1) Channel Strip and EQ
2) Compressors and Limiters
3) FX including Reverbs, Delay and Saturators
4) Space Enhancers Chorus / Flanger, Utility and others.
5) Virtual Amps and Virtual Instruments
Like with everything we have now a tremendous amount of plugins out there, almost every DAW comes with at least a quality reverb and a delay. I rarely use plugins that come included with DAW (Digital Audio Workstation, aka Music Sequencer), not because they aren’t good but because I don’t like to be tied up with a particular DAW.
I recently moved from Cubase Pro to Reaper, and the process was straightforward. All my favourite plugins run on Reaper without a problem, the first mix I’ve done on Reaper sounded as good as always.
At the moment my favourite reverb is the PSP 2445 EMT, a reverb processor plugin inspired by two legendary early digital age reverberators: the EMT 244 and the EMT 245.
I like this plugin because it sounds great and is easy to use. It has just a few knobs to control, and with limited choices, I usually get more creative.
The PSP 2445 sounds excellent, and it’s on my mixing template together with the H-Reverb from Waves, which is versatile with lots of controls, basically can be the opposite of the PSP 2445 EMT. I use this reverb when I’m looking for something specific or some experimental sounds.
Another one that I like is the TSAR 1R, which sounds great with really a few settings to adjust. The TSAR 1R is the basic version of the TSAR 1; I use it when I need something straightforward.
Lexicon 480L Digital Effects System it’s just amazing! I don’t own this one, but I use it all the time when I work in studios that have UAD plugins
AKG BX 20 Spring Reverb, great deep dark reverb, I don’t own it, but I use it in studios that run UAD plugins.
R-Verb (Waves), really good for early reflection and low CPU usage.
I use Spring Reverb by Softube when I’m looking for that kind of reverberation sound. Usually on Guitars, Modular Synths and blues Vocals.
TC Electronic TC8210-DT classic TC reverb, I don’t own this one, but I like the hardware unit. I think I’ll get it at some point.
Lot’s of choice out there but I keep going back to the H-Delay (Waves) an excellent sounding plugin that can create modern and vintage sounding delay effects.
The Tube Delay (Softube) came free with some offer, and its sound was a pleasant surprise. I use it on guitar and synth. I use it a lot with my AmpRoom and Modular (Softube)
TC Electronic TC2290-DT classic TC delay, I don’t own it, but I think I’ll get it together with the TC8210-DT and TC1210-DT.
Saturation and harmonic distortion
On every channel, I have the saturation as part of my Console 1 Channel Strip. The controls and the sounds from this plugin are amazing. I more or less use it on every instrument, adding a bit of saturation here and there helps in getting the mix sounding like it has been mixed with an analogue console.
For me a must-have plugin is the Kramer Master Tape (from Waves), this glues everything together and makes it sound like a record, it’s just incredible, perfect for rock music. Doesn’t work on everything but when it does it just mind-blowing.
Some music, of course, needs to be really clean and doesn’t need this kind of saturation/glue, in those cases I go for Tape by Softube.
Tape is on every bus channel of my mix and often on the master out. It smoothes everything out like a real tape machine.
For gentle saturation and console emulation, In addition to my SSL Channel Stip from Console 1, I use the NLS Non-Linear Summer. This plugin emulates the preamp section of 3 different classic consoles.
When a production I’m mixing, is all created inside the box, with lots of virtual instruments, I want to recreate an analogue recording path and give some “imperfection” to those sounds.
For example, I would send the sound from the instruments into a recording desk (NLS), then into a Tape machine (Softube Tape), then into a mixing console (Console 1 Channel strip), then into a summing mixer (NLS Bus), and to conclude into a stereo tape which could be or the Kramer Tape or the Softube Tape plugin, or even the Abbey Road Vinyl from Waves.
If I don’t want to use the NLS for this job, I use the Neve 1073 Preamp (the plugin version from Waves).
For medium and severe saturation, I go for the Saturation Knob by Softube https://www.softube.com/saturationknob it’s free, and it’s fantastic. I use this on snare drum, on all drums, on synths, bass guitar and on vocals. It works in insert or in parallel, like an FX.