Do More: 4 Best Plugins To Fix Your Audio
Have you ever sat in front of your DAW, desperately trying to get something to “work” and thought to yourself, “surely it can’t be THIS difficult?” Yeah, me too, and what’s equally frustrating yet liberating is that it most often doesn’t need to be.
Chances are, if you’re spending hours tweaking the finest detail, and meticulously editing a sound to get it as you’d like, the Pro’s almost certainly aren’t doing that, and it’s because there’s most likely a much easier option.
Bruce Lee once said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once…I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times”. You may be wondering what relevance this has in relation to an article about plugins? Well, just as the right plugin can be the saviour of a project, it’s far more important to have just 1 plugin you know inside out, than 100 different plugins that you don’t.
With that being said, if you’re looking for answers to some of the most frustrating, yet conquerable producer problems, below is a list of our top 4 that will keep your production arsenal powerful yet compact.
Quite possibly one of the most irritating things about sampling is clicks and pops. They undermine even the most authentic and organic sounding piece of music, as it drags the listener back to the unnecessary realisation that this was manufactured on a computer, and some attention to detail was overlooked. This frustration amplifies further when you’ve finally found the killer sample that carries your entire track, but somehow there are these devilish artefacts sat right bang in the middle of the clip.
Before being recommended Izotope de-click, I genuinely didn’t even bother with samples that I found with this latter issue with, it was too much futile hard work. Yes, that’s right…imagine how many potential bangers I’ve missed by not knowing I could overcome this hurdle with a simple fix!? The good news for us all is that Izotope RX6 is here to save the day.
The RX series is a family of audio editing and repair tools from Izotope, of which de-click is one aspect. De-click takes all of the stress (well, most…it’s hard to make any audio editing scenario entirely stress free) out of repairing your files, by automatically detecting the clicks and pops with astonishing accuracy, and providing a smooth interface of sliders to adjust both the intensity and sensitivity. De-click is not only perfect for removing annoying clicks, but it can also be used to effectively polish audio recording, remove mouth noises, cell phone interference and most other forms of unintended audio degradation. I need not say more as to why this makes its way into our top 4.
One of the biggest problems producers face in the era of computer music, is getting an authentic feel whilst remaining certifiable sane in the process. This is where the J37 steps in, as a figurative god-send for this task and a truly incredible piece of kit.
The J37 is a saturation plugin that is precisely modelled on the legendary machine by the same name at Abbey Road Studios, which has been used to record countless musical masterpieces over the years. Not only does this plugin offer all of the same adjustable controls, such as Saturation, Noise, Tape Speed, Bias, Flutter and Wow, but it flawlessly recreates them in such a manner that has been described by many industry experts as almost indistinguishable from the original piece of kit.
Between 1960-1970, music conglomerate EMI developed a number of bespoke oxide tape formulas which created a unique and trademark warmth in the recordings of the time. These have also been remodelled for the software, as well as a tape delay unit to re-create the original sonic signature.
If you want to bring your sounds to life, and add a level of authentic analogue warmth that hasn’t been experienced “in the box” before, then look no further.
Transient Master (Native Instruments)
Who hasn’t spent for far too long on one snare drum because it just didn’t quite sit right?
By calling yourself the Transient MASTER, you’re setting the bar incredibly high for the end users’ expectations, but just a few minutes sat tweaking this amazing bit of kit will reveal the justification behind their lack of concern over hyperbole.
With just three primary controls, ATTACK, SUSTAIN and GAIN, it’s an incredibly intuitive yet diverse plugin, that allows you to shape your sounds in seconds and maintain your creative flow. Snare too sloppy? Pull back that sustain. Need to bring an element to the front of your mix? Whack up the attack. Use a combination of both to fix muddy elements and sculpt the reverb to your individual needs.
Being equally powerful, effective and most importantly user friendly is typically an anomaly in the world of audio production, and this is what makes this plug-in so special, and earns its place on our list.
What sort of list would this be if we didn’t round up with the cornerstone of audio editing…EQ. With how critical this process is, and how many thousands of hours you’ll spend working with it, making sure you’ve got the best tool for the job is essential.
This is where Pro-Q 3 from FabFilters steps in, as everything a producer could require, from top of the range linear phase operation, zero latency, smooth dynamic multi band EQ (up to 24 bands!), mid side processing and full support for surround sound up to 7.1.2. In addition to this there is a completely customisable spectrum analyse, plus versatile soloing and auto-gain options.
Hailed as the king of EQ’s, upon opening the interface it’s not hard to see why. Not only does the plugin host some of the most extensive and powerful software of any EQ available, but it’s consistently rated as one of the best GUI’s on the market, receiving 10/10 from the likes of Computer Music and Music Tech Magazine.
Pro Q-3 is admittedly the easiest inclusion in this list, it’s absolutely remarkable. If you’re looking to upgrade your EQ skills, seriously, look no further.
As mentioned earlier, the purpose of this article is to arm you with the best tools for the job. By the same token it’s not about throwing 100 amazing options at you (which is also possible), it’s about offering select pieces of kit that are powerful, get the job done, but also have a manageable learning curve so you can master their versatility and get the best value for your money. Taking all of that into account is why these should be your 4 to do more.
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