For artists and producers alike, a digital audio workstation is something of a must. Whether you are new to the industry or not, it helps you create amazing music. But when you think that a digital audio workstation is enough, you are wrong! There is a way for you to bring your music’s quality up a notch. And that is what a music production plugin is for.
Some people say that you don’t need a third-party plugin outside your DAW. Sure, a DAW is a good playground for sonic possibilities capable of delivering breath-taking results.
But, a third-party plugin helps in creating the highest calibre of professional-quality music. It helps evolve your studio setup as well as develop your production skills.
There are tons of music-related apps and more from joyofandroid.com. But in this article, we are giving you the top 10 must-have music production plugins this year.
Are you honing your basic skills or mastering your mixing expertise? These plugins under your base DAW toolset will surely extend your sound palette.
1. Softube – Saturation Knob
When it comes to images, videos, and audio this one word always comes up – saturation. The problem with DAW is that the recording is too clean, crisp, and pristine. It lacks the vibe analogue goodness that we usually hear in recordings. Softube gives you that saturation goodness.
The idea is the more you turn the knob, the more it gives you the distortion – a good kind of distortion – on your recording. You can use it to fatten the bass lines and give your recording a nice vibe. You can even add harmonics and shimmer to the vocals. Softube is very versatile and functional. And what’s more? This plugin is free to download!
2. Camel Audio – Camelcrusher
When it comes to music production plugins, there is one name that rises above. In 2015, Apple acquired Camel Audio. This plugin is not new, but many producers continue to use it – a testament to how good this plugin is.
Filter, distortion, compressor, and master are its major features that you can use in vocals, basslines, leads, and almost anything. This free plugin is packed with so many features but is still easy to use. This is the perfect playground to unleash the creativity in you!
3. Xfer Records – OTT Compressor
If you’re an Ableton user, OTT is its Multi-Band Compression preset. And now it has a standalone version brought to you by Steve Duda of Xfer. There are a couple of differences between the standalone and the one in Ableton. Once you have mastered your way into this plugin, it still gives amazing results.
The OTT Compressor from Xfer Records brings an over-the-top compressor with amazing coloration that now associates with modern music. You can use it to utilize on your bass, master, and leads. You can play with the depth of the recording and control the signal that goes through it.
4. Native Instruments Reaktor 6
Another plugin packed with features is Native Instruments Reaktor 6. It has part sound design playground, part modular synth, and part development platform. Reaktor 6 is easier to navigate than ever before – thanks to its blocks environment to help explore the modular synthesis. This new addition basically mimics any of the most contemporary hardware modular systems.
The good thing about this plugin is that there is a vast library of synthesizers and sound processors contributed by its community. It’s constantly updated and evolves all the time. So, the possible music you can come up with is endless.
Playing with bass synths and reverbs is very easy. Filtering through the immense complex sound generators with beats and noises is all possible with a few simple turns of the knobs. Nothing is as versatile as the Reaktor 6.
5. Spectrasonics Keyscape
Lose yourself with Spectrasonics Keyscape. This plugin has an amazing collection of piano, electric pianos, and keyboards put all together over the span of ten years. The library has deeply multi-sampled pieces reconstructed to make the most authentic sound.
You have total control over the instruments in Keyscape to make new sounds. You can mix the microphones, add-in characters, and effect, and combine them. For example, you can start with something very classical. As it builds up, you can develop it, and transform it into something very unique and amazing. Keyscape will surprise with how versatile this plugin is.
In Keyscape, you can find custom controls that deal with the timbre and effects that display the range of these extraordinary keyboards. It has all the classical pieces you can think of. And what’s amazing is that when you can’t find what you need with one keyboard, you can always combine two or more to give you sound that suits you.
Below is the video of the legendary keyboardist Greg Phillinganes, featuring some of the amazing keyboards from Keyscape!
6. Xfer Records Serum
When it comes to create a more contemporary vibe, Serum by Xfer Records is one name to reckon with. Serum is a complex wavetable synthesizer. It allows you to explore the most intense music thanks to its playful yet easy-to-navigate interface.
Serum is feature-packed! It comes with 450 presets as well as 144 wavetables, surely, you won’t run out of ideas on your music very quickly. You can have the liberty to explore the wavetables that are already available on the platform. Plus, you can design and import your own to showcase your creativity and uniqueness.
You can control the frequency, warp, the filters of the recording, and more! You can dive deep into its depths and explore what it has to offer. Serum is both for beginners and seasoned users.
7. iZotope – Ozone Imager
Imaging control is one of the major bonuses of the digital signal processing world. And according to Alan Meyerson, award-winning sound mixer, nothing does it better than Ozone. It is a multi-band imager with immersive fluid visuals, full resizability, and smoother mode that allows for creating stereo width.
The world of possibilities of imaging in your mix is endless! Imaging modes make it easier to create a stereo width that allows even narrow tracks to fill your speakers without compromising its quality. You can also add natural width to your vocals. Interestingly, you can create narrow sources to focus on your bass and drums! All those features without breaking the bank.
8. Valhalla – Freq Echo
Valhalla describes this plugin as “best for psychedelic skull-melting chaos. Not necessarily stoned, but beautiful.” This plugin has a bode-style frequency, analog echo emulation that allows you to create amazing sonic effects.
Mess with your mixes using the different knobs in the user interface. Guaranteed, you will create an out-of-this-world piece that is good with anything. You can control the delay of the echo in your track – if done correctly this will give your piece an amazing kick!
9. Cableguys – Pancake 2
If you are one to want to involve guitar in your mix, then this plugin is for you! Pancake by Cableguys is a simple tool that allows you to be creative using panning as an effect in your mixes. Pancake features a unique interface in comparison to other DAW plugins.
It offers a huge collection of effects – ranging from basic and smooth panning to intense and complex. This panning tool allows you to modulate guitar sounds, making it malleable without breaking the quality. You can also construct your own modulation curves using the controls in the panel. The modulation curves help for sharp turns and bends as well as smooth and easy transitions.
10. Kilohearts Phase Plant
Phase Plant’s expandable modular synthesis engine lets you make sound from the ground up. It lets you combine many instances of oscillators, samplers, and wavetables. Throw-in noise generators, filters, and modulation in the mix then you will have a dope mix. No wonder it’s very popular among DJs worldwide.
The generators each have virtual analogue waves, wavetables, a source/sample of noise. Phase Plant is loaded with wavetables and samples that are available for you to use. You can also opt to import your own samples and even design your very own wavetables. Ideally, you can combine them to create a more unique result that reflects you as an artist.
Phase Plant is totally customizable, you can distort module in different parts of your mixes where you can also add filters that go with the sounds. This plugin is every artist/producer’s playground paradise where the creative possibilities are over the moon.
The good thing about these plugins is they can work alongside each other to create an even better mix or recording. If you are a beginner, we suggest that you first go with the free ones. If you want to improve your, skills you can definitely try on the more complicated plugins. Hopefully, our list of must-have music production plugins aids you with your dreams on stage!