The other morning I was browsing the web for Final Cut plug-ins as I needed some transition effects to finish a video project off. I noticed that video plug-ins for video production are generally priced lower compared to audio plug-ins. The common price I kept seeing for video plug-ins was around $50 or less. This got me thinking, are there any quality AAX plug-ins for Pro Tools available within the same price range of $50 or less?
If you predominantly use free plug-ins for Pro Tools but like to expand your plug-in collection on a budget then check out these AAX plug-ins all available for $50 or less. All the AAX Pro Tools plug-ins in this article are both Windows and Mac compatible.
Note: The AAX plug-ins listed below are not on sale or available within any time-limited special offers. Plug-in prices stated in this article have been taken from list prices stated on developer websites - Do not feel the need to purchase any of these plug-ins within any time constraints.
EQ - None
I came up empty in my search for $50 AAX EQ plug-ins. I was surprised not to find any AAX EQ plug-ins within the $50 budget. Most AAX EQ plug-ins seemed to start at around $59 for 4 band character style EQs with surgical parametric EQs commonly starting at about $99.
Compression - OneKnob Pressure By Waves
The OneKnob Pressure plug-in by Waves is part of the Waves OneKnob plug-in series. The OneKnob series by Waves are great for effortless mixing and are also the most inexpensive plug-ins available from Waves when no deals or promotions are offered by Waves. OneKnob Pressure is a dynamics plug-in that provides users with light parallel compression through to heavy squashed like compression by use of the single central dial in the GUI. Compressor plug-ins couldn't be any more straightforward than this.
Distortion - DRIVER By Native Instruments
DRIVER is a very cool distortion plug-in by Native Instruments that also features a filter section. The filter provides users with the abilities to achieve a wide range of tones from subtle filtering to extreme. The distortion section is where this plug-in shines - It is very good at producing very light saturation effects through to intense overdriven distortion. DRIVER is a very easy plug-in to use and is great for adding colour and interest to tracks as well as sweeping filter effects.
Limiter - Limited-T By LVC-Audio
Limited-T by LVC-Audio is described as an analog character "glue" best suited for track and bus mixing workflows. Limited-T features an X/Y control that is not commonly found on limiter plug-ins. The X/Y control makes is easy for users to quickly set their limiting settings between digital and vintage flavours. LVC-Audio also offer a free limiter plug-in, similar to this, and another paid for limiter plug-in priced slightly higher that claims to be better for mastering workflows called Limited-MAX.
Modulation - Brainworx bx_bluechorus2 From Plugin Alliance
The Brainworx bx_bluechorus2 Chorus is a plug-in emulation of the classic 1980's stompbox chorus effect - The Boss CE-2. I owned one for these stompboxes for ten years... but sadly lost it at a gig. The chorus results sound be smooth to subtle through to extreme spinning effects. This is a great plug-in for adding interest to guitar tracks and post reverb/delay effect tracks.
Reverb - Outer Space By AudioThing
Outer Space is a very recent plug-in released by AudioThing claimed to be "a faithful emulation of a famous vintage tape echo from the 1970s" featuring a three playback head echo section and spring reverb tank. Outer Space features a mode selector with 12 different combinations of echo playback heads and reverb:
- 4 Echo only
- 7 Echo+Reverb
- 1 Reverb only)
This is a unique sounding reverb that produces distinct ambiences best suited for vocals and guitar tracks.
Delay - DDLY Dynamic Delay By iZotope
DDLY Dynamic Delay by iZotope is a delay plug-in with a twist that claims to provide users with clean and complex delays. It responds to a track's dynamics resulting in delays with a difference. The plug-in delays the signal differently depending on the character of the track's sound while maintaining a track's audible integrity. The delay threshold splits signals based upon transients which are fed into two separate delay paths.
Noise Reduction - ERA-N By Accusonus
ERA-N is a single dial noise suppression plug-in that reduces noise in audio in real-time and is fast to set. A set of focus controls enables users to quickly set the reduction algorithm so that high-quality noise reduction can be achieved in no time. ERA-N is $9 higher than our $50 budget but we felt it needed to be included in this list as no other noise reduction plug-ins on the market comes close to the $50 budget that can also reduce noise in audio as good as ERA-N. Watch our Pro Tools Expert review of ERA-N to hear ERA-N denoise three noisy audio examples.
Stereo Field - Mongoose By Boz Digital Labs
Mongoose by Boz Digital Labs solves a low-end in stereo problem that our brains have. To quote Boz Digital:
Our brain reacts differently to a wide stereo spread in high frequencies than it does in low frequencies. Large stereo spread in high frequencies = good. Large stereo spread in low frequencies = not so good.
The human ear and brain struggle to detect where a sound is coming from in stereo low frequencies. It is really in the high-frequency ranges where we can tell where a sound is coming from in stereo.
Mongoose sums wide low frequencies together, such as sub within stereo synth tracks, to the middle/centre of the stereo field. The resulting centred low end translates better to headphones and stereo monitors setups with subs. The results also provide a tighter mix that sounds more natural as well.
What $50 AAX Plug-ins Do You Recommend?
We spend several hours searching the web to bring you AAX Plug-ins for Pro Tools for $50 or less. We may have missed some so please add any inexpensive $50 plug-ins in the comments below.