There's a lot of free plugins around, it can be a little overwhelming, our free Pro Tools plugins list has over 130. So are they any good and if so what are the standout ones to use in a mix?
Over the coming weeks members of the team will be nominating their most used free plugin, this does not include the stuff that comes with Pro Tools but those created by 3rd party plugin developers, there are some real gems for both music and post production mixing.
Julian is next with his plugin... Metric Halo's Thump.
Leaving aside the nominally free plug-ins which come with Pro Tools and disregarding limited time offers of free plug-ins like the excellent ones from Soundtoys, of the free plug-ins currently available I’d have to say Metric Halo’s Thump gets my vote.
I’ve been a longtime fan of the technique of side-chaining a gated sub tone off a kick drum. I used this technique in a tutorial video I made some time ago spotlighting the possibilities of this technique. It has long been a very useful way to introduce side chaining and bussing to novices, some of whom have always heard of “side-chaining” invariably meaning pumping compression effects. It’s an excellent example to run students through and it always amazes me how easy it is to close mic a bass drum and yet capture almost no bass! It’s certainly a common issue with student recordings. The side-chained sub tone is a great way to introduce busses and side chains to solve a real problem rather than as a production technique.
Synthesis Instead Of Sampling
Many people use drum replacement (can we agree to call it drum “enhancement”?) to address issues like underwhelming kick drums but I’ve always tried to avoid these techniques where I can. The sub tone technique certainly delivers low end but as it introduces a constant-frequency tone it lacks the characteristic pitch drop of most well tuned drums. Certainly when I synthesise kick drums they always involve a pitch envelope introducing the characteristic “oomm” of a well tuned kick.
It’s always been a source of frustration that audio events can’t trigger midi events in Pro Tools, as in a DAW such as Bitwig audio and midi can trigger and modulate each other with few restrictions but Thump is a purpose-built kick drum synthesiser which triggers in response to an audio track - perfect!
Its simple interface with two oscillators, a starting and ending pitch for each oscillator and control over the attack and decay of the dual pitch envelopes it does exactly the thing which was missing from the signal generator and gate solution in an efficient and elegant way. The biggest caveat I have with it is make sure you can hear the frequencies you are synthesising as its really easy to go to far!