Although I am looking to purchase some physical outboard gear in the coming months, much of my production work so far has featured lots of VST plugins. I’ve experimented with a number of different plugins, but I use some more than others. Here are my top 5 favourite VST’s:
5. Sausage Fattener – Dada Life
Sausage Fattener is a simple plugin featuring just two knobs: Fatness, which does exactly what it says on the tin and adds major weight to anything you apply it to; and Colour, which adds a touch of brightness to the overall sound. The plugin could be applied to a bass line, drum buss, master output, or anything else you can think to put it on.
The somewhat comical interface and the lack of parameter information is exactly what makes this plugin great, and the chosen audio can be fattened up by ear to great effect.
4. Phoscyon – D16
D16’s Phoscyon software serves as an emulation of the popular TB-303 bass line synth that was released all those years ago. Roland have recently released a new model of the synth, called the TB-03, which I am hoping to get my hands on pretty soon.
I’ve never had the opportunity to use the actual hardware version, though Phoscyon’s functionality is pretty good and its built-in step sequencer allows the user to come up with bass line patterns easily. I’ve been using it a lot lately to come up with ideas for tracks, and the ability to enter notes via MIDI through Ableton allows me to easily integrate the synth into songs.
There are a number of parameters to manipulate, including envelope attack, arpeggiator patterns, slide time and step length. Overall, Phoscyon is a pretty cool synth with plenty to play around with.
3. ValhallaRoom – Valhalla DSP
ValhallaRoom is an algorithmic reverb plugin with main mix sliders that control mix level, decay, high cut and depth. The parameters are extremely easy to manipulate, plus additional sections allow you to adjust early and late reflections.
I find that ValhallaRoom’s presets provide me with a good starting point when trying to apply the right amount of reverb, and the lack of graphical display is a positive aspect from a personal point of view.
Sonically, ValhallaRoom is very versatile, and the mix controls are really intuitive. A complete bargain at just $50!
2. Turnado – Sugar Bytes
Sugar Bytes’ Turnado is a VST plugin based around eight separate knobs, each controlling individual effects. There are 24 effects to choose from, and users can go beyond the knob function to adjust effect parameters to their liking.
There are presets for every single effect, and the Dictator function allows control of all eight knobs at the same time. Inserting Turnado on individual channels can often lead to hugely granular and manipulated sounds, which is great for developing automated effects. Turnado can also be run in standalone, which makes it ideal for use during live performances.
Overall, this is a fantastic plugin with lots of original effects that can be tweaked for hours on end!
1. Drumazon – D16
Similar to the previously mentioned Phoscyon, Drumazon seeks to emulate Roland’s popular TR-909 machine. The plugin comes with additional controls that can’t be found on the original hardware, namely on the kick drum, which features Tune Depth and Pitch controls.
Extra controls give Drumazon added functionality when comparing it to the TR-909, allowing you to define the sound of individual elements in greater detail.
I’ve considered purchasing the re-issued TR-909 recently, although Drumazon is a worthy replacement and hosts a quality sounding drum kit. I’d recommend it to anyone producing techno music!