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Updated by Frontrunner Magazine on Feb 09, 2018
Headline for 5 Essential Plugins that Streamline Music Production
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5 Essential Plugins that Streamline Music Production

When you're producing a track, you're really doing two things at once. First, you're workshopping the meat of the song: programming the beat, playing the harmony and melody, choosing the right instruments and samples, and creating a cohesive piece worth listening to. Second, and just as important, you're honing the sound and texture of each part, applying compression and EQ as needed, plus effects and automation to keep the song lively. It's easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of your mix, tweaking small details instead of focusing on simply writing a great song — but with the right set of plugins, you can speed up the production process and keep your ideas flowing without losing momentum.

Here are five plugins to help you work quickly as both a musician and a sound sculptor.

1

iZotope Neutron 2

iZotope Neutron 2

Picking up where iZotope's Alloy series left off, the Neutron 2 is a module-based plugin that gives you multiple essential production tools: EQ, Compressor, Gate, Exciter, and Transient Shaper. The interface is easy to manage and fun to use, featuring a variety of ways to visually analyze your sound as you shape it. It's the ultimate utilitarian plugin — you can drop an instance of Neutron 2 on pretty much any channel of any kind and find a way to bring out more of what you want to hear.

2

FabFilter Pro-Q 2

FabFilter Pro-Q 2

For the most part, all software equalizers do the same thing. When you're working with hardware, you might choose a particular EQ because of the way it colors the signal passing through, but when you're working in the digital world, it's more important to find a tool that's easy to use and gives you precise control over your sound. The FabFilter Pro-Q 2 was designed to do exactly that, and it's arguably the best equalizer available thanks to its intuitive design, highly-accurate frequency sculpting tools, and outstanding overall sound quality.

3

Soundtoys EchoBoy

Soundtoys EchoBoy

Every producer needs a powerful go-to delay device. The EchoBoy by Soundtoys is a delay-lover's dream plugin, giving you the full functionality of classic delay effects like the EchoPlex, Space Echo, Memory Man, DM-2, and the TelRay oil can delay. Whether you're looking for a rich chorus tone or spacey vintage echoes that last forever, the EchoBoy will have what you need every time.

4

ValhallaDSP Valahalla Room

ValhallaDSP Valahalla Room

In addition to delay, you should always have a reliable reverb on deck when you need to give your sound ambience and lush decay. ValhallaDSP provides a variety of full-sounding reverb plugins, but the most popular is the Valhalla Room, allowing you to create a wide range of modern reverberation effects, from boxy rooms to gigantic halls. If you're more interested in classic reverb tones, check out the Valhalla VintageVerb.

5

Dada Life Sausage Fattener

Dada Life Sausage Fattener

What is the Sausage Fattener exactly? Is it a saturation plugin? A transient exciter? Some kind of overdriven compressor? The answer is all of the above, and yet it's something completely different, with a sound all its own. Dada Life designed the Sausage Fattener, the first in their line of original plugins, as the ultimate addition to any sound that needs to be dirtier, greasier, or just plain fattened up. Just throw it on a track, turn up the "Fatness," and enjoy.