The market is filled with useful and inspiring plugins for the user to take advantage of. It’s quite important to find your own “Top 10” because those are the ones you’ll be coming back to. A lot.
Here I have listed my favorite music production software plugins, which I use in a recurring fashion. They are in no specific order.
1. Native Instruments KONTAKT
KONTAKT is everything that one could desire for sampling. It’s the ultimate sampler. You can purchase third party instrument or drum libraries for it or create your own. The default library that comes with KONTAKT is quality. You can modulate any parameter within KONTAKT which makes it truly a modular sampler. It requires a little effort to get to know KONTAKT, but is well worth it.
2. Soundtoys EchoBoy
Analog delays, chorusing, flanging, reverbs, saturation… You name it. Soundtoys Echoboy is a multi-effects box hidden under the name of a delay. The sound is amazing, analog and dirty if needed. EchoBoy models the sound of a bunch of classic hardware delay boxes, as well as tape. I’m wondering if I ever need another delay in my life.
3. Soundtoys PanMan
PanMan provides the classic automatic panning effects that sweep audio between the left-right axis. Is something too centered and dull? Got it. Need some movement? No problem. The concept of PanMan is simple, but very effective.
4. Fabfilter Pro-Q 2
The desert island EQ. FabFilter Pro-Q 2 provides everything anyone could ever need in an EQ. Spectrum analysis, frequencies in note values, 6dB to 96dB/octave filter slopes and mid/side processing are just a scratch on the surface. Did I mention the sound quality on this thing? I’m especially fond of the new Natural Phase processing mode, which matches the phase response of analog EQ’ing.
5. PSP McQ
Inspired by analog classic EQs, the McQ delivers that sound. I love this thing for general track tone-shaping and cutting, which seem to make my instruments “sit” in the mix just the way I want them to. PSP McQ has a very nice color to it, which I’m especially fond of for vocals.
6. Slate Digital Virtual Console Collection
Slate Digital’s VCC is a bit of a luxury. It models the signal path of classic mixing consoles’ channel and mixbuss. VCC is great for mixing. When you put things through it, the effect is certainly subtle but if you know what you are looking for, it’s there. Do you need it? Generally, it might not be the most important plugin to reach for. But if you’re an analog nut like me, you’ll certainly value and love it.
7. Valhalla VintageVerb
Valhalla makes some great plugins. And they go for cheap. I have tried lots of reverbs, and always find myself tweaking them in order to fit an element into the mix. With VintageVerb, it always happens quickly. I find myself tweaking less and finding the sound I want from a reverb. My instruments just tend to “sit” better in my tracks when processed with some VintageVerb flavor.
8. Waves CLA-2A
Definitely not a go-to, Swiss army knife compressor, but the CLA-2A rocks. Modeled after the legendary LA-2A Leveling Amplifier, it’s my favorite analog style compressor. The way this thing “grabs” whatever you put through it is like no other. I use it on melodic instruments mainly, but my favorite applications would be piano and vocals. Best of all, there are only two main knobs, which makes my grandma able to use it.
9. Waves MetaFlanger
The MetaFlanger is a classic Waves effect. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But when it does, you know why this thing is so good. Soft, deep, evolving sounds for days. It’s my favorite on long, sustaining sounds. Could work wonders on a bassline as well.
10. Brainworx bx_meter
All the effects aside, let’s not forget about proper metering. Brainworx bx_meter has everything you could ask for in a metering plugin. Stereo balance and correlation, peak, RMS and dynamic range values, K-system metering… Man, this thing lives on my master bus.
Hopefully you have found some inspiration from my top 10 plugin list. Now go and gather your own and see what makes your music tick! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I’ll be happy to get back to you.