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Top 5 Saturation Plugins

Top 5 Saturation Plugins

 

Here’s a list of our top five favorite Saturation plugins we use daily to help craft our sounds!

Remember, these are our favorites (and in no particular order) so let us know your favorites as well!

 

Here’s our video demonstrating these plugins:

https://youtu.be/KFzFJotm8wc

 

Number One:  Crane Song Phoenix

A great, simple tape emulation plugin. An excellent choice on vocals saturating the high end like tape. Also a very cool sound on drums, rounding out the transients similar to tape.

 

Number Two: Fab Filter Saturn

A multi-band saturation plugin, enabling deep tonal shaping. It has a lot of great presets if you want to work quickly too. Amazing on snare and pretty much everything else !

 

Number Three: Soundtoys Decapitator

One of the original saturation plugins. Subtle to brutal and everything in between.

 

Number Four: Waves Manny Marroquin Distortion

A reasonably priced and simple but flexible saturation plugin. It has a frequency control to help you focus the distortion and a compressor control for some interesting tone shaping possibilities.

 

Number Five: Brainworx Black Box

This plugin is based on a tube hardware unit. It has a more subtle tube flavor than the others.

 

BONUS – one more: UA Thermonic Culture Vulture

I couldn’t leave out the UA Thermonic Culture Vulture. This could be one of the best all-around distortion plugins ever. It’s really great on all sources.

That’s our top five favorite Saturation plug ins . You can check the video for more details on YouTube
https://youtu.be/KFzFJotm8wc

We would love to hear any of your favorites, so feel free to let us know.
Thanks for your support !

 

Top 5 EQ Plugins

Top 5 EQ Plugins

 

Here’s a list of our top five favorite EQ plug ins we use daily to help craft our sounds!

Remember, these are our favorites (and in no particular order) so let us know your favorites as well!

 

Here’s our video demonstrating these plugins:

https://youtu.be/kjXATyy4YtY

 

Number One:  Fab Filter Pro Q2/3 EQ

Pro Q is a great tool when you need a precise surgical EQ. It’s also a great high and low pass filter. I have one on every channel when I start a mix to clean out all the unnecessary high and low frequency material that can build up in a large mix. I also usually have another band ready to cut any offensive frequencies.

The GUI is super fast and easy and has a frequency analyzer to help you visually – AND it has a solo button that allows you to solo the band you are processing.

 

Number Two: UA Pultec EQP-1A

For a sweet, smooth, vintage tube EQ with loads of character, the UA Pultec is the one. It’s great for guitars, vocals, kick and snare … or as mix maestro Bob Clearmountain said- he would be happy mixing with just a rack full of Pultecs!

 

Number Three: Soundtoys SIE-Q

A great emulation of the Siemans EQ. Super smooth silky high frequency boost and a surprising mid range. Boosting 2.5k on a vocal can create harshness in many equalizers – not the SIE-Q. This brings it right to the front of the mix!

 

Number Four: UA API Vision

I’m a huge fan of API hardware and have quite a bit of it. This EQ sounds most like my 550b hardware units, plus you get the added bonus of the high and low pass filters and the mighty API compressor!

 

Number Five: Brainworx SSL E / J channel

It’s a great all-around EQ, with character and the added features of a channel strip!

 

That’s our top five favorite EQ plug ins . You can check the video for more details on YouTube https://youtu.be/kjXATyy4YtY

We would love to hear any of your favorites, so feel free to let us know.
Thanks for your support !

 

Top 5 Compressor Plugins

Top 5 Compressor Plugins

 

Here’s a list of our top five favorite compressor plugins we use daily to help craft our sounds!

Remember, these are our favorites (and in no particular order) so let us know yours as well!

Here’s our YouTube video on the same subject as well:

 

Number One: UA 1176 Blue Stripe

“Bluey” as mix virtuoso Chris Lord Alge refers to it is my go-to compressor for vocals, especially in a rock track. It brings the vocal right to the front of the mix and keeps it there. It also adds an excellent tonal character.

Number Two: UA Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor

This compressor is my go-to for any source with low end. I have a send/return with the Shadow Hills comp in every session to glue the bass and kick together. It’s also excellent for beefing up thin vocals and voiceover tracks.

Number Three: Empirical Labs Arouser

The plugin version of the mighty Distressor plug in! I had four Distressor hardware comps, until designer Dave Derr came out with his software version.
It has way too many uses to list here, so get the demo and check it out!

Number Four: Waves CLA LA3A

A great comp for many sources when 1176 may be to heavy. Vocals, bass and always the go-to on electric guitars. It’s seems to always be on sale for
$29.99 too!

Number Five: Brainworx Vertigo VSC2

The hardware Vertigo unit was their take on a VCA SSL buss style comp. The plugin version is great and glues a track together like the SSL, but leaves a little less sonic character, in a good way!

That’s our top five favorite compressor plug ins. You can check the video for more details on YouTube:

We would love to hear any of your favorites, so feel free to let us know.
Thanks for your support !

 

Top 5 Plugins To Use Every Day

Top 5 Plugins To Use Every Day

 

Here’s a list of our top five favorite plugins we use daily to help craft our sounds !

Remember, these are our favorites (and in no particular order) so let us know yours as well!

Here’s our YouTube video breaking them down:

 

 

Number One: Sound Raddix Auto Align

Auto Align will automatically find any phase and sample delay differences for you, then correct them. A polarity flip button on a console or plug in can only flip your phase 180 degrees. Auto Align adjusts sources that are less or more than 180 degrees out of phase. Before Auto Align you would have the time consuming task of moving these manually.

It’s fast and easy. I put one in every part of the drum kit then set one of the overheads as the master and the others to receive.  Just play 8 bars of the track and you are done!
In less than a minute your drums sound more focused, have more low end and feel like you have EQ’d them already. I find it helps us get a better drum sound much faster.
We also use it on a bass DI and amp.

 

Number Two: Oeksound Soothe

Soothe is a multi band compressor that magically finds harsh frequencies in your signal for you and reduces them. It’s a complicated plugin if you feel the need to deep dive into all the parameters, but in 15 seconds you can have it make an amazing difference with just two parameters. Just set the resolution to “ultra” and adjust the one large knob until you feel you have gone too far, then back it off and you are done.

Soothe is fantastic on vocals, acoustic guitars and drum overheads.

 

Number Three: Fab Filter Pro Q2/3 EQ

Pro Q is a great tool for any situation where a precise surgical EQ is needed. It is also great for high and low pass filtering. I have one on every channel when I start a mix to clean out all the unnecessary high and low frequency material that can build up in a large mix. I also usually have another band ready to cut any offensive frequencies.

The GUI is super fast and easy. It also has a handy has a frequency analyzer to help you visually AND a solo button on each band to hear the frequencies you are processing.

 

Number Four: Brainworx SSL E/ J Channel Strip

This plugin is really a game changer. You could buy one plugin and put it in every channel and have a super pro-sounding mix.

The actual tone is fantastic, giving the session the glue and harmonic feel of a console. The compressor is true to the console comp and the gate is as good as many of the top stand alone gate plugins. Not to mention a super smooth EQ and the sound of all the hits for the last four decades! We have tried all the other SSL emulations, but this one has it all, it doesn’t burn all your processing and it was on sale for $29.99!

 

Number Five: Soundtoys SIE-Q

A great emulation of the Siemans EQ. Super smooth, silky high frequency boost and a surprising mid range. Boosting 2.5k on a vocal can create harshness in many equalizers, but not the SIE-Q. This brings it right to the front of the mix !

 

That’s our top five favorite plugins .
You can check the video for more details on YouTube:   https://youtu.be/a27pl17MalU

We would love to hear any of your favorites, so feel free to let us know.
Thanks for your support !

 

 

 

20 20-second Mixing Tips

Well, it’s a new year, and like many of us, you’re hoping 2020 is the year for recording, producing, and mixing your best stuff ever! To help with that, the team at Visionary Music Group has put together 20 mixing tips (specifically for Pro Tools) that each take no longer than 20 seconds to read. Try each of these out, and see if they don’t help make mixing music easier and more enjoyable than ever!

1. Save As

As soon as you open your mix session, use the “ Save as “ command. Add an extension to your original name (like the date or a version number.) This lets you keep the original session intact and make all your changes in the new session.

If you make a mistake, or go too far with any idea, you can just reopen the original.

 

2. Color coding

You can color code your tracks to help you quickly locate elements in your mix session.

Use something that makes sense, like matching color letters to instrument letters: green for guitars, violet for vocals, brown for bass, etc. Or find your own system. During the mix, just scrolling up and down through the session can slow your process down. Color coding will make your session easy to navigate, especially if you record a lot of parts.

 

3. Track order and placement

Organize your tracks in the same order, every mix session, every time.

My drums are always at the top, then percussion, basses, guitars etc. Within each group of instruments I have the same order – kick, samples, snare, snare samples etc. If you know where things are, you can usually find them with ease.

 

4. Clean up your tracks

Imagine after all your tracks are in and your huge mix session is done, you listen close and hear clicks, pops, noises, bleed. Clean all your tracks at the start of every session, delete the junk that shouldn’t be there, and you won’t have any surprises later that will stop your creative mix process

 

5. Clip Gain to balance levels before you automate

Pro Tools has a great function called clip gain. Let’s say the vocals are very quiet in the verses and very loud in the choruses. You can separate them into regions and adjust your clip gain fader to bring them closer in volume. This will you get your levels more balanced before you engage the automation.

 

6. Making Playlists to save your butt

Before you start cleaning and chopping up your audio, duplicate your playlist and do all your edits in the new playlist. If you mess up you can always go back to the previous playlist with the unedited audio.

 

7. Using Aux channel sub masters

In a session you might have two kick mics in & additional kick samples. You can create a Kicks aux submitter and buss all the kick elements to it. Then you can add EQ & compression to the overall kick blend. Now you can touch one fader or compressor and quickly make adjustments to all of the parts that make up that sound.

 

8. Using VCA masters

VCA masters let you have one fader control a group of instruments. For example, you can have all the drums on one master, basses on another, guitars to a third and so on. If you have an 8-fader controller, all the parts you’ll mix are all right there in front of you.

 

9. Using markers to help navigate

Markers are great to find your spot in a song’s arrangement, but there is another great use for them. You can set up markers to only view certain tracks. If you have a hundred-track session, set up a marker to view only a certain group of instruments. When you are working on this group’s internal blend, this will reduce the screen clutter and help you focus.

 

10. Take advantage of auxiliary sends & return channels for effects

Don’t insert your effects on every channel as an insert. Its hard to manage and will take up all your processing power. Just set an aux channel for each effect. Insert the effect on the channel and assign a buss to the input.

If you have a vocal reverb, insert it on an aux channel and send a blend of all your vocals too it via a buss / aux send. Super helpful, and it won’t slow down your system.

 

11. Use Aux channels to send and return to parallel effects

This is the same theory as the effects send and return auxes, but just using compression and EQ. Let’s say you have a great compressor for parallel drum crushing. Insert it it on an aux and send your drums to it via an aux send. If you don’t want the cymbals in the drum crush just send the drums.

Since they are all parallel, they don’t affect the original signal, and you can just blend it in to taste.

 

12. Make a mix template

You may be thinking, “How am I going to set this up every session and then get any mixing done?”   It’s easy: make a template! This is a really big time-saver. You can have all of these components ready to go in your mix session template. Just import and drag your audio to the correct tracks!

 

13. Use Hi and Lo pass filters

You should have an EQ with Hi and Lo Pass filters ready on each channel. This allows you the opportunity to cut high or low frequencies out that are present in the track, but not necessarily musical (such as rumble, hum, etc.)

Imagine how this adds up with a hundred or more tracks. You can also continue this to help with overlapping frequencies, like the low end of the guitars and bass or kick and bass.

 

14. The Solo button

A mix that sounds great may still have tracks that, when soloed, might sound horrible. So don’t spend all your time soloing tracks when you are mixing.

The solo button is a great tool for editing, hi and lo pass filtering and zoning in on specific problems. But also remember that no one listens to a song this way. They hear the complete song with all the instruments playing.

 

15. The Bypass button

When you add something or make a change, listen in context and then bypass it. Listen and decide if you really improved it. If not, sometimes less is more.

 

16. Low volume when mixing

If you can make your mix sound loud at low volumes it will sound loud at higher volumes. If you can make your mix sound exciting at low volumes it will sound exciting at high volumes. You can work longer and save your ears.

 

17. Take breaks

Your ears are important and having them not be fatigued will make the outcome of your mixes better and extend your mixing career. Set up a timer and take a five-minute break every 40 to 45 minutes. You will have a new perspective after each break.

 

18. Mix focus – three element max

Studies have shown that the mind and ear can only focus on three elements at a time in a piece of music. So you should prioritize your time and process accordingly.

In most rock/pop songs, the vocals will be the main focus, then the snare. Depending on the song, the third part could be a guitar or keyboard. This will vary from song to song, or even section to section. But keep the focus on no more than three elements at a time, and your mixes will sound more professional and more musical.

 

19. Automation is your friend

Work to have a great “static” mix (with no automation yet,) that you, your band or your client really like. Then, start using automation to bring the song more life and more personality.

Automating can bring out intense emotions in vocal take, or bring more width and impact to a chorus. It’s also a great tool to tuck or feature parts, like a band member stepping center stage in between a vocal line to play a lick.

 

20. Work like a sculptor

Sculptors work with a large rock and chisel down in broad strokes. As the whole starts to take shape, these strokes get finer and more precise.. Stay focused on the big picture when mixing, like the emotion and the story of the song. Broad strokes to start, then the finer details.

 

BONUS TIP:  21. Metering & References

Use other pro tracks to reference. It will help you hear balances, EQ compression and compare. Remember pick references of similar genres and match the volume levels. A great meter can help you visualize all these elements too. I have been using the Plug in Alliance ADPTR. It does all these things and more!