Best new mixing plugins, effects and VST instruments out this week
Software instruments, effects and mixing plugins – here’s everything fresh in the plugin marketplace.
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In music production, plugins are software add-ons that expand the capabilities of your DAW; these could be virtual instruments and creative effects, EQ and compressors, or tools that make editing a lot more manageable.
This rolling list keeps you up to date on the newest plugins as they’re announced – as well as some interesting ones you might have missed – so check back regularly for the latest virtual instruments, effects, mixing plugins and more.
Latest virtual instruments, effects and mixing plugins
(Last update: 28 September 2023)
Oberheim SEM v1.6
GForce Software introduces Oberheim SEM 1.6, a free GUI overhaul for the officially endorsed monophonic synth emulation. This update enhances the user experience while preserving the iconic sound. Originally released last year, GForce’s SEM gained recognition and received a powerful browser update earlier this year.
Now, the refreshed graphical interface immerses users in the Oberheim SEM experience, capturing its legendary simplicity and sound. With Tom Oberheim’s endorsement, authenticity is assured. Over 400 categorized patches provide instant inspiration. Key features include an overhauled GUI, official endorsement, 3rd VCO, and a range of creative tools.
Find out more at gforcesoftware.com.
Pianoverse by IK Multimedia
IK Multimedia has unveiled Pianoverse, a versatile virtual piano instrument that seamlessly blends top-tier concert-grade pianos with cinematic effects. Pianoverse covers an extensive sonic spectrum, from ultra-realistic acoustic piano tones to imaginative, interactive textures, all within a single plugin. The instrument selection process involved years of meticulous sourcing, hand-tuning, and preparation by master tuners, with samples captured using multiple microphones and IK’s robotic sampling system, ensuring remarkable authenticity and dynamics.
The sampling robot was designed with precision and craftsmanship, emulating human touch. An innovative new engine combines redesigned round robin, voice management, and other techniques to elevate the realism. Pianoverse also provides performance controls for stage and studio work, including adjustable lid position, harp resonance, and pedal noise. It offers a superior piano experience for various music genres, from classical to pop, making it a powerful tool for composers, performers, and producers alike.
Find out more at ikmultimedia.com.
Vac Attack by Mixland
Mixland’s Vac Attack presents an analogue-modelled optical limiter plugin for precise dynamics control on individual tracks and groups. It replicates a cherished hardware unit that went out of production in 2020, known for imparting rich harmonics and warmth to vocals, drums, bass, and stereo buses. Developed by Grammy-winning mixer Jesse Ray Ernster and coding expert Eddie Lucciola, Vac Attack emphasizes character over loudness changes with its Gain Link feature.
Its optical design employs a digital emulation of a light source and a light-dependent resistor for natural non-linear gain reduction. Additionally, it offers a two-band push EQ for post-compression tone shaping and a sidechain EQ to eliminate unwanted pumping effects. The Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) feature introduces harmonic depth, ideal for adding character to digital recordings. Vac Attack also includes channel linking/unlinking for precise stereo control.
Vac Attack costs $179.99. Find out more at plugin-alliance.com.
Pro Tools Sketch by Avid
Avid has introduced Pro Tools Sketch, a clip-based music creation tool available in Pro Tools software and as a free iPad app. It aids musicians in capturing and exploring creative ideas with a vast library of loops, virtual instruments, and effects. Pro Tools Sketch complements traditional linear audio recording with non-linear creation capabilities, allowing users to organize loops, MIDI, and recordings freely, export sketches, and seamlessly integrate them into Pro Tools for further production.
The iPad app is free on the Apple App Store, while the Pro Tools 2023.9 update is accessible to subscribers and Pro Tools Intro users. Sketch offers 16 tracks, limitless scenes, and 1 GB of loops and effects.
Find out more at avid.com.
LowSane by Rob Papen Inspiration Soundware
Rob Papen’s LowSane plugin specializes in ‘lo-fi’ sound sculpting. It crushes digital bits, embracing lo-fi as a creative tool. Featuring a GUI-dominating DISRUPT sphere for dynamic sound manipulation. With distortion, filters, noise gate, and audio follower, it offers versatile sound shaping.
The DISRUPT sphere allows simultaneous control of eight parameters, including tempo-based features. LowSane empowers artists to explore innovative soundscapes beyond 8-bit nostalgia, catering to modern creativity.
The plugin costs $25. Find out more at robpapen.com.
Infinity Bass by Slate Digital
Slate Digital has launched Infinity Bass, a versatile bass enhancement plugin included in the All Access Pass subscription. Designed for EDM, hip-hop, rock, and pop, it enriches low-end frequencies. Four processing modes – Punchy, Warm, Deep, and Phased – offer flexibility. With control knobs and a Listen button for precise adjustments, it excels as a bass exciter, subharmonic synthesizer, sub-bass generator, and all-pass filter.
From subtle tweaks to radical transformations, Infinity Bass elevates your sound. Access it through the subscription for comprehensive mixing and sound shaping.
Find out more at slatedigital.com.
IQ-Series Limiter V2 by HOFA-Plugins
The HOFA IQ-Series Limiter V2 is an advanced mastering tool designed for precision audio processing. It introduces three new limiting algorithms (Transparent, Hard, Electronic) alongside the existing V1 modes (Fast, Med, Slow), catering to various audio applications and genres. The plugin offers an XY pad for intuitive adjustment of the “Clip” and “Pump” parameters, allowing users to shape the limiter’s sound with ease.
It features comprehensive loudness metering, including short-term & integrated LUFS, loudness range, and true peak measurements. Additional enhancements include up to 32x oversampling, DC cut, sidechain input, channel link control, and OpenGL-accelerated graphics.
Available starting September 18, 2023, with an introductory price of €143.90 (€169.90 later) and upgrade options. Head to hofa-plugins.de to find out more.
Theia by Traktion
Tracktion recently launched Theia, a versatile synth plugin seamlessly integrating with the renowned Hyperion synth and its acclaimed sound library. Crafted by the creator of Hyperion, Paul Carter (Waveseqencer), Theia delivers the same high-quality hardware synth-like sound in a user-friendly package. The interface prioritises music creation and performance, offering intuitive controls for each sound.
You can explore the extensive library of 587 factory presets through efficient filtering options by instrument type, performance, and emotion. Favourites can be saved for quick access, and the Sounds Layer Editor lets you modify and fine-tune preset layers.
Priced at $65 (with a limited-time 40 per cent discount), Theia is also available as a free cross-grade for Hyperion owners, maintaining 100 per cent patch compatibility between the two. Find out more at traktion.com.
dxRevive by Accentize
dxRevive stands as a flexible speech enhancement plugin meticulously designed to elevate the quality of dialogue recordings. Diverging from conventional restoration tools, dxRevive surpasses simple signal filtering. Instead, it goes the extra step by detecting and seamlessly reintegrating absent frequency elements, resulting in studio-quality recordings sourced from a wide array of materials.
dxRevive costs £67. Find out more at accentize.com.
Voltour by Nembrini Audio
Voltour, a digital 2-channel all-valve enhancer based on the renowned Culture Vulture by Thermionic Culture Ltd, recreates the iconic hardware’s vast tonal possibilities in a digital format. With three distinct distortion modes (Triode, P1 Pentode, and P2 Pentode), it offers musicians extensive harmonic enrichment options.
This plugin effortlessly combines cutting-edge technology with classic analogue warmth, preserving the original Culture Vulture’s character. Each channel includes features like Mixer, Phase, Auto, and Continuous Filter, while the Link function ensures precise stereo imaging.
It’s currently available at a promotional price, with a desktop version at $29.99 and an iOS version at $7.99 until October 15, 2023. Find out more at nembriniaudio.com.
Drumazon 2 by D16 Group
D16 Group recently released Drumazon 2, an updated version of its 909 drum machine emulation plugin, initially launched in 2007. Drumazon 2 boasts a redesigned, modern interface and introduces a sequencer with an editable randomizer for creative experimentation. Notably, all sounds are now fully synthesized, allowing extensive parameter tweaking. The plugin features two buses with five effect slots and a Master Section with a three-band multi-band compressor and soft clipper limiter.
Drumazon 2 is currently available for an introductory price of €89. Find it at thomann.de.
Gladiator v4.0 by Tone2
Tone2’s Gladiator synth is now in its latest 4.0 version, with it introducing an innovative synthesis method called HCM, enabling the creation of unique, unmatched sounds across a vast sonic range. With its high-end quality, the synthesizer delivers warm, crystal-clear, and rich sound, making it a popular digital synth.
The update also allows for the free combination of different synthesis methods, offers 40 filter types and 37 effects, and provides a choice of 14 interface sizes. Native support for various display resolutions, psychoacoustic processing, low CPU usage, and over 1200 professional sounds make Gladiator4 a versatile and reliable choice for music production.
Gladiator v4.0 by Tone2 costs $169. Check it out at tone2.com.
pure:EQ by Sonible
pure:EQ by Sonible is the latest of Sonible Pure series. The plugin uses AI to make your music sound better in a satisfyingly simple way. It analyses your audio and fixes issues, whether that might be taming harsh sounds or boosting dull parts. You can choose different styles and customise the frequency range to get the tone you want. It adapts to changes in your music and is designed for creators who want professional-quality sound without complex controls.
Pure:EQ costs €29. Check it out at sonible.com.
SkyDust 3D 1.5 by Sound Particles
Sound Particles has launched the latest version of its SkyDust 3D spatial synthesizer, SkyDust 3D version 1.5. This update adds significant features, including the ability to import user audio files, expanding creative possibilities. SkyDust offers versatility for both stereo and spatial audio production, accessible to musicians of all backgrounds. Notably, this update introduces over 100 oscillator waveforms, additional waveform modifiers, expanded effects, and workflow enhancements, enhancing sound sculpting and manipulation capabilities.
SkyDust 3D is available to download for $355 at thomann.de.
FilterShaper XL by Cableguys
FilterShaper XL is a sound design tool featuring two robust filters, a multistage drive, and a versatile modulation system. With this plugin, users can reshape synths, morph basslines, and transform drums. It offers analog-like warmth, audio-rate modulation, and self-oscillation.
The plugin boasts two combinable LFOs and an envelope follower for each modulable parameter, providing extensive modulation options. It also features user-friendly LFO drawing tools for creating custom filter movements, including curves, steps, ramps, and more, to add rhythmic depth to tracks.
It costs $179. Find out more at cableguys.com.
Spacelab 3D Reverb 1.5 by Fiedler
Fiedler Audio has released Spacelab 1.5, a significant update to their 3D Reverb plugin. This version now seamlessly integrates with Dolby Atmos Composer, providing immersive audio creators with direct access to the 3D Reverb tool within the Dolby Atmos mix. Spacelab Interstellar and Spacelab Ignition 1.5 feature improved LFE handling, ensuring proper treatment of LFE signals at the input, allowing for customisable channel assignments.
The update also includes a reworked binauraliser algorithm for smoother 3D panning, introducing two new tonal character options, Spaces A1 and A2. Additionally, Spacelab 1.5 offers support for Native Apple Silicon, improved compatibility with various DAWs, and various bug fixes.
Find out more at fiedler-audio.com.
DRIFT by SoundGhost
DRIFT is a tape effect plugin by SoundGhost. It’s tailored for infusing audio with classic tape effects, offering vintage pitch drifting, tape failure FX, tape start/stop functions, and controls for tape saturation and colouration. Embrace the unpredictability and nostalgia of tape with its characteristic crinkles, wobbles, and crunch, all presented in SoundGhost’s user-friendly interface.
DRIFT is available now on SoundGhost, with an introductory 25% discount at soundghost.net. Get it for £29 instead of £39.
BB A5 channel strip by KIT Plugins
KIT Plugins and Blackbird Studio present BB A5, a channel strip plugin for DAWs, meticulously modeled after the renowned API Legacy console. It captures the essence of the API 212L preamp and features API EQs, including the 550A, 550L, and 560L. This plugin faithfully reproduces the iconic sound that has graced many hit records.
Developed in collaboration with Blackbird Studio Owner John McBride, KIT’s team ensured that the plugin replicates the hardware’s saturation, EQs, analog warmth, and master bus character.
Experience the API Legacy with an introductory price of $150 at kitplugins.com.
How to install plugins on Windows, Mac and iOS
If your plugin came as a .zip file, and not an installer, you may have to manually install it. Here’s how…
- Unzip the plugin folder
- Copy the .VST file to your default plugin folder (Windows default: C:\Program Files\Common Files\VST3, Mac default: /Library/Audio/Plugins/VST)
- Start your DAW
- Rescan your plugin directory
- Download and install plugin from the App Store
- Insert plugin in your DAW
- Select the AUv3 plugin from the Audio Unit Extensions tab
Where to download freeware plugins and VSTs
Our freeware section is an excellent place to start; each month, we also compile round-ups of the best free plugins and samples to download.
The production community is full of passionate developers who’ve given away instruments, effects and other plugins as freeware. Some of our favourites include Valhalla’s Supermassive reverb, Apogee’s Soft Limit and Matt Tytel’s Helm polysynth. Remember, most developers also offer free trials for their plugins.
Are DAW stock plugins good enough?
Most major DAWs these days will come with a more-than-serviceable collection of ‘stock’ plugins for music-making: Logic Pro’s software instrument library is rich and varied; Ableton Live’s synth engines cover additive, subtractive and granular methods, and the Pro Tools suite of mixing plugins is still widely used by pro engineers.
A good producer isn’t their plugin folder, but their ability to make good decisions. Increase your knowledge: instead of buying a synth samples, learn about the fundamentals of synthesis; kick drum sounding too skinny? learn to compress properly.
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