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Why all the Plugins?

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 2:03 pm
by ktk9
I know this seems kind of crazy, but - how many Plugins do people really need?

I have looked through the list of plugins that come with Mixcraft Pro Studio 7, and I'll probably never use half of them, and maybe never actually use 90% of them.
So my question is, do people really use all these plugins?


Re: Why all the Plugins?

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 2:27 pm
by aj113
I use about 10 - even on 50-track recordings.

Re: Why all the Plugins?

Posted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 5:08 am
by msnickybee
I... think it's a good range that Mixcraft Pro offers.
Sure, you might only need the one parametric, not need *both* the Acoustica and Classic sets, might not need 3 reverbs (but they're all quite quite different), but they kinda do cover all the basics I think!
Why not organise yours using the "Manage Plug-ins" menu?

Mine are grouped into:
Chorus & Stereo
Reverb & Delay
Amp & Distortion
Autotune & Harmony
Gates Meters Tools

It's conceivable that you'll start to use many of these, but perhaps only for a special reason, and you'll identify what are your go-to EQ, Reverb, Chorus, compressors (a few of), metering etc etc.
I think these days I'm using 50% Mixcraft, and 50% other freeware Plugins.

Re: Why all the Plugins?

Posted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 5:49 am
by davefk
The best way to work in the digital realm is to: 'Limit Your Options'..... Otherwise its plugin hell. But that said, I do like to find free plugins that are useful, and that can better the last one I used etc...

Re: Why all the Plugins?

Posted: Sun Jul 10, 2016 4:37 pm
by Mark Bliss
You dont need them all, or often so many.
But sometimes you find something that suits your personal needs better than another, or has a GUI/controls that feel more familiar or suit your personal needs/tastes. Sometimes you just find something that sounds different, better somehow or makes a task easier.

Some are terrible. Malfunctioning, buggy or just dont work well at all. I think you will find there are many freebies that are a huge waste of time. Some paid plugs arent so great either.

So we sometimes discuss what we have found to work (or not) here, hopefully to the benefit of others.

Sometimes as Dave points out, having too many options can waste time and crush creativity. I would only disagree with the part that its only in the digital realm.
In general, simple is good, and more plugins just to have more plug ins probably isn't doing anyone any good. But having a few good plugins can be handy!

Re: Why all the Plugins?

Posted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 10:38 am
by aquataur
My opinion too: less is more.

Plugin programming is a prestigious business. And lucrative!

The more feature laden, the more queer the user interface, the better.

We want a thorough understanding of what those devices do. We want some basic training by the programmer of how to use their plugins, scenarios that illustrate the application thereof. The manufacturers are hasty to make you believe their retro look or alleged retro sound will make you a pro. Unlikely.

I again have to quote Mike Senior´s book on mixing - when an how to use those tools. A solid investment.

Yes, we all are mostly visually oriented, but user interfaces should aid the user not blind them.
For example, it´s good to have a linear phase EQ at hand, but they should train us on what to listen for instead of blinding us with science. And all those retro compressors - do they really live up to their price tag, or could a solid free compressor do 90% of that too if one knew their "secrets"?


Re: Why all the Plugins?

Posted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 2:59 pm
by Mark Bliss
Another reason some people seek out new and different plug-ins may be related to presets.

Lets face it, Some people don't really want (or need) to fully train on how to use every button and knob in every plug-in. On the other hand, some other people want to know the inner workings and master them.

The simple truth though is that some very good high end plug-ins have no presets, or no useful presets, while some others, even if not so great, have a range of presets that some people might find very useful.

There's nothing wrong with exploring some of the variety of things out there, if that's your thing I think. But beware that for some, it gets in the way of actually using your DAW to create anything.

To me, the most important part of the "less is more" mantra is understanding that if your idea of mixing begins with deciding which plug in to add, (with the exception perhaps of an EQ) you are probably starting off down the wrong path. 8)

Re: Why all the Plugins?

Posted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 4:30 pm
by Rolling Estonian
I agree with everything that's been said so far, pro and con regarding lots of plugins.

I just wanted to add that for me, as a beginner, going through a lot of different plugins has been invaluable as a learning tool. Using different plugins with different nuances in sound, effects and gui's has given me a decent idea on how to record and mix. You could've put me in a class about mixing, especially eq and comp and it would have been pretty useless had I not been able to try different types and styles of different plugins, their differences/similarities and how they affect sound.

I know this doesn't really answer why there are so many, or why so many folks have so many plugins, it just validates and justifies me having a TON of plugins! lol :mrgreen:


Re: Why all the Plugins?

Posted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 6:13 pm
by AHornsby
The answer is none.

There were days before all the electronic whiz bangs, before stereo, before recording even, where the multitudes were kept happy with just what was on hand.

They only just had to physically BE where the music was. -h

Re: Why all the Plugins?

Posted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 7:06 pm
by Rolling Estonian
True. We all used to use candlelight too. I certainly appreciate the sentiment but that argument is kind of silly. And I don't mean to be argumentative but man has always tried to improve upon existing technology and recording is a great example of how far we've come is such a short amount of time.


Re: Why all the Plugins?

Posted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 7:12 pm
by Mark Bliss
I am not certain the multitudes were ever happy before stereo. 8)
But I am under the impression the multitudes weren't ready for quadraphonic.

Re: Why all the Plugins?

Posted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 7:33 pm
by Rolling Estonian
Quadraphonic? Some of the ancient cave stuff was deep........ :shock:


Re: Why all the Plugins?

Posted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:16 am
by aquataur
What good is the preset of a dynamics manipulation tool like a compressor, if your signal levels are vastly different?
What is the purpose of the preset, peaks containing, level balancing, heavy compression, limiting beyond flowery names such as "drums squashing"?
What we need is examples, recorded files for a/b comparison, scenarios, and suggestions for tweaking certain parameters. Yes then presets may be helpful.

Mark, remember our escapades with the dynamic EQ´s? There are plenty of presets, but we could make neither head nor tail out of it. The problem is, you have a certain situation, a certain project and you are faced with the fact that you can hear something needs improvement. You are lucky if you can pinpoint the problem and have a vague idea what tool could help and what settings, but that´s where most of us are lost already.

We are back to cookbook recipes that are prescribed by the plugin makers. Compressor A on the bus, setting "mastering", FancyEQ here and there and keep your fingers crossed the result sounds better than before. It will sound different for sure.

I once bought a book on technical ear training, hoping to fill such a gap, but this is not what is needed IMHO.

We need, what SOS do on some of their articles, sound files with A/B comparisions and what has been changed. This can be mapped onto one´s own scenario. Every honest and serious manufacturer of plugins should provide these. Then a list of presets may be ultimately useful. And then throw away most of the useless plugins.

An anecdote on our beforementioned private endeavours with the maker of a dynamic EQ (a well reputed plugin writer):
We offered the autor to create and publish such instructional material, if the just gave us a few hints on their envisioned application scenarios, and where their plugin would be superior to to-be-described conventional tools.

They were not interested. :(


Re: Why all the Plugins?

Posted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:31 am
by aj113
aquataur wrote:Presets?
What good is the preset of a dynamics manipulation tool like a compressor, if your signal levels are vastly different?
None, but it underlines the fact that the most important part of recording and mixing is levels. Learn to control your levels then presets will be a viable option.
What is the purpose of the preset, peaks containing, level balancing, heavy compression, limiting beyond flowery names such as "drums squashing"?
They are settings that have been made by the creators of the plugin, whose knowledge and proficiency with the plugin is far more advanced than your own. If you want A/B examples, engage the preset then listen to what is is doing by disabling/enabling the plugin.

I use presets all over the place, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Granted I tend to tweak them a bit - especially the make up gain. The best way to use presets (IMO) is to flick through each one and listen to what it is doing. There's almost always one which is near to the effect you are looking for, and if it is not quite right, you can fine tune the settings. It's a great way of learning how to set the parameters for certain types of effect.

Re: Why all the Plugins?

Posted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 6:03 am
by Mark Bliss
Helmut, I cant fully disagree, but...

First off what I meant was that when inexperienced or first starting to learn to mix, presets as an idea creator, or starting point can be VERY useful. And on that thought, there are many plug-ins that are considered by many to be "must have" add-on's that have no presets, poor presentations, lacking tutorials, shallow or absent user guides..... And much like the plug and producer we previously discussed, not much help forthcoming.

An EQ preset would seem a good example of a complete waste of time, yet on the other hand an initial example of a low pass, high pass, high and low shelf setting as starting points are certainly useful, especially for the beginner who has little idea what those are.
Some may perhaps be close to what any producer might commonly use as well.

And on top of all that, just two years or so ago I would have taken the position presets are of little use beyond the above. Yet I have since found several "combi" plug in suites with EXCELLENT presets.

And lastly, as I have said before, I think we need to accept there are people who just don't have any desire to learn all these things, and might find some pleasure in getting reasonably good results quickly, and without all the fuss.
Someone who just wants to play the guitar and sing, and desires to get decent results need not learn a great deal about thresholds, ratios, high pass filters and on and on......

Some VERY good plug-ins exist to meet these needs, and we are blessed with a place here to discuss them, along with the other end of the spectrum where we are left to figure out what they do and how to use them.
Or when to delete them. 8)