Which Mixing Plugins Should You Upgrade First?
Mixing plugins are essential tools for producers to use when mixing music, and mixing music is an essential part of producing dynamic, original and amazing new tracks.
There are a lot of mixing plugins out there. Knowing where to start with finding the ones you need can be challenging. In this handy blog, we’ll help guide you towards which plugins are best to begin with as a producer.
What are Mixing Plugins?
Mixing plugins are pieces of software that are designed to help musicians, such as producerss, manipulate the sound and enhance aspects of a music track.
These plugins are normally downloaded and used in conjunction with DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations). They help artists create a variety of features such as EQ, reverb, compression and saturation as well as dynamic range, stereo and frequency balance.
Vocal mixing plugins vs auto mixing plugins
Vocal mixing plugins and auto mixing plugins are both useful and critical for producers. But what is the difference and which ones should you be looking to upgrade for your future mixes?
Vocal Mixing Plugins
Vocal mixing plugins are essential as they allow you, as the producer, to manipulate and change the vocals in a track.
Enhancing, optimising and playing around with the vocals will give you more precise control over this important component of your musical track.
Auto Mixing Plugins
Auto mixing plugins have, in a sense, completely changed the way producers and music producers in general mix tracks. The more recently released plugins use sophisticated algorithms and machine-learning to automate various aspects of your music mix.
This most certainly allows you to streamline your workflow and achieve the balanced mix you’re after with little to no manual effort. The levels, panning and EQ will all automatically adjust based on the pre-set settings in conjunction with the plugin’s automatic analysis of the track itself.
Auto mixing plugins are particularly critical when working with complex mixes or working on a project with a sharp deadline. Of course, they do not act as a substitute for manual mixing, but they can be very helpful in assisting your mix, expediting the process and helping you complete more work in less time.
The Top Plugins to Upgrade First
Equalising allows producers to adjust the frequency balance of either an individual track inside the mix or the entire mix as a whole.
EQ is used to ensure the track sounds more polished, professional and of a higher quality to listen to. For this reason exactly, we’ve placed it at the top of our list.
The truth is that there are actually a number of subcategories within the umbrella term of EQ plugins.
Graphic EQ – These plugins are used mostly for broad frequency adjustments.
Parametric EQ – This functionality allows a greater level of control over individual frequencies within the track mix.
Dynamic EQ – This subcategory of EQ combines the features of both the graphic and parametric EQs to leverage the best of both worlds when making precise and exact adjustments to your frequencies.
Compression is a fundamental element of mixing and an important technique for producers to master. For that reason, compressor plugins allow musicians to control the dynamic range of the mix by reducing the volume of louder sounds and increasing quieter sounds.
When you’re considering which plugins to upgrade, compressor plugins should be nearer the top of your list to ensure the volume and sound across your track is balanced and clear.
Like EQ plugins, there are also several types of compressor plugins including but not limited to:
- Optical compressor plugins
- VCA compressor plugins
- FET compressor plugins
Each of these plugins brings with it a unique character and functionality to help you achieve the perfect sound you’re after. Have a play around with your mixes to find the right one for you.
Reverb plugins are used to infuse a sense of depth and create a sense of space to a music mix. By simulating the reverb that occurs naturally to sound when played in a room, it allows producers to achieve a more natural and more organic feel.
We’ve included reverb plugins on this list because achieving a realistic and fully immersive sound is important for just about any mix.
The different types of reverb plugins include: plate, hall and room.
Plate Reverb Plugins
These plugins are used for achieving a brighter and slightly metallic reverb sound.
Hall Reverb Plugins
These are used for simulating how sound bounces in a more spacious area or room.
Room Reverb Plugins
Room reverbs simulate the way sound works in smaller spaces and rooms, for example a studio.
Saturation effects simulate the sound of classic, analog music equipment. If you’re a fan of the more vintage and organic feel of mixes from days gone by, upgrading your saturation plugins will help you achieve exactly that.
Perhaps not as essential as our first few entries in this list, upgraded saturation plugins can help you turn your mix into something even more distinct and unique.
Saturation plugins vary depending on the type of vintage musical machine you’re intending on simulating. For example, tape saturation plugins recreate the sound of tape machines while console emulators simulate the sound of analog mixing consoles. Tube saturation plugins help you achieve the unique sound of a tube amplifier etc.
Consider what sort of colour and character you want to blend into your mix when choosing the specific mixing plugin to upgrade.
Need a hand with Upgrading your Mixing Plugins?
DJ City may be the largest online supplier of all things DJ equipment, hardware and software, but that’s not even all we do!
If you’re struggling to know which plugins to upgrade, or how to get started, reach out to our team today. From vocal to auto mixing plugins, our friendly team are not just musical enthusiasts, they’re producerss themselves!