Best Laptop for Music Production – Tested and Reviewed [2021]

asus zenbook

If you’re here then you are looking for music production laptops, either to replace your old one or to get into music making in 2021. Back in the day the music was composed, created, and produced in specialised music studios full of heavy analog equipment. Now you can take the studio with you to the beach, the mountains and even to a family dinner.

Nowadays, we are not so limited and we can do a great job on our laptops. There are several digital audio workstations available that can help with music production on your laptop or desktop pc.

However, not all laptops have what it takes for a serious music production. Buying a proper laptop for this purpose can be a bit difficult because all of the choices you have today. The laptop required for this kind of job must meet some requirements, as we will elaborate.

Editor’s note: This list of BEST laptops for music production is constantly updated to reflect the actual market, so make sure you bookmark this article for future reference.

Music production laptop specifications

The most important factors for every laptop for music production are the CPU power as well as the amount of RAM that you have at your disposal. The, it is followed by type and speed of storage but since today everything is running on SSD technology, we will not get into this discussion and consider all laptop storage technology equal.

Then, the third thing you want would be very good battery life if you are on the road or on planes a lot.

We have a very nice article about what these tech specs mean for music production, and we invite you to read it here before going forward with our product list.

The i7 processor seems to be the industry standard CPU, though the exact model varies as do the overclocking possibilities. For portability you can get on very well with an i5, only it will not hold that many channels (still sufficient for regular use). AMD has developed a very good processor lineup named Ryzen which on desktop outperform Intel’s products by a long shot, and they are now getting into the laptop market as well. Thus, we have included a Ryzen powered laptop on our list.

For now we do not recommend the new M1 Apple laptops for music production, it is still early technology that will most likely be improved vastly in the next years.

If you want a good explanation on Apple M1 chips, here is a nice video. We are not saying that the technology is not good, we are just advising you to wait and get a later generation that will have less issues and more stability and performance. Also, a good note to add is that the compatibility right now is better than expected, as the below video shows, it’s just that you should not rush and buy the first generation of new tech products as a general rule, but wait a bit and get a more mature iteration. If you do, however, make sure you check each plugin that you use for compatibility with the M1. Also, be prepared for some update problems in the future as it is common for first generations to have issues down the line due to faulty software updates.

Last but not least, good speakers are always nice to have for emergency situations, as well as a nice sounding headphone output.

Don’t forget about the software that will run on your music production laptop, so make sure you check out our list of BEST VST Synths.


To make your life easier, we surveyed our team and community to come up with the very best laptop for music production in 2021. For a summarized table, check the one below.

Also, please note that while this music production laptop comparison is of course accurate for 2021, we have kept products from 2019 and 2020 because their price has decreased a lot and the performance is still top notch for current music production needs.

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.

Model CPU RAM Price
Editor’s Overall Choice
Apple Macbook Pro 16″
8-Core Intel Core i9 Processor 32 GB
Editor’s Value Choice
ASUS ZenBook Pro UX534FTC
Intel Core i7-10510U 16 GB
Editor’s Budget Choice
HP Envy X360 2 in 1
AMD Ryzen 7 4700U 16 GB
Editor’s Portability Choice
Microsoft Surface Laptop
Intel Core i5-1035G7 8 GB
ASUS ROG GU502GW-AH76
Intel Core i7-9750H 16 GB
Apple Macbook Pro 15″
4-Core Intel Core i7 Processor 16GB
Dell XPS 13 7390
Intel Core i7-10710u 16GB

As you can see, we have a very neat selection and have defined not one but three winners, based on each user. It would be unwise to recommend a 2500+ USD laptop to a student, so we have split the price-sensible offering into a Value winner (bang per buck) and a Budget one (best cheapest one). The all-rounder cannot be something other than a Macbook, and while it saddens us to see the Windows offering a bit lagging behind, things have gotten better in recent years and we can fully recommend a Windows machine is the price is a deciding factor.

A very important note here: we recommend Apple laptops not because of the hardware, because it is on par with Windows devices, but because of the drivers.

Apple audio software drivers (CoreAudio) are still the best ones for Audio Production. The latency, broad compatibility and ease of use (basically plug and play) cannot be equaled by what can be done with the Windows operating system.

Another advantage, minor but existing, is the native MIDI support of MacOS, which is much more simpler to manage, filter out and route than using 3rd party software on Windows (very poor native MIDI).

If you also want to record vocals, we have an interesting articles on microphone arms – tested and reviewed.

Best Overall Music Production Laptop: Apple Macbook Pro 16″ review

Apple MacBook Pro 16″ 2019

Price Range: 2000-3000 USD
Portability: Average
Processor Core Count: 8 Core Processor
RAM: 32 GB
Storage Size: 1TB
Connectivity: Very Bad
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This one was very simple, everybody everwhere would agree that in 2021 you are still better of with an Apple Device. This particular Macbook Pro is, above all, future proof. You will be covered for at least 5 years with this device, and if you take care of your laptop, you will be celebrating 2030 with it for sure. 32 GB of RAM is very useful if you are doing orchestral music or working with a lot of sample-based instruments and material. The 8 core processor is quite uncommon in a laptop, but it will guarantee the lowest latency even when working with 192 kHz sample rates that truly capture your outboard gear and hardware synthesizers.

The processor is top notch with a whopping set of 8 cores. You can take this baby out and record a full orchestral performance of more than 100 different instruments all at once, it will take them. If you want to use it for electronic music, it will handle all VST Synths with ease, no matter how many voices of polyphony use want to use. Some synths allow up to 128 voices, and the results are VERY interesting, if your processor allows it of course. You insist to work with VST processing set to High Quality or Oversampling? No problemo, go ahead, this laptop can simply do everything and all at once.

The build quality is truly unique. There is no other product that looks and feels so good, while on the other hand can take a beating on tour and still look and work great. No wonder all travelling musicians and DJs travel with a MacBook Pro. I’ve never ever seen one with a broken hinge, with cracks in the case (which is smooth aluminium) or manifesting discolouration due to the sun like the plastic devices do.

The screen is the best in its class, not only due to the very high resolution but also due to it’s natural color reproduction. Yes it creates a lot of glare and is prone to fingerprints, indeed all MacBooks are like this, but this is only because there is a layer of very resistant glass on top, and resistant glass always does that.

Oh.. Apple, the company we love to hate. Yes, it is expensive. Yes, stability is preferred instead of innovation. Yes, connectivity is (at first glance) rather limited. But we still buy it because it is by far the best operating system, which has excellent drivers and compatibility for your gear. You buy a MacBook Pro if you need very low audio latency, excellent MIDI and Audio Routing, better than average battery life and stellar build quality.

This Apple device has two native Thunderbolt 3, and we recommend you use them both, one for your native Thunderbolt 3 sound card (or other sound card with an adapter) and one for a Thunderbolt 3 Dongle.

For connectivity we recommend this Thunderbolt dongle, so you can have a single connection from gear to laptop, including power:

Never connect your sound card to the music production laptop via Dongle because it will impact your latency no matter what specs your laptop are. Always go for a direct connection.

Best Value Music Production Laptop: ASUS ZenBook Pro UX534FTC review

ASUS ZenBook Pro UX534FTC 2019

Price Range: 1500-2000 USD
Portability: Good
Processor Core Count: 4 Core Processor
RAM: 16 GB
Storage Size: 1TB
Connectivity: Good
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ASUS is a well-known company and when you are looking into their laptop you simply have to have high expectation. Needless to say, this particular model effortlessly meets those high expectations.

We want to point out now that Value does not mean the cheapest, which this laptop is not. Value means how much laptop and how many features you get for the money invested.

ZenBook is probably the ultimate solution for those of you who are looking for an excellent and highly portable laptop for music production as well as DJing. This ASUS ZenBook comes with a very nice 4K display and the CPU is a quad-core i7-10510U.

When it comes to RAM, you have 16 GB of RAM at your disposal. This laptop also features an SSD and all of these components make it an ideal machine for music production.

The secondary display is just astonishing and can be very well used for music production as well as DJing and live performances.

The laptop has a powerful GTX 1050 graphics card that is able to run some of the latest popular video games, making it ideal for gaming as well.

ASUS laptops are known for their build quality and reliability, and this model is no exception.

As you know, one of the most important factors you need to take into consideration when purchasing a music production laptop is that it doesn’t freeze or crash while you work.

Well, with the ZenBook’s CPU power and RAM, you have more than enough for any production task.

In order to make this machine crash, you would need to load 40+ effects and VSTS into one single project. This is an absurd amount of VSTS and effects and no one does that.

Best Budget Music Production Laptop: HP Envy X360 2 in 1 review

Being on a strict budget in 2021 seems like fun. It is totally not like it was back in the day when you had to sacrifice everything but the bare minimum. Right now, technology has gone so far that even the entry level offering is compelling in some way. Here is the winner, 2021’s best budget music production laptop:

HP Envy X360 2in1

Price Range: 500-1000 USD
Portability: Great
Processor Core Count: 8 Core Processor
RAM: 16 GB
Storage Size: 512GB
Connectivity: Good
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To be honest, recommending a convertible laptop in 2021 seems right. Not to mention that the processor is not Intel, but AMD.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, AMD have come a very very long way and have eaten quite a big share of Intel’s market share. This is only because their new processor line, Ryzen, now reaching it’s fourth iteration, works very well.

We can clearly say that for muticore tasks (all current DAW versions have adequate multicore support) AMD is at least on par with Intel.

What is very very good about AMD is the price point, because as you can see, only the top choice of this article (a laptop that is 3x more expensive that this HP) has an eight core processor. Sure, the single-core performance is not the same, but for regular 12-15 track projects you are better of with a cheap cpu that has as many cores as possible. We can say for sure is that you don’t necessarily need an Intel CPU for your machine to be one of the best music production laptops.

The 2-in-1 aspect is by no means a gimmick. Modern musicians love to work on the road, in the train or airplane so having a very comfortable and, should we say inspiring mobile setup can be important.

This laptop has a touch screen which, being released in 2020, is of course multi touch. Multi touch is a very important thing, because with a mouse you will never be able to control more than one parameter/knob. But now with multitouch, you can actually use both hands to control two parameters. So don’t consider yourself poor, consider yourself lucky!

Best “Portable” Music production laptop: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 review

Sure, all laptops are portable. But some laptops are more portable than others. Microsoft have had a good run with their Surface devices. As portability dictates, this machine is one of the best music production laptops. Surface devices are premium devices. Unfortunately you have to sacrifice connectivity and raw processing power to get portable but still, if this is your thing, we have a recommendation for you.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

Price Range: 500-1000 USD
Portability: Excellent
Processor Core Count: 4 Core Processor
RAM: 8 GB
Storage Size: 128GB
Connectivity: Good
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We cannot hide this from you, you are sacrificing performance. You are sacrificing storage space. You are sacrificing battery life. But you get a very thin and light laptop that you don’t really feel in your bag or luggage. If you are using it mostly to store hardware presets (thinking of digital front of house mixers) or to use digital interfaces to hardware (DANTE/MADI soundcards with 96 channels) then you really don’t need the performance. If you mostly record on the road or if you just want a portable studio and are ready to take the hit, go for this music production laptop.

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is indeed pretty, sure, it looks a lot like the MacBook. The build quality is very good.

The downsides, and there are many, yes, are in performance. The processor is still four core so good, but lower in performance compared to the i7s. Ram is somewhat limited to 8GB, so you will not be able to do everything you want with samples on this machine. But the worst limitation, in our oppinion, is the connectivity and the storage. At 128GB, you will have less than 100GB realistically for all your files.

Unortunately, there is a no SD card slot so you have to rely on an external SSD drive for your studio media, sample library and such.

We recommend this external SSD. Don’t go for an old-school mechanical hard drive because it is much slower than the USB port and will bottleneck your setup.

ASUS ROG GU502GW-AH76 Music Production Laptop Review

The ASUS ROG (Republic Of Gamers) product line is simply amazing and this particular model is one of our all-time favorite laptops. It blows away all of our expectations when it comes to performance, build quality and design. The design is out of this world and it’s probably one of the most well made laptops currently on the market.

If we have to put our finger on one thing we like the most it would be the amazing desktop-like configuration. Of course this is expected because ROG stands for Republic of Gamers, and gamers demand performance. The laptop features an overclocked Intel i7-9750H CPU, RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics card, 512GB SSD, and an amazing 17” screen.

When it comes to battery life, the ASUS ROG GU502GW-AH76 is an under performer, lasting only 6 hours, according to the manufacturer. I guess there is no such thing as a free lunch in the world of laptop music production and at this price and with these specs, you can hardly expect the battery to last 10+ hours

As you can see, this is one of the best music production laptops and it can mirror a performance of the high-end desktop gaming computers. You could argue that the Intel i7-9750H CPU is a bit of overkill for music production, but is there really such a thing as too much CPU? You will never get any CPU spikes, crashes, or lags while working on your music production tasks, that we can guarantee.


Yes, this laptop is labeled as a gaming laptop, but it can handle any music production task you throw at it. This machine is made to do anything from 4k gaming to graphic design and intense music production. If your budget is high enough, you will absolutely love this laptop.

To put things in perspective, the company behind FL studio states that any machine that scores above 9000 in the cpubenchmark.net is a strong machine. Well, this laptop scores 11774. With this configuration, you can be sure that it will run smoothly and quietly. It’s made for serious gaming so the music production is nothing for this beast. You can push it to the limit and it will never struggle.


This flawless performance is attributed to its powerful CPU and the 16 GB of RAM and the 512 GB SSD are there just to seal the deal and make this machine one of the fastest and smoothest laptops on the market.

Apple 15” MacBook Pro Music Production Laptop Review


This is one of the older Apple Macbook offerings, older than our all-round winner (the 16″ MacBook Pro). Still this one packs a punch, with an 2.9GHz quad-core Intel i7, that can be turbo-boosted up to 3.9GHz. This is more than enough CPU power for almost any music production task.

When it comes to RAM, you can freely say that 16 GB of 2133 MHz RAM is quite enough. With this amount of RAM at your disposal, you will have almost zero crashes even if you use a lot of effects and VSTS.

To be completely honest, Apple products are usually more expensive than its Windows-counterparts and this particular laptop is not an exception. With that being said, we simply must admit that the MacBooks are made to be perfect.

It features a 512 GB Solid State Drive that enables the smoothest and most reliable working experience when you work in your DAW. Almost every producer can tell you the same story about one time he produced an awesome track and he didn’t save it and then his DAW crashed unexpectedly. Well, it’s a slim chance that this will ever happen with a MacBook Pro.

The SSD instead of a normal hard drive was most definitely a good decision. The Solid State Drives are the fastest units you can find today and are way faster than a normal hard drive. The high-quality SSD in this laptop means it boots way faster than other laptops.This also means that your laptop will run much smoother and if you store your VSTS and samples on your SSD, they will load very fast, which is very helpful for music production.

The graphics card in this machine is the Radeon HD 560, which means that this laptop can also be used for some serious gaming or graphics editing. And with its nice 15 inch retina display, you can enjoy a high-end viewing experience and you can fit a few DAWs on your display at the same time.

Overall, this MacBook pro is one of the best music production laptops with a sleek design and it’s the perfect solution for music producers who work with Mac compatible software.

Dell XPS 13 7390 Music Production Laptop Review

Finally, we arrive at the Dell XPS 13.

Priced at arround 100$, this can be an entry level laptop. When it comes to performance, it ranks among the very best laptops for music production. It comes with an Intel i7-10710u which can be clocked to 4. 6 GHz which gets an 9980 score from cpubenchmarks. One of the main highlights of the XPS 13 is its battery life. According to pcmag, it can last almost 12 hours, taking the number 1 spot for batteries in this list.

When it comes to graphics, this model uses Intel UHD Graphics with Shared Graphics memory. It delivers fairly good graphics though some other models in this list will perform better in this department.

All in all, this laptop presents a great price/quality ratio. It’s one of the cheapest in the list and has the best battery and a great core processor.

Final Thoughts

The models we described above are the absolutely the best music production laptops for music production you can find. All of these offer a great power and reliability and are capable to handle any music production project.

Which one will you choose depends solely on your personal preferences as well as your budget. It mostly comes to what you actually want, because at the end of the day there is really no all-rounder laptop for both performance and portability, not to mention price.

Omnisphere 2 vs Serum: Battle of the Synths

Omnisphere and Serum: Two giants of the software synth world. We’ve all wondered how they compare to each other, and today, after thorough analysis of both, we will come up with a winner.

It is, however, important to note that this article isn’t an attempt to determine which one of these beastly VSTs is ‘the OVERALL BEST’. This a far too subjective decision for one humble reviewer to ascertain, so please note that this is based on our personal experience and preferences.

What you are about to read is merely a comparison of 2 industry leading virtual instruments in order to help you understand the differences and similarities between them. If you’re on the fence about purchasing either one, or if you own both and struggle with which one to use for a particular task, you will benefit from the information in this article.

If you’re not familiar with either of these, we strongly recommend checking them out. We’ll start with the most obvious differences, then we will break things down into various sections:

You should also check out Splice, where you can try out both Omnisphere and Serum and other plugins for free for 3 days then rent to own them.

Omnisphere 2 vs Serum: Obvious differences

Omnisphere 2 is an 8-part multitimbral VSTi, meaning you can play up to 8 different sounds at once with one instantiation. Serum can only play one sound at a time, so if you want to play more than that, you’ll have to have to use a different instantiation for each different sound you use from it. Spectrasonics hasn’t provided a demo of Omnisphere 2 yet, so there is no way to test it out unless you buy it. A demo version of Serum is available with Splice.

To get more acquainted with each synth, please check out the links below:

Omnisphere 2 vs Serum: Oscillators

Omnisphere 2 comes with over 400 new waveforms each of which is a morphing wavetable. Ethnic instruments and unusual sound sources like a burning piano are also included and can be used as oscillators. Additionally, you can add your own sounds and use those as oscillators or mangle them in the granular synthesis section.

However, when compared to other dedicated granular synths like Mangle or PadShop, Omnisphere 2 falls a bit short in terms of editing features.

Serum on the other hand, comes with 144 wavetables and also gives you the ability to draw waveforms or load your own sounds and use them as oscillators.

Aside from being an “advanced wavetable synth”, Serum is also capable of performing additive and VA synthesis with classic waveforms (saw, square etc.) + a sub oscillator + noise oscillator.

Because of the array of waveforms and synthesis techniques that can be applied in both synths, they both could very well be referred to as modern hybrid synthesisers.

Omnisphere 2 vs Serum: Filters

Serum has a variety of filter types. All the filters from Xfer’s LFOTool are included in addition to some new ones like Flangers, Phasers and the dirty sounding French LPF. There are also Dual Filter types allowing you to morph between filter types.

Omnisphere 2 boasts a more flexible filter engine and 8 new filters giving you the ability to create your own filter sound with stereo control, drive and a host of other parameters to further customize your filters. Also, it now includes all of the filters from GForce Software’s virtual synth, “impOSCar”.

Omnisphere 2 vs Serum: Modulators

Personally, my favorite thing about Serum’s modulators is how easy it is to drag and drop a modulation source to a destination.

This makes for a much faster workflow when creating or editing complex a patch. Then there are the drawable LFOs, Envelopes and Macros which, depending on your preference, are more fun to play with than mousing around with percentages or virtual knobs.

Omnisphere’s Modulation Matrix is unbelievably massive and flexible!

Almost every parameter can be modulated and there are a plethora of modulation sources and targets.

All 4 Effect Racks’ parameters, all the granular parameters, all the FM parameters, numerous parameters in the arpeggiator and envelopes can all be modulated by a multitude of sources.

But with all this modulation power, there is no drag and drop ability in Omnisphere 2

Omnisphere 2 vs Serum: Effects

In addition to Serum’s classic synth effects and advanced effects such as a multiband compressor, Serum can be used as a dedicated FX processor as well. Off the top of my head, the only other synths I can think of that have this feature are Native Instruments Absynth 5, FM8 and Reaktor 6.

The results of running an audio source through an effect with synthesizer parameters can be extremely inspiring and a lot of fun!

Omnisphere 2 has a wider variety of effects. Vintage effects like echoes, choruses and compressors as well as various reverb types are included.

And remember, all of the parameters in each effect can be modulated. This does come at the cost of higher CPU usage, however. I’d be curious to see what kinds of sounds could be generated if Omnisphere 2 was able to be used as a dedicated FX processor, but that feature isn’t available.

Overall Winner

I think Omnisphere 2 has a better sound library and is well-rounded as far as sound selection thanks to some of the best sound designers of our time, Eric Persing and Diego Stocco. Therefore, it takes the prize.

Serum may have a more flexible wavetable engine and deeper sound design capabilities with the wavetable editor, formulas and additive engine.

Eventide On The Plugin Side

Is it just me or does it seem like industry titans, Eventide, are underestimated when it comes to plugins? I belong to a quite a few audio forums and haven’t seen a lot of threads mentioning Eventide plugins. This article intends to shed some light on a few of their most top shelf plugins, including those that I own and use regularly in my tracks.

UltraTap

 

Let’s start out with their most recent release, UltraTap. Derived from their ever-popular guitar stompbox, the H9 Harmonizer, UltraTap is a multi-tap delay line effect capable of a generous range of effects. You can get up to 3 seconds of delay with 1 to 64 taps during that time. Delay taps can either be sync’d to your DAW tempo or done manually. With the TEMPO button set to off, tapping can be used to adjust delay parameter values which will be displayed in milliseconds or Hz. Pre-delay gives you up to 2 seconds before the delay taps start. SPREAD and TAPER knobs allow you to create rhythmic, evolving or swelling type of delays. While SLURM and CHOP knobs give the effect of either smearing the taps or creating glitch types of delay taps. The TAPER knob controls the fade of the taps.

All of the presets from the H9 have been converted over to the plugin along with newly created factory and artist presets, 150 presets in total. UltraTap is available for PC and MAC in VST, AU and AAX Native formats.

DOWNLOAD ULTRATAP

H3000 Factory

 

 

Who can forget the legendary H3000 Ultra-Harmonizer? Well, the H3000 Factory, now available in VST, AU and AAX Native format, is essentially a direct 1-1 version of the original TDM version which has been out for quite a while. The only differences seem to be that the LED meters (top left) are now colored, whereas on the TDM version they’re white, and the keypad had a graphical representation on the TDM version and is now they’re only for aesthetics and have no functionality whatsoever.

That said, this plugin makes just about any audio source sound better. It’s marketed as a harmonizer, but is very adept at doing delays, pitch-shifting, filtering, LFOs, reverbs, envelope following and amplitude modulation. Everything from simple reverbs and delays to off the chart percussive and glitched types of sounds can be achieved. It all depends on how deep you want to delve into the architecture.

The H3000 Factory features an astounding 450 presets including 100 new artist presets and 100 original presets from the H3000. All delays and LFOs can be locked to your DAW tempo. They can also be looped and offer a low pass filter. The filters are selectable band pass, high pass and low pass, with variable Q and can be swept and modulated. At $349, it’s not the most affordable plugin, but is certainly worth the investment. Simply put, this one feature laden plugin could render several of your current plugins obsolete.

GET H3000 FACTORY

2016 Stereo Room

 

The 2016 Stereo Room plug-in is based off of Eventide’s SP2016 rackmount unit released in 1981 and was designed to simulate a great sounding room. The reverb is warm and natural sounding as a whole, but does offer comprehensive controls for easy tailoring of your reverb sound.

As an owner, my favorite parameter is the Position knob which you can use to push the signal to the front or rear of the virtual room. This makes it easier to get things to sit in the mix better. The Diffusion knob is used to add more character to the room, turning it to a high setting can generate interesting textures and really smear the signal. To the far right, the EQ block uses 2 parametric EQ bands, High and Low, to further sculpt the room sound. The high band never sounds piercing, even at high frequencies with the gain turned up moderately. The CPU hit is low, so you have the freedom to use several instances without issue even on computers with meager specs.

The plug-in also features some great hand crafted presets by the likes of Joe Chiccarelli, Dave Pensado and George Massenburg. It’s available for Windows and MAC in 32 and 64 bit versions. Download the demo and try it out.

GET 2016 STEREO ROOM FOR THE BEST PRICE

UltraChannel

 

UltraChannel is a channel-strip plugin that has an input/output section, phase reverse, gate, compressor, O-pressor (an emulation of their hardware O-pressor unit), a 5-band parametric EQ, a micro pitch shift and a stereo delay effect. It also features Eventide’s trademark FlexiPath technology that enables you to reorder the signal paths of the top level components via drag and drop. All of the individual circuits can be turned on/off, which is great for saving CPU cycles.

The compressor features saturation, a de-esser and adjustable knee parameters. Both the compressor and O-pressor offer sidechain and make-up gain controls. Micro Pitch Shift runs in parallel with the stereo delays and the delays can be fed back into any of the other modules. I found this to be a very flexible channel-strip with added features not usually found on channel-strip plugins and use it quite often for various tasks in my mix. I’d like to see the CPU usage improved on it as using more than one instance is immediately noticeable. But all in all, I definitely recommend it.

GET ULTRACHANNEL FOR THE BEST PRICE

Blackhole

Last but not least. One of the most beautiful granular-type reverbs taken from Eventide’s famous Space Reverb pedal. Used on thousands of tracks as a goto reverb for creating a beutifully sounding ambience.

As Eventide describes the plugin: “Most reverbs are earth-bound and constrained by the physics of the real world. Our Blackhole reverb breaks the rules by allowing you to create virtual spaces that could never exist in reality (at least the one we inhabit). At large sizes, its soft attack and lingering, harmonic tails allows it to really shine on guitars, strings and pads. At small sizes those very same qualities can add an angelic sheen to vocals or turn a simple drum track into an otherworldy rhythm section.”

  • Incredibly easy to use with over 50 presets; many created by Eventide artists.
  • Ability to create extremely musical effects useful for highlighting key instruments.
  • Supernatural settings for abstract spatial effects and drones.
  • Subtle settings for ambient washes and track highlighting.
  • Unique “Gravity” control reverses the arrow of time by inverting the reverb’s decay.
  • Kill Switch mutes the input so you only hear the reverb. This makes for some incredible effects when automated.
  • Mix Lock allows for scrolling through presets or settings while keeping the wet/dry mix constant.
  • Fully flexible mono and stereo options. Bring new realms of stereo imaging to mono instruments.
  • Innovative Ribbon and Hot Switch allow for changing any combination of parameters simultaneously

GET EVENTIDE BLACKHOLE FOR THE BEST PRICE

The Best iOS Audio Interfaces – An Overview and Comparison

With iPads and iPhones getting better and more capable of supporting various DAWs, no wonder so many people decide not only to record but mix and master on these portable devices.

But, in order to get the most out of your tablet, you need a good audio interface. While there are many to choose from, some just perform better than others.

Let’s take a look at the best iOS audio interfaces you can get today.

Focusrite iTrack Solo

 

Focusrite has already proven that they know their business so far, with many amazing audio interfaces. But how does their iTrack Solo perform?

In terms of build quality, this interface feels quite premium. The aluminum unibody case isn’t just sturdy but will look nice on your desk as well.

There are 2 inputs on the front. An XLR for the mic, with its respective gain knob, and one for the instrument with a gain knob as well. Apart from that, the front stays pretty simple. Just a big monitor volume knob, a headphone output, and a direct monitor switch.

A neat feature Focusrite included are the LED halos around the gain knobs. The color of these halos tells you if the signal is clipping, and whether the levels are too high.

The back sports USB 2.0 and Device link connectors alongside stereo line outputs.

If you need a simple yet effective audio interface to use with your iPad, the Focusrite iTrack Solo is a great option, especially when considering it costs around $100.

Learn more about Focusrite iTrack Solo

Roland Duo- Capture EX

 

If you have any experience with music and instruments, Roland should be a familiar name by now. Their Duo- Capture EX is their take on mobile audio interfaces.

At first glance, this interface looks very sleek, but durable as well. The build quality is on point, and will definitely make this device last you a long time.

With two combined inputs, having both XLR and standard instrument option, you are free to simultaneously record two instruments, an instrument and vocals, or with two microphones. As this feature gives you a lot more freedom, we’re not sure why this isn’t a standard when it comes to audio interfaces.

Two phantom- powered VS preamps are a great addition, especially if you use condenser microphones in your setup. The front, though relatively minimalistic, gives you a headphone output as well as sensitivity and output controls.

Besides standard stereo output, the Duo- Capture offers both MIDI input and output option as well.

For less than $200, the Roland Duo- Capture EX is a good investment, with musicians who use MIDI devices besides mics and instruments on mind.

Learn more about Roland Duo Capture EX

 

Apogee Duet

 

That’s my personal favorite!

Marketed as the first professional stereo audio interface for iPads, the Apogee Duet takes a slightly different approach than the other models we’ve mentioned so far.

While the device itself may boast a smaller form factor, it can certainly take up numerous different input sources.

The whole idea is to have a single input to which you can connect a cable that offers multiple connectors. It supports standard instrument cable jacks as well as XLR for connecting microphones.

The input/ output count goes up to four, with 2 combined XLR/ instrument inputs, and 2 standard speaker outputs.

The interface on the device is made up of an OLED screen which delivers visual feedback of the levels of the instruments you’re recording. All of the controls are combined in a single multi- function knob on the top, so in order to adjust different parameters, you simply tap a button to cycle through them and turn the knob to set the level.

If you don’t mind the adapter cable setup and the around $600 price tag, definitely consider the Apogee Duet.

Learn more about Apogee Duet

 

Tascam iXZ

 

Switching things up from a relatively expensive option to a very budget- friendly one, the Tascam iXZ is an awesome alternative for connecting your instruments to your iPad, and for less than $50.

When designing the iXZ, Tascam wanted to save as much space as possible. The result was the interface being very slim, with only the input fraction of the device having a slight bulge.

Other than that, the iXZ does feel kind of cheap. But hey, it doesn’t have to look good in order to perform good, right?

A simple switch allows you to toggle between the instrument and XLR input, and a similar switch turns the phantom power on and off. The volume wheel is the same kind you would find on the old cd and cassette tape players.

Performance- wise, it was surprisingly good. The outside looks definitely don’t reflect the audio quality.

So, if you’re looking for a pocket- sized audio interface with a low price and slightly above average performance, the iXZ by Tascam is the way to go.

Learn more about Tascam iXZ

Alesis iO Dock II

 

 

Don’t just buy an audio interface to connect your iPad to it. Make your iPad a mini mobile studio with the iO Dock II by Alesis!

The rather unique design which makes the iO Dock II essentially a sleeve over your iPad not only makes your desk more organized but also keeps everything in your reach at all times.

Both the stereo speaker outputs and the 2 combined XLR/ instrument inputs are placed on the upper side of the device. Guitar/ mic line toggles are featured as well as a phantom power switch.

You can even use a footswitch with this interface, gaining even more control.

The sides utilize output level controls, as well as MIDI in and out. Cable management and general I/O design are done in a very ergonomic way.

With a price ranging from $250 to $300, the iO Dock II by Alesis features a great value for the money.

Learn more about Alesis iO Dock II

See also: Alesis iO Mix – 4 channel mixer for iPad

As there are fairly different options you could go for, now it’s up to you to see which one of the mentioned audio interfaces works best for your needs.

We hope that you found this overview of the best iOS audio interfaces helpful. Thank you very much for reading!

The 8 Best Waves Plugins for Mixing and Producing in 2020

Waves plugins have been an industry standard for a great many years.

The vast majority, if not all, iconic producers use at least a few of the waves plugins in their mixes and they have become industry standard for pop music production.

If you listen to any even slightly commercial music, chances are waves plugins and effects were used to mix and master the track.

So in light of their ongoing sales, we’ve decided to assemble what we believe to be the best waves plugins currently available.

If you’re busy, the table below summarizes our findings:

Name Type / Effect Cost Our Rating
W6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ Dynamic EQ Currently on Sale- 69.99$ 4.5/5CHECK OFFER
Center Stereo Enhancer Currently on Sale- 49.99$ 4.3/5CHECK OFFER
SSL E-Channel Channel Strip Processor 29.99$ 4.5/5CHECK OFFER
Waves Kramer Master Tape Tape 29.99$ 4.1/5CHECK OFFER
Brauer Motion Circular Auto-Pannel 69.99$ 4.25/5CHECK OFFER
CLA-2A Compressor/Limiter Compressor / Limiter 69.99$ 4.7/5CHECK OFFER
Waves Abbey Road Collection Plugins Bundle Currently on Sale- 269.99$ 4.5/5CHECK OFFER
Waves Abbey Road Collection Plugins Bundle Currently on Sale- 269.99$ 4.9/5CHECK OFFER
Scheps Omni Channel Channel Strip Currently on Sale- 49.99$ 4.8/5CHECK OFFER

Note: The prices described above are as of date of publish and can change.

It’s also worth noting that waves just released their new FLEX program, which allows you to rent-to-own your favorite waves plugins.

This means that instead of paying the full fee upfront, you can choose to pay monthly until you fully own it.

The programs start at 9.99$/month and can be cancelled at any time, so if the price of some of these plugins is prohibitive, definitively check out flex:

It’s a subjective list to be sure, so I invite you to share your best Waves plugins as well in the comments section. Now, in no particular order, here they are:

Waves F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ Review- Intuitive EQ for all levels

One of the most recent releases from Waves is the F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ. The first thing I noticed about it was the immaculate interface with various parameter knobs along the bottom. But it goes far beyond just being eye candy, this is a truly flexible and high quality dynamic EQ.

Each of its 6 bands can be either a hi/low shelf or bell and have independent controls for frequency band, Q, gain, range, threshold, attack and release.

The range control is unique because it compresses or expands depending on the position of the knob. Turning the knob left will compress the signal, while turning it to the right will expand the signal.

The F6 can be used in either mono, stereo or mid-side mode as well so you could throw it on a bus or even on your master chain.

Personally I wish it had a frequency spectrum, but I guess you can’t have everything. Maybe we’ll see it in a future update perhaps?

At any rate, it’s still a fantastic tool to have at your disposal.

Waves Center Review- A simple solution for a complicated issue

I’ve been using Center on every mix since I bought it. It allows you to enhance the stereo width of your mix by blending the hi-end/low-end levels of your signal between the sides and the center.

You can also blend the transients to the sides or center of your mix to add punch.

Center is a one trick pony, but it’s the best plugin I’ve found for easily adding focus and punch to busses and overall mixes. It’s extremely easy to use and once you start using it, it’ll become an indispensable tool in your arsenal.

Waves SSL E-Channel– A classic SSL Logic 4000 emulator

The iconic SSL E-Channel has been around for as long as I can remember and probably needs no introduction.

A couple of weeks ago I was one of the lucky folks that caught this baby being sold separate from the bundle of plugins it’s normally included in and it was a great find let me tell you.

Based on the Solid State Logic 4000-Series analogue consoles, the SSL E-Channel features the same all-discrete design and Class A, VCA chip as its hardware counterpart.

Additionally it has a 4-band parametric equalization section, Hi Pass/Low Pass Filters and a dynamics section with a compressor/limiter as well as an expander/gate.

The equalization section is based on the Black Knob equalizer developed with celebrated producer, George Martin in 1983. As on the original hardware, the dynamics section can be placed pre or post EQ via the (CH. OUT.) button.

Automatic gain make-up, calculated from the Ratio and Threshold settings, is applied to maintain a steady output level.

Upon trying it out on a drum bus, I noticed a warm analog sound and it gave my drums a noticeable punch which I’ve read the SSL E-Channel is famous for.

The generous number of presets offer a great starting point with contributions from Grammy Award Winning audio engineers and mixing gurus such as Dave Pensado and Chris Lord-Alge.

Here’s a great video from Graham Cochrane showing how to turn your computer into a virtual SSL console by instantiating the E-Channel on every track of your mix:

CLA-2A Compressor/Limiter– The rockers compressor

Another household name for any experienced producer.

The CLA-2A is the compressor of choice for many top notch producers and for good reason.

Works great for bass, guitars, and vocals, though it’s an extremely versatile compressor / limiter. It has a slower release than some of its competitors which gives it its signature sound.

Comes with Chris Lord-Alge’s (Rolling Stones, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, etc) presets. We’d recommend having a look at his Signature Series, which contains 6 great plugins.

Brauer Motion– Auto-panner for the masses

Another recent release from Waves, Brauer Motion is an innovative circular auto-panner that moves an audio signal within the two- or three-dimensional space between the listener and the loudspeaker.

It was created in close cooperation with Grammy Award winning mix engineer, Michael Brauer and combines his signature panning methods with Waves’ plugin engineering expertise.

The whole idea behind this plugin is for the end user to be creative with movement on instruments and vocals in your mixes and there are a generous amount of parameters to achieve this.

The GUI alone makes me want to tweak and see what kind of unusual movement I can get from my synths.

I haven’t gotten a chance to play around with this one yet, but I can tell there are a bunch of creative uses for Brauer Motion.

Here’s a demonstration from Michael Brauer showcasing how this great plugin works along with a few creative tips:

Kramer Master Tape– Vintage tape machine emulator

Kramer Master Tape is an emulation of a rare ¼” reel-to-reel vintage tape machine. I haven’t seen any mention of which tape machine it models, but this plugin is surprisingly flexible and can be used for a variety of tasks.

It has adjustable parameters for wow & flutter, tape speed, bias, flux and noise. You would normally add a plugin like this when you need to eliminate some of the harshness that digital signals generate, making the mix sound cleaner.

While Kramer Master Tape delay excels at that, it also can be used for delay throws, slapback delay and noise saturation.

A good alternative to the Kramer Master Tape is the h delay, which is a great hybrid solution that works great on those old school sounding tracks. Check out the h delay user guide here.

The preamp section on the bottom left of the interface has adjustable knobs for input (RECORD LEVEL) and output (PLAYBACK LEVEL).

These knobs can be linked so that turning one knob will affect the other, so you can really dial in how much signal you want coming in while taming the output level.

Try using this on virtually any channel and go through the presets. Listen to what it does to the signal and tweak to your liking. I’m pretty sure you’ll be pleased with the results.

This is one of the best plugins to achieve a clean mix, and is surprisingly easy to use.

Abbey Road Plugin Collection– The iconic beatles bundle

Lastly, if you’re undecided and looking for a complete solution of plugins, the abbey road studios plugin collection might be what you’re looking for.

It contains emulations of the studios’ REDD and TG12345 consoles, the RS56 Passive EQ, J37 Tape, Reel ADT, the King’s Microphones, and Abbey Road’s echo chambers and reverb plates.

One of the highlight of this pack is the signature signal chain, available with just a few clicks.

As the name suggests, this is a great set of plugins to emulate the classic beatles sound, recorded in Abbey Road.

It’s a bit pricier, but still a great deal when compared to the cost of buying the individual plugins.

There’s also currently a massive sale going on (over 70% off) so definitely worth checking, in our opinion.

Scheps Omni Channel

Legendary engineer Andrew Scheps (Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Adele, Jay Z, Metallica) partnered with Waves to produce a series of plugins, of which the channel strip is probably our favorite.

If you can afford only one plugin, we’d suggest going for this one, as it delivers most of the important elements in the mix- EQ, compression, and gating.

It is comprised of 6 modules:

  1. Pre module- 3 kinds of analog saturation.
  2. Compression module – Choose from 3 compressors: fast, slow and smooth. Plus A Wet/Dry control.
  3. EQ module:  4-band equalizer.
  4. DS2 module.
  5. Gate module: Threshold, attack and release. Plus maximum noise reduction.
  6. Insert slot: Add any extra Waves plugin, including another instance of the Scheps Omni Channel.

Our tip: Use the saturation on the pre-channel to add energy to vocals and leads without adding too much noise to the sound.

Final Thoughts

The above listed plugins are a great starting point to make the most out of the waves eco system for mixing and mastering your tracks.

If you’re interested in trying out waves, head out to their website and start a free trial.

The list is in no way complete and could have also easily included their vocal rider, the j37 tape delay, and their g-master plugin, but we decided to keep this post short and sweet.

Got any more recommendations? Feel free to leave a comment, we’d love to hear them!

Best Guitar Pedals For Synths and Keyboards

It is no secret that guitar effects pedals have completely changed the way we see music today. The impact this instrument made on music is obvious.

However, these effects pedals are not only limited to guitars.

On the contrary, they can be used with a variety of different instruments, including synths and keyboards. As long as your instrument uses a 1/4 inch TRS cable, chances are that an effects pedal will work just fine. 

The reasons to use these pedals with synths or even keyboards are numerous.

Analog synths don’t come packed with a wide array of effects like their modern counterparts do.

If live performance is important, you will have to add all of your effects there on the spot.

With that in mind, we wanted to find out what are the best guitar pedals for synths and keyboards you can get right now. As you are about to see, options are plentiful.

For a summarized version, check out the table below:

Product Name
Effects
Our Rating

Boss RE-20 Space Echo.
Echo, Reverb, Delay. 4.6/5
CHECK OFFER

MXR M101 Phase 90
Phaser 4.6/5
CHECK OFFER

Electro-Harmonix POG2
Octave Pedal 4.7/5
CHECK OFFER

Electro-Harmonix Lester G
Rotary Speaker Emulator 4.5/5
CHECK OFFER

Eventide Space
Reverb 4.9/5 CHECK OFFER

Elektron Analog Drive
Filter / Saturator 4.7/5 CHECK OFFER

API TranZformer GT Guitar Pedal
Reverb 4.5/5 CHECK OFFER

 

Boss RE-20 Space Echo Pedal

 

One of the first effects pedals we have to mention is the Boss RE-20 Space Echo.

To those who don’t know the history of this model, it probably looks just like another digital box.

However, it is so much more than that.

Roland RE-201 Space Echo used to be, and for the most part still is, the pinnacle of analog echo effect.

It offered the perfect tape echo, very subtle details that only a masterpiece analog unit could and everyone loved it. 

However, getting one of these is just borderline impossible these days due to its cost and scarcity.

Enter the Boss RE-20 Space Echo.

Roland and Boss worked together to revamp the original RE-201 in all of its glory. Even though it is fully digital, the quality of tone is literally identical to the model it was inspired by.

As impressive as it is though, the Boss RE-20 Space Echo will forever remain a studio queen. The device’s clunky nature makes it extremely hard to use in a live setting.

With that said, if you are looking for the best of the best, Boss RE-20 Space Echo is the way to go. 

For a quick demo of this pedal, check out the video below:

MXR M101 Phase 90

Here’s a complete change of pace.

From a high dollar legend to an affordable orange stompbox.

MXR’s Phase 90 used to be one of the best, if not the best phaser pedal available at the time.

The instrument’s simple analog circuitry made it a reliable piece of gear that many guitar players use to this day. As such, it wasn’t long before Phase 90 found its application with keyboards and synths. 

It essentially brought that vintage, organic sounding phase effect to a largely digitized world of keyboards.

Easy to use and very competitively priced, MXR M101 Phase 90 is one of those effects pedals that you can get without feeling the impact on your bank account.

With that said, it is also the type of pedal that can completely change the dynamic of your tone, whether you are using a keyboard or a synth. 

Electro-Harmonix POG2

Octave pedals are a must-have piece of gear.

They have been allowing guitar players to enrich various sections of their music with girth and range.

One of the best pedals of this type that works with keyboards and synths is the Electro-Harmonix POG2. One quick look at the control panel and you immediately know what you are dealing with here. It’s no ordinary octave pedal, that’s for sure. 

This one comes with an FX section as well.

In terms of pure performance, you are looking at the range of two octaves above and below the nominal value.

Effects available come in form of an attack control, a two-pole resonant LP filter and an enhanced detune. Pushing the functionality even further, Electro-Harmonix designed this pedal in a way that allows you to save presets for later use.

Have a look at the POG2 in action:

POG2 is among the most rugged and natural sounding octave pedals out there, definitely the one you’d want to use with a keyboard. 

Electro-Harmonix Lester G

Up next, we have another great creation from Electro-Harmonix. This time around we are looking at their legendary Lester G.

Why is it legendary?

Because this is one of the best rotary speaker emulators on the market right now. Leslie rotary speakers are a pretty niche piece of gear that was used extensively only a few decades ago.

These days it is considered an exotic. Since using the original version of this device meant that you had to get a clunky, cabinet sized speaker itself, another solution had to be devised. Electro-Harmonix is one of the few companies to even attempt to recreate this effect in a digital pedal. 

Unlike most of its competition, Lester G brings you the absolute control over the effect it offers.

You can dial in everything from acceleration to sustain. Even though it was designed to be used in a guitar signal chain, keyboard and synth applications are too good to be ignored. Especially considering that it comes with both stereo and mono I/O options

Eventide Space

This pedal has any reverb model you may need for guitar, keyboard, synth or even drums and percussion.

I’ve seen many Eurorack-based setups that use this pedal for adding reverb.

And it can go from classic algorithmic room and halls to plates and weird granular processing.

Blackhole mode is my favorite mode for synths – beautiful for pads. And Eventide even released Blackhole algorithm as a stand alone VST plugin. 

Interested in seeing it in action? Click play:

Elektron Analog Drive

Elektron is well-known for any electronic musician or keyboard player for their synths (A4 and Analog Keys), drum machines and one of the best samplers (Octatrack). But they also have one pedal called Analog Drive.

It was remade from the Analog Heat desktop device (filter/saturator), and it has 8 different analog saturation circuits. From subtle saturation to crazy distortion – this pedal is a must-have for keyboard/synth players. 

API TranZformer GT Guitar Pedal

Most of us don’t have ability to record using large consoles primarily because of their costs of tens of thousands of dollars.

But if you are looking for a signature sound of API consoles – Tranzformer GT is the way to go.

It has fully discrete signature API circuit design, compressor, 3-band EQ and input gain with up to 30db to overdrive the circuit. 

Fulltone OCD Obsessive Compulsive Drive

Last but not least, let’s talk dirt. Overdrives are not the type of effect that you often see used with synths or keyboard.

However, a good vintage OD pedal can really add some grit to your tone.

Fulltone OCD comes to mind as the perfect candidate. T

his thing was designed to bring the tube sound in a compact package, and boy does it deliver. It also meets one of the more important requirements for overdrive pedals used with a synth, and that is tone control.

OCD allows you to be as subtle or as aggressive as you need to, without completely drowning your signal. It infuses the tone with sweet sounding dirt while retaining definition.

Final Thoughts

Pedals we’ve shown you above are by far some of the best guitar pedals for synth and keyboard use.

Some are more affordable than others, but most of these have been tried and tested many times in this particular application.

Sometimes, in music production, even the cheapest pieces of gear can open up a universe of sound and completely redefine your music, so we urge to keep exploring and keep re-inventing your sound.

If you are just starting to consider effects pedals as a possible tool, we strongly suggest that you start with these pedals.

Softube Tsar-1 – modern classic reverb review

In the world of reverb plugin emulations of classic hardware, it’s always refreshing to find one with superb sound quality that separates itself from the fray.

Softube’s TSAR-1 is a modern take on classic algorithmic reverbs capable of producing everything from vintage plates to Lexicon 224-type halls.

Its True Stereo Algorithm is what sets the TSAR-1 apart enabling it to be useful in mixing and creative situations.

True Stereo Algorithm and Presets

The architecture of the TSAR-1’s True Stereo Algorithm is such that it can process a stereo input as two discrete channels.

This feature enables you to control early reflections and the main reverb tail separately.

Softube describes the TSAR-1 as “alive and vibrant, gentle and dreamy and natural and believable”.

This is because it’s able to add a distinct character to various audio sources. Using the DENSITY slider in the center of the interface allows you to mimic the sound of a variety of vintage reverbs such as EMT plates and halls, Sony Digital Snare and of course the Lexicon 224 among others.

To my ears, the presets sound great on their own and you might find yourself using them without a lot of tweaking, if any at all. They are divided into two sections, modern and vintage. The modern presets are application specific while the vintage presets mimic the sound of vintage reverb units. Names like (Scoring Stage, Vocal Whisper, 224 Room, EMT Plate, etc.) offer you a fantastic starting point from which to dial in your desired sound.

The TSAR-1 isn’t modelled after any particular reverb.

It merely offers you the ability to mimic a variety of classic units.

This distinction is important in the event that you are expecting this to be an emulation because it most certainly is not.

Its powerful modern reverb algorithm heavily contributes to its signature sound and overall sophisticated quality.

It truly surrounds itself around the source material creating the illusion of actually being in that particular stereo space.

The Interface

Softube designed the TSAR-1 with ease of use in mind. Included with the package is the TSAR-1R plugin (more on this later) which has an even smaller set of intuitive controls.

The TSAR-1 has only five sliders (Pre-delay, Time, Density, Tone and High Cut), and 3 knobs (Output Volume, Reverb/Early Reflections and Reverb Mix). There are also a couple switched parameters for Diffusion and Modulation.

The display in the center of the interface shows the current settings for the various parameters. Clicking on any of them will toggle from the current setting to the most recent setting.

Parameters in the display illuminate briefly when either selecting a new preset, moving a slider or knob, or clicking on one of them. This is helpful because you are able to see at a glance, which parameter you are affecting.

You have up to 1 second of Pre-delay and a reverb time range of 150ms – 15 seconds.

By default, each preset is loaded with the Reverb Mix knob set to 100%. Take any sound, instantiate an instance of TSAR-1 and set the Time slider to about 10 seconds, play with the Density and Tone sliders, then bounce that to audio and get an instant unique ambient sample.

The High Cut slider limits the frequencies of both the early reflections and the reverb tail, although it sounds to me as if it affects the reverb tail a bit more. Also worth noting is that although both the TSAR-1 and TSAR-1R plugins support automation, parts of the reverb get muted when parameters change in order to limit noise artifacts. Softube suggests in their pdf manual:

Do not use automation to modulate or gradually change parameters.

A constantly moving parameter can lead to the reverb being muted.” 

Check out the plugin in use:

Tsar-1R

As mentioned earlier, TSAR-1 comes bundled with the TSAR-1R which is has an even more streamlined interface.

It uses the same algorithm as its big brother, but has only 3 reverb parameters and focuses mainly on natural reverberation types.

Pre-delay is limited to 200ms and the Time parameter adjusts an internal pre-delay, the early reflections, diffusion, density and delay time simultaneously.

Tsar-1 Rack Extension for Reason

There’s special version ported to the Rack Extension format. For my eyes it looks much better a rack-mounted device and it is has same great sound and presets and ability to modulate some of its parameters with CV-inputs.

Get Softube Tsar-1 Rack Extension

Conclusion

This is a very lush sounding and flexible reverb. I would have liked to have seen a low cut filter as it’s often necessary to cut the low frequencies of reverb to some degree. It would also be nice to be able to automate parameters without worrying if the processed sound if going to be muted. But all in all, both the TSAR-1 and TSAR-1R are sophisticated units holding true to the standard of high quality products Softube is known for.

Get Softube Tsar-1 for the best price:

BEST DEAL: Get Softube Volume 3 Bunle (Tsar-1 included with 13 other Softube plugins)

Top 5 Free Reverb Plugins (VST/AU)

Reverb is one of the most widely used effects by audio engineers to give audio signals a sense of space in a mix. Over the years, the quality of free reverb plugins has greatly improved, often rivaling paid plugins.

Though I use many of the paid plugins (including some very expensive like Altiverb and UAD Reverbs) – this nice free  reverb plugins can still find its place in any production. Some of these are Windows compatible only, while few are also available for Mac OS X.