Innovating with Music Technology – the creative design processes behind 5 Top VST Plugin products and how they are unique [2022]

vst plugin

This one is special, we promise you. We have decided to try to present a “best of the best” in each class, and a bit of justification for how we reached this conclusion. Without further ado, let’s start:

Top 5 VST plugin products: Reverb

When designing a reverb, one of the most important things is that it is true to life. Different companies try to achieve this in different ways – however, one of the most successful in terms of meeting the needs of producers and sound designers is Eventide’s Blackhole reverb. This reverb has even been named producers ‘secret weapon’ by many of the world’s best mix engineers. What makes it so well designed? Well, the people at Eventide have decided to blur the lines between conventional reverbs which seek to recreate the sound and ambience of real life spaces, and digital FX which create spacey sounds to bring reverb into the world of sound design almost as an instrument in its own right.

This idea of crossing the lines between different reverb categories manifests in its 50 pre-set reverbs which range from small rooms to reverbs designed to recreate the hypothetical sound of outer space. Furthermore, acknowledging that its target audience are the sort who like to experiment with sound, the ability to create unique reverbs of your own makes it one of the most well designed and all-encompassing reverbs on the market. Here, Eventide has really ensured that the thought processes of real musicians and sound designers are always at the forefront.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK THE PRICE FOR THE EVENTIDE BLACKHOLE VST PLUGIN

Top 5 VST plugin products: Distortion

Distortion is one of the most versatile effects in terms of how it can be used in music, and designing a good distortion plugin varies depending on what genre it is intended for – and therefore the heaviness, tone, qualities, timbre, and varieties of distortion which it includes. Nevertheless, one of the most interesting and versatile distortion plugins with the most thought put behind it is Soundtoys’ Decapitator – a stellar plugin from the innovative plugin designers responsible for the phenomenal voice changing plugin Little Alter Boy.

According to Soundtoys’ website, this plugin was designed by studying analogue gear of all shapes and forms, both modern and vintage, in order to design a digital plugin which encapsulated the subtleties of analogue sound which come from the warping and altering of the sound waves as they interact with the different bits of gear. It ranges from subtle saturation to full blown digital distortion – and the choice to include the full spectrum of options means that Soundtoys have designed this plugin with many sectors of the market in mind.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK THE PRICE FOR THE SOUNDTOYS DECAPITATOR VST PLUGIN

Top 5 VST plugin products: Delay

A delay plugin, in contrast to the lushness of reverb, focusses on specific types of echoes and as a result is extremely precise – therefore taking a lot of technical knowledge in terms of its design. One of the most thought out delay plugins on the market is Polaris by Audiority – a great example of the complex design processes which are behind every plugin we use.

Polaris is based off some of the digital reverbs of the 80s, meaning it was designed to be a creative plugin as opposed to just a practical one. It is designed so the producer has both control over the early reverb effects and the echoes, which sit on two different sides of the reverb interface – allowing complete creative design over the reverb tail. This is one plugin which really breaks down reverb, delay, and echoes into their constituent parts for ultimate creative control.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK THE PRICE FOR THE POLARIS VST PLUGIN

Top 5 VST plugin products: Wah

Wah plugins imitate the wah pedal – as popularised by Jimi Hendrix – and as a result their design is more highly focused on the tone and qualities of the sound, it’s creative uses, and the ways the FX can be used in songs – as opposed to it being a plugin which is simply technical in terms of the mixing and mastering process. This means that the design process behind any good wah plugin is slightly different, with more focus on sonic creativity instead of practicality.

As a result, one of the most well designed wah plugins for beginners is the one which comes as part of the Steinberg Vintage Stompbox package – a plugin designed especially to emulate the sound of the 1970s and as a result add warm tones to your solos, harking back to a time when guitar was all about creating that perfect, psychedelic, immersive feeling. Why is it so well designed? Well, it’s great for beginners, being easy to use, but it’s also perfect for more advanced producers who appreciate the more nuanced levels of sound. When designed a complex, creative sound such as wah, it takes some skill to get it to work for multiple different market demographics and the Steinberg Vintage Stompbox does this spectacularly. As a result, the plugin can be used either as part of the FX pack as a whole or it can be used in isolation for a simple but versatile and trusty wah sound.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK THE PRICE FOR THE STEINBERG VINTAGE STOMPBOX VST PLUGIN

Top 5 VST plugin products: Distortion (part 2)

Plugins designed off analogue distortion are all very well and good, but what if you want to get a bit more technical and in depth looking at sound design and the technological processes behind shaping sound, as opposed to simply production and arrangement?

Waveshaper plugins allow you to explicitly control the distortion by mapping the input to the output, meaning the wave can be fine-tuned and is able to mimic any distortion (within reason) such as the fuzzy, analogue, tube generated distortion or saturation of older eras of music, to hardcore, extremely warped digital distortion – sounds which couldn’t be created by any piece of analogue gear.

The Audiothing Wavebox 8 is designed to be a perfectly nuanced waveshaper aimed at more technically skilled producers and sound designers who not only want to alter the sound of their guitar, but also to have complete control over the nature of those alterations. How have Audiothing gone about designing this plugin? In the interface design, they have prioritised simplicity and precision. For a plugin with such an invariably technical and precise nature, it would have been easy for them to go overboard in the way they arranged or divided the different functions – but they’ve opted to keep things simple and let the technical repercussions of such a plugin work for themselves, with two knobs controlling the shape of the wave and a selection of LFOs and envelopes to keep things interesting. And at only 52.53 USD, it’s a small price for a very useful plugin which can dramatically alter many of your sounds.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK THE PRICE FOR THE AUDIOTHING WAVEBOX 8 VST PLUGIN

And if you are interested in getting them at a good price, be sure to bookmark our Deals section – click here!

The BEST Plugin VST products for the unique requirements of Metal Guitar [2022]

Wellcome to our list of the best Plugin VST products for metal guitar. This is by no far an end-all list, as I am sure you all have your preferences, it is merely an enumeration of must-have tools to have in your arsenal.

BEST Plugin VST products for Metal Guitar: Ample Metal Hellrazer

One of two virtual instruments on this list, The ample metal hellraiser stands out in its speciality in djent and progressive metal. It’s not often you get virtual instruments designed for such a niche subgenre, but the djent scene has been dominant for some of the past few years and to have such a great virtual instrument dedicated to mimicking these sounds mean that any producer or sound designer looking to get to grips with this technique and how it interacts with the wider components of a track would easily benefit from getting their hands on the Ample Metal Hellraiser.

So, how is it designed? It encompasses literally everything you would need to make an instrumental guitar track with this one single plugin – so, especially if working in genres like shred, it is in some ways pretty all encompassing, though it is also the kind of gear which can be added to simply if you feel like experimenting with how different sounds and plugins can work together. By everything, this means all the things needed to create a great mix such as EQ and other FX such as modulation and many different kinds of distortion as well as all the amps, cabs, and mics needed to fully define your own sound. Then there is the guitar itself – capable of simulating most kinds of technique from tremolo picking to bends, slides, vibrato, legato, and more.

Specifications: Windows 7/8/10, 64-bit only, MacOS 10.9 or higher. VST2, VST3, AU, AAX, or Standalone host

Price: 126.54 USD

CHECK PRICE: Ample Metal Hellrazer – Ample Sound

BEST Plugin VST products for Metal Guitar: Inphonik PCM2612 Retro Decimator Unit

What is the goal of the retro decimator unit? To absolutely crush any sound to the sonic limits of distortion, overdrive, and other ways of altering your music landscape to make it heavier. One of the most ultimate, extreme plugins dedicated to turning every soundwave into a haze of awesomely destructive distortion, Inphonik’s Retro Decimator Unit will guarantee that your songs are never lacking in heavy duty FX again.

What’s so special about it is the fact that it goes above and beyond the normal scope of any plugin. Whilst many models on the market are focussed on providing specific effects such as phaser, overdrive, and so on, the retro decimator is ready to warp the soundwave in literally any way possible. It’s specialism isn’t conventional – instead, the Retro Decimator is out to find every opportunity to push sound design to the edge.

Specifications: VST, AU, and AAX pluginsavailable for Windows, MacOS, and Linux (exact operating systems not listed), Rack Extension for MacOS and Windows, and AUv3/IAA available for iPad and iPhone

GET YOUR FREE COPY: Inphonik PCM2612 Retro Decimator Unit

BEST Plugin VST products for Metal Guitar: Line 6 Metallurgy Trio

There are tons of plugin bundles out there, but there are very few which focus so precisely and distinctively on the needs of metal guitarist beyond simply providing heavy overdrive and ample amounts of distortion. Metal is such a complex genre with an incredible range of different techniques, sounds, and complex mind bending riffs which go into the playing alone, let alone the intricacies of sound design and production required to separate all these complex and intertwined elements.

What other plugins recognise the nuances between doom, thrash, djent, hardcore, and so on. With four discreet amps which can be paired with eight speaker cabinets and any combination of two of eight microphones, the possibilities for mixing, matching, and crossing the boundaries of genre are numerous. And for the metal guitarist who loves to play live, the fact that all these plugins appear just as they would on a real pedalboard means that they are easy to pick up in no time at all.

Specifications: Operating systems not listed, but available as VST, AU, and AAX plugins for any DAW

CHECK PRICE: Line 6 Metallurgy Trio

Impact Soundworks Shreddage 3 Hydra

As opposed to plugins or FX, Shreddage 3 is a full blown virtual guitar. Beyond the expense and technical expertise needed to hire a luthier to create a physical guitar from scratch, this virtual instrument was a change for the creators at Impact Soundworks to really let their minds run wild with the best things they could come up with for sheer metal force.

What really sets this apart is it’s 8 string, drop-E capabilities designed to create the biggest walls of sound imaginable. So much of Shreddage 3 was recorded just for this virtual instrument itself, meaning you can find sounds which won’t be replicated anywhere else. It does all varieties of playing really well, from crushingly heavy to super clean, intricate tones needed for shred guitar.

Specifications: requires version 5.7 or higher of Kontakt Player – a free sampler from Native instruments.Kontakt Player itselfruns on Windows 10 or 11 and MacOS 10.14, 10.15, 11 or 12 (intel) as well as MacOS 11 or 12 (Apple Silicon Macs)

CHECK PRICE: Impact Soundworks Shreddage 3 Hydra

BEST Plugin VST products for Metal Guitar: HOFA IQ SERIES REVERB V2

Reverb: that quintessential, all important plugin which no musician or sound designer can do without. Otherwise, unless you want your music sounded flat, dry, dull, and sterile, you can’t exactly avoid adding in the natural echoes and reverberations which would exist in a live studio recording but which get taken away when you work on a DAW. That’s where reverb plugins step in. Nevertheless, reverb for metal guitarists generally is a bit more unique and specialised than it is for pop or the lighter forms of rock. That’s because the complex riffs and techniques used in metal as well as the layers of sound and production which go into a heavy track mean that reverb has to be added carefully so as to prevent muddling of the sounds as well as it sounding unnatural.

For metal and rock a large variety of reverb types is also extremely important and this is where the Reverb V2 really comes into it’s own. This reverb plugin has been used on albums by Slipknot and Tool amongst others, and is unique in its wealth of reverb varieties and ability to emulate the classic atmospheric spaces beloved of reverb designers such as churches – but also for its combination of algorithmic reverb with more traditional reverb types in order to combine flexibility with depth of sound. For the complex layered sounds of metal, it is vital that a producer has plenty of options, and this plugin allows up to six different types of reverb to be in use at a time. In combination with compression, modulation, and extreme amounts of creative control over the timings, distance, and quality of different parts of the reverb, this is one of the most in depth and technical – but therefore indispensable – reverbs on the market for metal and rock guitarists.

Specifications: Not listed on site but predecessors ran on both MacOS and Windows in all formats

CHECK PRICE: HOFA IQ SERIES REVERB V2

Conclussions

So there you have it – a mixed, yet versatile and highly worthwhile bag of some of the most creative plugins for rock and metal guitarists of 2022. These plugins will boost your creativity, have you writing completely different riffs to what you are used to, and change the way you think about music.

And if you are on a tight budget, make sure you bookmark our Deals category by clicking here!

Happy sound design!

TOP 5 BEST Guitar VST Plugin products [2022]

Hello and welcome to our run down of the best Guitar VST Plugins. We will go straight to the list, make sure you bookmark them and check our Deals category for a chance to get them at a better price. The order of this list is random and we do recommend you get them all as the overlap is very big.

BEST Guitar VST Plugins: Positive Grid Bias FX 2

Ok, so the praises of this pedalboard have been sung by just about every guitarist and magazine out there. But does it live up to the hype. Absolutely. Beyond the dizzying array of pedals, effects, and other features which it contains – which would take an entire article to fully do justice to – its main draw is its guitar match feature.

What does it do? Essentially it takes the guitar you are using at the time of playing and turns it’s tone and overall sound it into any model of guitar digitally – giving you the ultimate freedom, variety, and flexibility in how you sound. Playing a Fender but always wanted to try a Gibson SG or an Ibanez? For those who love tone – or even major audiophiles who are not guitarists but want to try out different models before buying – this can be one of the most freeing features of an already stellar piece of kit. In addition, it comes in three versions: standard, professional, and elite.

Specs: macOS Sierra 10.12 to Big Sur 11.6.1, Windows 8 or later

CHECK PRICE AND BUY BIAS FX2 BY CLICKING HERE

BEST Guitar VST Plugins: Baby Audio Crystalline Algorithmic Reverb

Baby Audio Crystalline Algorithmic Reverb can be calibrated to the very BPM of your track. How does this work – and why is it so fantastic for guitarists? It means that reverb can recreate almost exactly the echoes and rhythms of soundwaves in real spaces as they bounce off the surroundings in time with your music – or even with a bit of delay.

For genres which rely heavily on rhythm such as the chugging riffs of metal or djent, this can also add that extra oomph to your tracks in order to really make them groove. However, it’s not just for metalheads – this reverb is notably used by Stephen W Taylor, the mix engineer for 80s acts such as Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, and when applied to guitar, it can easily give those lush, far out sounds which were characteristic of the era and which can be achieved either by synths or by a carefully produced 6 string – as well as tackling the nuances of a lot more genres besides.

Specs: Mac OS 7 and up, Windows 7 and up

CHECK PRICE AND BUY CRYSTALLINE BY CLICKING HERE

BEST Guitar Sounds/Loops: Perry Frank’s Ultimate Guitar Sounds Bundle

This one is a little different as it is aimed at producers as opposed to guitarists themselves. Designed for those who either don’t play guitar or don’t have access to a guitar, but who want proper rock, blues, and metal -inspired sounds to add interest and edginess to their tracks, it takes samples and loops from a wide collection of real guitars to provide you with the very best for your current project. What makes it stand out so much? Simply the breadth and depth of the samples, and the way they have been carefully selected so there is something for every piece of sound design which you may desire to add a bit more crunch to. There really isn’t anything else out there like it for those who want the sheer variety of different guitar sounds – as well as the realism and human feeling which comes from sampling real guitar as it is being played. This might be one of the most expensive plugins on the list, but is well worth investing in for those who love guitar beyond simply playing it – and who want to see how it can add to pieces of music far outside the typical genre conventions associated with the instrument.

Specs: As a bundle of samples as opposed to a plugin proper, this is available for practically all operating systems, including lesser-used DAWs such as Reaper. It’s versatility – and the fact that samples can be transferred without the constraints of software incompatibility -mean that in many ways, it is well worth the price.

CHECK PRICE AND BUY THE LOOPS FROM PERRY’S BANDCAMP

BEST Guitar VST Plugins: UJAM Silk

So many plugins out there are designed for electric guitar as opposed to acoustic. Even in physical guitar shops, acoustic guitars are generally further towards the back of the store in comparison to the huge market, which is rock, metal, grunge, blues, indie, and all other genres which use classic Fenders, Gibsons and others. In this way, it’s very rare that you find plugins which are so good at replicating acoustic guitar – and which do so with such attention to the guitar itself.

This isn’t just any acoustic guitar being turned into a virtual instrument – the classic nylon-string sounds heard here come from a model made by a renowned luthier and add just the right amount of softness and feeling to your track – something which can only come from the campfire-ready tones of an acoustic six-string. If you’re looking to go off the beaten track in terms of bringing acoustic guitar to your electric-guitar based sound design, then there is nothing better.

Specs: Note – this plugin is 64 bit only and available for Windows 8 or later as well as MacOS X 10.11 or MacOS 10.12 or later

CHECK PRICE AND BUY SILK BY CLICKING HERE

BEST Guitar VST Plugins: HY – MBMFX2 by HY Plugins

Although not as memorably named as some other plugins on the market, the HY – MBMFX2 is certainly a memorable plugin to use. As guitarists, we are often more oriented towards doing things physically and practically, and the purely digital sphere of DAW-based sound design can occasionally clash with the way we compose music.

That’s where plugins like the FX2 come in handy so much – by detailing every single variable feature in order to break down the process of how it’s sounds are formed, this multi-FX processor lets guitarists get hands on in shaping their sound digitally just the same as when they are using their instruments. Control over tone and sound processing is paramount in this plugin. It’s got seven kinds of FX, five FX per band, ten modulation options, and 22 other randomizable functions.

Specifications: MacOS 10.12 Sierra and up, 64 bit only as AU, VST2 and VST3; Windows 7 or higher as VST2 or VST3 as 32 or 64 bit.

CHECK PRICE AND BUY HY – MBMFX2 BY CLICKING HERE

Conclusions

These are just a handful of the plugins out there which can really make you reconsider how guitar works and how music can be put together, especially through the process of sound design. Though they are all very different from each other, what the designers have shared is a fresh approach in looking at the instrument and adapting it creatively for DAWs – so that the nuances and tone which have made it one of the world’s most popular instruments are properly translated to the digital sphere.

Inspiration from Analogue – 5 Fantastic Digital FX Inspired Directly By Real World Gear

Nowadays it is as easy as sitting down at a computer to make a good song. Sound design has been democratised with it no longer being necessary to have a full studio to create. However, whilst plugins are important, how you use them is also as significant. And choosing the correct plugins is not simply a matter of picking those which you like the look of or feel would work for your chosen genre. Just as plugin design involves taking something abstract such as a soundwave and combining it with the technology which can alter or modulate it, so does choosing plugins mean some thought is needed about what kind of sounds from real, live studio recordings you want to bring to your DAW. As guitarists, our physical instruments mean we are operating somewhere between digital and analogue even when working with a DAW – and the plugins featured in this article reflect this. Read on to find out this year’s top picks.

Mimicking Analogue Sound: How to Recreate a Full Studio on Your Desktop

Much goes into the process of designing plugins and it is a fine art to translate real life sound from amps and guitars onto a DAW. Some plugins even go as far as to use circuit modelling technology to precisely recreate the components within a physical stompbox or other piece of gear. These plugins below aren’t verbatim copies of real life stompboxes, but they all use creative ways of translating analogue soundwaves to digital FX and are great pieces of gear in themselves. Although roughly arranged by genre here, they are nevertheless all very versatile. Below is some inspiration and the best current FX on the market for those who wish to create studio tone from the comfort of their desktop.

Best For Indie:

PhoenixVerb is a brand-new collaboration between Exponential Audio and iZotope. iZotope was originally founded as a company aimed at musicians as opposed to engineers and so balanced the technicality of its products with easy-to-use interfaces which meant that musicians could simply focus on being creative as opposed to figuring out all of the mechanics of the product.

This shows through in PhoenixVerb’s distinctive dials and frequency display – it also has over 900 presets to help the musician on a time budget but also allows a sound designer to get deeper if desired with independent output controls for attack, tail, and early reflections. The verb’s frequency display is real time responsive to even the smallest changes and Exponential audio have modelled the sound to allow the musician control over every component of a soundwave, allowing for maximum independence and direct connection to the world of real studio sound when mixing and mastering.

https://www.izotope.com/en/shop/exponential-audio-phoenixverb.html

Specifications: Runs on Mac OSX Mountain Lion (10.8.5) to Mac OS X Catalina (10.15) and Windows 7 to Windows 10

Price: 99 USD

Best For Blues:

Waves Abbey Road Saturation – Waves Abbey Road Saturation FX plugin would be welcome for all genres, but for the rounded, warm, fuzzy sounds of blues, it is beyond comparison. It’s flexibility allows it to be used for all kind of warm sounds, whatever your niche may be, from rockabilly, blues, pop rock, or simply for adding a bit more warmth and depth to guitar recordings. Waves is modelled of the Abbey Road exclusive patented TG12345 desk distortion and has been dubbed the ‘compander’, compressing inputs and expanding outputs for a super-rich sound. As well as with its REDD distortion, it can be cranked up to add some grit and distortion proper to your heavier sounds or kept in the background adding layers of nuance.

https://www.waves.com/plugins/abbey-road-saturator#introducing-the-abbey-road-saturator-plugin

Specifications: Runs on MacOS 10.14.6, 10.15.7, 11.6.2, and 12.3. Also runs on Windows 10 64 bit and Windows 11.

Price: 29.99 USD

Best for Pop and Rock:

Chowdhury DSP – Chow Phaser. Made by independent American FX designer Justin Chowdhury, the Chow Phaser is modelled after a legendary piece of 70s analogue gear – the Schulte Compact Phasing ‘A’. This plugin is designed to have both mono and stereo features and prioritises roughness and warm to create nonlinear, multi-layered waves. The original Schulte Compact Phasing was used by artists as diverse as Kraftwerk, Ritchie Blackmore, and Pink Floyd. It’s interface allows for an incredible amount of fine tuning but it is the way this plugin mimics the warm sounds of the era it was based on that means it really brings the best of both worlds to your FX rack.

https://chowdsp.com/products.html

Specifications: Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Another great feature is full source code is also available on the designer’s website

Price: Free download from the designer’s website

FabFilter Saturn 2 – This plugin is currently one of the most talked about on the market and it’s modelling after real amps and FX is one of the things which has made it’s warm tone so appealing to many guitarists. The diversity of waveforms allows any musician to tune their FX to their satisfaction. It is also available for a 30-day free trial, meaning that you have plenty of time to test the FX to see which ones work for you before purchase. Saturn 2 also works with tape saturation but comes into its own when used for distortion overall.

https://www.fabfilter.com/products/saturn-2-multiband-distortion-saturation-plug-in

Specifications: Windows 7-11 or Vista, MacOS 10.12 or higher (64-bit only)

Price: Free trial for 30 days and then 129 USD as single

Lastly, Krush by Tritik is a fantastic middle ground between the sharp noises of the digital real and the rich, fuzzy tones analogue afficionados look for. It contains both bitcrushing and an extremely flexible modulation centre which expands the number of sounds possible exponentially, enabling you to go from gritty high speed guitar to soft, ballad-ready overdrive. It’s analogue modelled low pass and high pass filters are a make it an unusual but therefore desirable sweet spot between the digital and analogue realms, offering the best of both worlds. Krush sits in a unique position where it can achieve some of the dirtier higher, and sharper sounds which you would expect from a digital VST as well as adding richness and depth from its analogue inspirations.

Krush

Specifications: Windows 7 or later and MacOS 10.9 or later

Price: Free

These are just some of the plugins on the market which are inspired heavily by specific analogue technologies – and though they span a wide range of prices and genres, the technology behind them shows how the sound of your favourite studio recordings can be translated to your own work. It’s no easy feat replicating the world of the studio for a DAW, but all these designers have done it extremely well and despite rough guidelines listed here, these plugins are worth investigation for guitarists of every genre and budget.

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.

Pluginboutique MEGA Spring Sale 2022

Hello guys, today is your luck day as Pluginboutique is running their annual VST Plugin Spring Sale. On the menu we have fresh deals from £3.95 / $5 + get UJAM’s PHAT 2 free with your purchase. Most of the offers end on the 1st of May so you better hurry and finish stocking up on virtual instruments for your studio.

The deals that are available right now on Pluginboutique.com’s 2022 Spring Sale:

  • Wavesfactory Plugins Spring Sale (Exclusive) – For 11 years, Wavesfactory plugins have provided pristine sound quality and a clear focus on user experience. They design their plugins to be innovative and evocative, crafted with love and care. Save 25% off their entire plugin range at Plugin Boutique.
  • Plugin Boutique Scaler 2 + Excite Audio Lifeline Expanse Lite Bundle Sale – For a very limited time only, pick up our flagship music theory workstation Scaler 2 and Lifeline Expanse Lite, the intuitive and powerful multi-effect, in one single collection. Available for a limited time only.
  • Relab Development Spring Sale – Relab Development create premium quality software that meticulously emulates professional and well-known audio hardware. For a limited time only, save up to 64% on their authentic reverb emulations including upgrades with prices starting at just £26.95 / $35!
  • Sampleson & Plugin Boutique Stage54 Introductory Sale (Exclusive) – Stage54 is the virtual emulation of an extraordinary and hard to find 54-key electric tine piano. Created through meticulous spectral modelling, Stage54 captures the organic warmth and essence of this rare vintage electric piano and brings its iconic sound directly to your DAW. Buy now at the limited-time introductory price of £23.95 / $29, exclusively at Plugin Boutique.
  • Plugin Boutique 3 Plugins for £5 / €5 / $5 Bundle Sale (Exclusive) – Plugin Boutique are proud to present this incredible bundle featuring 3 essential plugins at an unprecedented price point. Get bass processor Bass XL, mind-blowing multi-fx Convex and powerful yet intuitive wavetable synth Union for only £5 / €5 / $5 – 98% off, exclusively at Plugin Boutique.
  • UJAM Manufacturer Focus Finisher FLUXX Sale (Exclusive) – Finisher FLUXX is a creatively supercharged effect plug-in that will transform, deconstruct and animate your sounds. Save 60% off exclusively at Plugin Boutique in our UJAM Manufacturer Focus promotion.
  • UJAM Manufacturer Focus Beatmaker Sale (Exclusive) – Create huge festival anthems with UJAM’s HYPE Beatmaker or bring the rhythms of a dystopian cyberpunk future with NEMESIS. Save up to 72% in the UJAM Manufacturer Focus promotion, exclusively at Plugin Boutique.
  • UJAM Manufacturer Focus Virtual Bassist ROYAL 2 Sale (Exclusive) – ROYAL 2 is a session bass professional – effortlessly fitting into any popular styles and genres with its rounded electric fingerstyle tones. Perfect for pop, ready to rock, impressive on indie and smooth on singer/songwriter material. Buy now in our Manufacturer Focus promotion with 69% off!
  • iZotope Neoverb Spring Sale (Exclusive) – iZotope Neoverb is the most intelligent reverb plug-in for music producers. Leave the trial and error behind and design unique spaces for vocals and instruments in seconds, without muddying the mix. Save 80% for a limited time only exclusively at Plugin Boutique!
  • iZotope Elements Suite Spring Sale (Exclusive) – The iZotope Elements Suite combines 4 powerful, award-winning audio technologies in one package: RX Elements, Neutron Elements, Nectar Elements, and Ozone Elements. Buy now for only £38.95 / $40 in the exclusive Plugin Boutique Spring sale.
  • KV331 Audio Spring Sale – Synthmaster is a ‘must-have’ for all synthesizer enthusiasts! Save up to 82% off in this special Spring Sale. Starting from only £10.95 / $14! (Includes Bundles & Upgrades).

If deals are what you want, what you really really want, then remember to check our Deals category regularly!

Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 Honest Review

Guitar Rig 6 from Native Instruments comes in two separate forms: Pro and Player. Whilst Pro is the paid for version, Player is so great for the novice musician that it is equally popular and can be a welcome addition to any collection of plugins you have begun to build.

What is included in Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6?

Guitar Rig 6 has all the things provided to create amazing sound that hits the mark, emulating true to life instruments in an astounding way, and packed full of bonafide, real instrument modelled plugins – both modern, vintage, and boutique amps as well as effects from both Native Instruments and Softube. It also contains Native Instruments’ Patented Intelligent Circuit Modelling, the ability to colour code and personalise presents, and the chance to discover Native Instruments’ own FX which can be found with no other company on the market – plus turn it up to eleven by running multiple amp heads at the same time (with the Pro version).

How does Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 differ from other products out there?

There are a lot of options out there and it’s sometimes hard to wade through the mass of similar VST products. One problem is that many products claim to be all encompassing. However, any great piece of studio software will have stand out features which set it aside from the rest. For Guitar Rig 6, this is the Intelligent Circuit Modelling. Native Instruments have gone so far as to work with the creators of the corresponding analogue products to perfectly simulate each individual component in the circuits of their amps, pedals, and effects. This means that every single part of the FX chain on Guitar Rig 6 is completely true to life. For the musician who may not have the space or money to amass such a collection, it’s an amazing way to see what gear there is out there plus use it in your own projects without having to fork out a hefty fee or track it down. And because of the ICT, unless you are a hardcore audiophile with a need/desire for analogue instruments, it’s as good as the real thing – and having so much true-to-life gear in one place means that you can compare and contrast different sounds to really find something which ties all tracks together.

Check out the latest price and possible deal on Guitar Rig 6 by clicking here (redirects to the official Native Instruments website)

How can Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 be used?

Guitar Rig 6 contains digital copies of real amps favoured by all your favourite guitarists, and it is set up in such a way so as to be completely intuitive for the creative minded player looking for analogue quality from their digital equivalents. Guitar Rig 6 allows you to build a wall of sound out of many different amps, meaning that you can combine sounds to create the perfect medley of different FX. In discovering this feature, I was almost reminded of the way the legendary producer Butch Vig mixed the four different layers of guitar for Smells Like Teen Spirit on Nirvana’s classic album ‘Nevermind’. The sounds involved in Guitar Rig 6 would actually be perfect for this kind of grungy, effects heavy production, yet the rig is so versatile it can add to everything. At first it appears there is a vintage bent, but the sounds are such classics they can be used in all genres and the rig also contains specialised amps created directly with Native Instruments alongside some of your favourite legendary guitarists and companies. Scroll through the NI browser to find hidden gems and refine your sound – Guitar Rig 6 has something for every mood.

Guitar Rig 6 Pro vs Guitar Rig Six Player

Guitar Rig 6 is split into two different models: Guitar Rig 6 Pro and Guitar Rig 6 Player. The difference lies mostly in the price and amount of features. However, Guitar Rig 6 Player is just as useful for musicians on a budget. It may not contain as many effects and pedals as Pro but if you use it creatively you can easily design fantastic walls of sound and boutique, specialised effects which can add verve and colour to your music.

Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 – not just for guitarists!

Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 stands out in containing all of the above plus plugins with unusual variants of noise such as radio effects which can be used for more creative, avant-garde production. In some ways this is a package primarily aimed at rock, blues, funk, and indie musicians, which leaves out the heavier and more technical, crisper, cleaner sound of metal and shred guitar – but some individual plugins have been modelled with legendary musicians from all genres including Richard Z. Kruspe of Rammstein.  And despite it’s name, Guitar Rig 6 is not just for guitarists. In fact, the Native Instruments site has a demo video that shows how FX such as the eerie ‘Area 51’ can be used for violin, creating ethereal and unearthly sounds which can be extremely atmospheric. More natural FX such as reverb and delay are also there to enhance almost any instrument. This is one of the biggest plusses of the rig – its insane ability to adapt to other instruments which, through present FX chains, can be used for just about anything.

Check out the latest price and possible deal on Guitar Rig 6 by clicking here (redirects to the official Native Instruments website)

Final thoughts

Why buy Guitar Rig 6? Whether Pro or Player, it does not hurt to have something this all-encompassing on your side when producing. And though the bias towards classic sounds could be considered restrictive it actually makes this plugin super easy to apply to any genre of music – with enough care taken in its creation that it is not merely a vanilla, one size fits all piece of technology but instead something which gives way more bang for its buck than you would expect from the surface. The sounds are great crowd pleasers – but all have been displayed, chosen, and arranged carefully enough that they give a real fresh spark of creativity to any musician in need of some new kit.

If you enjoyed this piece of gear review, we have a full category waiting to be explored, so dig in by clicking here!

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!

Expressive E Early Spring Sale (up to 55% off til 31st of March)

Hey deal hunters and welcome to the hottest early spring deal in the music business. If you haven’t heard about Expressive E then you really need to. They make a lot of hardware and software tools that shine when you want to some extra layers of innovative control.

We hare big fans of the Touche MPE device, and of the MPE virtual instruments that they released previously. These instruments are a very nice addition to any music production studio so we can’t recommend them enough. We are also waiting on a (very early) preorder for their revolutionary new MPE keyboard, Osmose.

This time, the guys from Expressive E are offering some very nice VST Plugins with a huge discount of up to 55%. We recommend them all if you want to have a different/new experience in making music in the box. The offer ends on 31st of March so get your instruments ASAP:

  • Expressive E Imagine – 83 €/$ instead of 139 €/$ – Imagine digs deep inside the body of real life instruments, modifies and combines their acoustic characteristics to create an imaginary acoustic landscape. Thanks to a playful multidimensional approach, Imagine offers texture manipulations, mysterious unknown sound dimensions that still sound familiar.
  • Expressive E Noisy – 89 €/$ instead of 149 €/$ – A hybrid between physical modelling and subtractive synthesis, Noisy uses the principles of acoustic resonance to bring life to both electronic and acoustic sounds. Noisy was designed to generate highly playable, multidimensional sounds, whose textures and articulations can be easily combined and manipulated.
  • Expressive E Instruments Collection – 197 €/$ instead of 435 €/$ – This one is a collection of their most famous instruments, including the ones above. The instruments that are contained here are Imagine, Noisy, Violin, Viola, Cello. The last three instruments are based on Physical Modelling and do a really nice job. Already own parts of the bundle? log in and put this offer in your cart to see your special upgrade price!
  • Expressive E Touche Sounds Collection – 239 €/$ instead of 533 €/$ – If you own the Touche controller, then you really must have this collection. It is made to be fully compatible with it and contains the instruments previously presented in the Instruments Collection (Imagine, Noisy, Violin, Viola and Cello) plus two more: Mercury and Helium. As longtime users of the last two, we can fully recommend them if you are looking for new ways to do sound design.
  • Expressive E MPE Collection – 71 €/$ instead of 119 €/$ – The MPE Collection combines four banks of exclusive sounds into one versatile suite, ready to play with any instrument that supports MIDI Polyphonic Expression. The banks are Helium, Mercury, Patchwork and Carbon.
  • Expressive E Arche Collection – 71 €/$ instead of 119 €/$ – Arché is a plug-in suite by Expressive E, containing three exquisitely crafted physical models of a violin, a viola and a cello.

We hope you will find this piece of Deal news useful and actually complete your studio with this!

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