The Zen of Limited Plugins: How to Simply Mix

too many audio plugins

My buddy Graham at The Recording Revolution had a really great post this week about all the audio plugins we use in our DAW.

Specifically, whether we are actually using all of our plugins.

Well, are you?

The Overabundance of Audio Plugins

Stock plugins, Waves plugins, all the other cool new brands that come out all the time.

It just gets overwhelming doesn’t it? There are simply so many.

It’s easy to get carried away with wanting the newest plugin on the market because you’ve justified it to yourself somehow.

“If only I had this particular plugin my mixes would sound better!”

Well guess what?

They won’t.

All the Waves plugins in the world won’t save you if you don’t know what to do with them. Plugin overkill can create decision phobia where you keep testing one compressor after another. One EQ after another.

Until you’ve spent an hour of your mixing time doing nothing except switching plugins out.

Talk about a waste of time.

I realize that testing out new plugins to find one you really like is definitely something you should do. But if you’re constantly searching for the next best thing you’ll never discover how to make the most of the plugins you’ve already got.

And once you’ve found the ones you like, then it’s time to have fun and…

Simply, Mix.

Stick with the EQ, compressor, delay and reverb that you like the most. Save some time and actually spend it mixing, not plugin-hopping.

What are some of the favorite plugins that you use over and over again?

If you’re sick of plug-ins and just want some tips to improve your skills check out the Strategies Bundle:

  • Jerry

    Great post here. I think it’s way too easy to get carried away with the ‘latest and greatest’ plugins. I can usually get the job done with Logic stock plugins. One of my favorites is the space designer reverb. The stock delays and compressors are decent as well. Cheers.

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      Love the Space Designer. I’m also pretty partial to the tape delay plug-in. I confess that I use the occasional Waves every once in a while but for simple stuff it’s so easy to go back to stock plugins.

  • Max aka Uni-VERSE

    I agree. I used two eq plugs, 3 reverb plugs, 3 compressors, 3 saturation plugs… Depending on what and how I am processing

    • joe

      Dj universe?

  • I work on Harrison Mixbus and use the built-in EQs, compressors and tape saturation. They’re an organic part of the Mixbus DAW interface, so you hardly ever consider them as plugins. And they’re a real time-saver.

    I highly recommend you to check it out. It might just change the way you view mixing.

  • Peter

    I mostly mix with the built-in plug-ins from Samplitude.
    They sound great, easy to use and they’re all 64bit, just like Samplitude.
    Another great advantage of Samplitude is object editing, which means that I do not have to use a plug-in on the whole track, just on a small part of the object,. An object is a representation of the WAV file. That saves me a lot of CPU power and the plug-in only affects a small part of the file. Only on that particular place where I need the plug-in. Even automation can be done on object level.
    The SMax11 limiter, AM|Track, AM|Munition and the eFX plug-ins, especially the Compressor, VocalStrip and TubeStage are a few of the tools that I use. And of course the 6 band EQ116.
    Sometimes I need another approach or sound and I use the Softube Mix bundle plug-ins or the TT Classic Channel.

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      Cool Peter. Yeah object editing really keeps the pressure off the CPU.

  • I love the Focusrite Midnight Suite EQ and Compressor,I do live drum tracks for sonwriters and these really help with workflow and sound great …. The EQ has a Hi pass and a Low pass which really makes it 3 plugs in one! and the compressor is fast and easy to set.

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      Awesome. Glad it works for you.

  • Sarj

    I normally use the RND Portico compressor and EQ if I’m honest. They sound awesome on almost anything! I also use a couple of Waves plugs, but Cubase and Logic have decent stock plugs and as mentioned above, space designer is great fun! 🙂

  • Sarj

    Oh and PSP Audioware have great plugs too!

  • MY DESERT ISLAND PLUG-INS: EQ – Sonnox Oxford EQ; Comps – Waves CLA76, Waves API 2500, Softube CL1B (sorry, is 3 cheating?); Reverb – Softube TSAR-1, Delay – Waves HDelay; 1 more for just about any task you throw at it… EQ, compression, expansion, transient shaping, ducking – Waves C6 side chain.