There seems to be three tiers of plug-ins: freebie/cheap ($0-$100), mid-range ($200-$500) and expense account (not-my-money). You can get by with freebie/cheap incredibly well but you’ll be hard pressed sell your music until you move up to the mid-range. And the difference in quality is a jump far greater than the jump in price.
I have a short list of mid-range plug-ins that are worth more than even their price. They just work. Once you see, use and hear these it’s impossible to turn back.
Having been sheltered in DirectX plug-in land for the last few years, I have been denying myself a huge VST sub-culture. On my way to discovering just how deep this world is I found a killer 70’s style clavinet plugin called TickyClav from Big Tick Audio Software.
This is one I really wish I would have known about when I did Cool As I Get. For that one I used a clavinet SoundFont that (presumably) uses recorded snippets of an actual clavinet. I don’t know if this plugin is pure oscillator-based but it sounds much better than my SoundFont. This could speak volumes about how far sound design has come.
And it’s free. ([UPDATE:] well, donate-ware)
I’ve been playing around with the iZotope’s Ozone and had some interesting results. You can click on Vincent to hear the clip of my recorded guitar over some loops and stuff. I turn on the Ozone effects at bar 5 (around 0:08 sec. ) into the song. The difference is stark, obvious and definitely “richer.”
Ozone has compression, reverb, stereo separation, all kinds of gizmos and knobs to turn. I’m not an expert in how to use this plugin and there are limitless variations to the settings so take this sound for what it’s worth. In fact, I pumped the slap-back reverb up a little more than I normally would have just to make sure it was audible — in other words: just for effect. I couldn’t get the reverb to sound as lush or subtle as Waves TrueVerb but then it’s a fraction of the price so it may never (although price is getting to be less and less of a valid gauge nowadays — more like an invalid gouge, I guess.)
The CPU usage is still an issue. When I used this plug-in before I got the external USB sound card it was taxing my system. Now, with the CPU getting diverted shoving bits down and back the USB pipe, it’s damn near impossible to run even one instance of Ozone in FL Studio in my hardware configuration. (Good thing I ordered more RAM as a Christmas present for myself.)
Still, if I turn off the UI and check ‘Smart Enable’ in FL I get the render you hear here.
[Update] Unfortunately due to bandwidth stealing I had to move the Ozone Trial MP3. If you are interesting in hearing this fine work please contact me and I will pass you the current URL.
digitalfishphones froze it’s free DSP plugins about nine months ago but it’s not because they aren’t any good.
They come highly recommended for their signal processors, epsecially the deessor/compressor/gate fish series although I haven’t tried them. Feel free to spew any thoughts you might have about them.
The Dub Discussion Board on the free VST plugin Dub Siren. Does it really matter what it sounds like when it’s this cool looking?
It’s a lot of fun. Highly recommended for fun.
FL users remember that while you can’t right click on the knobs to get hardware controller support you can still do it from the wrapper like this.
Kjaerhus Audio – Professional Audio Software and Hardware
Don’t be fooled by the fact that they are free – they are high quality. Plugins like these normally costs a bundle.
To be honest I haven’t downloaded these but the Classic Limiter comes very highly recommended from a total stranger whose motivations are completely unknown, which (by my typical standards since I’ve been on the Internet) should be good enough to risk running a reformatting-trojan-reemer on a $3,500 DAW setup on the chance of getting a free master/limiter that works nearly as well as the L-1 from Waves that’s part of $1,200 plug-in package that now forces you to find a crack register a copy for each machine you own, even though it is physically impossible for you to use the plugs on more than one machine at a time.
Pick your evil.
According the iZotope website:
Ozone 3 now has more options for conserving CPU, including an enable/disable option for its rendering thread.
And that’s a very good thing, because even though Ozone (the plugin) is the best looking plugin ever and is the most fun to interact with, I have found it useless in multi-track non-descructive environments.
It is priced very competively (especially if you are registered iZotope user — even of their free products) at about $150 USD.
rgc:audio software :: sfz High Quality SoundFont Player has supposedly upgraded to version 1.06 although good luck verifying which version you have.
The DLL has versioninfo in it says 22.214.171.124
This version is supposed to be much smarter about CPU usage.