Opinion: My favourite plugins of 2017

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Here at APGHQ we had decided to be different this year and not do any end-of-year top-ten best-of etc, list type posts. But then the king of being different (and closest thing I have to an idol), Mike Patton, went and wrote about his favourite Waves plugins! So in the spirit of being original, I decided to copy Mike Patton and write my own end-of-year, best-of-2017 plugin article. And here it is…

My Top New Plugins

I’ve personally discovered many many new plugins this year though some of them have been around for a while. In this section I’ll stick to the plugins that were released in 2017. These are my own personal picks and you may not necessarily agree with me. I may not necessarily care… but feel free to tell me why I’m wrong in the comments anyway! 😉

Boz Digital’s Transgressor

Near the beginning of the year, Boz released their contribution to the transient processing game. Transgressor takes an approach to transient design that is a little different in a way so simple I’m surprised it wasn’t already done (maybe it was and I missed it?). Aside from very nicely separating the transient from the sustain, with enough controls to fine tune it perfectly, Transgressor then allows you to apply EQ to each part separately.

It’s so easy to do so many transient processing tasks with Transgressor that it’s become my go-to in all cases. Add controlled thud to your kicks, soften the pick attack on your guitar DI, pull up and control the room in your drum overheads… this and many other jobs can be quickly and beautifully dialled in. Love it.

In addition to Transgressor, Boz released some other amazing tools this year including the terribly named, Gatey-Watey and the also-oddly-named Big Beautiful Door (it’s a Donald Trump reference that I didn’t get at first!). All worth having in your toolbox.

Backmask by Freakshow Industries

Backmask makes the list almost entirely based on Freakshow Industries fantastic branding and marketing efforts. Being a fan of the dark, the surreal and the avant-garde in most things, this offering immediately tickled my fancy. Aside from all the coolness associated with it, Backmask is actually a great tool for chopping, flipping and mashing up your audio for some great effects. I had the pleasure of chatting to the guys behind all this and you can read the interview here.

Now… if they could hurry up and release Mishby, that would be great. Thanks.

iZotope’s O8N2 Bundle

Ozone has long been established as one of the top plugins for mastering, comprising of all the processes required to finalise your track. Neutron is a newer plugin from iZotope that introduces mixing plugins that talk to each other and ‘track assistance’ to find a good starting point for your processing. Both have been updated and released in a bundle with the brand new Tonal Balance Control and Visual Mixer plugins which sit on your master and pull all the element together.

This combination is a formidable tool set for mixing and mastering. We’ve already reviewed it, as you can read here. I’m now using these on every project.

My Top Not-So-New Plugins

This year there have been a few plugins that I’ve discovered and have been using again and again. Some are new-ish whilst others have been around a while and I only just discovered them. Here’s the one’s that I keep close to hand.

The Arturia V Collection

I picked this wonderful collection of analog synth emulations up in the Black Friday sales of 2016 and have never looked back. There’s such a huge selection of great sounds available and the fact that you can access them all from Analog Lab means that this tends to be the first thing I load up when looking for the right instrument for a track. I loved it so much I made a gushing and slightly rambling demo vid for one of Audio Plugin Guy’s first articles.

Toward the end of 2017, Arturia updated the collection with four new emulations and a new version of Analog Lab. I jumped right on that. Despite there being some controversy over the upgrade price, I was basically already a fanboy so it there was no question about getting it for me.

Soundtoys 5 collection

Couldn’t live without these now. Decapitator on EVERYTHING to add flavour. Microshift on backing vocals, reverb sends, delay sends… W I D T H! Echoboy is the tastiest set of delays… just… all of these plugs are golden. As a company, Soundtoys are just awesome. Often giving away plugins, offering great upgrade deals and doing the odd bit for charity too!

Trackspacer from Wavesfactory

Another one that I was a bit late to the party with… Trackspacer is a simple concept, delivered in a perfect fashion. It’s job is to move one sound out of the way to make room for another. Whether it’s making sure your kick isn’t masked by your bass, or that your lead vocal cuts through your dense rhythm guitar section, Trackspacer does the trick neatly and efficiently.

It’s basically a series of dynamic EQs, responding to a sidechain input to turn down matching frequencies in the audio. It can be fine-tuned to affect just the range you require and can be in stereo or mid/side mode.

It’s now part of my mixing template. I think it should be part of yours too. 🙂

Kilohearts Multipass

Another recently discovered Gem is the magical fun-box that is Multipass. What this wonderful toy does is split your audio into frequency ranges which you can then load effects into individually. There’s a choice of “snap-ins” available which cover all the standard effects you might need, and cover them well. Everything can be controlled by a selection of tweakable LFOs and envelopes. All the latency shizz is handled internally so there’s no fear of weird phase effects going on.

This is just one of those plugins you can lose yourself playing with. Start with something like a simple drum loop and end up with a whole other mutant. It’s just so much fun it had to make the list.

Getting bored yet…?

That’s the thing with these end of year lists… they just go on and on and on and on and everyone’s got one and there’s like a million bloody plugins out there and it’s just so tedious. So I’m gonna just end it right now before y’all fall asleep with a short list of well deserved honorary mentions. Here’s some of the rest of my most loved, most used and most abused plugins from 2017. Check them out. If you like ’em, buy ’em. If not… no biggie. You just keep on doing you and we’ll keep on doing us and we’ll all live happily ever after.

Melda MMultiAnalyser – Really useful analyser that shows multiple tracks in one window. Check out our review. And check out all Melda’s other plugs too, they’re pretty much all great.

Youlean Loudness Meter – Simple loudness meter with all the stats you need. Also free.

Everything from Glitchmachines – If you’re into sound design and mangling the crap out of stuff. Do yourself a favour and get all of these plugins.

The Slate Everything Bundle – Basically my go to mixing tools when it comes to EQ, saturation and compression. For $15 a month, the value you get is incredible. It also comes with the S-Gear amp emulation which is one of the best I’ve found for the kind of guitar stuff I do.

Tokyo Dawn plugs – These guys make the most beautiful looking, sounding and costing plugs for mixing and mastering. The dynamic EQ is one I often use for cleaning up recordings and Limiter 6 is just awesome. As we told you already.

Valhalla Reverbs – Get Room and Vintage Verb. Just do it. Thank me later.

Thanks for reading!

That’s my lot for now. I’ve probably missed a few but I’m starting to bore myself so let’s call it a day! Hope you had a wonderful 2017 and are enjoying Christmas, or whatever you celebrate this time of year. Have a super awesome wonderful new year and all of us here at Audio Plugin Guy look forward to more digital audio processing based shenanigans next year. See you there!!!

xxx

– Stu

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