Easter 2021 – TOP 3 Hot DEALS for music producers

Hey guys, it’s that time of the year when everybody that’s selling something to you is having an easter sale. Yes, it’s time to put your hard earned money to work and get all the stuff that you need for your next EP, Album or Single.

Top 3 Easter 2021 music production deals

  1. Loopasters is having a huge blow-out sale here. Almost all of their sample packs are discounted, some even to 50%. The offers end on the 12th of April. Discounted titles include Hypnotic House and Techno samples from Simon Garcia, Amanda Wilson’s House and Disco Vocal samples and Serum presets for Drum and Bass. You should totally check the sale out at this link.
  2. Pluginboutique is having an awesome deal for Cloudbounce online mastering service. You can get up to 93% off if you commit to a long term plan. It totally makes sense if you record a lot of track material for demos and need it mastered fast, or if you have a small record label that requires constant mastering services. Get the limited time deal here.
  3. Waves is running a huge offer for some of their legendary plugins right here. Time is of the essence here, as the offer ends on the 4th of April. 29 of their VSTs for $29.99 each. Plus, if you spend $50 on their website, you are entitled to get one free plugin, and if you spend $90 you get two from their selection of eligible products. Plugins on offer for $29.99 include H-Delay, Abbey Road Saturator, the classic API 2500 and dbx 160 compressor emulations. You can consult the full offer by clicking here.

There are more deals going on right now, but we figured you are only interested in the best! Happy shopping and stay safe!

Arturia Chorus Dimension D (Roland Chorus Clone) Review and Deal

Wow, we live in such interesting times. VSTs are getting better and better, and now they can almost, and we really mean almost emulate the hardware sound. No wonder Arturia delayed emulating the Roland Chorus Dimension-D (aka Roland SSD-320). I am guessing they wanted to do it just right, because wow! – this thing is a killer tool to have in your arsenal. They done it, we think they did a good job, and you can get a nice discount right now here.

And if you are looking for a VST Synth to get along with this massive VST effect, we have compiled and reviewed the best VST synths in the market right now here.

The original Roland Dimension D – what is it?

Ok so this one is pretty simple, it is a chorus effect. Chorus makes a single, simple sound sound much more complex. If it is mono, it expands it in stereo. If it is stereo already, it widens the stereo image and makes it much more complex.

Think of chorus as in a church context, or when multiple human voices sing to the same tune. Basically, they all sing the same musical note, but each voice has its own timbre, which actually makes the same note sound much more complex than if just a single voice would sing it.

Sure, sometimes you want just a single voice, but sometimes you want to add depth, which is precisely why you need a chorus – to add depth.

Chorus gets your sound source, multiplies it creating clones, detunes the clones and shifts them in the stereo field. It can sound drastic, it can sound fulfilling. It can also sound heavy and imprecise, so always be sure to set just how much chorus you want by ear.

How I use the Roland Dimension D

So basically I am not a fan of stereo chorus. I don’t think that a chorus is meant to just widen the stereo field, if you want that, you can find simpler tools to do it, because chorus can have an impact on the overall sound as well as the stereo image, in some cases for stereo material, making it muddy.

Here is my processing rack, with the Dimension D on top position

That does not mean you are not allowed to do it, just make sure that your stereo sound retains it’s original precision and presence after you treat it with chorus.

I think that the Dimension D chorus (both Roland and Arturia) works best for mono signals, and is excellent for bass sounds.

Sometimes you have to work in mono. Your favourite synths do not work in stereo, and if they do, it’s mostly because they have onboard stereo effects like delay and reverb. Sometimes you are recording your guitar and there is no point in doing it in stereo. Most bass sounds are recommended to be used in mono, and you mostly have a mono source.

The Dimension D expands this in stereo, but in a very subtle way. There are four settings on the VST (and multiple settings on the hardware because you can have more than one button pressed), each representing the degree of chorus being applied and also the level of stereo expansion. But believe me when I say this, the stereo expansion is subtle, even on the red (four) setting.

So what I usually do is take my bass sound which is always coming from a mono synth, and run it in parallel from the mixer to the Roland Dimension D adjusting how much I send (main channel is going in the box via the Empirical Labs FATSO compressor and tape emulator – excellent piece of gear, review coming soon). The chorus gives my bass much more presence because of the stereo field and a degree of extra complexity. It makes it stand in the mix, and I would be lost without this treatment to be honest.

  • Using the Dimension D on the bass is the first and best use case in my oppinion and is a good reason for you to buy the Arturia Dimension D chorus right now.
  • Using the Dimension D on synths in general on the lowest setting, just to get a bit of saturation as an alternative to compression.
  • Other use cases are of course for polyphonic sounds like pads and piano which has been recorded in mono, just make sure you do it with moderation as the chorus will load your sound with a “swirly” effect and can make you feel a bit dizzy.
  • Last use case for me would be on stereo material, mostly because I feel that the Roland hardware lacks a dry/wet knob and can be too much, even on the lowest setting. Arturia has included a dry/wet knob so you can use it on stereo sounds just make sure you use your ears and don’t overdo it.

Arturia VST versus Roland hardware

So of course, having your tools in software has some advantages and disadvantages. What you get with the VST has been summed in the list below:

  1. Dry/wet knob for parallel use
  2. Presets
  3. Color (saturation) ajustment
  4. Chorus Oscillator Shape (Chorus has an internal LFO that modulates the pitch of the clones)
  5. Stereo widening ajustment
  6. Price (Roland gear can be expensive, we paid 1200 EUR for the hardware unit)
  7. Reliability (VSTs do not break down and do not require maintenance)
  8. Total Recall, each DAW project has it’s own Arturia Chorus Dimension D settings
  9. More than one instance of the chorus effect in the project

Of course what you don’t get with the Arturia Dimension D VST clone is the stellar sound that the Roland hardware is known for.

Yes guys it’s time to discuss sound. Do I like Arturia’s chorus sound? Yes, I do. Is it similar to Roland’s? Not really. They did a good job emulating the sound and the feel of the effect, and the use cases are there, but the sound is just a bit different. Enough for me to notice, and enough for me to keep the hardware with the obvious limitations. But this is just me, you can decide it’s not worth buying the hardware just for the sound alone. It is vintage so you have to maintain and service it. You can spill beer on it. You can have an electrical issue and loose it. Not to mention that you don’t have any control over it, you just select the algorythm.

The best part of the Roland hardware, after sound of course, is the fact that you can have a combination of algorithms by pressing more than one button.

Still, it is 2021 and you have options. Obviously if you want to start collecting hardware, source gear like synths are more important than processing, so we only recommend getting a vintage Roland Dimension D chorus at the end of your gear collection effort, if the space and budget allows. If not, you can get the VST for the obvious ease of use and maintenance boost. Just keep in mind that while the Arturia Chorus sounds great, the hardware sounds much better.

And if you are fast enough, you can get the Arturia VST at a special introductory price here.

5 BEST Mid-winter 2021 VST Plugin DEALS

Wellcome to our periodic round-up of the BEST DEALS available on music production VST Plugins. Here, we help you spend your hard-earn money on new toys and virtual gear. So without further ado, here is our list of five of the BEST DEALS on VST Plugins and their end date:

  1. Izotope Complete Your Suite Sale – up to 80% off. Yes you heard that right, up to 80% off select Izotope VST Plugins in order for you to have more of the same quality and usability. There are also offers for upgrades here. Deal ends February 16th 2021 and can be found here.
  2. Iceberg Audio – The Sub VST Synth – 33% off introductory price. This one is also on the usability side, and it’s a straightforward sub bass synth. For 33 Eur you get one envelope, glide and drive, so not that much BUT the sound quality is out if this world. It is an instant favourite our ours and the deal can be found here. It is only live until Februray 10.
  3. Native Instruments Komplete 13 – huge discount on bundles. If you’ve been waiting for a great deal to get into Komplete, now is the time. They have heavily discounted their bundles, including Ultimate and Collector’s Edition. They did this also for the starter packs, and you can get them for as low as 199 Eur for the Select bundle. The deal can be found here, and there is no end date specified, so go ahead and try your luck.
  4. W.A. Production has a 68% off sale on preset packs for the most popular synths out there like Serum, Spire, Sylenth and much more. If Techno and House are your things, then this is for you. All major VST Synths are supported on this preset pack, and the deal ends on the 28th of February. Shop here!
  5. 55% Off Eden2 by UJAM and Bassroom by Mastering the Mix. Again, if dance music, especially Techno and House are your things, These two tools are indispensable. I am particularly fond of Bassroom, it is very useful on the master channel to round out and smooth your bassline. UJAM is a very nice drum machine too. This deal ends on 14th of Februray.

So there you have it, enough to get you through the end of Winter. Make sure you subscribe to our newsletters for more deals:

Enhance your Drums for FREE – Diablo lite VST

If you always compared your own drum works to the professional sound and felt a little off, Diablo lite is for you. This VST is pretty nice, as our test shown, and really works especially on electronic drums.

So what is Diablo lite?

Diablo lite is a FREE VST offering by Cymatics. You know them mostly for their (paid) sample packs but they actually have a lot of free products too. And not just sample packs but plugins and also presets for popular plugins.

And if FREE VSTs are your thing, we actually are maintaining a very extensive list of more than 400 freebies here, where we actually added Diablo lite.

Now, about Diablo lite, this VST is part compressor and part transient shaper. The compressor is actually a clipper, so the compression ratio is very high, close to the well-known “brick wall” style of compression. Because of this dual nature of this sound treatment device, it is excellent for drums.

How do you use it?

So basically every producer uses some form or compression on the drums, either on the whole drum bus or individually. This is because most source material, be it sample-based, synth or live recorded is kind of in the middle in terms of dynamics. It can cut through your whole song but in it’s dry form doesn’t. It has the neutral drum sound, is not in your face but is also not absent. What you want to do is actually fit the drums in your sound.

Let’s take the 808 for example, it is ubiquitous and used in a lot, i mean A LOT of music genres. Some genres use it in a more aggressive flavour, some prefer it more mellow. So you basically do this with either a compressor, a transient shaper or both. Transient shapers basically dictate the initial snap and also the remaining tail of the sound.

This is the Punch control knob and dictates the presence. For dynamics, you have the Clip setting, which actually enganges the limiter and makes the sound more compact as you crank it. If you used too much Punch and the drum just jumps out of the mix and commands too much of the user’s attention, try to not use Clip and just turn it down in the mix instead.

But if the Punch knob does not actually do the trick for you because it makes the drum loose it’s initial character, then Clip can save you and achieve the strength that you are looking for in that particular sound.

Actually the website has a lot of samples for this product, and you can actually hear it in action. But why not download it yourself from this download link?

Mixing vocals tutorial & cheat sheet – FREE PDF

Hey friends, good to talk to you again! For those of you that are not subscribed to the iDesignSound.com newsletter, you may have missed this very interesting document in regards to mixing or should I say, fitting, vocals into tracks.

It would be so not like you to miss out on this very important information so we would suggest that you sign-up for the iDesignSound.com newsletter. We will not spam you, but provide very important and relevant information in the field. Our subscribers got this information ahead of time but we figured it is too good to miss so we are providing it to you as well, at the bottom of the article.

Please find the newsletter register form below:

Now, Slate Digital, the company know for very very good emulation of hardware outboard unit, have released this very good pdf booklet about mixing vocals.

Vocals are extremely tricky to get right given the dynamic nature of the human voice, the broad range of frequencies it covers and the somewhat hard to obtain sweet spot of modern music mixing.

And if you plan to record your own voice and process it with this guide, we have written a very extensive comparrison and review for the best microphone arm on the market right now.

Slate Academy, the tutorial side of Slate Digital’s business, has got this covered with six parts, following the signal path and the natural way of sound treatment:

  1. Corrective Eq
  2. Compression
  3. Tone shaping
  4. De-essing
  5. Air
  6. Stereo processing (Reverb/Delay)

We found this list very handy, from the perspective of information contained as well as structuring, so without further ado, here is the download link for the PDF:

Soundtoys MEGA SALE – live now

Hey guys, just your friendly reviewer logging in this wonderful time, somewhere between Christmas and New Year with a huge deal. I was pretty sure you were interested so here it is: Soundtoys has huge discounts in place up until mid January.

https://www.soundtoys.com/product/

So here they are, and also don’t forget to first demo them before purchase, the offer is said to be live until 15th of January. Our personal favourites are

  1. MicroShift – a classic, although one that is hard to describe. Technically it is somewhat like a chorus device, but a bit more subtle. Definitely have to try it and you will want to use it to widen stereo fields and to blend in pronounced instruments.
  2. EchoBoy – again this is kind of timeless. It is all the tape delay heaven that you can possibly dream of in this little plugin.
  3. Crystallizer – for the experimental types. Delay again, but instead of BBD/tape style found in EchoBoy, this one is all about grain and recycling. You can also change the pitch of the feedback to get really weird.

Freebie Alert – Juno Chorus Clone From Arturia FREE

Ho! Ho! Ho! Arturia has done a very good clone of vintage vibe and it’s free of charge until 29th of December 2020

Let’s end this year in style and in class!

This plugin is good. Sure, it will never be like the real thing, right? This is not really that important, what is more important is that you as a producer will have one more tool to fit your sound design ideas in. You all know what this is, namely a clone of the legendary chorus found on the Juno synth. Arturia’s take is exactly the one that can be heard on their Juno software emulation. They even put a web preview for you, so you can instantly hear it.

https://www.arturia.com/freegift-chorus-jun6

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 better?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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