How many plug-ins do you consider essential?
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Old 20-08-2017, 09:04 PM   #1
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How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

I've noticed that I could do with perhaps:

-one EQ (e.g. SSL X-EQ or similar)
-2-3 different style compressor plug-ins
-2-3 reverb units (each with multiple modes so that they cover all the typical reverbs)
-one delay plug-in (possibly includes an "echo" style)
-one modulation plug-in that does chorus, flanger, phaser and the sorts
-a distortion unit similar to Reason's Scream 4 (i.e. multiple algos)
-one multiband splitter

Depending on style I'm working on I might need more for sound generation or sample-mashing:

-NI Reaktor maybe, but that'd be multiple plug-ins in one?

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The reason for bringing this thread up is that I've noticed the trend of many people acquiring huge amount of plug-ins thinking that they're all different and that they need all of them. I've come to appreciate more if one has fewer choices to make, but instead one has plug-ins that one knows very well. I think "knowing very well" is essential for making very good production choices.

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Old 20-08-2017, 11:32 PM   #2
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Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

I think a person shouldn't limit their options in general, by setting limits to begin with..that's not really a good idea. I'm saying this in response to that last bit your posted..not your considered list before it.

Don't misunderstand me..there's nothing wrong with streamlining your collection..or even limiting how many plugins you buy to begin with, as long as you know and understand what they are and how to use them.

I know what you mean about the trend of "plugin hording"..I think we're all guilty of that at some point..and it's usually when we're starting out, as we wrongly think the more we have, the better our music will be in the end..which obviously is not the case in reality.

It's not until we actually learn the basics of the "essentials" and how to use them when mixing / mastering, that we can really appreciate any new product that arrives on the scene. At that point it becomes less a case of hording and more a case of informed choice, as we start to understand the subtle differences and features a new plugin has to offer over all the others.

In short..start with your DAW and the built-in effects and bundled instruments that come with it. Once you've mastered those and understand what they do and how they work, then start looking at other things that can help you in your goal to develop "your sound"..but don't just fall for swanky marketing and some nice looking interface, with cool-sounding presets. There are far too many "one-trick ponies" out there that sound cool, but don't do anything other than that. If you're going to buy something just because it sounds cool, then do yourself a favor and buy a good sample pack instead..you'll save yourself a lot of money and space on your hard-drive.

Basically, if you're going to buy a plug-in, make sure it's going to do more than sound nice..and that it will enhance your production skills..after all, isn't that what we're supposed to be doing in the first place, as producers?

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Old 21-08-2017, 03:45 AM   #3
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Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

I think that answer depends greatly on what music you're trying to make. It could range from nothing to everything you can get on your hard drive.

For instance, I've done songs where I take advantage of very specific glitching that a certain plugin does when you set a few parameters in unorthodox ways. That would make that plugin essential for that track. And if I did more glitch stuff, it could make the list grow and grow because I want to take advantage of more and more little quirks in different plugins. But then you could make unedited field recording sound diary things, in which case you don't even need any vsts.

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Old 21-08-2017, 05:33 AM   #4
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Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

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Originally Posted by White Noise View Post
I think that answer depends greatly on what music you're trying to make. It could range from nothing to everything you can get on your hard drive.

For instance, I've done songs where I take advantage of very specific glitching that a certain plugin does when you set a few parameters in unorthodox ways. That would make that plugin essential for that track. And if I did more glitch stuff, it could make the list grow and grow because I want to take advantage of more and more little quirks in different plugins. But then you could make unedited field recording sound diary things, in which case you don't even need any vsts.
Yeah..but you know what you're doing and how to do it..a lot of folks out there don't..they think if they buy enough plug-ins, then they will be able to do what you do..but they're missing the point completely. It's akin to thinking you can drive just because you've bought a car, even though you've never driven one before..you've seem them plenty of times and you're mate even has the latest one, so haw hard can it be?

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Old 21-08-2017, 06:44 AM   #5
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Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

There's also this thing that "what's good" is somewhat a varying quality. In the sense that "what's good" can vary depending on what it's applied to and what one considers a good outcome. An Alesis Quadraverb might not be regarded to be a high-quality reverb unit by some, but it's very suited for "90s IDM" sound. So even if the verb here is not objectively greatest, it's great when used in a great way. Similarly, an expensive SSL compressor can sound worse than some cheap one, if the program material just doesn't fit with its style of compression or with the settings used. I can think of only equalizers being neutral so that they are not that dependent on the program material.

I once met a recorder who had a philosophy for recording that he attempted to get the sound as final as possible with microphone placements, so that he would have to do as little post-processing as possible. So in some cases he didn't use any plug-ins at all!

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Old 21-08-2017, 07:36 AM   #6
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Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

You can never have too many delays.

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Old 21-08-2017, 07:39 AM   #7
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Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

Essentials for me :

Eq
Compressor
Saturator
Reverb

Peace.
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Old 21-08-2017, 03:45 PM   #8
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Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

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Originally Posted by soundmodel View Post
There's also this thing that "what's good" is somewhat a varying quality. In the sense that "what's good" can vary depending on what it's applied to and what one considers a good outcome. An Alesis Quadraverb might not be regarded to be a high-quality reverb unit by some, but it's very suited for "90s IDM" sound. So even if the verb here is not objectively greatest, it's great when used in a great way. Similarly, an expensive SSL compressor can sound worse than some cheap one, if the program material just doesn't fit with its style of compression or with the settings used. I can think of only equalizers being neutral so that they are not that dependent on the program material.

I once met a recorder who had a philosophy for recording that he attempted to get the sound as final as possible with microphone placements, so that he would have to do as little post-processing as possible. So in some cases he didn't use any plug-ins at all!
Tbh, to me "What's good?" is basically knowing the basics and "how and when" to apply them which tallies in with what you're saying here..which brings us right back to your original question, that of how many plug-ins are essential. As I said already..all of them. It's not the number of tools you have, but your knowledge of how to and when to use them that really matters. That knowledge / understanding is what you should go after first, before you start buying plug-ins..otherwise you just get sucked into hording VSTs and your production skills will remain stunted, until your mistake dawns on you..if at all.

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Old 21-08-2017, 09:58 PM   #9
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Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

The essentials usually come with your DAW. Everything else is optional, IMO

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Old 21-08-2017, 10:13 PM   #10
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Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FTD View Post
You can never have too many delays.
This.

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Old 21-08-2017, 10:23 PM   #11
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Icon7 Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

I pruned my collection down to 72 modules yet i could use more instrument modules for certain sounds!

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Old 22-08-2017, 09:18 PM   #12
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Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

I use a lot of different plugins for the way they color sound, Waves Nonlinear Summer, API2500, Soundtoys Decapitator and Pie EQ for example.

For the longest time I relied on the Ableton suite of fx almost exclusively, they're super utilitarian and get the job done. These days I do a lot of work to make things sound NOT like they're being mixed in the box, and I use a combination of HW and SW to do so, not limited to the short list above.

If needed, I could easily get by w Live's native fx but I dont wanna.

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Old 23-08-2017, 07:12 PM   #13
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Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

one...

reaktor


ignoring all-in-one solutions though:
~flexible synth
~EQ
~dynamics processor (either one with upward and downward capability or one of each)
~a delay that is capable of settings used for flangers, chorus, comb e.t.c.
~flexible distortion

that is my ideal world minimum, but realistically you dont even NEED some of them. a synth is replaceable with recorded sounds manipulated in your DAW, the delay can be created with multiple tracks and copies of the audio clips and the distortion is not really completely essential.
even the dynamics could be achieved using fades and volume automation to a point, but the EQ is probably essential, unless we are not counting channel strip EQs as plugins.

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Old 24-08-2017, 09:08 AM   #14
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Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

zero.
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Old 24-08-2017, 10:43 AM   #15
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Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

Just one more then I'm done.

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Old 24-08-2017, 11:14 AM   #16
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Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

I recently streamlined my entire kit down to just the essentials and it's been the best creative decision ever.
I make a distinction between creative plugins and processing though. You can never have enough creative ones, but Reaktor has me more than covered there.

In terms of processing, I wanted to work with the Maschine as much as possible. The stock effects are pretty decent, but it lacks tools for more precise mixing so I had to add them myself. For that, a lot of the favorites are off the cards because Maschine doesn't do any PDC. So I went with Izotope because it was affordable and gets the job done. I also like that they have everything (eq, comp, exciter, etc) in one box, working with a lot of tiny plug-in screens in Maschine sucks. Once I pull off my first successful train robbery I'll probably get some of the DMGaudio stuff... I think combined with Maschine it's gonna be pretty powerful.

On the creative side, you never have enough interesting drum and sample manglers and whatnot. For synths, I'd say try to be a bit more conservative. At least try.. How many moog style monosynths do you really need?
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Old 24-08-2017, 11:36 AM   #17
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Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

I usually use Ableton as the main DAW, Absynth for its beautiful, natural-sounding synths and Izotope Ozone for the final touches.
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Old 24-08-2017, 09:31 PM   #18
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Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

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Originally Posted by LDKitz View Post
Essentials for me :

Eq
Compressor
Saturator
Reverb

Peace.
I'm still waiting on the Peace 2.0 plugin, the first one sucked

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Old 25-08-2017, 12:25 PM   #19
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Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

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I'm still waiting on the Peace 2.0 plugin, the first one sucked

Really? I thought v.1 was only vapourware!

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Old 25-08-2017, 08:10 PM   #20
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Re: How many plug-ins do you consider essential?

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Originally Posted by Automageddon View Post
Just one more then I'm done.
This. I started making a list, but it got longer and longer...

However, if you got a DAW with EQ, comp, reverb, delay and some synth, generally you don't really need anything else to make music. I think I significantly improved my sound design and, partly, workflow when I went minimalistic and was making music with only some simple freeware plugins for quite a while a few years back.

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