As a bit of fun on the team we’ve challenged one another to this; you get to keep all the plug-ins supplied with you DAW but then you only get to keep one more plug-in. It can’t be a suite of plug-ins and it can’t be an external application. It also can’t be plug-ins that come bundled with certain subscription plans, so for Pro Tools users we have removed anything other than the plug-ins that come with the native version of Pro Tools.
Looking at the stock complement of plug-ins which come with Pro Tools I have no issues with the basics. Avid Channel Strip for compression, The 7 Band EQIII for EQ, Mod Delay for Delay, Low Fi for saturation effects, Maxim for limiting, The Air Audio plugins for modulation. All of these will be fine.
Speciality stuff like dynamic EQ, multiband compression and tuning effects are going to leave gaps but if you are recording with a reasonably natural aesthetc you’ll be fine. That covers most of what I do so I’ll keep going looking for my contender.
What About A Reverb?
Under the strict terms of this challenge this is an issue. With a subscription then access to Revibe and Space come into play and with Revibe in particular there would be no issues at all but given the choice of D Verb or Air Reverb there is definitely something of a reverb deficit. The Air Reverb isn’t a contender which leaves me with D Verb. It’s not ideal. It’s OK on drums but the pitch modulation on the tails can be a bit drunken on pitched sources. Used sparingly it can be perfectly acceptable but it’s never great. Honestly if it was just me doing this challenge I’d probably choose a quality reverb from the likes of Exponential or Lexicon. However I just know that someone else will choose a reverb so I’ll move on. D Verb will do.
Something For When I’m Stuck
I’m going to choose something which helps when a mix just needs a kick up the backside. At those times when, when there isn’t anything "wrong” with the mix but you just aren’t feeling it? Although I sort of see it as a cheat, Sonnox Inflator is a magic plug-in which does something mysterious which just makes stuff sound better. Pop an Inflator across a few subgroups rather than just on the output and run each instance gently. You hear it, then you become less aware of it but when you bypass the Inflator(s) you really hear what it was doing.
The best thing about Inflator is that, unlike a multiband compressor, distortion plug-ins or even just HF EQ, it takes some very heavy handed use to go too far (don’t take that as a challenge though). There is a part of me which sees things like Inflator as “cheating”. Part of the reason I’ve chosen this plug-in is because I need to get over myself. If it sounds good, it is good.