@kerushlow and I are murdering another topic with a gear discussion so I would move it here.
We’re discussing DAW plugins as a replacement for effects, amps, and other gear. This Splice post talks about how far technology has advanced a bit in the context of the current Shoegaze renaissance:
At this point, the digital plugins have reached a level of quality that rivals the analog pedals themselves. Palermo shared an anecdote about his collaborator Nick Bassett (formerly of Deafheaven, Whirr, and Nothing) buying up thousands of dollars of vintage equipment in order to get hyper-specific tones, and then selling it all two years later because the plugins sounded better.
Most DAWs can load plugins, even the free/limited versions. (Sorry Audacity users, you need a MIDI-capable DAW for virtual instruments.) Essentially most plugins ship for all of these container formats, but check before buying:
- VST/VSTi: Steinberg standards that nearly all DAWs can load
- Audio Unit (AU): Apple products (Logic/GarageBand)
- AAX: Avid standard, for Pro Tools
A number of plugins are Windows-only.
I’m having super good luck with moving to purely using plugins instead of pedals/amps/etc. I’ll keep editing this list with some of my favorites; we can collect others recommendations too. I use many of these every day.
Bass Amp/Cab Sims
- Kuassa Cerberus (tube/FET/overdriven amps)
- Ignite Amps SHB-1 / NadIR (sounds a lot like an overdriving tube amp)
- Kilohearts Snap-Ins - ~35 effects, all the usuals like compression, distortion, chorus, phaser, reverb, etc, plus many unique ones
- MeldaProduction - big bundle of free tools and effects; their paid effects include an excellent multiband chorus and a decent compressor
- NeuralDSP Darkglass Ultra - The official Darkglass plugin (NeuralDSP is owned by the owner of Darkglass); a perfect clone of the Darkglass B7K Ultra and Vintage Microtubes Ultra.
- Valhalla Reverbs - some amazing, pro-level reverbs at a reasonable price. I like Valhalla Room and Valhalla Supermassive (free!).
- Celemony Melodyne - pitch correction without artifacting. Made for vocals but works with any audio
- WA Productions suite - Some nice plugins for vocal compression, cleaning, limiting, and so on.
- Kilohearts MultiPass - a multiband splitter that lets you build effects chains separately for different frequenct bands
- MeldaProduction MeldaFreeFX bundle - lots of good utility stuff in it, for free
- iZotope Neutron - a track analyzer and mix assistant. Very smart dynamic EQ powered by machine learning
- iZotope Ozone - a smart ML-driven mastering assistant plugin; mix with Neutron, master with Ozone
- Mastering The Mix Animate - a dynamics expander that helps “fix” your sound if it has been squashed a bit by compression and limiting
- d16 Group Frontier - a tone-enhancing mastering limiter
Guitar Amp/Cab Sims
- Kuassa Clarent (Orange amp sim)
- Kuassa Matchlock (vintage Fender amp sim)
- Kilohearts Phase Plant (Amazing modular synth, my current favorite)
- Arturia Pigments (really great UI)
- Xfer Serum (super easy to use, probably the most-used synth in EDM)
- Steven Slate Drums 5 - a great set of kits and additional software for riffs and fills
- d16 Group Drumazon - a great TR-909 clone
- Air Music Tech Boom - another TR-808/909 clone, part of Pro Tools, purchasable by itself for other DAWs