Your Identity as a Sound Designer: A Quick Cheatsheet for Using Plugins to Find Your Artistic Identity

It’s hard to find your identity as a guitarist. Whilst it may seem as if there are no more legends along the lines of Steve Vai or Eric Clapton, the meaning of being a guitarist is still constantly changing. Now the ease of digital sound design means everyone has access to similar gear, it’s up to the individual to use it creatively in order to convey a unique sound. Read on for how sound design can help do this and quick tips as to developing your own unique sound.

Sound Design Identity: Understand How DAWs Affect Artistic Identity

In the age of analogue, much of an artist’s sonic identity could come from their gear, whether that was a quirky, refurbished guitar, or the amps and cabinets available in the studio. The shape of the room, it’s furnishings, and the number of people present would all have affected the way the finished product turned out. On a DAW, consistent and controlled settings prevent this variability, thus the ability to create a unique sound belongs to the artist themselves. This means when using a DAW sound designers must get creative with adding the things which would come naturally with an analogue recording- layering reverbs, equalising, and mixing and mastering so their sound has just the right amount of distinctiveness – something especially important for guitarists where so much is reliant on tone and feeling to get the musical message across.

Sound Design Identity: Learn From Your Idols

How did your favourite producers, sound designers, or guitarists get to where they are today? None of them would have been perfect from the get go. What separates them from the thousands of guitarists who give up is the fact that they not only continued trying but that they fine-tuned and adapted their creative processes to avoid ever making the same mistakes twice.

As sound designers- whether you have a small bedroom set up and are just starting out or a personal studio and you may be wishing to reinvent your sound, using plugins to experiment with adding and subtracting things from your sound is one way of ensuring all your tracks are unique and carry that distinctive fingerprint which sets them out as yours and yours alone.

Sound Design Identity: Use Reference Tracks

Reference tracks are a heavy part of the production process, but for any sound designer there is always the risk of sounding too much like your inspirations. It can be frustrating when you don’t have access to the same gear as them and you may spend your time in the studio trying to find that perfect sound. The important thing to realise is that any alternatives you choose will mark you out as separate from your influences and therefore give you more of a creative edge. As a result, embracing differences and realising it’s impossible to sound exactly like your idols is one of the best ways forward – it can separate you from the hundreds of other guitarists who get stuck at this stage. Reference tracks are just that – references, and expecting your work to sound exactly like them limits your creative possibilities. Whether a producer or sound designer yourself – or a guitarist working with a team of other creatives – understanding this can be one of the most freeing parts of developing a creative identity.  

Sound Design Identity: Repurpose Plugins and Sounds

Default plugins on DAWs such as Logic are often geared towards some of the most crowd pleasing and popular sounds. This means harking back to the heyday of guitar with rock and hard rock oriented amps which are versatile enough to still be used in modern genres such as indie rock. But what if you want something different? Before shelling out on specialist gear to sound just like your influences, see if repurposing the default plugins on your DAW can achieve similar sounds at a fraction of the price and whilst simultaneously giving your music a distinctive edge. That metal plugin you bought on a whim and have now forgotten about as your band changed direction? Some of the reverb could sound great for one of your darker, moodier tracks, even if it doesn’t strictly fit into the genre.

Think Outside of the Boundaries of Genre

Out of the wealth of plugins available, many are often geared towards specific genres, especially in niches known to sell consistently such as blues. However, these genre labels need not limit you if you truly want to break boundaries a bit. If you’re a rock guitarist, why not use an indie style reverb for a ballad? Or taking that same reverb heavy noise of underground and indie music and using it for experimental or noise music? By looking at your own genre through the eyes of another, you can get a more accurate picture of where you stand within wider sound design and make creative movies which pinpoint your sound yet keep it familiar enough that it can draw in new listeners.

Know What You Need

There is a lot of advice out there on the internet and ultimately every sound designer ha their own way of working. If you haven’t yet found yours, it can be hard to tell what’s relevant. Knowing what you need can bring exponential growth in both your artistic and technical development. Are you a bedroom producer who simply wants some decent reverb to make those low key, soft guitars sound more emotional? Or are you knee deep in technical shred guitar recordings and are looking to ensure every note of a guitar solo shines through? By focusing on what you love, it’s easier to find what you need- and find plugins which really work for you in the process.

Overall, these are just some of the ways in which the process of sound design can help you define a distinctive identity as an artist. By seeing your artistic identity reflected in the plugins you use, waveforms you see, and creative choices which you make, you can further hone and develop your sense of yourself as a musician so that all your work has your own distinctive stamp on it – a compilation of the gear you use and the way you use it in a pattern completely unique to you.

Budget Sound Design Guide: Free Plugins and Alternative DAW Options for All Levels

They biggest myth in sound design is the idea that defining your own sound costs the earth. Not able to afford the most expensive plugins? Want something other than Logic X Pro? Read on for some hidden gems – completely free plugins which are versatile enough to shake up the way you think about sound whilst still being adaptable to most genres.

Budget Sound Design Tool: Peavey Revalver 4

Peavey is one of the oldest and most established amp brands but they have used their past successes as a springboard for new and versatile products. Peavey Revalver 4 is just one example of this and how fine attention to detail pays off to create stellar sound design for absolutely free!

With instrument modelling at the input and tone matching at the output as a result of its finely configured audio cloning technology, the Peavey Revalver 4 is completely true to life and takes its name from valve amplifiers, renowned for giving a deep and rich tone bringing human warmth and sonic touch to your recordings.

Revalver 4 also allows third party plugins, pedals, and VSTs to be added, meaning it is without a doubt one of the more flexible free plugins you can find. Not only does the Revalver 4 meet the needs of audiophiles everywhere with its commitment to mimicking the natural tone of classic Peavey gear. While the amp store provides paid additions, at its basic level, tone cloning, independent mic placement, and the ability to control features by MIDI mean it still has much to offer.

Revalver 4 is available for free download at the following link and works for both Windows and OSX.

https://revalver.peavey.com

Budget Sound Design Tool: Chameleon by Guitar ML

It’s only occasionally you find such a hidden gem in the world of sound design. Whilst most plugin designers seek a competitive edge within the market, honing their skills so they can become the best at what they do, occasionally a designer breaks outside the mould to create something which really has a unique selling point. For a free plug in – and for what it does – Chameleon by Guitar ML is absolutely one of these.

Over the course of a song, the sound created by a guitar is in a state of constant motion, and this is responsible for much of the dynamism of both live music and analogue recordings. Chameleon by Guitar ML has gone one step further than most plugin designers, using artificial intelligence and machine learning to create a plugin which models three real world samples to create a virtual amp head. This is therefore the ideal plugin for those looking to develop an ear for sonic nuance, with less but richer and deeper options and extreme amounts of control.

Chameleon is available forWindows 7 and up, Mac 10.11 and up, as well as Linux. More information can be found on their website.

https://guitarml.com

Budget Sound Design Tool: Valhalla Supermassive

Valhalla Supermassive is all about reverb, reverb, and more reverb. Named after interstellar phenomena, it’s different settings all conjure up ethereal, spacey sounds which bring a dramatic edge to your sound design.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. For free, there is no reason not to give this plugin a try. Valhalla Supermassive has a clean interface and easy to use controls – perfect for anyone who wants to shake things up without learning too many new skills. Easy to master, it can be used both in moderation to add something subtle or to go all out and drown your guitar in dreamlike, deep space sounds ready to redefine anything from shoegaze to doom metal.

One of the biggest pros of this plugin is the neutrality of the sounds in the first place – they are bold and adaptable to any genre – a stellar plugin at zero cost and with plenty of features to explore.

It’s latest version (1.5.0) is available for both Mac and Windows computers with Intel and Arm features also available for Apple M1. This update sees VST fixes for Studio One and FL Studio as well.

https://valhalladsp.com/shop/reverb/valhalla-supermassive/

Logic Pro X’s Amp/Pedalboard designer

It is extremely easy to overlook the options which are right there at our fingertips. Most of us graduate from Garageband to Logic X Pro or an alternative DAW very, very early on in our musical careers, often skipping it entirely.

However, for anyone with a Mac, Garageband is a worthwhile feature to investigate because of its availability alone – plus the achievement of working creatively with some of the most default plugins. Logic’s Amp/Pedalboard designer may not have the reviews, renown, finesse, or attention of the rest of what is out there, it’s important not to overlook what it has to offer. The humble pedalboard designer contains amps styled after those by Mesa, Orange, Vox, Marshall, and Fender, plus rare boutique cabinets, seven microphone options, and the ability to reposition the mic at will. Though not as specialist as some other plugins on the market, these generalist options mean it’s literally up to you how you use them – pushing your creativity to new heights.  

Naturally, Pedalboard Designer has been developed for IOS, and comes with Logic, though can be accessed freely on Garageband if you wish to test it before downloading Logic itself.

Reaper: An Alternative, Budget DAW as Worthwhile as Logic

With three hidden-gem, free plugins, and an unconventional option on the list, what about your DAW itself in terms of budget gear? Whilst most producers and sound designers choose to work on macs and use Logic or other popular DAWs such as Ableton, Reaper is an overlooked budget DAW which has a 60 day free trial period and after that costs only $60 for a discounted licence. Whilst commercial licences cost more – at $225 – Reaper is very easy to begin with at a low cost and offers plenty of freedom for deciding whether it is for you or not.

At a cheaper price, Reaper has a pretty mind-boggling range of VSTs and plugins. It’s simplicity and the fact it doesn’t cost the earth makes it great for sound designers on a budget who are happy stretching themselves to adapt to a new piece of software.

https://www.reaper.fm/download.php

Reaper is adaptable, supporting Linux with Intel and Arm, MacOs 10.5-12, and Windows from Windows XP to Windows 11 as well as working with WINE.

These are just some of the budget friendly options on the market, however, with them it is entirely possible to create a sound design setup for a very small amount – one which, when you get to know it, is as useful as any at a higher price or with seemingly more sophisticated gear.

IK Multimedia AmpliTube 5 honest review

Billed as the industry’s favorite amplifier and effects modelling software, this is a totally honest review of the IK Multimedia AmpliTube 5 guitar processing pack, which has recently been updated to version 5.3 with a bunch of new features. With obvious reasons why it is so popular amongst the industry, AmpliTube 5 turned out to be intuitive and easy to use in terms of interface and a design. It works with the flow of the average musician and it has really been created with the thought processes of the user in mind.

How is IK Multimedia AmpliTube 5 set up?

What stood out to me first was the way the entire signal chain has been modelled, with a crisp, clean overview of the chain including everything from direct input to pre-amps, gain, stomp-boxes, and more. You can see the whole thing from a bird’s eye view and drag and drop the different parts around to experiment with positioning. Different lines are color coded – and you can go with dual input or even three different parallel lines of FX connected to the same DI, which makes it extremely nonlinear and versatile. I was refreshed by the way that AmpliTube 5 seems to go above and beyond in terms of having a layout which explicitly works with the way most musicians seem to think and practice. It almost feels as if it was designed for guitarists, by guitarists. The gear selection process has been updated to drag and drop, and the gear view window is photorealistic and designed to be as hands on as it can possibly be without having the actual gear there in front of you – with a mixing window which is along the same lines too.

What makes IK Multimedia AmpliTube 5 stand out?

This is software which isn’t messing around. It’s been designed with a wholistic view of the production process and includes the following features:

  • The entire signal chain is covered from start to finish in terms of modelling.
  • Sound is hyper realistic due to IK using its own specifically trademarked DIM and VIR technology.
  • 8 track recording software allows the creation of nuance, layers, and walls of sound.
  • Set up and ease of use speed up each part of your workflow and thus minimizes processing power needed to create great sounds.
  • All FX are based on real gear and IK Multimedia has worked with real manufacturers including Orange, Mesa Boogie, and Fender thus allowing them to focus on what they do best with intuitive interface design while simultaneously including pro-level sounds created by those who have already hit the sweet spot with tone and popular appeal.

What does IK Multimedia AmpliTube 5 include?

The FX themselves are extremely well chosen. Some modelling software tends to have a bias or bent towards one side or another. AmpliTube 5 is a clean, neutral territory. There are over 400 different bits of gear and the designers have taken their time to work with classic, crowd-pleasing companies such as Fender to hit the sweet spot between familiarity and the ability to spice things up enough to spark ideas. IK Multimedia has split it into three sections, with the signal/FX chain modelling being the main focus and a mixing window which is positioned above, as well as the gear selector window to one side which contains AmpliTube 5’s magnetic selection of options bound to draw in any gear lover.

Why purchase the IK Multimedia Amplitube 5?

Personally, I found it was in the realm of inspiration where the AmpliTube really comes into its own, and while I investigated it, I realized this is not just FX modelling which attempts to cram as many different options into one rig as possible but instead includes carefully chosen collections of software which bring new options and idea combos to the table. AmpliTube 5 has focused on user interface and managed to combine creativity, a format that actually works for musicians, and an excellent level of variety, so it doesn’t feel just like a set of different VSTs and tech. Instead, it’s an interconnected ecosystem of sound design which works equally well for indie rock as it would for hardcore punk. I also found because of how different components are deliberately linked, they connect to each other in a way that ensures your workflow won’t be interrupted. As a result, this is a setup which works for both beginners and pro sound designers in separate ways. Beginners will find the fact that it is easy to use – without much technical detail needed to create amazing blends of sound – a real bonus when struggling for inspiration. On the other hand, anyone with a deeper grasp of the production process will be pleased with the sheer level of different plugins available for creative use, and how IK Multimedia has laid them out to spark new combinations of ideas.

Pricing and availability

Amplitube 5 can be bought off IK Multimedia’s website at $299.99. At this kind of price, it’s beyond the budget of the average bedroom producer or beginner, but it is a bit of software which is well worth investing in – in terms of sheer density of different options per unit of cost plus the way it frees up workflow and creates a smooth, easy-going sound design process.

Click here to check the latest price on their website!

Final Thoughts

I found everything about the AmpliTube 5 to stand out in terms of care and consideration taken to make a top tier product which focusses on the user as opposed to bunching a lot of different techs together. It has two main points of appeal – the variety of FX and thus possibilities in sound design and chain modelling – and the creative, non-linear set up designed to release workflow issues for speedier and more enjoyable music production. Personally, the workflow and interface design make it sold for me – but it’s the sheer number of options in terms of how you want to work with sound that means it has an appeal beyond any single genre. And if you want to read more reviews by us, head on down to our Reviews category by clicking here!

DIGITAL and ANALOG – How you can use ANALOG effects with DIGITAL MUSIC production

While analog seems like a pretty much forgotten domain, digital music production using DAWs such as Logic, Reason, and Ableton, has become the norm in the modern music industry. With so many instruments, FX, and VSTs in one place, they seemingly have everything a modern musician needs. Yet to expand the sound of your music you may want to combine digital and analogue sounds. 

Choose your DAW

All round BEST DAW: Logic

Logic is by no means the only DAW on the market yet is the first option which many musicians jump to. Nevertheless, to combine digital with analogue it isn’t always the best option. Logic has such as wide range of different VSTs, plugins, FX, and ways to mix and master your music – but producing everything similarly can starve your creativity. There is no true BEST when checking out DAW options, but Logic is a great all-rounder that can do everything you need.

Check out these other DAWs for alternative options, if you are on a budget or if you are still learning digital music production: 

Budget friendly DAW: Reaper  

Reaper is basic, but this can be exploited by the savvy musician to further creativity. Due to not using much power, it can be modified with many of your own plugins or external equipment like external FX plugins for a low cost and streamlined way of working.

Great for beginners: Ableton

Meanwhile, Ableton live is a great way of bringing analogue gear into digital music production. By pushing the buttons on the live pads, even with entirely digital sounds, layering them can free up your creativity and create thicker, richer, and more nuanced sound. Loading both digital and analogue sounds, which can be run through FX pedals for a richer warmer sound or combined with digital instruments like synths.

Digital and Analog Music Gear: What’s on the Market? 

Using electric guitar and pedals, or stomp boxes, may not be immediately obvious in electronic music but can be done to great effect with low key guitar and heavy usage of FX making the humble Fender Strat or Telecaster sound otherworldly and unique, generating sounds which could not be achieved with digital FX or production but which you would not necessarily know were analog. For the rest of the article, we will only focus on pedals, leaving analog synthesisers and other instruments to a separate one.

Of course, if you want some more in-depth information you can check the Music Hardware section here on idesignsound and also the “ANALOG” tag.

Guitar Pedals

I have experimented with combining analogue stompboxes and other FX pedals with digital production, especially with digital drum patterns. They work together very well when combined with electric guitar as this can be produced in such a way that its rich, raw analogue sounds are modulated and toned down to combine with slick electronic synths and drumbeats.

They can also change the sound of your guitar. So that it is less obviously a six-stringed electric or acoustic, making it ambiguous and therefore creating all sorts of fantastic and ethereal sounds. This can open up more options than may even have been on your DAW in the first place. It’s a reminder that sounds do not just come from our computers and online but that the world around us can be a constant source of inspiration.

Music producers usually group the pedals into different circuits on a Pedalboard

Best analog stompboxes for combining with digital music production:

Naturally there are loads of different stompboxes to choose from on the market, even within any one category such as fuzz or wah pedals. These are only a few of the possible options out there and are simply a good place to start.

Behringer

Behringer pedals are relatively cheap and are great pedals for beginners. There are many different kinds and they can easily be combined with your existing digital gear due to the fact that their controls are very similar to those which exist on DAWs such as logic. A basic Behringer distortion pedal can be used with Logic to bring some authentic, raw sounding distortion to low key electric guitars for bedroom pop or indie music.

EVH Phase 90

Phaser pedals are a great way of introducing weird sounds to your electronic music. Synths and other forms of sound modulation are great for creating tense and exciting electronic beats but missing out on the variety of other sounds out in the analogue world would be a mistake.

Phaser pedals are generally used with electric guitar for classic rock and roll sounds, especially in the 80s. With the current focus on retro and the vinyl revival, why not bring them to the present era by recording phased guitar and using it as a sample or synth patch for high-powered electropop.

Wah Pedals

Like the phaser, it may not occur to you to use retro sounding pedals in modern electronic music. Nevertheless, with enough production, a fuzz pedal or wah pedal can be used to add layers of depth to your electronic music.

With digital, bedroom-based production one thing which is lost is the warmth and depth of tone of analogue production. There is always a fine balance between creating depth or interesting sounds and keeping the crispness which makes electronic music so listenable.

A wah pedal can be used to create a wall of sound effect which is great for combining with mixed vocals and synth sounds for big choruses. Dunlop pedals are a great middle of the road brand for this as for a pedal you may use quite a lot but which needs to stand up to the wear and tear of production, they are not too expensive but still provide great sound. Try the cry baby pedal for big noises to mix down and combine with synths and electronic drums.

We also recommend you check out our article on the BEST DELAY pedals by clicking here.

Ways to Combine ANALOG and DIGITAL MUSIC workflows

Dry Recording

It isn’t every guitarist’s first preference to record guitars dry into their interface and DAW, but for electronic musicians who are not bound by the conventions of rock history, it is a way to get subtle and low-key electric guitar sounds into otherwise electronic songs and have them still work, without sounding overpowering or like two completely disparate genres have been mashed together.

Try it and then layer FX to your choice over the top of them. The dry base can give you more options for creativity as you add different musical textures and ingredients.

Recording and then adding FX

Recording wet sounds such as by miking up amps can result in a rich sound which is not always desirable in electronic music as it can drown out the other elements. However, if you choose to record this way, good, pro level EQ plugins can allow you to mix to your liking and have the best of both worlds – the multiple tones and the appeal of real instruments, as well as the cleanness of electronic sound and the ability to manipulate sound to your liking to create bigger, punchier dynamics like pulsing EDM drums for a danceable pop song or the hazy atmosphere of dreamy bedroom pop by adding reverb and delay.

Digital and Analog Music – Conclusions

Combining analogue and digital sounds is as simple as using your gear creatively and making sure that you understand the contexts in which different sounds are used.

Amplitube vs Guitar Rig – a detailed comparison

As any guitar player knows, Guitar Rig and Amplitube are undoubtedly two of the most famous and popular guitar emulators available. They’re the best at what they do, but which one is actually THE BEST?

We have updated our article in light of the recent Amplitube 5 release, available on IK Multimedia’s website. Comparing to Amplitube 4, this one has been upgraded user experience department, being by far much more user friendly. It now suports Retina-displays and the GUI is fully-scalable. Also, in the new department you now have the option to do parallel effects, with the addition of the dry/wet control and a lot more devices to play with.

For those interested in an upgrade path from Amplitube 4 to 5, here is a sheet from IK Multimedia, explaining the differences and also listing the contents of the Amplitube 5 package.

And if you are interested in a music production laptop as well, we have an updated comparison article right here for you.

Today we’re going to talk at length about the differences and similarities between Amplitube and Guitar Rig, their pros and cons, features, specs, and ultimately decide which platform offers bigger and better benefits, so let’s begin with the most recent price, avaialble by clicking these buttons:

To be fair, we will compare Amplitube 5 to the “PRO” version of Guitar Rig – because the free version is in a league of it’s own. Sadly there is no free entry point to Amplitube, so we have to have an apples-to-apples comparison.

Guitar Rig 6 Amps

For the lack of better words, the selection of amps, cabinets, and effects stacked into the Guitar rig is absolutely incredible. Of course, its eclecticism and versatility mainly depends on which package you’ve opted for, but even the factory Guitar Rig 6 Player is better-rounded than the vast majority if boutique guitar emulators.

You’ll be able to choose between some of the iconic amps, such as Hot Plex, Citrus, Tweed Delight, Jazz Amp, Hot Solo+, and many others, although the bulk of these presets are reserved for Guitar Rig 6 Pro users.

The newest additions (in comparison to the Guitar Rig 5 Pro) are the Chicago, Bass Invader, and the Fire Breather amps, all of which bring brand-new and highly unique features to the table.

Overall, Guitar Rig offers surprisingly authentic, great-sounding amps. We have a full review of Guitar Rig 6 available by clicking right here!

Amplitube 5 Amps

Amplitube’s selection of amps is perfect for literally all kinds of music styles and subgenres. The Standard Amplitube 5 package has 34 devices while the MAX version has a whopping 107 items.

You’ll be able to use five British Stack amps, including Brit 8000 and Brit 9000, the Red Pig, Brit Valve, the Brit Silver, two American Tube amps, as well as a solid-state Bass preamp. The standard edition of Amplitube 5

If you want the full list of devices available, IK Multimedia has created this sheet, which also compares Amplitube 5 with the previous version. We have a full and honest review of Amplitube 5, you can read it by clicking here!

These amps work wonders regardless of whether you’re looking for a poppy sound, a fuzzed jazzy tone, or a heavily distorted metal timbre. However, Guitar Rig’s selection of amps is just slightly broader.

Guitar Rig 6 Cabinets

Guitar Rig 6 offers matched cabinets for their amps, which is generally pretty great. Furthermore, you’ll be able to make great use of the Control room cabinets & mics features if you’ve upgraded to Guitar Rig 6 Pro.

However, the downside here is that you won’t be able to mix and match ‘unmatched’ cabinets like you would with Amplitube.

Amplitube Cabinets

As far as cabinets go, Amplitube 5 offers 27 models, while the MAX version comes equipped with a HUGE ARRAY of 101, including six 4 by 12s (matching the amps), one 1 by 12 Open Vintage cab, a 2 by 12 Closed Vintage cab, and a 1 by 15 Bass Vintage cabinet.

While Guitar Rig had the upper hand in terms of the amp selection, Amplitube does a bit better job in the realm of cabinets, offering more than twice as many models and presets.

In a nutshell, this is more than you’ll need to capture the sonic essence of the recognizable sounds of guitar heroes with ease.

Guitar Rig 6 Effects

There are almost more guitar effects aboard the Guitar Rig 6 platform than can be counted, starting with five delays (Twin, Delay Man, Psyche Delay, Quad Delay and Tape Echo), 12 Distortions (Fuzz, MeZone, Sledgehammer, Gain & Treble boosters, Cat, Demon, Skreamer and more), 10 Dynamic effects, 5 EQs, 7 filters, 8 modulation effects, 3 Pitch effects, 9 reverbs, and three ‘Special’ effects (Resochord, Ring Modulator and Grain Delay).

Barely a dozen of these effects are available as factory presets, though, which means that more than half of aforementioned guitar effect models are only available with the Guitar Rig 6 Pro package. We have a full review of Guitar Rig 6 available by clicking right here!

Amplitube Effects

The Amplitube simulator offers 10 different stompbox models, including choruses, flangers, delays, wahs, diode overdrives, volume pedals, graphic equalizers, compressors, tremolos, and acoustic simulators. With the new Amplitube 5 version you can run them in paralel with the dry/wet setting.

All of these effects are taken from actual analogue effect pedals and sound as original and authentic as can be. The same list of items contains an inventory of all the stomp effects contained. We have a full and honest review of Amplitube 5, you can read it by clicking here!

The good and the bad of Guitar Rig 6

Basically, Guitar Rig 6 is free to download, which is a massive benefit in itself. However, the factory presets selection is modest, to say the very least, which means that it’s a pretty basic software with relatively poor versatility if you don’t upgrade to the ‘Pro’ version at some point.

Let’s discuss the positives and negatives of Guitar Rig 6 PRO:

Pros:

  • Decently affordable upgrade to Guitar Rig 6 free
  • Exceptional range of guitar amps
  • Quality analogue bass amp
  • Authentic sounding tools, models and presets
  • Unparalleled selection of effects
  • Decently easy to use, even by beginners

Cons:

  • The basic (free) package is not overly versatile
  • Difficult to mix and match cabinets
  • Almost no effect pedals and stompboxes to speak of in the free package

The good and the bad of Amplitube

Amplitube is decently approachable guitar software that packs a hefty selection of stompboxes, amplifiers, cabinets, speakers, microphones, effects, and rack units. With the new update to Amplitube 5, the user interface is extremely well built, scalable and looks great on Apple devices. We have a full and honest review of Amplitube 5, you can read it by clicking here!

Obviously, it’s more expensive than the (free) Guitar Rig 6, but it is well worth the buck considering how beginner-friendly and eclectic it is. Some of the highlighted advantages and disadvantages of Amplitube are:

Pros:

  • Highly intuitive interface
  • Excellent selection of stompbox effects, amplifiers, cabinets and microphones
  • Several rack effects and speakers
  • Onboard tuners
  • Constantly expanding roster of amps and effects
  • Great for beginners and seasoned veterans alike

Cons:

  • Not available for free, although demo can be downloaded free of charge

Conclusion

The specs, features, and UI were some of the most notable parameters we took into consideration when comparing the performance of Amplitube and Guitar Rig.

Even though these guitar simulator programs are completely different, they actually do have a lot in common. Both programs are laden with a myriad of top-quality amps and effects, and both actually sound extraordinarily great.

Be it as it may, Guitar Rig tends to do a bit better only because there is a free version to which Amplitube cannot compete. Overall, Guitar Rig offers surprisingly authentic, great-sounding amps. We have a full review of Guitar Rig 6 available by clicking right here!

Without cutting Amplitube’s worth short, it’s amazing software that has enormous potential to usurp Guitar Rig’s throne in near future.

Best Prime Day 2020 Music Promotion Deals

It’s (kind of) finally here- The shopping season is upon us and as always, retailers are starting off with a bang with amazon’s prime day.

Although pioneered by Amazon, several brands have joined in on the fun and have started offering up to 90% off their products.

And, as always, we’re here to guide you through the best deals and freebies

VST Plugins Prime Day Deals

Waves

As usual, Waves is running a series of crazy discounts. They are marketed as black Friday deals, though we’ll include them here are they are still on time for prime day.

We still consider their subscription to be one of the best deals out there, especially because it includes a free trial period of 1 month– more than enough to produce several award-winning tracks.

Scheps Omni Channel- 74% off (38.99$)

The Scheps Omni Channel gets its name from the brilliant Andrew Scheps- engineer to jay z, Adele, Metallica, and many others.

This channel strip is a staple of any modern producer, and it’s now 74% off!

Vocal Rider- 86% off (35.99$)

Vocal rider is known for its simplicity and effectiveness. It will adjust your vocals automatically with great results.

It’s at 86% off for a limited time.

Waves Tune Real Time- 82% off (35.99$)

If you run a studio or record vocals frequently, this is a must have VST. It allows singers to stay in tune in real time. It’s basically a magic box that makes anybody a great singer.

At this price, this is a great tool to just play around if you ever wondered how your voice would sound if recorded professionally.

There are a bunch more waves plugins heavily discounted at the waves website, these are only the ones that caught our attention, for a full list, click on the link below:

WAVES DEALS

Plugin Boutique

W.A Productions Back to School Bundle- 95% off (9.99$)

For the price of an expensive coffee, you’ll get WA Babylon, instascale and instachord.

It’s a no-brainer.

Soundspot Union & Expansions sale 90% off (16$)

IK Multimedia

Total Studio Max 2- 75% off (249.99$)

17 synths with over 2000 presets, 2 400 instruments, 34 effects, 39 high end audio processors, guitar amps, samples, and much more.

All this for 249.99$ (Down from 999$). What more can we say?

Sample Tank 4- 50% off (149.99$)

Included in Total Studio Max 2.

This is a huge sound library of over 260GB with a beautifully designed interface.

IK Multimedia is running a couple of other promotions, which you can check in the link below:

IK MULTIMEDIA

Musical Instruments

Amazon U.S Prime Day Music Deals

Amazon’s prime music deals are too many to list in one single post.

So feel free to browse headphones, musical instruments, and home audio using the link below:

AMAZON DEALS

Ableton Live 10 Review

Ableton Live is a software sequencer for recording and mixing live performances as well as composing, arranging, mixing, and mastering original music.

DJs and music producers alike favor its control suite over other software sequencers. Ableton Live 10 is the best update the software has received.

This review evaluates its main features in terms of the users who would benefit from them.

We’ll go over any possible drawbacks you may experience with the Ableton Live 10 Suite, but for music producers, mixers, arrangers, DJs, and other industry professionals, the Live 10 update is the best version of an already multifunctional application.

The Interface

You may already know that Ableton Live has an intuitive, simple interface set up in two views: arrangement and session.

This allows you to play samples and MIDI sequences live, or in a predetermined order so you can trigger the instruments or third party sounds manually.

The Live 10 update improves on the formula even more.

It’s clean and intuitive in the refreshed Live 10 design, with the previous skin options changing to more comprehensive themes that change how you interact with Live 10 based on your preferences.

Unlike in Live 9, clip fade-ins don’t need to be enabled separately in Live 10 – there are built-in shortcuts for that and other commonly used processes that allow you to instantly reposition clips in your track or fold all arrangement tracks.

The Chase MIDI Notes tab lets the program resume long sound clips without them needing to be manually retriggered.

Just looking at Live 10, you know you’re getting a more refined suite than previous updates. The browser is now color-coded for your curated content, managing your updates, and curating your tracks.

The typeface is clean and easy to read, as it has been on other Live versions, but this time with more customization options to help users make it as easy to read for them as they want.

Capture, Wavetable, and other devices like Pedal and Drum Bass all appear on the interface in more intuitive ways to help with the efficiency of your design.

Arrangement view has improved that design by grouping your features intuitively to avoid a cluttered interface, even though Live 10 has more features than ever before.

If you know what all that means, then you’re in the right place in your industry to make use of Ableton Live 10.

Even if you don’t have experience with other interfaces, the options for instrumentation and effects may convince you.

The Push 2 interface that has been integrated into Ableton Live 10 also gives you more options in terms of applications and an even more refined interface.

Those who use Push on their devices will be happy to read on and discover how Ableton has fixed one of the major drawbacks of previous updates, which was the lack of Push features.

Push integration

The Push interface gives Ableton Live 10 access to premium features, making it a more versatile studio DAW than any on the market.

Ableton Live 10 doesn’t have to be established with Push but Push and Push 2 offer a lot of useful expanded functionality that makes Live 10 even more interactive.

The vibrant Push display could be a huge asset to organizing your work in a live performance setting or a studio composition setting.

Push also allows Live 10 to visualize each note in MIDI clips, which enhances users’ ability to sequence them, something that previous Live 10 suites have been lacking and now can’t do without. Push enhances the already stellar MIDI sequencing on Ableton Live 10 by showing notes in four rows, accentuated by a separate sequencer section. 

Push users should love the full integration with Live 10, including the new features and vibrant, intuitive interface changes. Using new devices in the suite like Wavetable and Echo is not only easy but they look great too.

Previous Live updates have been a little slow getting full device integration up to speed with the Push interface, which has made Mac users and “Push natives” a little slow to get on board. Those worries are gone with Live 10.

Instrumentation options

Ableton Live 10 features synth options that give mixers way more utility than previous updates to the suite. The range of timbres and the sheer number of presets all situated on the vibrant Push 2 display makes Live 10 more multifaceted than the versions that preceded it.

New audio effects give users a ton of options, including echo, drum base, and pedal, all of which provide modes for mixing and production that can make Live 10 even more customizable.

Echo allows users to program delays, similar to a tape system. Drum Base is a tool that gives users more audio shaping options than before by combining transient shaping, compression, and distortion into one mechanic.

Pedal is the best guitar distortion effect added to Ableton Live in all its updates, including dedicated sub controls for manipulating the low end of the spectrum better than any previous version.

Live packs

Ableton Live 10’s live pack options aren’t for everyone, particularly those who are overwhelmed by bundled content in an already multifunctional design suite.

However, they have a lot to offer those looking for even more options and are better in Live 10 than they’ve ever been.

These packs include Build and Drop and other themed content packages, including stylistic instrument presets and effects that help consolidate the creative process around a style built-in to the samples. They help mixers by providing MIDI clips and samples and more raw material in keeping with the live pack’s theme.

The instrument packs in Live 10 aren’t a significant jump in variety from the Live 10 presets, but some users may find the options for hybrid kits to be useful, as they include more instrument mixes and a host of MIDI beat clips that pair with the other kits and applications. The Drum Booth kit, for instance, is perfect for acoustic mixing. Synth Essentials comes with all the samples and presets needed for an electronic mix.

These packs may not appeal to everyone, but for many users they expand the information available in Live 10 to customize mixes so it’s worth it to see them improve from Live 9.

Wavetable

Wavetable is the main device in the new packs that we’ll talk about since it’s probably the most useful for the average Live 10 user.

Wavetable has a wide palette of synthesizers and instruments that make its design capabilities much improved over its predecessors.

You can use it to morph hundreds of wavetables using classic and synthetic forms and two flexible filters.

It’s Live 10’s main synth collection for a reason, and works perfectly in tandem with Operator and Analog on Ableton’s system.

With the ability to make adjustments in the form of automation and to edit MIDI clips together, Wavetable is a great addition to your already packed feature list with Push, drum pads, keyboards, and more operating on the Live 10 interface.

Demo

A demo option sweetens the deal for the Ableton Live 10 suite because it allows you to practice on its basic features for free.

If your system requirements are in order, you have nothing to lose by trying out the Live 10 demo.

Cons

We didn’t notice cons with the interface or features available with the Ableton Live 10 design suite. The main drawback is that Live 10 loads slower on iMac than Live 9.

The Takeaway

Ableton Live 10, like its previous versions, is most notable for its features and interface.

The applications, live packs, instrument and clip options, and other features give mixers, arrangers, and composers all the tools they need to boost their audio design station with one of the best mixing and design suites available.

Its integration with Push gives Live 10 options for applications and devices, as well as useful MIDI visualization options.

Wavetable and Echo, as well as other live packs and applications, give Live 10 a ton of building options that include everything from a themed interface to new instrument and clip packs.

If the adjustment and automation options on MIDI playback, instrument mixes, and customizable interfaces aren’t big enough selling points, Live 10 also offers a demo period that gives users the chance to experience its features without financial risk.

This offsets the premium price of Live 10, but it’s not so outside the market prices of other suites to criticize it on those grounds.

In fact, if you’re a designer looking for an improved version of Live 9, Live 10 ups Ableton’s game in its creative features, sound library, and intuitive interface.

Its new integration with third-party programs makes it an even better option for designers looking for an all-in-one design suite to mix, arrange, compose, and master existing or new music.

With the addition of a free trial, you don’t even have to take our word for it: you can try it out yourself.

Best Plugins for Logic Pro X

Logic Pro X comes with a lot of different amazing stock plugins. You can create a hit record with everything that comes by default.

For music production or for mixing vocals, you can do it all using an array of well crafted plugins that will help you define your sound like the pros.

Sample delay:

This is a plugin that a lot of people overlook including myself until recently, you can slap this bad boy on any sound you’d like to be panned differently and to sit a little wider in the mix.

You can either choose to have a delay on the right or on the left. This doesn’t work too good with instruments that are typically known to hit directly in the middle (Kicks, snares for example) but it works wonders on FX like risers.

It helps give life to instruments or voices.

You can also use them on open hats and percussion as well.

I recommend trying it out and seeing how it influences your mix and finding how it fits perfectly to your taste. It’s very easy to use, only has two knobs and the job is done very quick. Great simple interface to work with on this plugin.

Bit crusher:

This plugin is fantastic for adding a bit of distortion to anything you’d like. I personally like to use it on kicks and snares to add a little grit. What’s important to keep in mind is that less is more. Always.

Play around with the mix knob as it will become your best friend to achieve the best results possible to have a powerful sound but that doesn’t sound too distorted either.

Try adjusting the down sampling along with the resolution to find the best balance to enhance your sound.

Rather simple plugin to use as well and quick to get what you need out of it.

Channel EQ:

The default EQ that comes with logic has a very transparent sound, is incredibly easy to get by on, and is visually engaging.

It’s a go to for easy adjustments on any track.

What makes this EQ special is it’s simplicity and visually appealing look. It demands very low CPU usage and therefore makes it a favourite for applying in whichever situation.

Pitch Correction:

Logic comes with it’s own built in Pitch Correction, also known as Autotune.

It’s very easy to use and only requires to adjust two knobs, one to put in the key of the song, the other is to adjust the power of the autotune applied.

It can achieve great results and can sound very robotic if needed.

Stereo delay:


This is a plugin I use just about in every mix. From vocals to transitions to hi hats, it works literally everywhere.

What’s amazing about this plugin is that you get to adjust each side individually to generate very interesting rhythms that compliment each other.

By default the left side comes at 1/4 and the right side is at 1/8. I tend to leave it as it and play with the feedback to fit my taste for that particular track.

You can play around with this plugin on hi hats to make intricate patterns that make tracks very bouncy. To make this plugin even better, the creators made sure to include a built in filter for each side.

So you get to filter high or low frequencies left and right and really craft a sound that is unique. One of my favorite stock plugins by far.

Tremolo:

The tremolo is another interesting plugin that can be used for many different situations. It works well to add movement in a song.

It pans the sound left and right continuously, and can be very fluid or extremely rapid, depending on the speed.

Putting a tremolo on instruments help it stand out in the mix, and always be in motion.

Exciter:

The exciter is another tool that comes with Logic Pro’s arsenal that can be used virtually anywhere.

This plugin can enhance pleasant harmonics or if needed more prominent distortion, but when used in little amounts it can tremendously boost a whole track.

This plugin works well in the mixing stage as well when wanting to add some extra harmonics on a master bus.

You can use it on a piano to give a little more grit and power, it works very well with guitars as well. It can be applied on vocals as well to make them stand out more in a mix.

Apple and Ableton Offer 90 Day Free Trial for Logic Pro X and Ableton 10 Live

In yet another act of kindness in the music production industry, Apple and Ableton have made their flagship music production suites available for free for 90 days!


At a time where most of us are stuck at home, this is a great opportunity to take the plunge into the higher end of DAWs.

Retailing at 199.99$ (Logic Pro X) and at 750$ (Ableton 10 Live), these are truly unbelievable offers, though they won’t last forever. So beware, if you get hooked on one of these, you might end up having to pay the full price.

In any case, you only live once, so why not enjoy these freebies while they last.

Here are the links:

Apple’s Logic Pro X

Ableton 10 Live

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