Wonder how the sounds on The Fluffy Jackets' recordings are created? Well, wonder no more. In this article I will present all the plugins in The Fluffy Jackets Sound Studio (used on recordings from 2021 onwards), along with the experiences, tutorials and notes on authorization and DSP limitations – for future reference.
Audio Plugins vs Outboard gear? Mix in the box vs. on a console? Right from the start, as I got into recording techniques relatively late in my life (2020), I very quickly decided to do all my mixing "in the box". The software audio plugins are so good these days, so it was a no-brainer. Not only does this save a lot of money, it also saves a lot of space. And mixing in the box results in much faster workflow as you can work on a lot of different songs at the same time (without having to recall settings on a piece of outboard gear). The only hardware I own is the (high quality) microphones, headphones, loud speakers along with the mic-preamps; I use Avalon 737 for vocals or acoustic instruments (via a Neumann TLM 103 condenser microphone), a Neve 1073 mic preamp for recording amplified guitars (via a Shure SM57 microphone). I use a high-powered MacBook Pro to run the LUNA Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).
About Universal Audio – ONE go-to provider: x8 audio interface, LUNA recording and UAD plug-ins One key reason for getting the Universal Audio Apollo x8 audio interface is that it comes with the LUNA Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software. Not only that, but since comes complete with a bundle of UAD plug-ins out of the box, it saves a lot of additional expense. Obviously, the main advantage of purchasing everything from the same place is that all of this will remain compatible going forward.
Strategy ref. third party plugins? I prefer to own a few high-quality plugins, which I know how to use (rather than owning 100s of plugins which would be harder to use). The compatibility concern is also another reason for why I try to limit purchasing plugins from 3rd parties (so to avoid being annoyed when the (invariably) stop working with the DAW as upgrades happen..). Having said that, I understand that you cannot get away from using some of the most popular brands, such as Waves (which do awesome stuff) and a few other providers that do unique stuff, like FXpansion BFD Drums (drum instrument) and Celemony (Melodyne auto-tune system). So, I made some exceptions to the strategy. I was also positively surprised that my MacBook Pro came with 27 Apple Plugins, which is nice to have as an additional resource.
Universal Audio - UAD plugins
Ampeg SVT-VR Classic bass amp
A favorite and my go-to bass amp. Since I do not have a physical bass amp in my studio, I use this on all tracks - without exception. All the bass you hear on The Fluffy Jackets' recordings from 2020 onwards go through this amp, at various settings. Came included in the "Analog Classic" bundle along with the LUNA DAW when I purchased the Universal Audio Apollo x8 audio interface in 2020.
I simply plug my Fender Precision bass guitar right into the Avalon 737sp Mic Pre and select "Line" input (I have the bass cable plugged in at the back of the Avalon) and am ready to record using this virtual amp! I can also record guitars with this plug-in simply by plugging the guitar into the front of my Neve 1073 micpre. Note: I can also use my existing stomp-boxes with this virtual amp (review the studio-notes on this webpage ref. how to use the patch bay to do this). The Ampeg gives a lot of sonic flexibility to suit the style of the song, and the recorded signal always sounds perfect. Note: it is also possible to use this amp as an effect /insert, though this is memory intensive: it is better to use this only for actual recording of bass/guitar.
Marshall Plexi Classic - virtual guitar amp from Softube
If you like classic rock, then you like a Marshall Plexi Amp. This plugin is producing the familiar guitar tones made famous by Pete Townsend, Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page. I have not used it much as I prefer to use the amps that I have in the studio. However, need to remember to try this out when I need big sounds (as it is impossible to record a 100w stack in my studio). It is an impeccably well recorded Marshall 100w Plexi, and you also have the option of selecting which mic (close mic vs room mic) to use, so it is a versatile plugin. I can record with this plug-in simply by plugging the guitar into the front of the Avalon 737 pre-amp - or even better - at the front of my Neve 1073 micpre. Note: I can also use my existing stomp-boxes with this virtual amp (review the studio-notes on this webpage ref. how to use the patch bay to do this). Came included in the "Analog Classic" bundle along with the LUNA DAW when I purchased the Universal Audio Apollo x8 audio interface in 2020.
It is nice to have a Marshall Plexi sound in the DAW, but I never plug my guitar as a DI / preferring to use the "real" amps in my studio (I have a hand-wired Marshall 18w 1974 reissue combo with a 12" speaker, a Fender Princeton Reverb a 10" Celestion speaker and a smaller Marshall MG10cd - along with a multitude of pedals). I can also use this Marshall Plexi plugin as a mixing-effect on the bass or on ghost-vocals (to fatten up vocal sounds), though this is memory intensive: it is better to use this only for actual recording of guitar.
Fender '55 Tweed Deluxe - from UAD
Vintage Fender Tweed Deluxe amplifiers are the Holy Grail of tone for good reason. Their low-volume clean sounds are pristine and complex. And as you inch the volume upward, you’re greeted with sweet, blooming overdrive, before arriving at full-on distorted, utterly viscous tube saturation. You may wonder why I got this when I already got an excellent Fender Princeton (real-life amp), and the answer is that the UAD virtual amps are great to use for a multitude of reasons. First, because the recorded output is already pre-recorded by pro-engineers, using some of the best microphones and rooms you can find for love or money! Overall, this ensures a great recorded sound. Secondly, I can simply plug this in at the front of my Neve or Avalon mic-pres and record at high volume - via the earphones (if I want to avoid waking the neighbours). Finally, I was also convinced by the fact that the UAD amp plugins avoids any latency issues associated with other brand memory-intensive plugins (since they use the UAD hardware to process the signal instead of the computer). Purchased this plugin on UAD's software plugin website 23 Nov. 2022 for 99 USD (50% discount).
I can record with this plug-in simply by plugging the guitar into the front of my Neve 1073 micpre. Note: I can also use my existing stomp-boxes with this virtual amp (review the studio-notes on this webpage ref. how to use the patch bay to do this). It is also possible to use this plugin as a mixing-effect on recordings (for example to fatten up vocal sounds), though this is memory intensive: it is better to use this only for actual recording of guitar.
UA 610-B EQ and tube-sounding pre amp
When Universal Audio founder Bill Putnam Sr. introduced the 610 Modular Amplifier preamp in the early '60s, it was a milestone in audio recording history. The 610 became famous among record producers for its startling harmonic detail, and rich clipping characteristics, and its ability to overdrive in a warm, ultra-musical fashion.
The original 610-A preamp was integral to countless legendary recordings — from the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison. Its modern variant, the 610-B audio plugin, helped to create new classics by Adele and Cold War Kids. Today, you can add the same tube presence, warmth, and body to vocals, guitars, bass and more with the UA 610 Tube Preamp. Came included in the "Analog Classic" bundle along with the LUNA DAW when I purchased the Universal Audio Apollo x8 audio interface in 2020.
I should probably learn to use the 610-B pre-amp a bit more when mixing songs inside LUNA. This Could be placed first in the chain, to take advantage of the "warm" sound it adds.
Helios 69 (and Helios type 69 legacy) - EQ and pre-amp
Whether it was housed at Olympic in London, Musicland in Munich, or in the famed Rolling Stones’ mobile studio, the Helios Type 69 console was at the center of hundreds of iconic albums from rock’s “Golden Age.” From must-own albums by Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Pink Floyd, to Bob Marley and the Wailers, David Bowie, Black Sabbath, and AC/DC, the Type 69 delivered fat, unmistakable attitude, with a punchy midrange and an assertive growl.
The all-new Helios Type 69 Preamp and EQ plug-in for UAD-2 hardware and UA Audio Interfaces is a masterful, end-to-end circuit emulation of the rare hardware, going well beyond UA’s original Helios Type 69 plug-in. I have not used this a lot, often preferring the API 550 that I have, but should try this out a bit more. It is great to use on drums, and a lot of other stuff. Purchased this from UAD online in Feb. 2021 (got a deal for 299 USD for this together with the Helios).
Review of the Helios preamp and EQ plugin.
UA 1176LN and UA 1176SE compressors - old school
This compressor sound extremely good on vocals - and a classic signal chain for rock music vocal = Neve 1073 pre-amp through a 1176 (according to famed mixer Andrew Scheps). Though I use the Avalon 737 to record my vocals, I still find these are as good on vocals. It is the best old-style compressor on the market. The 1176SE is derived from the 1176LN and hugs much less DSP resources, without any significant loss to the audio. Came included in the "Analog Classic" bundle along with the LUNA DAW when I purchased the Universal Audio Apollo x8 audio interface in 2020.
1176SE: In processor terms you can run a lot more SE's than a LN. Its algorithm has been revised in order to provide sonic characteristics similar to the 1176LN but with significantly less DSP usage.
1176LN: The "silver" 1176SE is actually derived from the "black" 1176LN.
Teletronix LA-2A compressor - old school
This compressor is one of my favorite UAD plugins and sounds good on a lot of different recorded audio. Apparently, this works particularly well on tambourines. The pro advice is sometimes not to use it on vocals, as it does not have a variable attack/release, so a common advice is use this for light compression and instead use a modern "Distressor" for the more aggressive compression. Came included in the "Analog Classic" bundle along with the LUNA DAW when I purchased the Universal Audio Apollo x8 audio interface in 2020.
I often try light compression, as I rather prefer serial compression (I would rather take out 2db with 5 different compressors, than taking out 10db with one compressor), as I don't think tracks sound good when you rely on just one compressor to do the full job.
Video tutorial: how to use the Teletronix LA2A compressor plugin from UAD.
Fairchild 670 - compressor / limiter - old school
The Fairchild 670 is the most coveted vintage compressor in the world, with good reason (according to the owner UAD..). These 20-tube tone titans — which now fetch upwards of $50,000 — impart an unmistakable silky warmth heard on hundreds of hit records from the Beatles and Pink Floyd to countless Motown classics. I have tried this on a range of tracks and am still getting used to it, and need to remember to add it to the mix bus (this is probably best for adding to the bus /instead of individual tracks. Came included in the "Analog Classic" bundle along with the LUNA DAW when I purchased the Universal Audio Apollo x8 audio interface in 2020.
The Fairchild is considered by audio-fanatics to be among the “Big Three” compressors to have in your arsenal, alongside the LA-2A and 1176 plug-ins, though it is harder for a beginner to figure out the old-style knobs on the Fairchild 670. The built-in presets are helpful + one pro advice is to set it up on your mix bus, as it imparts a subtle color, gluing the track together, even before adding any compression.
Empirical Labs Distressor compressor - modern
The high quality UAD plugin emulator of this modern "classic" hardware that you find in most recording studios. This compressor / distortion unit works well on most tracks, both with or without the already mentioned 1176 and LA2A compressors. Sometimes I find that the presets add a lot of gain (and though more gain always sound good) - they do not sound that good when dialing back on the output gain - I still end up using this quite often. I bought this (together with the Helios pre amp) on UAD on the 9 Feb. 2021.
You see Distressors in most modern recording studios, as mixers / producers consider it a "must-have" for a wide range of tracks.
Pultec EQP-1A and Pultec-Pro - old school EQ
UAD writes: "
Breathe analog life into your vocals, drums, guitars, and synths with legendary vintage tube EQs used to sculpt over 70 years of popular music. Simply run a full mix or single instrument through these EQs and hear the stunning Pultec analog magic." I use this on a range of instruments and tracks, usually by selecting pre-sets (rather than using the dials). I should try to run a full mix through this (not tried that yet). These two interfaces are not very intuitive for EQ, so this overview from UAD is helpful to understand the use cases. Came included in the "Analog Classic" bundle along with the LUNA DAW when I purchased the Universal Audio Apollo x8 audio interface in 2020.
As a relative novice mixer, I find the Pultec EQP-1A controls confusing to use, but the range of presets are really useful and usually allows me to draw out the sound I want. Need to try it out on a full mix. The Pultec Pro (below) is basically the same interface as the bottom of the EQP 1A rack units shown in the screenshot above.
Antares Autotune - and the associated key finder
The Antares Auto-Tune effect revolutionized vocal production. From subtly tweaking a singer’s intonation to transforming a vocal into varying degrees of robot-speak, Auto-Tune is a must-have tool. The Antares Auto-Tune Realtime Advanced plug-in is the ultimate ultra-low-latency tuning solution for Apollo and Arrow interfaces — optimized for instant live vocal tracking in the studio or on stage. Purchased this on UAD online for 99 USD on the 28 Nov. 2022.
Useful for correcting vocals, though I find the Melodyne app more human-sounding for my recording purposes. But this is a great tool to have in the arsenal.
Autotune Key Finder?
I have not found the Autotune Key Finder on the UAD platform, which I kind-of miss, because it would be handy in order to quickly find the right Key for the song - in order to add this to the Antares Autotune plugin, and thereby achiving the desired results when using this platform.
How to manually find the right key of the song? (useful when using Autotune) Another way to find the Key for the song is obviously to do it the manual way, and here is how you do it:
First, you place your finger on the bottom string of a recently tuned (in standard tuning!!!) guitar. Try to listen for the root-note of the song. All the various Keys (notes) can be found in the first 12 frets:
The right Key will be the note that almost always sound good whenever the song is played.
That is not all though. Because, the next job is to find out whether the song is in a Major or a Minor Key. This can be done by listening whether you can play the Major or the Minor scale during the song:
The right Key will be the one that always sound good when you play the song. The above image shows a Major Key scale.
The above image shows a Minor Key scale on the guitar.
CS-1 - parametric EQ, compressor, delay modulator, reflector
Featuring the EX-1 EQ/Compressor, the DM-1 and DL-1L Delay Modulators, and the RS-1 Reflection Engine, the CS-1 Channel Strip provides all the tools you need for recording and mixing in one plug-in. With a smoothing algorithm for all controls and DSP conserving bypass switches built-in, the CS-1 packs a whopping punch into a small package. However, I rarely use this. First off, the interface sucks (I think it sounds better than it looks), secondly it looks very confusing at first glance (though considering all the varying modules, that is to be expected), third the confusing shortcut plugin-name "CS-1" doesn't help (does not say what it does on the tin). Came included in the "Analog Classic" bundle along with the LUNA DAW when I purchased the Universal Audio Apollo x8 audio interface in 2020.
Looks confusing, but isn't: Top rack unit is an EQ / compressor, middle is a delay unit, and the bottom is a reverb unit. It looks a bit complex at first glance, and that is probably why I rarely use it.
RealVerb-Pro - reverb
"What if you could put your sound right in the perfectly designed room? Based on Universal Audio's unique set of algorithms, the RealVerb Pro plug-in lets you design the room just as you hear it. Get beyond the barriers of simply big and small, dark or bright. RealVerb Pro gives you Universal Audio's distortion-free, smoothing diffusion control and ultra-long reverb tail". Came included in the "Analog Classic" bundle along with the LUNA DAW when I purchased the Universal Audio Apollo x8 audio interface in 2020.
Looking at the interface, this must be one of UAD's oldest plugins. It looks like it was made early 2000's, and the lynolium tiles (you can select flooring) is reputedly out of Putnams's old bathroom.. But, always looking for a good reverb sound, I have used this on several occasions to add nice reverb to various tracks, including vocals. However (again), I find the interface a bit confusing with a lot of different rooms (where you are able to use different tiles, flooring, curtains, etc. to dampen or liven up the room). Though I usually can play around with it until I find something I like, it is not the plug-in to use if you need fast results (though you are bound to "stumble" on some useful things!
AKG BX 20 - modulation of 1960s spring reverb hardware
Introduced in the late 1960s, the AKG BX 20 reverb was a high-water mark for AKG’s esteemed engineers. I find the setting /knobs hard to understand and use, but as usual, the presets offers a wide range of useful spring reverbs, which I have used on occasion. However, each time I see the plugin - I kick myself for not using it more often as it sounds really great on everything I have used it on. UAD writes: An ingenious assembly of mechanical and electronic componentry, the BX 20 offered glorious depth and color of spring reverb.
I bought this from UAD in 2021 as I needed a really great reverb plugin, and should use it more than I do.
EP-34 - The Echoplex Tape Machine - legendary tape echo
Exacting emulation of the legendary tape echo device used by Jimmy Page, Brian May, Chick Corea, Eddie Van Halen, Eric Johnson, and Andy Summers. Vintage Echoplexes are legendary for their idiosyncrasies — including distortion, wow and flutter, self-oscillation, squelch effects, and other random analog goodness. The EP-34 Tape Echo plug-in emulates all of this, and more. I purchased this from UAD around 2021/22 as I wanted to have this tool in my arsenal.
My mentor / producer Manny Charlton (Nazareth) told me that he used a real Echoplex machine for some sounds during the 1970's, which is one of the reasons I wanted it in my plugin-arsenal in the first place. Mental note to start using this more than I do...
Raw Distortion - emulation based on a RAT guitar effect pedal (80's stomp box)
Modeled from a vintage early-’80s Pro Co Rat, the Raw Distortion plug-in delivers all the gritty dynamic raunch of the legendary stomp box. This plug-in came included in the bundle along with the LUNA DAW when I purchased the Universal Audio Apollo x8 audio interface in 2020.
I have the real-deal hardware (the RAT guitar pedal is from the 80's)- as this was one of the stomp boxes I got from Manny Charlton (Nazareth). I very rarely use guitars plugged into the DAW, so this particular audio software plugin rarely get used, though I have used it to dirty-up vocals or bass on occasion.
I should mention here, that it is possible for me to plug in all my "hardware" guitar effect pedals, when using the digital amplifiers mentioned above (Ampeg, Marshall, Fender). This can be done by plugging the guitar into the patch bay, then send the signal via the pedal board before plugging the cable from the patch bay to the front of the real-life pre-amps I use (Neve 1073 or the Avalon 737).
Waves Audio Plug-ins
Usually, when you purchase a plugin from Waves, the service / update is valid for 1 year from purchase date. Once the plan expires, you may renew it for another year whenever you want. If you don't wish to renew, the plugins you own will remain yours as before, but you will not enjoy plugin updates, 2nd licenses, or the other benefits of the plan (incl personal VIP support). Most of the Waves plugins were bought on 9 feb 2021 but some of these were bought as lates as October 2022. I will try to update this page, so you can review the purchase dates. One possible challenge is that old plugins may become obsolete (as UAD Luna keeps progressing/updating, whereas some plugins stay static (thus it is better for me to use UAD plugins- where possible). I have installed all of the following Waves products, and also used their customer assistance email@example.com who are really helpful in getting the plugins to work, or answer any questions (if need be).
SSL G-Master Buss Compressor V14 - master BUS compressor
Based on the renowned master buss center compressor of the SSL 4000 G console, the Waves SSL G-Master Buss Compressor captures the unique sound of the original’s IC input and twin VCA gain-reduction amplifier design. Prized by top engineers for its ability to “glue together” tracks, the SL 4000 G master buss center compressor is ideal for taming piano dynamics or adding punch to drums and percussion. I find that it works great on master BUS - have been looking for it for a long time (use it for parallel compression). Bought it from Waves 27 Oct. 2022.
I had been looking for a plugin to use on the Master bus for a long time. The challenge is that - on a song with a lot of tracks - the sound often will clip, so having the compression on the master bus makes sense. It has to be used very sparingly, though. The legendary mixing engineer Bob Clearmountain famously use his hardware SSL G-Master Bus Compressor, with Attack = 100 and Release = .300. He use a compression ratio of 2:1 for ballads and 4:1 for rock songs, where the mix needs to "pump" a little more. I have the digital Waves version of the SSL, and I use this same settings there. I sometimes use a preset "11 Lillywhite Mix Buss" which has 4:1 compression at 300 attack and .1 release; but most time use Bob Clearmountain's setting.
MV2 compressor - Modern compressor with easy GUI
With high and low level compression controlled by a streamlined interface, the MV2 is the simplest, most flexible way to control your sound. With intuitive dual faders for quick dynamic optimization, it’s never been easier to maximize your volume. This is a high- and low-level compression in one plugin, which is intuitive and simple controls for quick dynamic optimization. Purchased this plugin from Waves on the 27 Nov. 2022. The user manual can be found on the Waves website.
I find the MV2 compressor the easiest to understand of all the various compressors I have. With its modern-software GUI, the plugin makes it easy to manipulate the sound, compared to the old-school compressors which can be confusing. Having said that, the MV2 also works great together with more classic compressors like the LA-2A or the 1176.
API-550A - and
API-550B - versatile EQ with API sound
These colors the sound nicely and fattens up the signal immensely with the classic API sound. Modeled on the late 1960’s legend, the API 550A EQ provides reciprocal and repeatable equalization at 15 points in 5 steps of boost, divided into three overlapping ranges. Its high and low frequency ranges are individually selectable as either peaking or shelving, and a band-pass filter can be inserted independently of all other settings. Purchased in 2021.
I have used the API EQ on a lot of stuff, including drums, and these ALWAYS sound great. A is a bit thicker than B (which is more bright sounding), and the pre-sets are very useful.
Renaissance Equalizers - REQ 2, REQ 4, REQ 6 - modern EQ
Used for corrective or cutting EQ (not imparting sounds, but removing stuff, or boosting stuff). A modern EQ allows you to filter out, and removing unwanted sounds (eg. Make the low end clearer, removing low mids, so track is less muddy, etc.). For example, according to Warren Huart (Produce like a Pro Academy), you can "remove horrible honkiness" (400- to- 600-700 hertz frequency area, compressing some areas) ref. nasal voice. Another recording advice for this is to sing in front of mike with mouth (not nose near mic). This is easily my favorite EQ and I use this a lot, for all kinds of tracks, including Hi or Low passing. It is easy (and visual) to use. Purchased this from Waves 9 Feb. 2021.
Maserati ACG / Acoustic guitars - accoustic guitars EQ
The Maserati Acoustic guitars I bought on advice from the support engineer at Waves (I asked him what his advice was ref. the best plugins for guitars), so I ended up buying this along with the Eddie Kramer Guitar plugin (see next). I also got advice to purchase GT3 plugin but see that it is more to do with effects / and I just need some minor lift now and then (as a guitar player, I usually get the exacting sound I want coming out of the amp / so only need a gentle lift when it comes to mixing). This plugin makes it easy to very subtly shape the acoustic guitars to fit your song. See tutorial below. I purchased this from Waves - 14 Aug. 2022.
How to mix acoustic guitars using the Maserati plugin from Waves.
EKramer GT / Eddie Kramer Guitar - modern guitar EQ and tone shaper, incl reverb and delay
This includes settings for rhythm and lead guitars, making flat-sounding guitars stand out in the mix. Really good in some cases. Usually, I do not process guitars a lot since - as a guitar player - I get the sounds I want from the guitars and amps in the studio. However, on some tracks you need an extra "upmh" to make the guitars stand out better inside the track. And this is really good, through you need to see the tutorial (YouTube link below) to understand the dials. Note: this only works on Stereo or BUS tracks (will not work on Mono tracks). Purchased this from Waves - 14 Aug. 2022.
CLA Vocals - multi effect vocal plugin
Grammy award winning Chris Lord-Alge is the producer behind Green Day and several other rock bands. He has a working relationship with Waves where he creates cool plugins that are based on some of the hardware that he use in Tarzana California. NOTE: this plugin only works on BUS tracks or Stereo tracks (will not work on mono tracks). I find that I can get the vocals to stand out nicely using this, though it is not a one-stop shop. Purchased this 14 Aug. 2022.
Chris Lord Alge's CLA vocal plugin combines different effects for mixing vocals.
RVox - Renaissance Vox V12 - compressor, tailormade for Vocals
This is a compressor for vocals. I rarely use this, but have made a mental note to start to trying this out a bit more. Pro-advice from Warren Huart says that this gives a big fat vocal immediately before the EQ if used first in chain. Also good on drums, rooms and drum mics. Bought this from Waves 10 February 2021.
I do not use this enough. It is a great plugin, but I have so many other compressors, that I kind-of forget to use this. Mental note to remember to use it...
R-Bass / Renaissance Bass V12 - EQ on low end bass
The R Bass from Waves is, according to Warren Huart: "The 80db setting is magic on anything". One can use the R Bass intead of EQ to boost harmonics that this not there to begin with. Can be used on bass, vocals, kickdrum and amazing on Toms. Also sounds great on Vocals (according to Huart), though I have not spent much time on trialing this out in real-life yet. Delivers a richer, deeper low-end. R-Bass accurately reproduces low-frequency content on playback systems that cannot physically handle these signals. This is achieved by the creation of harmonics of the fundamental, which fool the brain into perceiving bass frequencies that are not actually there. Purchased this from Waves 9 Feb. 2021.
I am a fan of the "R" series from Waves - they are very easy to use, and produce good results. Quickly and efficiently.
De-esser – for making guitar spikes out, acoustic. Not use multiband.
When it comes to reducing excess sibilance (“ess” and “shh” sounds) from vocal tracks, nothing compares to Waves DeEsser. Can also be used on other stuff, incl. acoustic guitars. I have used this on quite a few occasions. Works well, and the interface is very easy to use.
Video: using the "DeEsser" plugin to remove shh and ess sounds on vocals - plug-in from Waves.
NS1 Noise Suppressor - EQ designed for removing background noise
Perfect for post-production. I have a small studio, and it is not totally treated / optimised for recording. Therefore, sometimes background hiss can ruin a guitar take (from amps or ambience from laptop fan etc) - until you find a way to remove the background noise... So, I have used this on a lot of stuff, including guitars and vocals, and I find the interface really easy to use. And, it is also very useful for spoken word (for video documentaries, voiceover, etc) - but not as good as Waves Clarity (for spoken word). Bought this from Waves 10 February 2021.
Silk Vocal - dedicated vocal plugin that allows you to target the typical "problematic frequency areas" of a male of female vocal. This makes it easier to compress, EQ and blend in the effected vocals with the original vocal. The purpose is to be quicker when it comes to making the vocal stand out in the mix. I got this on the 26 Nov. 2023 as a "freebie" from Waves during their Black Friday sale.
The demo: Silk Vocal is a smart EQ & dynamics plugin that uses 2000 analysis bands to target problematic resonances and balance your vocal tracks. There are more useful demos on the Waves' Silk Vocal webpage.
Clarity Vx - EQ designed to remove background noise from Vocal tracks (amazing)
The best way to clean up vocals for a mix, podcast or video. Period. Absolutely amazing. Does not work too great on music, but for vocals this is absolutely insanely good. Bought this from Waves, September 2022.
In the above video, Warren Huart (Produce like a Pro Academy) goes through a review of the awesome Clarity Noise Remover plugin from Waves. It is truly amazing how good this is.
R-Verb (Renaissance Reverb V12-0) - Twelve easy-to-add reverb types.
Classic recursive reverb with rich reverb tails and an advanced early reflection system. Renaissance Reverb lets you choose from 12 reverb types, including Halls, Room, Chamber, Church, Plates, Reverse, Gated, Non-Linear, EchoVerb, and ResoVerb. I originally saw this recommended from Warren Huart (Produce like a Pro) as he likes to use it on the end of his bass chain. I purchased this on the 9 Feb. 2021,
I purchased the R-Verb in early 2021, but did not use it until 2023 because I did not notice the Tech Spec which makes it clear that this only works on Stereo tracks. This means that R-Verb can only be seen when I am working on a Stereo track or a BUS track in my DAW, so - as I most often work on Mono tracks - this sadly affected by the "out of sight, out of mind"-syndrome. I have to remember to use this more often. Here is a video on how to convert from Mono to Stereo in LUNA (DAW), and I want to start using this on Vocal Mixing in particular, as I believe this will do everything I need ref. vocal mixing / reverbs.
Abbey Road Plates - famous plate reverb used by The Beatles and Pink Floyd
Modeling plugin from the actual reverb plates used at Abbey Road Studios in London (as used by Beatles, Pink Floyd and many more). Creates a multitude of reverbs. It is another plugin that will take some time to learn for best effect. Got this from Waves in 2021.
I have used this on vocals and sometimes guitar but find it hard to manipulate the controls to my liking. Nevertheless, I am usually able to dial in the sound I want after a while of fiddling around with the various knobs / settings.
Tutorial: how to use Abbey Road Reverb from Waves.
Brauer Motion - Spatial design - where you can automate sounds to go back and forwards and side to side in the mix. It includes a range of effects such as volum ride, reverb and echo. It allows you to generate dynamics in a song. As a blues-rock artist, I do not intend to use this often, but it is nice to know it is there when I need it, to generate modern sounds. I aquired this as it was a Black Friday sale where I got it for 30 USD on the 24 Nov. 2023.
Michael Brauer present the Brauer Motion - The controls are a bit intricate and require some time to get used to them.
Scheps Parallel Particles V14 - tone shaper plugin (EQ, compression, saturation)
Normally, I would not go for this - as it doubles up on a lot of stuff that I already got. However, rather than sifting through a multitude of "old school" plugins, and mixing a lot of stuff (by trial and error), this produces a faster (and arguably better) result. I got a respect for Andrew Scheps as a mixer, so when I got it free as part of a "3 for 2" offer at Waves, I went for it. The interface is really easy to use, and it is incredibly easy to get a good sound. Works well on virtually everything. Useful for: enhancing tracks or mix bus - adding tone and liven up dull recordings. Bought it from Waves 27 Oct. 2022.
As its creator Andrew Scheps says "you can find the sound you want, without having to figure out which of the traditional tools will get you there". I have tried the Andrew Scheps Parrallel Particles Master BUS, but find that the Scheps particles pre-set "whole mix bus" is too agressive, though it makes the mix really loud-sounding.
Vitamin Sonic Enhancer V14 - tone shaping plugin (EQ, compression, saturation)
Waves Vitamin is a multiband harmonic enhancer and tone-shaping plugin that can make any track sound powerful and full of spark by mixing an enriched version with the original signal. Vitamin caters to studio and live mix engineers alike. Used as an insert on any track or BUS. Again, I have stuff that probably could produce the same result - but this is a faster way of getting there (and easier to understand, in many cases).
The Vitamin plugin from Waves instantly delivers a warm, vital result that is comparable to what you would get from a parallel chain of EQ, compression and saturation processors, but without the hassle.
Melodyne - from Celemony Auto Tune vocals, slide guitars, etc.
THE most natural sounding auto-tune system out there. Incredible and pretty easy to work (once you get into it). Here is a tour of Melodyne plugin. Purchased the Celemony Monodyne Assistant 24 Feb. 2021, and I have an account on this website - use the software inside LUNA with authorisation via iLok.
Here is a GREAT - tutorial / tool on how this works.
I used this on the vocal overdubs "Better Place" which was recorded at the professional West Point Studio in London 2019 (The Fluffy Jackets' "Something from Nothing" album from 2019), and saw in real life how powerful this is, so I was glad I found it when I got The Fluffy Jackets Sound Studio completed.
Fxpansion / INMusic Plugin
Fxpansion BFD3 - drum (instrument plugin) from http://www.fxpansion.com
This great drum instrument plugin was recommended to me by Manny Charlton (Nazareth guitarist / producer). This flagship drum software offers stunning, mix-ready presets and modeling technology, professionally recorded live drums by Andrew Scheps and other professional engineers. Each drum and mic can be swapped out to taste. I have not even scratched the surface of the possibilities, but the drums options on this are incredible. In 2020, the company was acquired by InMusic, and the software briefly ceased working. The issue with “price pack catalogue” got solved June 2022 when I found a link to their FAQ on the InMusic Brands website (luckily I managed to track down their support engineer Drew Vernon on Facebook), got the help I needed, so I could start using the software again. The BFD Manual is expansive and helpful.
BFD3 is a complex tool, and has a lot of settings, as can be seen from the screenshot above. There are options to manipulate each drum, snare, toms, high-hats and ambient mics. I rarely play around with settings, as it is hard to judge how I want the drums to sound at the outset of a song: my usual workflow is to add a song for jamming-purposes, when creating a new song, and this usually stays until the end (though I mix each track later in the process). I use several ways of getting the BFD into Luna - sometimes I program drums manually and drag into trax from BFD - into LUNA. Alternatively, you can add BFD as an instrument in LUNA. Though I obviously prefer to use live drums whenever possible, this is a fantastic tool, even for adding drum sounds post recording. I used this for the first time on The Fluffy Jackets' single "Ship of Dreams" from 2021.
27 Apple plugins are available in LUNA as part of MacBook pro purchase. Since I already have so many high-quality plugins from other vendors, I rarely (never) use the Apple plugins, but nice to know that they are available, including:
There will be more plugins coming no doubt & here are some I currently look at:
- Soothe2 by Oeksound EQ plugin that analyzes the audio signal and makes adjustments to fine-tune problematic frequencies. - Black box - for guitars Michael Brauer gives it a glowing review /from Plug-in Alliance. - FabFilter Pro Bundle - or FabFilter Pro-Q 3 - EQ ued by Manny Charlton to shape sounds.
- Klanghelm MJUC - modern "easy to use" compressor
- Valhalla Delay - delay module
- Soundtoys: Little Altar Boy - vocal formant and pitch shifting tool, great for harmony vocals
Other useful things to remember (authorising plugins, authentication, DSP issues ++)
On the remaining part of this page, I will summarise other relevant information relating to these plugins (more for my own future reference than anything else...).
ILOK - used to authenticate various plugins incl. UAD. I use iLok to authenticate both the UAD and various software. Not ethat is possible to set up a new iLok and transfer licenses if there is a future problem with this: - https://www.uaudio.com/my/ilok / for any future support tasks... could start support ticket - us / see project xls - for numbers UK is open til 1300 and USA number. I can also email to them. iLok - authentication errors - FAQ - might fix any issues with this software.
About authorizing UAD Plugins (in the LUNA DAW) Authorizing UAD Plug-Ins in LUNA: (Open the UAD Meter & Control Panel application, Click the blue “UAD-2” button in the UAD Meter, Click the “Authorize Plug-Ins...” button in the Plug-Ins panel. After a few moments, the Authorization Status window appears. Click "OK" to complete authorization, Authorizing LUNA Instruments and Extensions, Your product is downloading and you will be notified when it is ready for use. Click the "Manage" tab in the LUNA sidebar to view your download progress.
Running into DSP issues in LUNA? (using too many plugins?)
As you add plug-ins to your various tracks you sometimes get into DSP memory issues, and there are some UAD console channel limitations to be aware of. There is also a list that explain how intensive the various UAD plug-ins are here. This is why I learned to "print" some effects or tracks - in order to commit to the sound as you go along. This is either achieved by recording to a virtual channel (inside the Luna DAW), or can also be achieved by exporting a hi-res Wav. file and import this into the DAW (as a replacement for the track with the "DSP-hugging" plug-ins). This mimics the way producers worked in the old days, when they had to bounce tracks back when they had only an 8-track recorder, etc.
The UAD DSP usage chart- Explains how resource-intensive various plugins are (UAD only) - basically the room filter is a no-go; stereo channels hugs more than mono, and reverbs hugs alot. I have added a xls chart on my Google drive / replicated here:
Some useful advice ref. DSP saving:
Tip1 = Save DSP by adding the plugins to Bus (group) files only. You can also think about creating a SubBUS which only has 1 FX added, so that you have one reverb BUS that you send the different tracks to. In the good olden days, this is how things were done / as you only would have one piece of outboard gear that performed the function, say a reverb plate etc. The downside with this method is that it limits your mixing options (and sound options).
Tip2 = record FX on the way in (commit). This means that you are committed to the sound that you decided on when tracking (recording) the sound source. The downside is that you can not go back and change this setting after the fact.
Tip3 = print to WAV, then re-import, keep the original and mix in the effect as needed. Great way to save DSP especially on tracks with reverb which takes a lot of DSP. However, the downside is that you can not then change the setting after the re-import, which reduces your mixing options.
Tip4 = In LUNA there is a way to send your track with the FX to a virtual channel (instead of Main / or Bus) See instruction where an “instrument track” in LUNA is used. You can select output to Virtual channel, and then using the Audio Track you can receive the signal from the instrument track - remember to select the “I” (for input) on that track instead of the usual S (solo) or M (mute) buttons. - then you can receive the signal, record the signal - then get rid of the DSP hugging resource. Do not forget to click the I button on the channel that is receiving the input ( I for input) - otherwise the signal will not go there. Summary = When you determine ”in” on a virtual channel, you can receive the signal from the trax with the effect on it. Thereby - when you have your dry recording + recording with effect - you can balance the two & get rid of the DSP - hugging resource. This is a great way to save DSP.
Update - December 2022 - sometimes, I had a hard time using this method, as I could only see the BUS channel or the MAIN - but no virtual channels. This is very odd - so I sent a ticket to UAD support. One reason why this is happening might be that you have disabled virtual channels in your configuration page (see above screenshot). However - and more important - by doing some further investigations, I found that the most common reason for this is that the various virtual channels in the UAD Console are muted. If you unmute these channels, you will find those again in LUNA.
Tip5 = Arguably, the best way to save DSP, is simply to Freeze the track in LUNA. This will render the file with the FX and then remove the DSP hugging resources. This is a new feature added to UAD LUNA (DAW) in late 2022 - and is the best way to save DSP in my opinion. Using this method you are able to see the various FX on the track etc, and you can even "un-Freeze" the track to make changes to the FX if you want at a later date. So this is arguably the best way to save DSP whilst adding flexibility in the mixing process.
How to authorise Waves Plugins
Purchase plugins online on their website, download, and use the Waves central to authorise the plugins. Sometimes, if plugins are not found in LUNA, you can follow these instructions in order to make the plugins available:
If you can not find plugins? (Error fix from Waves)
Step #1 – Verify the license is activated
First, check whether the relevant plugin or bundle license/s are activated on your computer or USB Flash Drive:
Launch Waves Central via Applications > Waves Central. Log into Waves Central using your Waves account information. Select the Licenses page. Select the Connected Devices tab. Use the arrow on the right to expand the list.
Check if the missing plugin/s license are activated on this connected device.
If they are activated, proceed to Step #2 below.
If they are not, check if the missing plugin/s license are in My License Cloud tab. If in the license cloud, select the license/s and click ‘Activate’.
If not in the license cloud, check if the missing plugin/s license are in a device in the Disconnected Devices tab, if there, refer to this article to locate the device.
Step #2 – Verify plugin software is correctly installed
First, check whether the relevant plugin file/s are correctly installed on your computer:
Go to: Macintosh HD > Applications > Waves > Plug-Ins V12 (or V11/V10/V9, whichever version is installed on your device)
The relevant plugin file will be named after the plugin, in this format: [PluginName].bundle. For example, the plugin file for Reel ADT will be named Reel ADT.bundle.
If the plugins you are looking for are not there, install the plugins by following the instructions in this link.
Step #3 – Rescan for Plugins
If the relevant plugin files are in the above folders, restart your computer, launch Luna and see if the issue persists.
If the issue persists, perform a rescan:
Rescan for Plugins
In Finder, click on the Go menu, hold down the [Alt/Option] key and click on Library.
Go to Application Support > Universal Audio > workspace and drag the file named ‘AUPlug-Ins.json’ to your desktop:
Go to Macintosh HD > Applications > Waves > WaveShells V12 (or V11/V10/V9, whichever version is installed on your device) and run the Waves AU Reg Utility*.
Click on Let’s Go.If asked to Locate the Waves Plugins Folder, direct to Macintosh HD > Applications > Waves > Plug-Ins V12 (or V11/V10/V9, whichever version is installed on your device).
Restart the computer and launch Luna.
When there is more than one Waves AU Reg Utility V11 (or the version you own) file in the Waveshells V11 (or the version you own) folder, apply steps 5 & 6 for all Waves AU Reg Utility versions.
Once the rescan is done, create a new session with a supported sample rate, add a track and load your Waves plugins.
None of the above worked? Contact Technical Support. The Waves Customer Assistance firstname.lastname@example.org is really helpful in getting the plugins to work, or answer any questions if need be):
You can also try a complete reinstall / if above process does not work:
Please follow these steps:
Launch Waves Central and go to the Settings page.
Under Complete Waves Cleanup, click Cleanup.
Waves Central will restart - log back into your account when it's back.
Select all your products and click Install.
Once done, please refer to the How to find your plugins in Luna article on our support page and follow the instructions described.