong mode is really great!

Waves SoundShifter (sound design): as a sound designer, it’s not recommended to take a sound from a commercial library and add to you project without working on it (it will sound generic). So, one of the things you do is to pitch shift it, and this is the plugin I use to do this. It’s light, easy to use and sounds good. What do we need more, right?

Sonnox Oxford Limiter (mix and sound design): a. great. limiter. period. Specially for music, but works well on any material. Simple to use, good metering, sounds clean.

Of course, this is not the only ones I use. It depends a lot on what I’m trying to reach, the sound I’m looking for. This is my basic “go to” collection, but there’s always the time when you need a different thing to get that sound: maybe a distortion, maybe a MaxxBass (Waves) to achieve that bottom end, or maybe just the Clariphonic to give life to a dead sounding soundtrack or voice over.

The important thing is (and this maybe cliché, but it’s true): before thinking plugins, think sound. Know the sound you’re trying to achieve, and then look for the tool that will get it done. Plugins are just tools and resources. The most important thing is the sound in the end.

If you have anything to suggest, I would love to hear. I’m always searching for new stuff!

Hope you enjoyed 🙂

Mauricio Ruiz – 


One thought on “Plugins, plugins: my “go to” list | #sounddesign #mixing

  1. Pingback: The Myths of Compressors | #mixing #mixtechnique #audiogear | Audio & Music

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