what plugins would you actually BUY

Hey guys;

I’m thinking about investing in some plugs, but could use some advice. Specifically, I’m looking at getting a reverb, and a compressor and/or master limiter. I’ve used pretty much all the freebies available (using mostly nTrack plugs, Kjaerhus Classic, SIR, Glaceverb), but want to try out some commercially produced stuff to see how they compare. Any suggestions? What do you guys really like? Even just pointing me to some sites with demo downloads would be a huge help.


IF I had the coin to drop, I would buy Izotope’s Mastering suite in a heartbeat. It is included with Adobe Audition 2.0 though and I’d probably save some money by just upgrading from 1.5. The Izotope demo is impressive.

Other stuff? I dunno… everybody goes on about Waves plugins being great. I had some demo’s of their stuff and honestly didn’t catch the Waves fever. PSP Audio are reputable. I had a copy of Sonar 3 that included the Sonitus plugins. Those I thought were VERY nice. I wacked that copy though because I did not OWN it. Conscience dictated I get rid of it after toying with it for a while. I’m still jonesin’ to buy Sonar 5 someday…


Voxengo makes some great plugs. The Waves Renaissance bundle is a flipping amazing meat and potatoes batch of plugs if you can swing the bucks. The reverb, compressors, and EQ are top top notch. Though you can get really really close to the Renaissance Bundle with SIR, Glaceverb or Ambience, Sinus’ Peak Comp, and the good old N-track EQ. As for reverb, I REALLY like Ambience as I find it super smooth and haven’t touched SIR in a year or so as I am so enamored with Ambience. Shave off the low end with the built in EQ and you can pile up big rooms with little mud.

Har-Bal 2. Best plug-in for the money I’ve ever bought.

Except, it’s not a plug-in, it’s a stand alone. But they’re hoping to make it a VST soon.

Hey Bubba, I’ll have to give Ambience a go.

I use SIR for most of my reverb and sometimes Kjaerhus Classic for a rough mix as it’s less of a CPU hog…
2 instances of SIR (1 long on an AUX and 1 short on another AUX) and my CPU meter jumps up.

What is Ambience like on the CPU load and latency?


Quote (Gizmo @ June 08 2006,01:32)
Har-Bal 2. Best plug-in for the money I've ever bought.

Except, it's not a plug-in, it's a stand alone. But they're hoping to make it a VST soon.

I use Har bal and I think its a superb mastering tool. Sadly, they discontinued developing it as a plug in a while back.

For commercial plugs I recommend Waves, though some of the newer ones are BIG CPU hogs.

I also have the TC plug ins which are high quality and best of all, very simple to use.

I’ve paid for Ozone, FaComp and FaEQ, Sound Forge 5 (which came with a buttload of plugs and I never use).

As a normal matter of course I use the kjarhaus classic reverb and compressor, fasoft compressor (the non- graphical version - I love the gate for kick and snare), Glaceverb is getting a run at the moment, and surprisingly, so is the ntrack echo…

PSP stuff - the vintage warmer and EQ both are great. Not cheap, but also not out of this world in terms of price.

I have as yet to find a reverb that is better than SIR - since a convolution plug in is pretty much as good as the impulses used - although you do get a few more features with the waves. But it’s not worth the money IMO.

Spin Audio makes some very good sounding plug ins, esp. the EQ - there was a 4 band version of it distributed with one of the computer music magazines (might have been CM itself) a year or so ago. Well worth hunting down.

I dunno, I have used waves stuff, if it were for my own use (and not to impress others) I’m not sure I would shell out the amount of money they want. I’d spend that much on a better preamp.

Hey all;

Thanks for the replies so far. I’ve checked out the suggestions made here, and there sure is a lot to choose from, with a pretty wide variety of prices. Do you find that the plugs you have to pay for sound a lot better than the freebies that are available? Also, I noticed that no one has recommended the Gold series from Kjaerhus. Considering the popularity of their classic (free) line, I would’ve thought someone may have had experience with their nonfree stuff. Naturally, I’ll download and demo pretty much everything I can before I buy anything, but I’m interested in other opinions too, particuarly for comparison purposes.

Thanks, and if there are any other products i should know about, I’d be gald to hear about them.

Quote (RichLum @ June 08 2006,02:34)
What is Ambience like on the CPU load and latency?


It is quite the pig… thus good results. I hit about 25% CPU usage on my 2.8Ghz P4. It has a “knob” that allows you to adjust the amount of CPU it will use. At the really low CPU settings the reverb is miserable for reverb, but creates all kinds of screw ball effects. A really cool thing is that it has a hold button in the plug which lets you create all kinds of eerie effects and paddy/synthy type sounds.
Quote (tempus @ June 08 2006,09:15)
Do you find that the plugs you have to pay for sound a lot better than the freebies that are available?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no, depends on the effect in question AND the sound you are after.

Certainly the quality of freebies has improved loads, and the gap aint that big any more. With things like Waves you are paying a lot of money to get small improvements.

Thes days you can put together a whole kit of great mixing/mastering plugs for zero outlay.


Also, I noticed that no one has recommended the Gold series from Kjaerhus.

Woxner uses them.

Yeah, I just dunno that my mixing skills would benefit from using the Waves chorus as opposed to the Ntrack one… If I can get close to what I want I’m usually pretty happy.

Anything from Nomad Factory.

I luv these guy :)

Do check out the PSP stuff, whatever you decide to do. As far as compressors go, I’ve not found a free one that sounds as good as the PSP plugs. As far as reverb goes, I’ve not found an expensive one that was any better than SIR. As far as EQ goes, again, the only good free one to me is the kjerhaus one.

I lucked into the CM issue with the free focusrite eq and compressor, and now use them on almost everything I do. I would buy their commercial versions in a heartbeat if I could afford them.


I really like the Gold Series from Kjaerhus. I think Bill turned me on to them several months back…but anyway, they’re great for mixing and mastering in a home studio. I’ve got the GAC-1 and the GPP-1…worth every penny.

I also like Drumkit From #### 2 as a VSTi.

Just read a review of Nomad Factory Analogue Signature Pack in Future music.

$287 for Dual Limiting Amp, Program EQ and Studio Channel. Got very good review.

Says you can buy seperately $149 a pop and the one to get (jack of all trades in a box) is the SC-226 Studio Channel-combination EQ/compressor, 12AX7 tube emulation and fixed on/off brickwall limiter (final output)

Anything I have evr read about these guys has been good. I have quite a few of their products and they are very impressive but they are huge CPU hogs.

OK, I did my first acid test. This was a comparison (not blind) between the 2 Kjaerhus limiters that are for sale and the free Classic Master Limiter. There is not a lot of noticeable difference, but the for sale versions are better. With the Classic (free), there is a little ringing or unnaturalness in the high end, which is absent in the for sale versions, particularly the Pro model. Now, bear in mind that I didn’t notice this unless there was a direct comparison between the 2, but there is no question that the for sale versions are better. I demo’d them on a solo classical guitar track and a track with 2 acoustic guitars, electric guitar and vocals. Hopefully in the next few days I’ll be able to post a similar comparison using reverbs and compressors mentioned in this thread, although I don’t see myself spending too much time (if any) with things like the Focusrite stuff, as it is well out of my price range.