There’s never been a time in history when the access to gear has been so easy, partly created by the plug-in industry that has become a ubiquitous part of DAWs for the last couple of decades.
I remember when plug-ins first hit the scene, it was like magic being able to manipluate sound via a plug-in that had previously only been possible with a 19” rack unit that cost as much as my car. Now, plug-ins are just accepted as part of the DAW process. We have gone from them being an amazing innovation, to being so easy to access, either as part of the DAW bundle or as FREE downloads, that there are literally thousands to use.
It has dawned on me just how many plug-ins fill my folders (partly because of being a reviewer) that I never use. However I keep them there ‘just in case’. Just in case of what? Just in case my favourite eq stops sounding the way it did the last time I used it? Just in case I need the sound of a different reverb? Whilst that may be true in theory in reality the ‘just in case’ rarely happens, instead I go to an Eq I can trust or a compressor I know gives me the right results - I have 15 reverbs but use one 99% of the time, some I never use.
The need of many of us to have so many plug-ins is plain silly and unnecessary.
Perhaps the attitude of Facebook has extended into DAWs, with many people collecting plug-ins like they collect Facebook friends. They never really get to know them well enough to appreciate how great they can really be. And just as with Facebook their recordings have the potential to sound as shallow as their friendship circles.
As with friends, a couple of plug-ins you know intimately is better than hundreds you don’t know.
Well all I can say is great minds think alike. Over the past couple of days I too have been thinking about thinning down my plug-ins folder, which just like Russ’s is fuller than most because of the reviews I do. There are those friends or ‘go to’ plug-ins that I will always use, but that said I do enjoy and appreciate being able to try out new plug-ins to see if there is anything better than what I use regularly. Especially in Post where our creativity is often constrained by time or budget or both using the same friendly plug-in makes a lot of sense. However I also like to explore new plug-ins looking for new friends, and sometimes as in the case of the Sonnox plug-ins being released as AAX plug-ins I am rediscovering long lost old friends. I am old enough to have worked on the old Sony Oxford desk that some of the Sonnox plug-ins were based and for a while I had access to these plug-ins too, and then as you do with friends sometimes, I lost touch and now I am enjoying rediscovering old friends especially the EQ, dynamics and finally the limiter. Also thanks to Russ’s ‘show and tell’ I now get what the Inflator is all about and was able to use it on a vocal demo for my daughter. It’s a public holiday today in the UK but on my ‘to do’ list for tomorrow is to prune my plug-ins down and move a good number into my ‘unused’ folder.