The Best Mic Arms Reviewed and Compared [2021]

If you’re building your own studio, it is of crucial importance to get good quality auxiliary gear like a nice microphone arm. It will give you the freedom and comfort you need to get your creations to the next level.

Editor’s note: This list is always updated to always reflect the status of the market, so make sure you bookmark it and come back for your future purchases.

If you are playing an instrument like guitar or piano/keyboards and want to record your voice, you really can’t skip the microphone arm. The characteristics of this device are very important, in order to get the best recording possible without vibrations and jitter. A good microphone arm is also providing a feel of quality, staying in the position you set it with no complications.

And it’s not only about the rack-mounted effects, good computers or audio interfaces. You should never overlook the basic stuff, like having the very best mic arm you can.

For other software tools that complement your instrument and voice, make sure you check our constant updating list of best VST synths to get some more sounds in your music.

But the thing about boom microphone arms is that there are so many products to choose from these days that it’s getting hard to find the right one for you. We have selected the ones that are appealing for us, from Amazon’s current listings. There are actually three “winners”, one Budget Choice, which is about the cheapest you can get and still work with it fine, one Overall Choice and one Value Choice, the latter being the one you should get if you don’t have any special needs and can afford it.

And if you are also in the market for a good microphone for podcasts and youtube, you should definitely check our rundown, comparison and reviews for BEST Microphone for Podcasts and Youtube here.

Note: if you are on a mobile device, scroll left and right in the table to see all the entries, and up and down in the cells to see all the content.

Product Name Main Features Our Rating Price
Editor’s Value Choice
UPGRADED Neewer NW-35
– Clamp Mount
– Built in XLR Cable
– Shock Mount
– A lot of accesories
– Holds up to 53oz / 1.5kg
9.4 Arround 50$
CHECK CURRENT PRICE
Editor’s Budget Choice
Regular Neewer NW-35
– Clamp Mount
– Built in XLR Cable
– Shock Mount
– Holds up to 53oz / 1.5kg
9.2 Under 50$
CHECK CURRENT PRICE
Editor’s Overall Choice
Gator Frameworks Deluxe 2000 Series
– Spring-Loaded Articulating Arm
– Holds 2. 4lbs/1. 1kg
– 5/8” threads
– Surface support 2. 17”/55mm Thickness
9.5 Under 100$
CHECK CURRENT PRICE
Professional Choice
K&M 23860 Professional Microphone Arm
– Steel construction
– Extremely good looking for Youtubers
– 37″ maximul extension
– Holds 3.2lbs/1.45kg
9.9 Under 300$
CHECK CURRENT PRICE
Pyle Suspension Microphone Boom Stand Pro
– Clamp Mount
– Perfect for travel and quick setup.
– 5/8 inch microphone threading and adapter
– Integrated XLR cable
– Can hold the Blue Yeti microphone
8.7 Under 50$
CHECK CURRENT PRICE
InnoGear Microphone Stand
– Clamp Mount
– Cable ties included
– Shock Mount
– Adapters for Blue Yeti and other models included
8.7 Arround 50$
CHECK CURRENT PRICE
Rode NT1A Mic Stand with Pop Filter
– Dual suspension springs
– Clamp Mount
– Comes with Pop filter
– Compatible with most microphones
– Holds up to 56oz / 1.6kg
9.1 Under 50$
CHECK CURRENT PRICE
Heil Sound PL-2T
– Clamp Mount
– Holds up to 56oz / 1.6kg
8.5 100$ to 150$
CHECK CURRENT PRICE
Blue Compass Tube-Style Arm
– Clamp Mount
– Built in cable management
– Made specifically for the Blue Yeti
8.9 Under 100$
CHECK CURRENT PRICE
Knox Gear Microphone Suspension Arm
– Clamp Mount
– High weight tolerance, for heavy microphones
– 5/8 to 3/8-inch thread adapter
8.4 Under 50$
CHECK CURRENT PRICE

Over the last few years or so, we’ve seen the rise of famous YouTubers and it seems that many other people are trying their luck in this field.

They, or at least the ones that aspire for greatness are using good microphones in order to sound great, especially on headphones where a bad quality microphone can simply ruin the viewer’s overall experience. Especially true for podcasts and content where only the voice is heard.

But even a good microphone is not so good if it is not placed properly and if it not seated correctly on a firm surface. People use their hands for gestures and to manipulate other tools like the computer, to show the viewer’s their content, so it’s only logical to see the increased number of these products on the market.

In order to make it easier for everyone, we decided to do some digging and find the best microphone stands out there. Please note that this list is continually updated in order to reflect current market status.

Whether you’re doing regular studio work or are trying to find a perfect stand for your YouTube videos or podcasts, these will most definitely come in handy.

So without further ado, here’s a breakdown of our favorite mic stands:

#1 Gator Frameworks Deluxe 2000 Series [Editor’s Overall Choice]

Gator Frameworks Deluxe 2000 Series at a Glance

Price Range: $$
Mic Compatibility: Standard 5/8”-27 Mic Threads for Connecting Most Podcast and Vocal Microphones, Including Shure SM7B, Shure MV7 Models
Built in Cables Included: None, but it has a separate connection at the microphone end to prevent wear and tear on the mic connector.
Our Score: 9.5
Max Load Capacity: Spring-Loaded Articulating Arm with 2.4 lbs./1.1 kg Max Weight Capacity & 38.6“/980mm Max Extension
Mounting Options: Mounts or Clamps to Desks, Tables & Similar-Sized Surfaces 2. 17”/55mm Max in Thickness
Close Alternative Model:
CHECK CURRENT PRICE

After much deliberating, we’ve decided to award the Gator Frameworks Deluxe 2000 Series the title of best mic boom arm.

3 main characteristics made us choose the Gator Frameworks Deluxe 2000 Series microphone arm:

  • Firstly and foremost it’s a sturdy and durable arm. The kind of arm that you buy once and own for life
  • Its simple design looks good in any setup. It’s light, but can hold up mics weighing up to 2.4lbs (39oz or 1.1 kg).
  • Its a professional grade mic arm at a relatively affordable price.
  • It does not have an integrated XLR cable, which at first sounds like a con and not a pro, but believe is, integrated XLR cables are ok until they stop working, then replacing them is a nightmare.

Compared with some of the other models in this list, the ator Frameworks Deluxe 2000 Series microphone arm has more of a classic design, simple and timeless.

If you want a more modern, robust design, check out the 3000 series from the same company.

While the fact that there is no integrated cable may feel like an untidy solution to some, we found it provides way more flexibility and ease of use when switching up your setup and cables.

All in all, it’s a quality boom arm that allows stable operation, full 360 degree rotation, and a solid vertical and horizontal reach.

The Gator Frameworks Deluxe 2000 microphone arm is also fairly light, somewhere around 3.2 lbs./1.5 kg and it’s size is 22.25”/565mm (L), 7”/177mm (W), 1.63”/40mm (H).

Overall, it’s a solid choice for mid-range podcast and streaming setups plus of course recording your voice while you play your instrument for tracks, demos, etc.

The manufacturer’s website can be found here.

Here’s a video review for this product line (including all three products, 1000 series, 2000 series, 3000 series):

Also make sure to check our Amplitude versus Guitar Rig comparrison here.

#2 Neewer NW-35 and Upgraded NW-35 microphone arms [Editor’s Budget and Value Choice]

Neewer NW-35 at a Glance

Price Range: $
Mic Compatibility: Not compatible with Blue Yeti
Built in Cables: XLR Male to Female.
Our Score: 9.2
Max Load Capacity:53oz / 1.5KG
Mounting Options:
Clamp
Close Alternative Model:

CHECK CURRENT PRICE

This is somewhat of a cheaper product if you don’t feel like investing a lot of capital in a boom arm stand right away.

Before we being our analysis, it is important to note that this mic arm is not compatible with the Blue Yeti mic.

For Blue Yeti compatibility you should check our VALUE CHOICE, from the same company, the Neewer NW-35 UPGRADED. Plus, the UPGRADED version comes with a lot of accesories.

The NW-35 can come in a few different bundles. One of the versions features an integrated XLR cable which definitely comes in handy.

Overall, it’s a decently built boom arm that won’t fail on you and that will keep the microphone at the desired height.

We found it’s swivel mount to be quite smooth when adjusting from side to side, which is great for long and live recordings.

It comes with a solid table mounting clamp and a shock mount.

In terms of cables, the Neewer NW-35 comes with a XLR male to female cable built into the tubes of the stand, which is great since it hides all cables, however, please note that if you plan to use your computer to record the audio, you’ll need to plugin in an audio interface to convert the XLR cable to USB.

For this price, you’ll definitely be satisfied with the quality.

#3 Pyle Suspension Microphone Boom Stand Pro PMKSH04

Pyle PMKSH04 at a Glance

Price Range: $
Mic Compatibility: RØDE Microphones, Blue Yeti, and others compatible if bought with shock mount.
Built in Cables Included: XLR Male to Female.
Our Score: 8.7
Max Load Capacity: 35oz / 1 kg
Mounting Options: Clamp
Close Alternative Model:
CHECK CURRENT PRICE

Another cheaper arm, the Pyle PMKSH04 is somewhat of a beginner to intermediate product that is a great solution for those looking for a budget friendly option.

Nothing too fancy really, as it features that standard classic design with springs on the outside.

However, it holds up well, the clamp is fairly solid, and it comes with a shock mount and a cable threaded through its construction.

And even though it’s a light stand, it can hold the famous Blue Yeti microphone, which is not light.

Those who use this boom arm are pretty satisfied with this Microphone Arm.

The PMKSH04 has some great features for the price of around $30.

And here is our post on Amp Simulator pedal comparisons.

#4 InnoGear Microphone Stand

Now, the InnoGear Mic Stand is a bit more serious.

Even though it’s well-built and supports even some heavier microphones, it weighs only 3.6 pounds.

What’s really great about this InnoGear microphone boom arm is that springs are inside of the square steel tube construction, and not the outside.

This not only gives it great looks but also makes it very stable. You won’t have any trouble keeping balance with this one. The 5/8-inch thread adapter is also included with the stand. Plus it comes with cable ties.

Pretty well-built, stable, flexible, and looks great.

We have one minor complaint: The swivel mount doesn’t really work well.

You have to loosen the screw of the base boom to adjust from left to right. Once you that it works fine though.

#5 Heil Sound PL-2T Microphone Arm – Best Home Studio Option

Heil Sound PL-2T is also another one of those arms with internal springs.

Although the brand is not well known, this microphone arm is a good bang for the buck.

One of its great features is that the top and the backplates can be removed for proper cable threading. It also comes with the standard C-clamp mount and can accept both shock mounts or 5/8-inch threaded clips.

This boom arm can hold microphones of up to 3.5 pounds (slightly below 1.6 kilograms), which is pretty impressive.

However, putting on just a little extra won’t do any harm either. It’s a fairly solid and stable piece that is relatively affordable.

#6 Blue Compass Premium – Designer Option

Up next, we have the Blue Compass Premium. It’s also an arm with both the springs and the cables hidden inside.

However, this one is a bit more practical since it features simplified construction.

This also gives it a very sleek design and allows you to keep things tidy.

The Blue Compass Premium is intended for Yeti or any other professional broadcast microphones and is compatible with standard shock mounts.

It allows full 360-degree rotation and a maximum horizontal reach of 32 inches. Since it has a very silent operation, it’s a popular boom arm for Twitch streamers and it’s fairly known within the YouTube creator community.

#7 Knox Gear Microphone Suspension Arm

Despite the affordable price, Knox Gear Microphone Suspension Arm stand is a pretty solid boom arm. Also it s a bit different than the rest due to its suspension arm design. We find in interesting and depending on your furniture setup, useful.

It’s considered to be an entry-level product, but it’s proven to be useful thanks to its internal spring construction, and stability.

The most impressive feature (and its strongest point) is the fact that it can hold microphones that weigh up to 5 pounds.

If you want to have a decent boom arm for heavier microphones without busting a bank, you should definitely look into this one.

However, it might be a bit of a downside that you have to attach the cable via velcro strips. On the up-side, it includes 5/8 to 3/8-inch thread adapter

#8 K&M 23860 Best Professional Microphone Arm

While significantly more expensive than the other stands on this list, the K&M 23860 is a fully professional microphone arm and represents the highest quality entry in this list.

It might not be a famous brand, but it’s certainly a high-end piece and some of the biggest YouTubers have been using it for some time.

It’s an all-tube steel stand with an XLR cable integrated into the construction.

The reach is pretty impressive, up to 37 inches, and it easily holds up microphones of up to 3.2 pounds with perfect stability. It might get a bit pricy, well over $200, but it’s most definitely worth every penny if you want to go pro.

#9 ON-STAGE MBS5000 microphone arm

The on-stage MBS5000 is our go to mic boom for podcasts and broadcasting.

From the products we tried, it was the best budget boom arm in terms of durability and build quality.

With two springs, it allows to fix mics and other devices (such as tablets) of up to 3.5lbs.

A common setup with this model is to buy a couple of them and have a tablet in one arm and a mic in the other.

It comes with a 10′ XLR cable, so if your mic setup is UBS, beware that you will have to have some interface or digital converter to plug into your laptop.

In terms of installation, the on-starage MBS500 comes with two options:

  • A C-Style clamp for surfaces up to 2″ thick
  • A flange mount for permanent fixtures

It’s a pretty durable boom arm with square tubing, and in our opinion, well-worth the 50 bucks it costs.

Final Thoughts on Microphone Arms

Microphone stands are a relatively cheap piece of gear that can be a great addition for podcast production, or any kind of voice-over work.

In our experience, the cheap mic boom arms tend to break easily, and we thus recommend going over the 100$ mark.

However, this is up to you. If you’re a beginner looking to dip your toes in the podcasting world, the entry level options such as the Newer N35 are still a great option.

As always, we welcome your feedback in the comment section.

Best Musical Instruments for a Toddler

It’s never too early to get into music. In fact, there have been countless studies proving the benefits of encouraging your child to play an instrument.

Getting engaged in music will help them learn how to listen and pay attention, and it even helps with overall motor skills and communication abilities.

Also, music is like a language on its own – an expressive tool that can eventually help you “say” what you weren’t able to when using only words.

So it’s always a good idea to get someone interested in music earlier in life.

Of course, it’s not that strange to see even the youngest ones showing interest in music.

If this is the case with your children, you should always consider helping them pursue their potential talents, even if they’re toddlers.

Singing may be the best way to start and see whether your child shows further signs of interest.

But, on the other hand, playing an actual instrument might be a bit complicated at this age as the conventional stuff is usually not exactly toddler-friendly.

However, some manufacturers specialize in making instruments for the youngest ones. And in case you also play an instrument, engaging in this activity with your child will definitely be a special kind of bonding experience.

With all this in mind, we would like to take some time to explore some of the best instruments for toddlers that you might find useful and interesting.

Kalimba for Toddlers

Kalimba is a pretty simple contraption developed from an old traditional African instrument called mbira. This simplified version became somewhat popular around the world since the 1950s. Also called a “thumb piano,” it’s often a simple resonator box with metal tines added on top of it. The sound is produced by plucking the tines which are arranged in the same way piano keys are.

There are some simplified versions for kids, like the one made by Nimba Percussions which features only five metal tines.

Although pretty rudimentary, this can be a fun way to help toddlers develop their talents and imagination early on.

Metallophone for Toddlers

Pretty much an expected choice, Metallophones are part of almost everyone’s childhood. This way, the kids can get introduced to individual notes, simple melodies, and even musical intervals at their earliest age.

And the instrument is pretty simple to use and all you have to do is swing the stick and hit the metal bar to get a twinkly sustained note.

Pretty engaging for a toddler and can help develop some motor functions as well.

Metallophones designed for children are all diatonic and usually only feature one octave in the key of C major, compared to the standard chromatic ones. And they are usually pretty cheap as well, like the A-Star MET08STD.

Overall, this is one of the simplest and the most cost-friendly ways to introduce someone to music.

Keyboards for Toddlers

Generally speaking, the keyboards and piano-like instruments are one of the easiest and most fun ways for toddlers to develop their musical interests and motor skills.

Besides, electronic keyboards have an abundance of sounds and presets and the whole playing experience can be both fun, educational, and thoroughly engaging.

And there’s so much stuff to pick from, anything like one simple keyboard up to a whole set with a stool, a stand, and built-in lessons. However, we would argue that something simpler, like the BIGFUN 37 would definitely work better for toddlers than something more complex.

Mini-sized guitars for Toddlers

Generally speaking, string instruments might be a bit tricky for the youngest of ages. Compared to keyboards or metallophones, instruments like guitar require a bit more physical effort to produce one note. However, there are some companies out there that specialized in making guitars for toddlers.

One of those is called Loog and they have been making kid-size and kid-friendly guitars for some time now. They have a few models available, like the Loog Mini Acoustic. What’s more, the company also offers electric guitars with one single-coil pickup. All of these have three strings, extra-short scale length, small bodies, and are super easy to play. Just imagine what kind of a fun experience will it be for a toddler to play an actual electric guitar.

While many other brands create smaller guitars, Loog is currently the most famous guitar builder for kids.

Drums and percussion for Toddlers

Well, the easiest thing to do is to bang on the drums, right? But all the jokes aside, getting a toy drum set or a percussion is a pretty great way for toddlers to get more interested in music. You just hit it and it makes a sound ñ it’s that simple.

What’s more, imitating simple rhythms is significantly easier than imitating melodies, especially at a young age. And, overall, it’s a super fun way to practice coordination. Among the countless different drums and percussion products for kids, there’s anything from simple stuff up to entire drum kits for children.

Handbells

Handbells, in their different forms, are often praised as the best musical instruments for toddlers and older children. While some might argue that they’re too loud, they seem to be pretty attractive to kids in the age group between one and four. Things like bell sets can help develop rhythmic feel, sense for pitch and individual notes, as well as a sense for melodies.

Just like with metallophones, these sets are diatonic and feature one octave in the key of C major.

Aside from the classic swinging bell sets, there are some desk bell diatonic products, like the set of Rhythm Band Handbells. Easily the simplest way to get a toddler more interested in music and help them develop their music talents early on.

Final Thoughts

Congratulations on taking the first step towards your child’s musical education.

Music takes a lot of patience, but can be a great outlet that encourages children to share their emotions, an all too important skill in todays crazy world.

We hope this article helped you choose an instrument for your toddler. If you’ve got any questions, leave them in the comment box below!

Best Distortion Plugins

We’ll cut to the chase, if you’re looking for the best distortion vst plugins, here’s a table that summarizes our tests and reviews:

Plugin Name
Price
Distortion Type
Our Rating
Temper Distortion by Creative Intent FREE Digital Distortion 4/5CHECK PLUGIN
Radiator by SoundToys 157$ (Price may vary depending on existing deals) Tube Distortion 4.8/5CHECK PLUGIN
Guitar Rig 5 by Native Instruments 199$ (Price may vary depending on existing deals) Digital Distortion 4.8/5CHECK PLUGIN
Scheps 73 by Waves 199$ (Price may vary depending on existing deals) Harmonic Distortion 4.9/5CHECK PLUGIN
Fabfilter Saturn 145$ (Price may vary depending on existing deals) Tube and Tape Distortion 4.7/5CHECK PLUGIN

The electric guitar has come a long way since its inception. The effects that were difficult to achieve are now available in the form of affordable compact stomp-boxes for any instruments.

We might even take it for granted these days, knowing that some guitar players back in the 1950s and the 1960s even resorted to damaging their amps to achieve distortion.

Fortunately for all of us, there’s no need for such nasty practices these days as you can get all that either in an amp, pedal, multi-effects unit or a digital plugin.

In case you’re recording at home and want to take things one step further, there are a lot of advantages in using the distortion VST plugins for your digital audio workstation.

Instead of re-amping your guitar, or even re-recording it because you used certain pedals, it’s always more practical to have the clean signal processed using different software.

All of the plugins below are designed to work with any standard digital audio workstation, including Ableton Live, Cubase, and others.

Types of saturation

All of the distortion plugins are made with the same intention to completely replicate the good old analog pedals and other signal processing units.

No matter the instrument, all the distortion that you hear happens due to the so-called “clipping.”

When the signal is too strong, it reaches the limitations of the amp or any other device that you’re playing through.

When this happens, the signal gets clipped and you end up with that recognizable “scorched” or “growling” sound.

Saturation effect comes from the days of magnetic tape-based effects and has softer clipping, creating an effect somewhat resembling a mild overdrive that adds more warmth to the tone rather than completely smashing it.

Tube Saturation

Tube saturation is done using vacuum tubes, the ones that we can find in instrument amplifiers or any other distortion or saturation devices.

The vacuum tubes have been praised for their warm tone and dynamic response.

The present-day vintage-oriented tube saturation plugins are designed to imitate that particular sound.

Transistor Saturation

Transistors found their use in guitar effects back in the 1960s, ultimately making it possible to create compact pedals.

The overall tone might be a bit harsher, but this is usually something that rock and metal musicians are looking for. Many fuzz pedals implement transistors which bring the clipping to a whole new level and create that “broken amplifier” tone.

Best free distortion VST

Interestingly enough, there are some pretty decent distortion VST plugins you can use and get some solid tones.

For instance, there’s one called Temper, made by Creative Intent. It might take some time to get used to it and it might seem a bit complicated at first. But once you get a hang of it, you’ll be able to make some pretty diverse sounds. The color of distortion is controlled via Drive, Saturation, and Curve controls. There’s also an additional spectrum analyzer to get the visual representation of what’s going on.

Temper Distortion VST
Maker: Creative Intent
Cost: Free
Plugin Type: Digital Distortion
User Rating: 4/5 (202 votes)
MORE INFO

Then there’s a plugin called Greed Smasher, made by a company called Mercuriall Audio, known for its great pedal replica plugins. The plugin replicates Mesa Boogie Grid Slammer overdrive and features three simple controls ñ level, tone, and gain. Pretty straightforward but works well.

Greed Smasher VST
Maker: Mercuriall Audio
Cost: Free
Plugin Type: Digital Distortion
User Rating: 4/5 (202 votes)
MORE INFO

Made by Wave Arts, Tube Saturator Vintage is a pretty exciting one as it replicates preamps packed with 12AX7 tubes. It’s pretty weird how you can get such a great distortion plugin for free. Featuring volume, drive, 3-band EQ, and the “Fat” mode, there’s a lot of stuff that you can do with it.

Tube Saturator Vintage VST
Maker: Wave Arts
Cost: Free
Plugin Type: Tube Distortion
MORE INFO

Best bass distortion VST

Although it’s kind of hard to get that solid and tight bass distortion that doesn’t sound too muddy, some distortion plugins will help you achieve some more controlled tones.

One of those plugins is Radiator, made by Soundtoys.

This vintage-styled tube-inspired software is a replica of an old rack-mounted tube mixer Altec 1567A. You’ll get some tight natural overdrives for bass with it.

Radiator VST
Maker: Soundtoys
Cost: 157$ (Price may vary depending on existing deals)
Plugin Type: Tube Distortion
User Rating: 5/5 (22 votes)
MORE INFO

Although not a single distortion VST, IK Multimedia Amplitube 4 has an abundance of options for both guitars and basses. Aside from different amps and cabinets, you’ll be able to get so many different replicas of overdrive, fuzz, and distortion pedals with it.

The same could be said about Guitar Rig 5 by Native Instruments.

Although mostly guitar-centric, there are some bass amp and bass distortion options on there that can make turn your bass into a real beast for basically any genre.

Guitar and bass players are usually divided when it comes to Amplitube and Guitar Rig and are inclined to side with one of these two.

However, both of these plugins are pretty solid and deserve all the praise they can get.

Guitar Rig 5
Maker: Native Instruments
Cost: 199$ (Price may vary depending on existing deals)
Plugin Type: Digital Distortion
MORE INFO

Another one that’s worth mentioning is Softube’s Bass Amp Room. It was modeled originally for guitars, but has proven to be a great fit for bass too.

This is perhaps the most popular plugin for rock type bass distortion, and for good reason.

Bass Amp Room
Maker: Softube
Cost: 160$ (Price may vary depending on existing deals)
Plugin Type: Bass Amp
MORE INFO

Best vocal distortion VST

Of course, depending on the style of music that you’re into, there would be some requirements for the distortion in vocals.

For that purpose, you can use the Decapitator by Soundtoys, which would also come in handy for instrument distortions. It’s not that noisy and can bring in just the right amount of drive for lead vocals.

This is another classic plugin that has been used in a wide variety of styles including pop and rock. Fabian “Fab” Dupont, producer of many pop hits from jennifer lopez, and others, calls it “instavibe-in-a-box“.

Soundtoys Decapitator Analog Saturator
Maker: Soundtoys
Cost: 239$ (Price may vary depending on existing deals)
Plugin Type: Analog Saturation Modeler
MORE INFO

FabFilter Saturn provides plenty of options for vocal distortions, including anything vintage or modern based.

What’s great about it is that you can push it over the limits and still get surprisingly clear and recognizable vocal parts.

Franceso Cameli, the Italian producer, has talked at length about how he used this plugin in the latest korn record to get clean sounding vocal quickly and easily.

Fabfilter Saturn Distortion Unit
Maker: Fabfilter
Cost: 145$ (Price may vary depending on existing deals)
Plugin Type: Tube and Tape Distortion
MORE INFO

Finally, another plugin that can distort vocals without turning them into a senseless mush is Avid SansAmp PSA-1. This one is especially handy if you want to make those thin megaphone-like vocal parts that can be often be heard in some sections of rock and metal songs.

Final Thoughts

And that’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed our brief guide of the best distortion plugins. Feedback is always welcome, feel free to share our content through your social channels. Stay safe, folks.

The BEST Online Music Production Masterclass Course [2021]

Investing in an online music production “masterclass” course is one of the best decisions you will make this year.

This might seem like a bold statement, specially for those of you who have previously tried free courses or dabble around some youtube videos on production, but it’s the truth: Knowledge is more important than any piece of gear in your studio. Furthermore, enrolling in one of the below courses is nothing like doing a free course or watching youtube videos.

These online music production masterclass courses allow you to follow a tried and tested structure devised by top producers and engineers, plus incentivises you to follow through, as you have money invested.

Anyways, if you’re looking for a summarized version of this article, check out the below table with our favorite online music production courses, including our very own choice for the best online music production course. And if you are also looking for a music production laptop, we have a comparrison and test article with the top models here.

Note: if you are on a mobile device, scroll left and right in the table to see all the entries, and up and down in the cells to see all the content.

Summarizing Table

Course Name Cost Duration Main Focus Our Rating
Editor’s Choice – Best Value
Groove3
Starts at under 50$
– Over 20 000 hours of video,
– Over 20 books.
– Workflow,
– Plug-Ins + DAWs,
– Recording,
– Production,
– Mixing + Mastering.
9.5/10
Deadmau5 Masterclass
Starts at under 20$ / month or under 100$ total
– 6 hours of video,
– Assignments
– Electronic Music Production,
– Synths,
– Music Business,
– Mixing and Mastering,
– Workflow.
9.3/10
Hans Zimmer Masterclass
Starts at under 20$ / month or under 100$ total$
– 4.5 hours of video – Film Scoring,
– Soundscapes,
– Composing,
– Industry, and More.
8.7/10
Timbaland Masterclass
Starts at under 20$ / month or under 100$ total$
– 3 hours of video – Hip-hop Production,
– Beat Making,
– Inspiration and Workflow,
– Industry and Motivation.
8.5/10
Point Blank Music School Online
Under 150$
CHECK PRICE
– Huge subject diversity
– Mixing/Mastering
– Dj
– Music Business
9.6/10
Udemy Music Production Courses
Under 150$
CHECK PRICE
– 38 hours of video
– each DAW has it’s own course
– other specific topics have dedicated courses
9/10
EQ Fundamentals
Under 50$
CHECK PRICE
– 2.5 hours of video,
– PDRs,
– Assignments
– EQ,
– Mixing + Mastering,
– All Musical Genres
9.2/10
Berklee Online- Electronic Music Production
Under 150$
CHECK PRICE
– 16 weeks – Electronic Music Production,
– Vocal Recording,
– Ableton Live.
9.3/10

Groove3 Online Music Production Course Review – Editor’s Choice

  • Music style: All
  • Financial Investment: Low
  • Duration: Over 20 000 hours of video + over 20 books. 1 077 Courses 17 979 Individual Tutorials.
  • Main DAW used: All DAWs available.
  • Our Rating: 9.5/10
  • Skill Level: Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced
  • Certificate upon completion: No

PROS:

  1. High quality of content
  2. Content available on all formats and platforms: Video, books, Desktop, iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku.
  3. Very affordable on a month-to-month basis
  4. High quality instructors
  5. Most comprehensive library of learning resources

CONS:

  1. Lack of focus
  2. Can be overwhelming

We’ll start with our favorite online music production course: Groove3. What an absolute gold mine of music production knowledge.

If you watched all of groove3’s videos back-to-back you’d take over 2 years to finish, probably much more, given that they update the content regularly.

There’s tutorials on all topics you can image, including all DAWs, Plugins, and musical styles. If you search around the forums, it’s often mentioned as a student favorite, along with some of the masterclass courses we’ll review below.

When it comes to price, an all-access pass costs only 89$, with b&hphoto. This represents without a doubt the best value of all courses.

We’ve found this to be a great way to stay focused for idle studio time. Simply browse around their website, find an interesting video, watch it, then apply it to your current project.

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Deadmau5 Masterclass Review

The first course we’ve had a chance to review is Deadmau5’s Masterclass Course.

  • Music style: EDM / Electronic
  • Financial Investment: Low / Moderate
  • Duration: 6 hours of video + assignments
  • Main DAW used: Ableton, though teachings can be applied to any DAW.
  • Our Rating: 9.3/10
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Certificate upon completion: No

Pros:

  1. Very entertaining, huge production value. Very easy to follow through with the teachings.
  2. Very well-rounded. All major topics are discussed (mastering, mixing, synths, drums, music business, live performance, and more).
  3. Composed of videos, assignments, and discussions.
  4. Great community if you’re willing to engage.

Cons:

  1. This 6 hour course will set you back 90$. It’s not a cheap course by any means, but we found the cost/quality relation to be quite good.
  2. It’s a short course. It could benefit from going more in-depth into certain topics.

Course Structure

The course has 23 lessons, all delivered through video classes. It also has assignments and discussions.

The classes touch upon the following topics:

  • The Deadmau5 Production Process
  • Building Your Home Studio
  • Melodic Structures
  • Arrangements
  • Synthesized Sounds
  • Modular Synths
  • Digital Vs. Analog Synths
  • Sound Design with Effects And Processing
  • Drums / Beats
  • Song Structure
  • Remixed
  • Mixing
  • Mastering (includes case study)
  • Starting a Career
  • Music Business
  • On Stage Performance

Our Thoughts

Overall, this is a solid and very well rounded online music production masterclass course. It won’t hold your hand and automatically offer you a career in audio engineering or music production, but if you follow through with all the tips shared, your chances of making it will increase exponentially.

Furthermore, if you take your time to network and reach out to the community, you’ll likely make some useful connections out of this online music production masterclass course.

This is a great course for anyone looking for a well-balanced course on electronic / pop / hip-hop / digital music production, with no specific focus on any are of the music production process, but rather a wholistic approach. It gives you a framework, the one used by deadmau5, to produce a song. It is not a case study, i.e- it won’t show you how deadmau5 produces a song from scratch, but it will show you every single step of the process. We recommend deadmau5’s online music production masterclass course to people that are starting out and want something a bit lighter (shorter) and more fun.

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Hans Zimmer Masterclass Review

Up next is Hans Zimmer’s online music production masterclass course.

  • Music style: Film Scoring / Soundtrack / Sound Design
  • Financial Investment: Low / Moderate
  • Duration: 4.5 hours of video + assignments
  • Main DAW used: N/A.
  • Our Rating: 8.5/10
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Course Structure

  • Themes
  • Story
  • Directors
  • Sound Palettes
  • Creating with Synths
  • Scoring to Picture
  • Scoring Under Dialogue
  • Tempo
  • Music Diary
  • Character
  • Case Study: Frost/Nixon
  • Working With Musicians
  • Feedback & Revisions
  • Audience Feedback
  • Writing Tips
  • Hans’ Journey
  • Learning by Listening
  • Life of a Composer
  • Closing

Our Thoughts

This is a very interesting course. The simple fact that you get to hear Hans Zimmer talk on the first person about stuff that he has never revealed on interviews is worth the cost of the program.

However, we found the structure a bit random.

Unlike deadmau5’s course, this program kind of jumped around topics, with one class being solely about Hans’ career and progression in the industry. To be honest, if we wanted to learn about that, we could just check one of the hundreds of interviews that he’s given.

Having said that, there are loads of golden nuggets there about his process, inspiration, and process. It is packed loads of synthesiser tips as well as general aesthetic in sound design.

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Timbaland Masterclass Review

To finish off our selection of Masterclass courses, we’ll have a look at Timbaland’s online music production course.

  • Music style: Hip-Hop / Pop
  • Financial Investment: Low / Moderate
  • Duration: 3.5 hours of video + assignments
  • Main DAW used: Ableton
  • Our Rating: 8.5/10
  • Skill Level: Beginner / Intermediate

Course Structure:

  • Studio Session: Making a Beatbox Beat
  • Building Beats: Tim’s Process
  • Making a Beat: Getting Warmed Up
  • Song Origins: “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”
  • Making a Beat: Starting With a Chord Progression
  • Making a Beat: Tweaking and Layering Drums
  • Song Origins: “Pony”
  • Making a Beat: Manipulating Vocal Samples
  • Making a Beat: Creating a Breakdown
  • Song Origins: “Gossip Folks”
  • Making a Beat: Adding a Topline
  • Song Origins: “Are You That Somebody?”
  • Tim’s Influences
  • How to Persevere

Our Thoughts

We found this masterclass to be the least technical of all online muic production masterclass courses reviewed. Perhaps on purpose, as Timbaland’s production process seems to be based a lot around feeling, leaning on his team to fill in the more technical gaps.

We still found it very useful and inspiring, with some pretty straight forward but useful tips such as thinking about drums through beatbox.

His team of “co-producers” also share some gems on drums layering, chord progression and more.

If you’re a hip hop head, you’ll love this course. You’ll learn about how Timba produced hits for Missy Elliot, Jay-z, and others, as well as some inspiring tips on how to succeed in the industry. If you’re not a hip hop nerd, then you might find it not that inspiring. Though we still recommend purchasing it as part of the masterclass bundle of classes.

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Point Blank Music School Online

Point Blank is an well established English music school, which has opened it’s expertise to the online sector. The sheer diversity of courses that they offer, including Music Business courses, is practically unmatched. This Online Music Production Masterclass Course set is both formal and fun.

  • Music style: None in Specific
  • Financial Investment: Medium-high
  • Duration: Depends on the subject of choice.
  • Main DAW used: Ableton
  • Our Rating: 9.5/10.
  • Skill Level: Intermediate-High

The “Online” courses of Point Blank Music School are actual real-time/live lecture by teachers, customised to you as a student. You get to ask questions and interact with your teacher via webcam. Each course thus has it’s own structure.

Our thoughts:

So this is clearly something different. Theere are no pre-recorded sessions, like the others. This would also explain the high price point compared to the others. As a drawback, their online music production courses are not instant, you have to enroll like you would to a school. Only that the school location is your home, if you cannot access the offline schools Point Blank Music School has running in London, L.A., Mumbai, Ibiza and China.

We feel like this product is for the more advanced music production, since asking questions is key here.

If you feel like you have run out of material to study on your own and feel like it’s time to get 1:1 with a teacher who can guide you further then look no further and click the button below to access the Point Blank Music School website.

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Producertech EQ Fundamentals Review

Producertech is a well established music course provider. It was founded in 2009 by Rob Jones. Of all their online music production courses, EQ fundamentals is one of our favourites. Here’s why:

  • Music style: None in Specific
  • Financial Investment: Low
  • Duration: 2.5 hours of video + assignments +
  • Main DAW used: Ableton
  • Our Rating: 9/10.
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Course Structure:

  • Introduction to Frequencies
  • EQ Controls 
  • EQ in Isolation
  • Frequency Demo #3 – Combining the Piano and Sine Wave 
  • The Frequency Spectrum Explained
  • EQ with respect to other parts
  • EQ’ing Drums 
  • Common EQ Practices
  • EQ’ing Kick and Bass
  • EQ on the Master Channel
  • EQ In The Mix

Our thoughts:

This course is, in our opinion, a must do for all aspiring producers. Having a solid grasp of EQ can be the difference between an amateur sounding song and a commercial grade end product.

Producertech’s EQ Fundamentals online music production masterclass course will give you the foundation you need to make clean sounding mixed, at a very accessible cost (25$).

It doesn’t have a rock star teacher or cover 10 different topics, but that is, in our opinion, a strength. There is no magic pill that will make you a successful musician. Instead, the path to success is continued investment in small courses on different topics. This laser focused course will give you a very complete foundation on one of the most important skills in the game: EQing.

It also comes with the EXPOSE software, which allows you to “test” your final mix for any potential issues. We were positively surprised by the production quality of the course. Here’s a sample video from the course:

There is a special focus on bass and kick mixing, thus making it slightly more relevant to electronic, hip-hop, and pop producers, though it really suits any kind of music style.

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Berklee Online Review- Electronic Music Production

Berklee is one of the most famous music schools in the world. This institution is a pioneer in online music production courses, having started in 2002! They still are an industry leader and offer the most formal type of education you’ll find in this list.

  • Music style: Electronic
  • Financial Investment: Moderate
  • Duration: Around 6 months (4 hours / week recommended)
  • Main DAW used: Ableton, though teachings can be applied to any DAW.
  • Our Rating: 9.5/10.
  • Skill Level: Beginner / Intermediate
  • Certificate upon completion: Yes

Course Structure:

  • The Technology of Music Production
  • Introduction to Ableton Live
  • Creating Sounds for Electronic Music
  • The Art of Vocal Production

Our Thoughts:

This is a solid course for students looking for a serious commitment and some degree of credibility. It teaches all the theoretic background + gives you a solid foundation in ableton production and recording / mastering vocals.

If you’re looking for some credibility in the industry, the Beerklee is something to stick in your CV that can also teach you some good theory.

However, there are more advanced and complete courses in this list in terms of knowledge.

Finally, one of the main advantages is that coursera offers financial aid to certain students.

All in all, it is pretty inexpensive, at 39$/month, and if you’re feeling motivated, you can knock it off in a couple of months, getting a “mini” degree for a very affordable price.

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Udemy Music Production Courses review

Next up, we have a couple of udemy courses. We’ll start with probably the most popular music course in the platform, “Music Production in Logic Pro X”.

Udemy has a lot of online music production course programs on it’s website, they mostly have a similar structure to the Logic X one which is our reference.

This course was developed by Digital Music Masters, a well established music school.

  • Music style: None in Specific
  • Financial Investment: Low
  • Duration: 38 hours of video + articles and resources
  • Main DAW used: Logic Pro X
  • Our Rating: 9/10.
  • Skill Level: Beginner / Intermediate

Our Thoughts

This is mostly for those more advanced. What we like is that you can just pay for one “topic” and not buy the whole online music production masterclass course package like with the others. You just get to Udemy, shop for what you want to know and that’s it.

These courses are mostly focused on daw workflows, with some specific items covering hardware gear like the Maschine and others focusing on specific sub-genres like music for games. All in all we think it is good product if you just want to fill some specific empty spaces in your skill arsenal.

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Final Thoughts

We hope that the above suggestions help you kickstart your music production career/hobby.

This article is in constant update as we try new courses, so if you have any recommendations, please post them below in the comments section!

United Plugins Front DAW is FREE for a limited time

For the next week you can get free Front DAW VST/AU plugin by United Plugins.

Front DAW plugin emulates three types of vintage console sounds.

Description from plugin developer:

“The digital world with its clarity and accuracy lacks some vibe from the old times. This is why English producer and remixer Greg Brimson, also United Plugins powered artist, approached us with his idea for a dream plugin. ‘Create a front door for every recording, and call it Front DAW, guys,’ said he, ‘so that every track would have a true analogue input.’ Thanks to him you can turn your DAW Mixer into a real Analogue Console.”

Get Free Front DAW plugin from United Plugins website

Get Voltage Modular FREE

Until the end of August Cherry Audio offer their Voltage Modular plugin Nucleus edition for free.

Voltage Modular is a VST plugin that emulates modular systems (like Eurorack, Buchla etc). Unlike Softube Modular it doesn’t offer 1:1 emulation of real modules but comes with a handy collection of 20+ modules that cover basic synthesis needs. Collection of modules can be expanded with a Cherry Audio store that have 300+ modules built by Cherry Audio and third party developers.

Get VoltageModular Nucleus Edition FREE

Mutable Instruments modules ported to iOS as free AUv3 plugins

I can’t say how happy I am with these news. 

Mutable Instruments is known for its Eurorack modules that always had open source code. Before Today it was ported to VCV rack, Softube Modular and partially to Reaktor Blocks (you can find MU inspired modules in Euroreakt). And now it is available as AUv3 for iOS

[appstore id=1467384251]

[asa_item id=”1467384251″]

NI Standalone Maschine is coming

Thanks for the NI User forum D-One who has found new hardware scripts inside recent Maschine update (2.8.3). According to the scripts it is a standalone device that features wifi module, airplane mode, flash drive storage and more.

Probably it will have same idea as MPC Live/X, when a device works as a standalone or as a controller when connected to a computer.

This could be MK4 or something else.

Here we have a bunch of screenshots from NI forum (in case NI decides to delete the topic):

Read original topic on NI user forum

Update: It seems as though the original Native Instruments forum post has been deleted. There are claims that these mockups are simply the result of some internal brainstorming and ideas, and will not develop into a fully fledged product.

One can dream though.

👉 CHECK OUT THE LATEST DEALS AND DISCOUNTS ON VST PLUGINS AND DAWS

Follow the discussion on elektronauts.

Floats – Make Noise Maths emulation for VCV Rack

A new module for VCV rack – Floats is a Make Noise Maths emulation. Unlike most of VCV modules this module is not free and costs $35

Floats is a module that can become anything with creative patching, but its three main uses are as an envelope, LFO, and audio rate oscillator. As an audio rate oscillator, Floats is antialiased through the whole audio range resulting in a stable and warm timbre.

👉 CHECK OUT THE LATEST DEALS AND DISCOUNTS ON VST PLUGINS AND DAWS

As an LFO, Floats can reach times as low as 8.5 hours per cycle! Floats can also be used as a mixer, logic comparator, clock source, envelope follower, low pass gate, complex oscillator, and gate delay. Those and many other uses are covered in the online manual.

Floats also fixes the common complaints musicians have with West Coast slope generators. Floats has a snappy attack time of less than 1 millisecond when the maximum fall time is set to 30 minutes while other slope generators have sluggish attack times with fall times set to 60 seconds. The shape knob only changes the shape of the oscillation, and not the rate of the oscillation. The exponential input tracks V/OCT perfectly over a 20 octave range from -10 Volts to 10 Volts

You can purchase Floats here for $35

See also:

3 best sounding Eurorack emulations

7 Best Modular/Eurorack Emulator Plugins

Modular synths and eurorack systems are a nifty piece of hardware. They allow you to build a system, adding or taking out as many different modules as you want.

However, these aren’t accessible to everyone. They are expensive and require some technical skills.

👉 CHECK OUT THE LATEST DEALS AND DISCOUNTS ON VST PLUGINS AND DAWS

With that in mind, here are the best 3 software alternatives to these systems.

Softube Modular

Softube Modular is the only official software that emulate modules by Doepfer, Intellijel, Buchla, 4ms and Mutable Instuments.

I have compared several times Softube with tue real Eurorack modules and it is really hard to notice the difference.

Doepfer modules sound incredibly close to its hardware analogs. Buchla 291e oscillator is probably one of the best sounding software oscillators. 4ms SMR, Mutable Instruments Braids, Rings and Clouds – all those modules sound very similar even if you do audio rate emulations.

The only downside is the CPU load. Once you have added lots of modules and do complex modulations it becomes CPU heavy.

To get an idea of how the interface looks like, check out the video below:

It is by far the best sounding modular emulation.

Get Softube Modular

Voltage Modular

Voltage Modular is a pretty new fast growing platform. Even though analog emulation doesn’t sound as authentic as Softube Modular, the power of this platform is an open API for modules.

Other developers have the ability to develop their own modules and sell it via modules marketplace.

The most interesting thing here is a set of 30 PSPaudioware modules. PSP is a well known company in VST world.

And we already have seen them porting their plugins to rising platforms like Auria for iPad. This time they made a re-engineering their plugins and made their famous effects to be available as modules. And they’ve added some cool new modules to the collection.

Get Voltage Modular

Voltage modular vs Softube

After utilizing extensively both voltage and softube, it is my opinion that softube is the superior eurorack/modular emulator.

Voltage has the key advantage of having an api, thus offering a wide selection of modules, but in terms of sound quality and closeness to the original hardware versions, softube takes the prize.

Get Softube Modular

u-he Bazille

u-he has an amazing track record on recreating best analog synth in software.

U-he Bazille is not an attempt to emulate Eurorack but rather 5u modular systems that are famous for its fat analog sound. Want it in software? Give Bazille a try!

Get u-He Bazille

Other Options

While this article was focused on best-sounding emulations, it is hard to miss several other options.

VCVRack – became a huge platform where tens of developers are releasing their new modules weekly. Most of the modules are free.

Though there are several problems with VCV:

– it doesn’t sound as good as plugins mentioned before

– it is still unstable – you can have sudden CPU spikes and even crashes

– it is not a plugin but standalone software, that you can integrate in your DAW with a VST adaptor

NI Reaktor Blocks – another great platform with hundreds of free modules. Again, it doesn’t sound as authentic as Softube or u-He. But it has few modules that are getting pretty close. And of course, Reaktor is a must-have for any music producer.

Reason Complex-1. Propellerhead Reason by its nature is a modular environment and probably first software that brought an idea of CV modulations in software. Complex-1 is their recent synth designed around Buchla-style synthesis. It doesn’t sound like Buchla but it still sounds good and workflow is amazing – you can get cool sound pretty fast, modulate it with the sound from other Reason devices and combine with other Reason synths.

Arturia Buchla Easel – I had a chance to play with two different Easels but Arturia doesn’t sound close to that. Though its user interface and workflow is amazing. You can say same thing with their emulation of Moog modular system.