Nowadays, the opportunities of sounds to make, to use and programs to use are endless. Especially when you compare it to 5 or 10 years ago. The music (production) industry keeps growing due to the rise of social media and online marketing. Because of this, producers are offered an enormous amount of music plugins which they can choose from to make their track unique and special.
Everyone has his favourite DAW (Digital audio workstation). For me personally, it’s Logic. I love working with Mac, I love the quick workflow and overview the program has. Other than DAW there are hundreds, even thousands of different plugins/vst’s (Virtual Studio Technology) to choose from to create your specific track you always had in mind. A vst is a computer software interface that contains the sounds, effects and editors that your MIDI controllers use to create music.
How to choose your VST software
- Your budget. The price of a VST can vary from 15$ up to 400 or even 1000$. The most important thing to ask you here is if you are going to benefit from it in the long run. If you truly believe it’s going to make your track that much better or take it to the next level, then it’s probably worth the investment.
- Sounds, effects, instruments or more? What are you looking for? Specific sounds? An acoustic piano? A guitar? Or maybe an effect? By deciding which type of sound or effect you want or need, you can specifically decide which type of plugin you need.
- The type of sound or effect you’re looking for. When you know what type of plugin you need, it’s time to decide which type of sound you are in search of. A Choir? Violin? Guitar? A simple synth, a bass sound?
For dance music in general you obviously have a few plugins everyone uses. I would like to focus on less known plugins who work fantastic. For those of you starting out and wondering what these so called ‘overused’ plugins are, here’s a short list:
Serum by Xfer Records
Quite easily my favorite plugin to make bass sounds with. This quite ‘new’ plugin by Xfer records is definitely worth the buy! It has a very clear display of sounds and a lot of things to offer. Whether you’re looking for bass, ambient, classic, synth sounds. Serum has it all.
- Supports sound design with an unseen fluent & responsive experience.
- Creates extremely unique sounds with different than the standard vst’s in the market.
- Possibility to create simple sounds & modify them as complex as you wish with a maintaining clean quality.
- Simple interface with an enormous amount of adjustment possibilities.
- Pre-configured LFO rhythm shapes.
- Unable to copy/duplicate FX modules.
- Small amount of oscillator routing options.
Komplete Ultimate 11, without a doubt my most expensive purchase so far as a music producer but Oh my! Isn’t it amazing. The Komplete Ultimate 11 box goes for about 1000 euros but is extremely worth it. With 550 GB of high quality sounds, effects, plugins,… it’s all you’ll ever need to take your tracks to the next level.
- All in one plugin bundle
- Highest quality acoustic sounds
- Highest quality effects
- Extremely customizable
- Price (starting: € 1.199,-)
Fabfilter Pro Q2
By far my favorite EQ plugin to work with and possibly (one of) the best EQ plugin’s on the market.
- Surgical adjustments
- Spectrum grab
- Unique shapes
- Full screen mode when multi monitoring
- Sidechain input
- EQ Match
- None in my opinion.
One Knob series
The One Knob series from Waves is the best example of simple plugins that actually work and do the job for the things you need. Each plugin does a specific modulation but does it oh so well.
Mixing is made easy with OneKnob Series, featuring the best of Waves’ award-winning processing technology in a set of eight audio plugins, each of which is controlled by one single knob.
- Eight plugins à each controlled by a single knob
- Easy to use
- High quality
- Price ($49 for each plugin)
Sonalkis creative filter
One of the best filters out there. It’s straight forward, simple and does the job perfectly. Everything you need within one small plugin. Other than most other filter plugin’s it doesn’t ruin your sound, it works just like a DJM filter.
- Doesn’t ruin your sound
- Does the job
- None in my opinion