Best Amp Simulator

Best Amp Simulator

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I get so excited when I find a good guitar amp plugin, it’s so much fun!
Back in the early 2000’s when I started recording guitars, I used real amps, real microphones, real rooms, and made real noise to my real neighbors. It made them real angry… Today’s guitar amp plugins are a dream come true for us producers.
Hi everybody, I’m Avi and these are my personal favorite Guitar Amp plugins:

First off, I highly recommend that you use a good preamp or a good DI box or a quality Instrument input and a quality cable.
I personally assembled my own cable: I ordered a good quality short cable (2 meters max) with quality plugs and made sure that I did a good job welding them together. This made my input sound quality at least 10% better. That’s a lot! Trust me.
Now, this article is not going too deep on the features and functions of the plugins. I’m just giving you my 2 cents as an avid Amp simulators user so here it is!

Waves CLA

This is a full rig simulator developed by Waves, an amazing company located in Israel, which is where I’m from.
This plugin is my automatic go-to amp simulator for everything. When I start working on a song or recording few electric guitar channels I don’t have the time to tweak and look for the perfect preset and sound. This plugin allows me to just plug my guitar, choose one of the presets I’ve built for myself, and just go with it. It’s built very simple. It has 3 main amp modes: Clean | Crunch | Heavy. There’s a switch for Re-Amplify and all the rest are just simple slides to control different parameters. This plugin has the same audio engine as in Waves GTR so you get the same quality only less control. Perfect for starting things without wasting precious creative time on tweaking the presets.

Softube Amp Room

 

Softube Vintage Amp Room
Softube Metal Amp Room
Softube Bass Amp Room

I absolutely love the visual design of this one. It is simple, easy to use, sounds good, and my favorite feature, it looks like the real thing. This plugin is a native one but they also did a UAD version which is cool. The amps on the plugin are not named as the original amps that they are modeled after to avoid being sued by the brands but it’s not hard to tell which is which. What I like the most about this plugin is that in order to change amps, you just drag the amps right or left and you switch between them. The same goes for the microphone setup. You hold the microphone stand with the mouse and just locate it in front of the amp until you get your preferred sound. The main controls of the plugin are also pretty easy and straight forward. They’ve created 3 versions of this plugin, 2 guitar rigs, and one bass rig.
I must say that the bass rig is much more impressive than the guitar ones. This plugin sounds good, but it is not the best one on my list.

Amplitude 4

Now, this one is huge! It has so many options and cool features; it looks good, it sounds good, and IT IS good!
Most of the amp models sounds amazing in my opinion, but naturally only few suit my taste. I usually use Amplitube for cool clean sounds and a little bit of drive. It has tons of options, virtual effect racks, pedals, plenty of amps and cabinets, and of course, the thing that I like the most, the ability to change the microphones placement in front of the cabinet. Those who come from the real world of amp recording will appreciate that.
Check out the new version, they added a lot of cool features.

Guitar Rig

This amp simulator from Native Instruments is very cool for distortion sounds.
Somehow, I find it more realistic than the others and it does not have those painful digital high frequencies in the distortion presets. It is very round and nice sounding, in my opinion. I love the way it’s built. It has a drag and drop system where you can drag modules one on top of the other and build your own cool signal chain. Also, there is a rating system where you can rate your favorite presets with up to 5 stars. My ADHD brain needs it badly. It has a good market where you can purchase more models and effects to add to your rig. I’ve never felt the need to buy them, but it’s nice to have.

ReValver

OK, this one is a beast! I used this plugin in a lot of my productions and demos.
It is FAT, RICH, WARM, and every non-musical term you can possibly find to describe a good sandwich in the middle of the winter in the woods at night (yeah, don’t ask…)
It also has a rack building system of your favorite modules, which is sweet.
I like to practice with this plugin. It sounds amazing by itself, but I personally find it a little harder to mix it inside a song. I, somehow, always choose another plugin for that purpose. But it is probably just because I’m already used to the sound of the next plugin on this list.

Waves GTR3

This one is my go-to Amp Simulator Plugin. I use this on 80% of my productions.
It just sounds amazing inside a mix; it cuts right through when you need it to, and you can also bury it under layers of other elements, and it won’t clash with them. Of course, it is a mix thing, but I find this plugin to be the easiest to mix. It has a great selection of good and usable amps and cabinets. The people who built this plugin knew exactly what producers really need. It is not the newest modeled amp simulator but definitely works in today’s highest standards. I usually like to use my outboard pedals, especially distortions. But the distortions I get only from these amps without using a pedal simulation is just amazing! It also has a great range of clean sounds that I use a lot.
Of all the pedals emulations inside this plugin, I like the small EQ the most. It has an amazing ability to boost the lows in a very aggressive and yet natural way.
I really suggest you give it a try. Listen to the chords part in this video. This is one of the great things about this plugin, you can actually hear every note inside the chords. So this is, in my opinion, the best guitar vst plugin.

There are many more cool and interesting amp simulators out there, but these are the ones I personally use. Thanks for reading.

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Best Programs For Music Production

Best Programs For Music Production

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DAW – Digital Audio Workstation
As a producer, the DAW is your main instrument. This is what you play, this is what you practice on and this is what you get good at. A DAW is a direct extension of your creative mind. Choosing the Best Programs For Music Production for you can be a complicated task and it may take some time and patience in order to be 100% sure in your decision. Let’s find out what are the options, what are the main differences between them and what’s right for you.

Hi everybody, Avi here. I’m a music producer since the late 90’s and I’ve tried almost every program for music production out there and I can help you find the right DAW for you.
These are a few very important questions you have to ask yourself before choosing your best program for music production. Disclaimer, This article is based only on my personal preference and knowledge. Let’s start with the first question.

1. What is my main genre?

2. Do I have to record and edit live instruments?

3. Am I planning to use third party plugins or only use the built-in ones?

4. Am I going to share projects with other musicians?

 

1. What is my main genre?

Every DAW is designed a little different. Some are built for fast creation, and some are built more like a recording tape machine. These days almost all the DAW’s have the same features and same abilities. The only thing that is different is the design orientation for specific genres. If your music is going to be live instruments based it is best for you to choose the ones that are built more like tape machines.

• Protools
• Cubase / Nuendo
• Logic Pro
• Studio One
• Digital Performer

These are the programs I personally used in the past for recording and general creation.
Over the years I’ve learned to like Logic Pro and used it as my main DAW for everything I’ll tell you why later on this article.
There are a lot of famous EDM producers that uses big DAW’s as there main creation tool.
For example
Cubase Users: Zedd, Infected Mushroom and many that I don’t remember right now.
Logic Users: Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Armin Van Buuren, Kygo and many more.

If you’re more into electronic music creation that is synth plugins and sample-based, these are the DAW’s that are more suitable for you.

• Ableton Live
• FL Studio
• Reason

It is important to say that every DAW can be used for any genre. From the big ones I really prefer Logic and Cubase over Protools for example. What’s nice about programs like Ableton Live and FL Studio is that everything that is electronic music related can be performed very fast.
Also, it is full of interesting built-in plugins and features that allow you to create all the nice production “shticks” that you hear in today’s electronic productions.
Ableton Live users: Skrillex, Deadmou5, Diplo and more.
FL Studio: Martin Garrix, Avici (RIP), Aerojack and more.

I must say, I have a warm place in my heart for Propellerhead Reason. when it first arrived in the early 2000’s it looked like how I always wanted music programs to look. Just like an amazing equipment rig that every good producer should own. Back then everything was so expensive and the idea of a rack full of cool synths, samplers, and amazing compressors and EQ’s was just jaw-dropping. Nothing was that sexy back then and even today, it is considered to be one of the most impressive music applications out there.

2. Do I have to record and edit live instruments?

The more traditional producers that are recording live instruments like guitars, drums, and vocals use programs like Protools, Cubase and Logic. These are the three big ones.

Protools (PC | MAC)
Of course, it is pointing out the obvious but most big studios in the world use Avid Protools. It is built for studio and for big recordings, it has the largest and most diverse collection of outboard that is built by Avid specifically for it. Protools has a very easy and convenient wiring system, mixer, automation, and general working area.

Cubase (PC | MAC)

You can say the same things about Steinberg Cubase/Nuendo.
Although it comes with less outboard controllers it has the same features as Protools and still has an impressive collection of outboard gear that you can use with it or any other DAW system. Cubase was my main tool for 12 years and I love it! As far as audio recording and editing, no one does it better than the Germans. Everything is very accurate, Almost not bugs and overall stability. In the MIDI department, it is PERFECT as far as I can say. There is nothing you can’t do and the midi automation system is very convenient.
Just listen to the amazing and complicated stuff that Infected Mushroom are doing with it. It is practically limitless. The only thing I left Cubase for is the audio engine. At a certain point, it just didn’t sound good enough for my standards.

Logic Pro (MAC Only)
So after trying to get to “That Sound” I wanted and was always hitting a barrier with Cubase I finally listened to Logic. I first started with version 8 and it was an amazing eye-opener, or should I say “Ear opener”. I could finally hear the 3D depth in my sound. Reverbs sounded deeper, Kicks sounded fuller, lower and well defined. My sound drastically improved literally overnight. I was in love with every demo I made right from the beginning.
I didn’t like Logic coming from Cubase. Logic 8/9 was full of bugs and a lot of weird shit happened in my system. I called it ghosts in my machine. In time Apple released few major updates that made Logic much more stable and easy to work with.
One of the best Logic’s features is the audio comping option. It totally changed the way I used to edit vocals. You can read more about it here. In time Logic became my main tool and it is still my favorite DAW to this day, it is just full of creative energy in my perspective. I strongly recommend you to give Logic more time, it will pay off I promise. Of course Logic is for Apple systems only.

3. Am I planning to use third party plugins or only use the built-in ones?

This is a big one. Third-party plugins and instruments are a very big part of the music production culture. Some even have so many fans around the world that whole genres are based on them. A good example of such a synth plugin would be Sylenth1. A lot of EDM genres are based purely on this one synth and it literally has limitless presets and sounds.
So if you are going to buy all your third-party plugins it does not really matter which DAW to use. You just have to make sure the plugins company make a version of their plugin for your preferable music program.

And if you are not going to buy more then just the DAW, again I strongly suggest you go for Logic. You can basically create a full production in any genre that will sound amazing and up to date. It’s kinda the same with Cubase and Logic.

4. Am I going to share projects with other musicians?

A big factor is sharing projects between friends and other producers. If you are not working alone and want to send a certain project to a friend or another music producer or even to an arranger or mix engineer just do a little check what the most used DAW around you. Although I would not base my decision only on that. Choosing your DAW is still a very personal preference. I used to work with a partner and we always moved projects from my system to his and vice versa. Trust me you don’t want that export party every time you need to work with another musician on another system.

Free DAW’s
I wanted to mention this because not all of us would want to spend the money on an expensive DAW. So exactly for this, we have this sweet list of tools you need to take a look at.

• Reaper
• MU.Lab
• Studio One 3 Prime
• Ardour
• Zynewave Podium Free

You can read and hear more about these programs and more on that website. This is a short showcase video for Reaper

So to wrap this up I want to leave you with a sticky generic message, what’s important at the end is which DAW feels most like home for you and make it easier for you to create your art. It is your sound, your taste, your tools and your workflow that will make you the musician you will become.

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MASTERING

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Best Mastering Plugins Main Image SMALL

Best Mastering Plugins

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Best Mastering Plugins

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These are the best mastering plugins, according to AudioStreets.com. After years of research and trying every possible option out there, I have made a personal list of the absolute best for every section of the mastering process. Of course, there are a lot of other amazing plugins out there, but I’m trying to keep it short.

Hey everybody, I’m Avi from AudioStreets. For the last 15 years, I’m head-butting this mysterious subject. I’ve had successes, and I’ve had some failures; both of which taught me how to master a song. With mastering, you can never know how good or bad you are until you’re comparing your results with other professional masters.

But, this is all mainstream knowledge, and I’m here to give you gold, without you having to dig for it. Here, you will find a few of my golden tips for a good master. Also, I will talk about my favorite mastering plugins for getting this magical sound in the box. It is important to note that this is all based on my personal knowledge and experience.

Mastering is one of the most interesting stages of crafting a “sound” for a song. 
Many have said that this could make or break everything, and I totally agree with that. So, to get a very good master, you must have at least a well-done mix. Yes, I know this also is a mainstream opinion, but it is a very hard fact. I’ve had both shitty mixes that became only ‘mehh’ masters, and I’ve had very good mixes, which turned out to be very impressive masters that sounded good in every situation, room, and system.

Levels

A few years ago, I was still fighting for the loudest master I could possibly get. But today, I’m putting healthy dynamics and a good tone on the top of my priority list. A good master begins with a good mix, so here are some basic rules for a good mastering ready mix. I, personally, like to get my mixes with a little bit of headroom. That means that the distance between my average level (RMS) and my peak level should be around 10db tops. That way, I have the dynamic freedom to get whatever I want with this mix. A lot of mix engineers like to have a little bit of bus compression on their master channel. That is completely fine to get some coloration, as long as they are not squishing the master too much.

DAW

As far as audio engines and sound quality go, I consider myself a complete freak. I have recorded, mixed, and mastered on almost every DAW out there. And, as I said in the beginning of this article, everything I say is my own personal opinion, so always try things for yourself in the end. I have tried almost every big DAW in the market. I’ve worked with Cubase for 12 years, from the earliest versions. After getting to know Cubase audio engine and hearing it getting better over the years, I also compared it with Protools and Logic. For a few years, I have used three of them for different tasks. After a while, I noticed that Logic sounded best for my taste. I could hear more defined low end, deeper reverb tails, and, overall, more definition. So, for mastering with my best mastering plugins, I really like to use Logic Pro. As a matter of fact, as Logic has gotten better over the years, I have dropped all the others.

Plugins

OK, This part is the closest to my heart.  I LOVE plugins. I grew up in a world of plugins. I started using them from when they were pure shit, all the way, to now, as they have become simply amazing. I must admit, I didn’t use hardware all that much, at least for everything that is mastering-related. So, in my mind, I divide the whole family of mastering plugins into 3 groups.

1. Clinical & sharp
2. Colors & Tone
3. Loudness & Stereo image

Clinical & Sharp

In this first group, I have all the plugins I use to shape and fix things in the mix; mostly EQ’s, Filters, and Multi Band Compressors. In the early stages of the mastering process, I only shape the mix for a balanced result. I start with cutting the very low end of a mix; everything that is below 20Hz is not necessary for me, so a relatively sharp filter cut will do the work. A good filter that I like to use is McDSP FilterBank. I find it very clean and nice-sounding. Most of the time, I use it to cut the very low and very high ends. I rarely use an EQ for that.

After that, I use an EQ to lower some problematic frequencies. Usually, I like using Waves HEQ Hybrid. This is one of the most impressive EQ plugins, as far as not changing the original color of the mix. I also really like that it shows you the notes under the specific frequencies you’re working on, which is crazy cool to an old-school plugin user, such as myself. I like it when a plugin does exactly what it was designed for, without adding any extras to it, unless this is it’s purpose. At this stage, I want my tools to have minimum color imprint on the song.

The last part of the first group is compressors and multiband compressors. I sometimes use de-essers to fix specific dynamic problems in the mix, but this is kind of rare, because I have the multi band compressor for that. If a mix has some part in it that sounds a little uncontrollable to my ear, I sometimes target it with a de-esser, just because it’s simple and efficient. If it has more parts that need a little more controlled dynamics, I use a multi band compressor. For example, If a vocal has some frequencies that hurt in the ear, I find these exact frequencies and compress them gently. I like to use Waves De-esser. Don’t know why I like it, maybe because it was so nice to me all these years… 🙂

The multiband compressor I like is the one on Izotope Ozone plugin. This one gives me the freedom to do almost whatever I like, as far as working on a 2 channel mix file. It is simple, easy on the eye, and sounds great. I will write another article on multiband compressors in the future.

As for levels, I really like to raise the level with the right compressor for each task. Sometimes 2 or 3 db’s are making a huge difference in the overall sound and level of the track in the final result. In my opinion, most of the loudness comes from a good compression before the limiting stage. So, my favorite mastering compressor is Slate VBC. It has a very unique sound, and it feels a lot more solid then most of the plugin compressors I’ve worked with over the years.

It seems that Slate Digital did a really good job with that one. It sounds really great, even in the most extreme situations, and it gives me three totally different compressors to choose from, or to mix all of them together. I love it. Out of the three, I find myself using FG Grey the most. Maybe it’s just a personal preference.

Colours & Tone

This is a very interesting group, and here, I have all the plugins that give me the right color for the song. In this family of plugins, I have mostly compressors, analog emulations, and EQ’s. Every once in a while, I will use a special and weird plugin that has a cool mojo to it, like Waves Kramer PIE.​

So, these are the plugins I love using for coloration:
IK Multimedia Lurssen Mastering Console. This one is pure magic! Excuse me for using that term, but this is a GAME CHANGER. I’ve waited for a really long time for a beautiful algorithm like that to bring my masters to life. Out of all on my best mastering plugins list, this is definitely my favorite.

Slate Console & Tape
Each one of these plugins are unique and has a totally different sound and color to it. So, it is maybe just my own subjective opinion. I really suggest you give them a listen alongside other plugins and choose your best on your own.

Loudness & Stereo Image

Limiter
In this last group, I put mostly Limiters, Stereo Imagers, and general tone shapers.
The final section of a master session is always the limiting. I have tried dozens of limiters and spent endless hours carefully listening to the effect of each slider, knob, and button. I must say that, although I like using only one limiter for my final push, I find that other plugins might work better on some materials. So, the idea is to try everything you have in your arsenal before you’re settling for your go-to plugin.

My favorite limiter plugin is A.O.M Invisible Limiter.
I find it spectacular on 95% of the materials I master. Not only does it give me a clean and uncolored output, it also gives the highest level and loudness performance.
It performs best on loud stuff like rock, pop, and all electronic genres. It has the ability to crank the levels crazy high without really crashing the dynamics.
Sometimes I use two limiters, one after the other. I don’t know why, but somehow, I manage to get a more natural sound this way. Each limiter works just a little bit less hard.

A.O.M Stereo Imager
As you can see, I really like this company, and their stereo imager is just amazing. It seems that if they could write such a good limiter, they can totally nail it with their other stuff. So, there is something special about this stereo imager. I don’t use stereo imagers all that much. I really prefer it if the widening will come from a good mix. Along with it’s great algorithm, the thing that I like about this plugin is that it lets you control the sides and the center channels separately, which is also great.
But the main reason why I use it is that it almost does nothing to the sound when it’s set to neutral settings. Complete transparency.

So, this is it.
I know that I haven’t written about a lot of other good plugins for mastering in this article, but I never wanted everything. I just wanted mastering plugins with algorithms that I can trust. Go, make good music, and please don’t use illegal software. The good people behind those plugins have families to feed, and they also want to make a living out of what they love best.

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Best Analog Synth Plugins

Best Analog Synth Plugins

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These are the plugins I like the most,  my personal favorites. 
Hey everybody, Avi here. This is one of my favorite subjects to talk about.

I have been a synth collector since childhood. I’ve had synths from Yamaha, Korg, Roland, Nord, Access Virus, and even a custom made 303 style synth which I loved and shouldn’t have sold. 

In the last few years soft synths are getting SO MUCH BETTER. That’s not an easy decision to just sell all the hardware and join the future. I was heartbroken for a while, I’m not going to lie, but just like with love, you are most likely to find a new one eventually. 

In this article I’m not going to get too much into technical details, because you can get them wherever you want on the web. So expect only my own personal take on this subject.

MS20 by Korg

So this is one of my first eye openers and it’s the Korg MS20 Plugin. This guy had me sitting for hours and hours listening to every little knob and patch. It is simple and complicated all together. First, I used it for all kinds of analog parts, and then it was my go to bass synth. I love the rawness of it. I’m also a big fan of design, and the Korg MS20 had always been a great looking beast.

After I realized the power of this synth for bass parts, I could do anything I wanted with this, and I always ended up with a big psychotic smile on my face. I must admit that I never thought it sounded even remotely close to the hardware version, it was pretty small sounding. But I could get it to sound very good and crazy big with EQ, Compression and stereo tricks. One thing this synth did amazingly well is to get me deep in the creating zone. It is very inspirational, and this is one of the most important factors about synths. 

I think not enough people are talking about this. This synth has the ability to get your creative juices flowing, especially if you’re a real synth head like me 🙂 Korg’s analog synth bundle is pretty much amazing. I loved all their stuff back at the time and use them to this day. I think it’s ok to say that these are the real first “vintage soft synths” of our time.

In the meantime, I got my hands dirty with some cool sounding synth plugins like: Vanguard, FabFilter one, Synth1 (NOT Sylenth1), Reason synths, and more,  then I stumbled upon this.

Zebra by u-he

This amazing synth plugin had introduced me to a whole new generation of audio engines. It sounded so good that I could swear it almost sounded better, fuller, and richer then my friend’s virus C at the time. 

At first glance, this modular synth looks very intimidating and complicated. I started only with presets and downloaded a bunch of them. This was enough for couple cool parts in few of my tracks. Then I started learning this synth, and it was amazing. 

The only problem I had with it on my mac was that it wasn’t too stable. It crashed too many times in the middle of projects, and that made me really angry until eventually I dropped it. I must say that this was an original version, not cracked. But anyway, times were changing for me and I needed faster simpler synths that I could just twist two knobs and create magic.

Sylenth1 by LennarDigital

OK,  Everyone knows this guy and I can’t add anything to it. I was in love with this synth. I did almost everything with it. I filled a whole external drive with demos of this synth. So much inspiration, so many sounds, banks, presets… literally endless. 

I once compared it with Virus Snow and the snow killed it 🙂 But it wasn’t enough for me to drop it and get the Snow,  Nope. The Sylenth1 opened me to a new EDM genres. These were the years of Avicii, David Guetta, Zedd, big dance hits, catchy euro drops, and but choruses,  I was hooked. 

Remember I talked about synths that spark creativity? The Sylenth1 was the soft synth that got the most amount ideas for songs out of my head at the time. I still have demos that I’m in love with today. Don’t ask me why it’s not out. Most of the songs I produced were for other people. 

The only song I ever produced for myself with mostly Sylenth1 was this. I was very influenced by Zedd back then 😉 This wasn’t promoted or signed anywhere. I just released it for my own fun.

With the Sylenth1, I started also playing with Massive, which was very special sounding but very weird for me to work with. I couldn’t fall in love with the interface, and you already know how much it’s important for my creative juices. But one thing I have to say about Massive, it is the most natural sounding beast. 

It always sounded like a quality hardware synth to me. I also played a lot with the big Romplers like Nexus & Omnisphere. In between, I had small romances with Rob Papen’s synths which I really like.

Spire by Reveal Sound

Spire is my 3rd synth plugin love. Now, this is a synth that can get my creative juices flowing so easily. 

BEST leads, CRAZY PADS, Amazing BASSES, and all this yummy stuff under a super friendly and beautiful interface?? 
GIVE ME MORE! I spent too many nights with headphones going thru the amazing preset banks I had. My girlfriend, who was sleeping in the other room sometimes asked me to turn my headphones level down!

After some time in this new age EDM of tomorrow land 2016, I felt like it’s getting too boring, too much like everybody else. I stopped trying to create the next mega hit and turned to little productions that I like to do. 

I wasn’t trying to impress anybody. I didn’t have to have the best, sharpest mix in the market, I just wanted to go back to the simple analog minimal, but emotional productions. So I started looking for new emulations of old synths. So I found this:

Diva by u-he

This gave me a few synthesis colors under one beautiful interface. This synth is, without a doubt, the most heavy on the CPU synth. It has few resolution modes so you don’t have to work with the highest one, but while offline exporting a song it is very recommended to put it on the highest quality mode. This is a very impressive sounding synth, and I remember the first time playing with this and comparing it to other synths on my system, it sounded otherworldly.

TAL V2 U-NO-LX

Now, this is a weird one. At first, I didn’t realize how good it sounded until I watched a video that compared it to the real synth that it is modeled after, the Roland Juno 60. It is very minimalistic like the original. It has a small polyphony, so it requires you to be very selective with the part you’re playing. 

I like that, especially in my minimalistic age. If I remember correctly, there’s a controller that works perfect with this synth. Sounds amazing.  It has round analog bases, lush old synth strings, and a lot of very cool and usable sounds to work with.

ImpOscar 2 by Gforce

This beautiful synth is also based on an analog hardware synth that had found itself in almost every production I’ve ever done,  even if it wasn’t electronic by nature. This synth made itself right at home next to electric guitars, bass, and live drums. It was a bit unstable on my specific system, but it was worth every little crash I’ve had with it. This also has very warm and deep pads, beautiful stereo basses, really amazing cutoff filter, and very good effects section. I just wish they did the interface a little bit bigger.

Mini V by Arturia

Ok, I feel like when I speak about this company, I have to bow down like a kung fu student. Since the first Mini Moog emulation, I was fascinated by the sound engine and the designs they were able to create. The hardware, Moog, was a legend I always wanted to own, and I could never really get to buying this expensive synth. This is where Arturia worked their magic on me. Every time I’ve played with this synth and closed my eyes, I could smell its wood and old plastic knobs under my fingers. It’s just beautiful.

Modular V by Arturia


This one has always got me a little scared. No, let me rephrase it, I was SHIT SCARED to even look at it. To me an A modular synth is the most terrifying creature out there, and Arturia made it even scarier. So, I must admit I almost never changed the existing presets. Maybe only a little bit with the filter and that’s it. But this synth has the most beautiful synth bass sound I’ve ever heard! And conveniently, it is the default preset that opens with the first loading of the plugin. It is pure magic. Go try it.

Prophet V by Arturia

I don’t have a lot to say about this synth other than AMAZING. I really love it. A pure classic; beautiful, simple, and inspiring. It sounds magical. I would go there and say that it sounds very close to the original hardware version.

Kick by Sonic Academy & Nicky Romero

This one is a kick synth. After getting to know this weird, hybrid, sample based synth, I stopped wasting my life searching for the right kick sound in my never, ending sample libraries. This is a life saver. I stopped looking for kick sounds. In 95% of my EDM productions and demos, I just use this plugin, change the presets a bit, and BOOM. A great sounding kick that JUST WORKS.

Lounge Lizard EP-4 by A.A.S

Yeah I know this one is not a traditional synth really, but it’s a tool I use in so many of my productions. I love the unique fusion of synth sounds and electric piano. So, this one has really cool sounds and colors that can give you the fullness and emotions of a big and warm chord wall that is not too heavy on the mid and high range section of your production. It is warm, authentic, and natural. So, if I want to create a “Chords Hug” as I call it, I just play the chords on the Lounge Lizard EP-4 and I’m all set.

That’s it for now guys. In the future I will give you more articles with more synth love stories 🙂 Thanks for reading.

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Best Drum Plugin

Best Drum Plugins

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Hey everybody, Avi here. FOR YEARS, I was looking for the best drum plugin, not an easy task, let me tell you that. I’m one of those producers who really prefer doing everything by themselves. I play the guitars, bass, keyboards, and yes, DRUMS! This is my favorite part of the whole production process. In this article, I’m going to show you the best drum plugins, in my opinion. These must sound amazing, authentic, and be easy to use. This is, of course, based on my own personal taste and preference. So, keep an open mind and look for what you think is the best sounding plugin out there.

First, I have to tell you that this is not a replacement for a human drummer, maybe only for acoustic drums. For me, personally, it’s way more than enough, and I even prefer it to a real drum recording in a studio. There’s nothing like the feeling of finishing a good drum track, built on a click and a guide track. It feels like going on a new adventure. So, whether you’re a keyboard drummer, as I used to be for years, or a V-Drums fighter, this is for you.

In a chronological order.

Addictive drums – Check out the latest version

This was the first plugin that made me go “mm, maybe I don’t really have to record drums in a studio”. In 2008, I started working on an Israeli, punk rock album by an artist called “Amir Lazarov”. This was a head-first jump to the sampled based drums and drum plugins. This was an 8-song album, in which I played all the drum parts on a Yamaha DD65, electronic drums pad, which is practically a toy. It started with saving money and turned into falling in love with this workflow.

Addictive drums 1.0 was my first option because it was easy to use, it had a great collection of great recorded sets, which I could mix and match between, and I was able to mix everything inside the plugin, which I loved back then.

You know what they say about almost any tool, It is only good until it’s not enough. After this album, I went on a crazy ride looking for drum samples and plugins. It was the start of an everlasting search for the best recorded sets and the best snare and bass drum samples. Back in 2008, my mix abilities weren’t the best, but I absolutely love the production to this day.

Studio Drummer (Kontakt) –  Check out the latest version

I was jumping for joy in my home studio when I first found out about Studio Drummer back in 2011. This was the start of a whole, new era; Non-stop rock productions, demos, and amazing sounds. This one is a Kontakt library, and it offered 3 main kits, recorded at Teldex Studio in Berlin. Out of the three kits, my favorite, and most used, was the Session Kit. I also used the studio kit in one of the Israeli songs I produced.

The Studio Drummer Library also came with a lot of Midi parts, played by a real drummer on an electronic drum set. I’ve never used the recorded midi drum parts included in most of the plugins. I knew how to think like a drummer, and always preferred my drum parts tailor-made for my productions. There were other drum libraries I tried back then, but they were not good enough for what I was looking for. Among them were libraries like Abbey Road, 70’s Drummer, Modern Drummer, and such. This was played on a keyboard with the Stadium Kit. Again, an Israeli song, written in Hebrew. Listen to the dynamics when the drum part is starting to play. It’s beautifully recorded.

EZ Drummer 2.0 – Check out the latest version

Although I’ve heard a lot about EZ Drummer 1.x, and even demoed it a few times, it never felt like a good enough tool for me. But then version 2 came along and changed the whole drums-in-the-box game for me. For months, I was trying every possible setup I used against EZD2, and nothing could beat it. It was the new, undisputed champion of my box. It offered a crazy good collection of toms, cymbals, hi-hats, and bass drums. But most of all, it gave me the best snare samples I’ve ever heard. At this point, I’ve already worked with V-Drums, an old TD9 that felt like everything I need to suit my purposes.

EZD2 also gave me the option to mix inside the plugin’s interface and gave me an amazing output. I actually feel like this plugin’s audio engine is on another level. Much more than Kontakt’s, Addictive Drums, or any other plugin sampler I’ve tried, and trust me, I have tried all of them. The big ones that I don’t mention in this article are the ones I’ve tried and never liked. EZD2 is definitely the Best Drum Plugin I’ve ever used.

And for those who are die-hard believers of recording drums in a big studio with a recording drummer, it is amazing, yes. I’m not taking anything away from it, but I love the choices given to me by the digital option. I can change everything whenever I need, and I never get stuck with one sound and one recording per song. This alone is a good enough reason to love these plugins and the endless possibilities they introduce. Of course, at the end, it is everybody’s own opinion about how it sounds, and whether or not it’s good enough for them. Also, not having to deal with bit detection and aligning those audio recorded channels to the grid is a big deal for me. I promise you that you have heard amazing drum productions on the radio before, that were produced completely in the box with plugins and samples, NO DOUBT.

So, since then, Toontrack brought us EZ Drummer 3, which is a dream for producers like me. I highly recommend that you try it for yourself and let me know what you think 😉

Drum Kit Designer
I can’t close the Best Drum Plugin list without this beast. This is a special one. Every time I wasn’t happy with some of the snares or bass drums on the other Plugins I used, I immediately opened another channel with Drum Kit Designer, and it totally saved my ass. I was using this, mostly, to replace drums in an existing set or add to it as an added layer.

This plugin is my go-to drum sampler for demos. It is very simple, quick, and sounds amazing!
I must add that this one is exclusive to Apple Logic, so you can’t use it on any other DAW, but it is a good enough reason to move over to mac and Logic, my friends 🙂

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Top 5 Musician Earplugs on the Market 2020

Top 5 Musician Earplugs on the Market

If you’re a musician making a living playing an instrument or using your voice, congratulations! A music career is rewarding, exciting and fun! There is one small problem however that, while preventable, many musicians still fail to address; hearing damage. 

The fact is, thousands of musicians have ignored the health risks associated with being exposed to continuous, extremely loud music, playing for years and even decades without proper ear protection. Brian Johnson of AC/DC is a prime example, being forced to give up touring because of the damage done to his ears over years of playing with no protection. 

Scientifically speaking, loud noise, including music will degrade your hearing ability slowly but surely, causing tinnitus as well as hearing loss. Even worse, once your ears are damaged and your hearing impaired, there’s no cure to get it back.

What that means is that, if you’re a musician looking to sing (or play) for your supper as a career, finding a well-made, comfortable set of earplugs is imperative. (Also, if you’re an avid concertgoer, you need earplugs too!) 

To that end, we’ve put together a list of the Top 5 earplugs for musicians, below, that will help you, as well as 3 Key Features that they must have in order to provide the best protection for one of your most precious 5 senses, your hearing.

Key Feature #1 - They Must Reduce Noise Sufficiently

The main reason to purchase a set of earplugs is to reduce the amount of noise that reaches your inner-ear and prevent damage. This amount changes from model to model and should be based on the type and location of music you’re playing. 

Playing hard rock or heavy metal at a nightclub? Then you’ll want earplugs that substantially lower the volume coming through. On the other hand, if you’re jazzing it up with a small group of friends in your garage, earplugs that let more volume through should be fine. 

Note that the average sound reduction on most brands of earplugs falls between 15 to 30 dBs and, with this in mind, choose the best earplugs for your musical situation.

Key Feature #2 - They Must Provide Excellent Sound Quality

Truth is, most musicians don’t use earplugs because, well, they ruin the music. It’s tough to know if something you’re playing sounds ‘right’ if you can’t hear it well and, if you have a low-quality set of earplugs, it can turn a joyous experience into something just plain awful. 

The good news is that there are several earplug models (as you’ll see below) that allow you to protect your ears but still hear your music well, providing a flat response that attenuates equally all the frequencies coming through. In short, they give you the ability to turn down the volume but still hear the musical nuances, protecting your ears while the music shines through.

Key Feature #3 - The Best Earplugs Must Be Comfortable to Wear

Let’s be honest, if the earplugs in your ear are causing you pain and discomfort, you’re going to take them out, defeating their purpose immediately. That’s why any pair of earplugs you buy must fit well and provide a good seal inside your ear. 

Knowing this, it’s a good idea to try on several models of earplugs so that you purchase a set that provides a good seal, reduces noise sufficiently, provides excellent sound quality and feels good when worn for hours, days or weeks at a time.

The Top 5 Earplugs for Musicians (in no particular order)

Etymotic ER20xs - The Best Musician Earplugs for Excellent Sound Quality

A highly acclaimed audio company, Etymotic is known as one of the best earplug makers in the industry, and one of their standouts is the ER20xs. 

Firstly, their flat response is excellent, allowing all frequency ranges to come through without lowering any one more than another. Wearing them allows you to turn down the volume without shutting out the true sound. Even better, they feel like there’s almost nothing in your ears. 

The ER20xs also does a very good job of blocking volume at 20 dBs, enough for a raucous band rehearsal or even a concert. They provide plenty of ear protection but allow you to still hear the music well. 

One drawback the ER20xs does have, however, is that they only come in sizes regular and large so, if you’ve got a particularly small set of ears, they may not be the best fit for you. 

Take a look or purchase them today on Amazon.

DeciBullz - The Best Musician Earplugs for Sufficiently Lowering Volume

At 31 dbs of volume reduction, the DeciBullz earplugs take the volume way down, even at the loudest of concerts. One of the reasons they’re so good at this is that, unlike other models, DeciBullz can be self-customized to fit your ears perfectly.

To do this you simply pour or dunk them in very hot water for a few seconds, which makes them softer and more pliable. While hot (but not too hot) you then place them in your ears, where they’ll mold to them like a cat molds to your lap. 

Voila! You now have earplugs that fit your ears perfectly although, truth be told, they do get a little harder once cooled and so might not conform to your comfort level. Plus, while better than most average plugs for hearing protection, the DeciBullz aren’t exactly the king of sound quality. 

In any case, if sheer volume reducing power is your goal, the DeciBullz fit the bill to a ‘T’. 

You can take a look or purchase them on Amazon, today.

LiveMusic HearSafe - The Best All Around Musician Earplugs

With 2 filters and an impressive 29 dBs of sound reduction, the LiveMusic HearSafe earplugs are the most well-rounded, and affordable, earplugs we’ve reviewed. 

They come in 2 sizes so you can pick the size that fits you best, deliver a relatively flat response so you can still hear all your music in high-def, and they’re excellent concert earplugs as well, letting great sound in while keeping your ears safe and sound (no pun intended). 

Another bonus of the LiveMusic HearSafe plugs is that, since they’re made from non-toxic, hypoallergenic silicone, most users won’t have any type of allergic reaction to them. In other words, they won’t itch while you twitch (to the music). 

All of this and a great price make the LiveMusic HearSafe earplugs our pick for best all-around. 

Take a look at them on Amazon to see for yourself.

Alpine MusicSafe Classic and Pro Earplugs - The Best Musician Earplugs for Fit and Comfort

Created using a softer, more malleable material, the Alpine MusicSafe Classic and Pro Earplugs collapse inward upon insertion, expanding into your ear canal to give you a snug, comfortable fit. They do this using a special insertion tool that, while a bit awkward, allows you to place them deeper than most other models, creating an excellent seal that lowers sound leakage considerably. 

The main difference between the Alpine MusicSafe Classic Earplugs and the Pro Earplugs is that the Classic comes with 2 sets of filters while the Pro comes with 3 sets. The Classic attenuates up to 22 dBs of volume while, with 3 filters, the Pro attenuates up to 27 dBs, both of which give you much more control over the amount of sound that gets into your ears. 

On the downside, both Classic and Pro models tend to cut high and low ranges more than mid, giving the impression of a louder midrange, something many musicians find annoying. 

But if fit is your most pressing concern the Alpine MusicSafe Classic and Pro Earplugs are a great choice.

Check them both out on Amazon to see if they’re the choice for you.

Custom Made Earplugs - The Very Best Musician Earplugs, No Hold Barred

Above you’ll find 4 sets of earplugs that, as you’ve seen, are very high quality and deliver excellent hearing protection. That being said, if protecting your ears like Fort Knox while getting the ultimate in sound is your goal, a pair of Custom Made Earplugs is what you need. 

To get them means seeing an audiologist, simply because they are the only people capable of creating the ear molds needed to get custom earplugs made. It also means your earplugs will cost upwards of $350.00, give or take a few bucks, so it’s a relatively large investment. 

That investment, however, will deliver protection and audio quality beyond most off-the-rack earplugs, because the seal will be perfect. With no leakage you’ll get true high-definition, with minimal change to the music that’s entering your ear plus customizable filters that allow you to raise or lower volume to your perfect level. 

If you’re a working musician, or you want to get the best concert experience while making sure your ears stay healthy, custom earplugs are your best choice, even if they are a little bit pricey. To get them, we suggest Googling ‘audiologist’ and seeing one close to your location.

Enjoy your music longer by protecting your ears with one of these excellent earplugs 

Music, whether playing it yourself or simply listening, is one of life’s greatest joys. To make sure you can listen as many years as possible, do your ears a favor and purchase one of the best earplugs for musicians, above. 

With any of them in your ears you’ll get the protection you need and still be able to hear all of that wonderful, soul-soothing sound, so pick up a pair today!

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BEST SMALL SYNTHESIZERS UNDER 500$ Small

Best Small Synthesizers Under 500$

BEST SMALL SYNTHESIZERS UNDER 500$

Best Small Synthesizers Under 500$

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If you’re a synth lab rat like me you are going to love this one. In this list you will find the coolest small size synths available today. Some people can take cool little machines like these and create real magic. This is what we’re here for. First, there are no rules and no guidelines other than the price.  These are the coolest synths you can find under 500$ according to Audio Streets. So let’s start.

Roland JD-Xi

So much sexiness in one little machine. Roland had done it again. Somehow everything they do comes out so sexy, or is it just me?? Anyways, this little beast is a frankenstein style fusion of:

  • Analog Monophonic Synthesizer 
  • Digital Synthesizer 
  • Drum Machine
  • 4 Track Sequencer
  • Digital FX Power House
  • Amazing Vocoder

It has a super nice sound engine that is capable of delivering deep low basses and beautiful and punchy sound across the whole frequency. I also think that this synth is beautifully designed and well built with great and durable materials. It can easily stand the test of time and make it to Roland’s wall of fame.

Check latest price on Amazon

Take a good look at this one, It’s weird, it’s interesting, it’s unique… well, it’s a MicroFreak. This is a Paraphonic synth that’s based on Arturia’s analog modeling technology. Its most interesting feature is definitely the keyboard. It feels like playing on a touch screen but it has a 3D feel to it. The MicroFreak is a hybrid, it has digital oscillators and analog filters. It’s a very sweet sounding synth, most of it’s presets sound very lush and sweet. So if you like to make electronic music that is not too aggressive and sharp, you might like the MicroFreak.

Check latest price on Amazon

Korg Monologue

Get ready for a true analog beast that has the classic character of the most amazing Korg synths out there. It doesn’t have any problem shooting you like a canon ball straight to the 70’s. Everything about the Korg Monologue screams quality. It is a close relative of the Korg Minilogue and It’s a monophonic true analog synth. That means real analog oscillators, filters and lots of analog components that directly affect the sound. It comes in several different colors: black, blue, red, silver and gold. The design is perfect and it also has a wooden panel which is always welcome.

Check latest price on Amazon

Novation Mininova

This is an ol’ trusty dog, it’s based on the older and bigger Ultranova. Novation synths have something very special about them. Solid design, easy to use, aggressive sound and excellent built quality. The Mininova is no different. It also comes with a microphone that connects through an XLR on the front panel which you can connect any dynamic microphone to it. It has great vocoder sounds. The Mininova comes with dedicated software for editing and controlling all its features through an easy and convenient interface. This is a brilliant synth.

Check latest price on Amazon

Behringer Model D

When I started making music back in the mid-’90s, Behringer wasn’t a name to call home about. But it seems that things are starting to change for the company. The quality of the Model D is nothing short of amazing. The design is clearly based on Moog synths but although looking like the Minimoog, the Model D holds it’s own in the category. So what do we have here? a great and familiar layout, easy to use interface, great built quality, and the sound is pretty much amazing. The Model D gives us the full analog experience at it’s best in a fraction of the price of its competition. Give it a try, you are going to love it.

Check latest price on Amazon

So many analog components in such a small and cute box. But don’t be confused by the small form factor, the SE-02 is a complete analog beast and it will undoubtedly give you Roland’s goodness at it’s best. This one is a collaboration between Roland and Studio Electronics, so it has an impressive legacy. It is controlled digitally but the sound itself comes from all analog high-end components. This will obviously remind you of the Minimoog but it has its own thing. The box is based on Roland’s boutique series, only it’s not a digital recreation of other old analog synths, it’s the real thing. It has amazing bass sounds, warm and lush leads, beautiful filters and overall very nostalgic sound. At that price point, the Roland SE-02 is definitely a must-have.

Check latest price on Amazon

I don’t think that there is one producer on earth that doesn’t know the MicroKorg. It’s considered one of the most popular synths in recent history. The MicroKorg has created a name for itself by standing the test of time. It was first introduced back in 2002 and is selling like crazy to this day. This is a digital-analog synth, it has a great sound engine is it’s capable of creating amazing deep analog-style sounds. Its interface is very special and unique but very simple. You learn how to use the synth in your first half an hour of playing with it. It has relatively big knobs and buttons which is very convenient. 37 micro keys that cover 3 octaves, and not surprisingly, it’s very nice to play on. The design is also very special, the grey or light green with the wooden panel on the sides give it an old punch and a wonderful possession feeling of a good quality product. The MicroKorg also has a nice vocoder which you can play thru cool presets or create your own. It’s also an FX power station, you can plug in any external audio source and run it thru the MicroKorg’s internal effects that sound simply amazing. I really believe that the MicroKorg is special enough to have in any working studio.

Check latest price on Amazon

Roland SH-01A

Remember the amazing, crazy, heard in countless hit songs, beautiful monophonic Roland SH-101? The SH-01A is kind of its advanced digital son. It’s more capable, more flexible and still sounds amazing! I sometimes judge a synth by its ability to wake your creativity up and get your creative juices going. The SH-01A is doing exactly that. It has a smooth interface, with cute little faders that are based on the design of its father, the SH-101. One of the new features that I really like is the gliders for pitch, modulation and other custom-configured features. The SH-01A is a polyphonic synth and it can play up to 4 notes at the same time. It has a rich sound and if you own one of those you will definitely enjoy it for years to come.

Check latest price on Amazon

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Best High End Audio Interface For Home Studios

Best High-End Audio Interface For Home Studios

Best High End Audio Interface For Home Studios

Best High-End Audio Interface For Home Studios

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These days you can look under a rock deep in the forest and probably find some kind of generic audio interface. This is not what we’re doing here. In this post, we will talk about the highest quality, the best analog-to-digital conversion, the best dynamic range, best signal-to-noise ratio, best onboard preamps, and best design and usability.

Disclaimer: This is not a technical review, only my personal experience with these companies and some of their products.

After over 15 years of looking for that “PRO SOUND”, I can confidently say that the little percentage of difference in quality makes up for the disproportionate difference in price. To put it simply, there are a lot of romantic sound engineers that think their talent is all that is needed to get them inside the HIGH-END SOUND CLUB. So, yes. Your talent is the best quality tool you have, 

but if we’re talking about that small difference that will put you up there with the best, this is coming straight from the tools you’re using along the process.


Analog To Digital Conversion Quality

Every company has its standards. I will always go with the biggest names that were strong enough to give us the best quality products and not lose their pants in the process. So I’ve tried a lot of low-priced devices that gives an ok quality that you can work with, but on this post, you won’t find those.

How Many Inputs & Outputs Do I Need?


This is simple. If you already make music and you know your style and genre, then you know exactly how many ins and outs you will need, if you’re not yet making music, I’m not sure this is for you.

You have to earn it through years of experience on shity equipment so you’d be able to actually tell the differences
.

I really believe that. So this will be short. There are multiple quality audio interfaces out there to give you exactly what you need. If you’re not producing music yet, it is ok to start with an audio interface for beginners.


Output Quality


A few engineers and producers I’ve met in the past had the idea that the output quality is the same on all the audio interfaces. This is not true. After years of sitting in great quality studios with the best output chains in the market, I know that when you reach the final part of the mixing or mastering process, you can hear even the smallest changes in compressors, EQ’s, reverbs, delays, phase shifting and even the smallest change in level.

To be able to actually hear these small changes in that last critical stage of your mix or mastering, you need a very good if not high-end output chain. This means great room and acoustics, great monitors, great cables, great connectors, and of course a great audio interface. Without those, it will be a lot harder to get inside the HIGH-END SOUND CLUB.

The reality is, you can be the Stig itself (Top Gear’s driver) but you won’t be able to enter a Formula 1 race with your Prius and that is a fact.



Can I Get a Pro Setup for a Consumer Price?

First, you need to know that if you want high-end gear, you will need a decent budget, that is also a fact. We can’t and don’t really want to change it. Designing a high-end audio product takes the best human resources and the best quality physical components.

So is it possible to get a lot closer to the high-end sound club without breaking the bank? HELL YEAH! 

Fortunately, several years ago a few of the high-end companies have realized that the market is changing rapidly and decided to give us high-end level audio interfaces that are just inside the average consumer’s budget. If you consider yourself a pro or one who’s striving to sound like a pro, you better be smart with your purchases.

Start with a Good Input Chain

A good input chain consists of a good 
microphone, good cables, a good preamp and a good A\D convertor inside of a high-quality audio interface. I always suggest starting your budget planning with those.


Times Are Changing


I’ve started making music on ancient Macintosh computers from the ’90s. It was so much fun to record through the onboard audio interface, I felt like I got the world by the balls. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get “That” sound on my system. Thank god, these days are long gone.

Best High-End Audio Interfaces For home Studios

Everybody knows Apogee Electronics. They are one of the leading companies when it comes to high-end audio interfaces. In 2008, they completely changed the game for us home producers when they introduced the Duet 1, which was wonderful and still is to this day. I bought it without even trying it or thinking about it. I wanted these Apogee converters in my studio.

Apogee Duet 2

Second-gen is obviously better, although I’m sure there are many people who prefer the sound of the original. The Duet is portable, beautiful inside and out, and for some people, it’s more than they’ll ever need. Oh yeah, and it only works on Apple systems.

Check latest price on Amazon

When it comes to quality products, no one does it like the Germans. RME is a German company founded in 1996 and since then they are giving us nothing but the best.

The first RME interface I’ve ever used was the RME HDSP 9632 back in 2003. Before that, I was using an M-Audio interface. This is when I first realized the difference in quality between the different companies. After the M-Audio, the RME immediately sounded more robust, it gave me more details, and the recordings sounded a lot more like what I was getting when directly monitoring out of my mixer. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the mighty FireFace 400 and FireFace 800 which were beautiful. The sound quality you get out of these units is amazing, and the built quality is second to none. They literally last forever.

RME
 Babyface Pro

The Baby Face Pro is just as impressive as its bigger and beefier brothers. It started with the first generation of the Baby Face which I think was very much inspired by the Apogee Duet 1 in style, in portability, and in quality. it also was a small desktop style kinda interface made of very good materials. The first generation was pretty good but the Babyface Pro is a whole different story. It’s obviously aimed to be a serious tool for professionals on the go, or producers and sound engineers with small professional studios who are not willing to compromise on sound quality.

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This name does not need an introduction but I’ll try, Some of the best timeless classics come from Universal Audio. Over the years they proved themselves to be one of the most respected names in the business. Some of the best plugins and analog outboard gear on the market come from UA. Their audio interfaces and technology are exactly what you would expect from them.

Universal Audio
 ApolloTwin MKII


This one is sexy as hell. The design, the look, the sound. This cool interface is built to last for years and years, that’s for sure. It is the successor to the ApolloTwin that came out in 201* and made a lot of good noise. The ApolloTwin MKII is giving us a lot of connectivity and functionality, amazing preamps and overall great sound. Also, those 2 mic inputs feature the upgraded analog to digital converters coming from the much more expensive Apollo 8p. But what’s special about is it’s equipped with a quad-core processor that is a powerhouse for running UA Plugins which is a big one on the pros list.

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Dynamic Microphones

10 Best Dynamic Microphones for Vocals – Live & Studio 2020

Dynamic Microphones

10 Best Dynamic Microphones for Vocals - Live & Studio!

As a musician, hearing your music played back is vital to improving your overall sound. The best way to make that happen of course is to record your sessions and play them back and, to do that, you’ll need a very good dynamic microphone. I would even call it a high-end dynamic microphone, which leads to the question; which high-end dynamic microphone is the best?

There are many dynamic microphones to choose from, and every musician has their favorite, which makes choosing the right one a bit difficult. Since you can use a dynamic microphone to record practically any instrument or vocal, from amplifiers to duets and everything in between, knowing a little about each is the best place to start when searching for yours.

That’s the best part about dynamic microphones actually because once you own one you won’t have to purchase another. Their versatility makes them an excellent investment, which is easy to see when you’re playing and you change instruments since you won’t need to change mics mid-session. Dynamic microphones are highly coveted by musicians, so read below to decide which is best for your particular style.

Pyle-Pro Professional Microphone

For excellent sound at an even better price, the Pyle-Pro mic is a great choice. It’s a handheld dynamic mic that comes with a cardioid pattern many musicians prefer because off-axis sounds are rejected before they can distort your clean sounds. Singular, no-disturbance recording is preferred by many musicians, and the Pyle-Pro leans into this preference by keeping both vocals and instruments clear while reducing background noise significantly.

Its heavy-duty design makes the Pyle-Pro one of the best microphones for constant traveling and also gives it excellent moisture resistance. It’s also one of the top mics for recording both live and amplified instruments, with an integrated windscreen and pop filter. This makes the Pyle-Pro Professional a great choice for a wide variety of recording situations and one of the most convenient models on this list.

Pros:

  • Comes with an integrated pop filter and wind screen
  • Well designed and highly durable
  • Comes complete with cable

We Like the Pyle-Pro Professional Because:

One of the main reasons we like this mic is simply that, compared to other, more expensive and higher-end microphones, it comes with features they seem to lack. (Hello pop filter!) With an affordable price tag and high-end features, it’s easy to see why the Pyle-Pro made it onto Amazon’s Top 10 list of mics!

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Audio-Technica ATR 2100

If you’re purchasing your very first mic and want to start strong, the ATR 2100 from Audio-Technica is a great choice. A handheld microphone, this model comes with an included USB output, making it easy to record digital music straight to your computer or laptop. If you’re going live you also get an included XLR output so that, during live performances, you can plug the ATR 2100 into a traditional mic input.

With a very smooth frequency and 2 variable outputs, the ATR 2100 is a great choice for recording everything from vocals to podcasts and, of course, instrumentals. The ATR 2100 is also perfect for both indoor and outdoor recording, making it a good choice for anyone trying to expand their musical horizons. Need to check your mic output and keep delays to a minimum? It’s no problem with ATR 2100’s built-in headphone jack and, with the aforementioned cardioid pattern, all unwanted noise from the front or back will be greatly reduced.

One last thing the Audio-Technica ATR 2100 comes with is a convenient mic stand and, with its ability to filter out all those unwanted noises and capture your music crisply and cleanly, it’s a great choice for 1st-time buyers.

Pros:

  • Comes with USB output, headphone jack and mic stand
  • Provides a very clean, smooth output
  • Rejects unwanted sounds with a built-in cardioid pattern

We Like the Audio-Technica ATR 2100 because;

For live indoor and outdoor recording, the ATR 2100 is a great choice, especially if you’re new to the industry. With a crisp, clean output due to its cardioid pattern, this is one microphone that you’ll be glad you purchased and is an excellent investment in your music career.

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Shure PG58-XLR

Don’t let the lower price of the Shure PG58-XLR fool you. At a very reasonable $50.00 you might think it’s ‘cheap’ but you’d be wrong, as this mic packs a potent punch. If you’re looking for good quality at an affordable price, it’s a fine choice that’s been tailored to give great sound reproduction with an extended frequency that’s especially smooth for a microphone in this price range.

To pick up sound coming directly from the front while also ignoring any side and background noises, the Shure PG58-XLR uses a quality cardioid pattern that can handle aggressively high volume but still deliver a distortion-free sound that’s low on skewed noises.

The PG58-XLR also reduces your music very faithfully, from E notes at the high end down to a melancholic ballad with deep-end G. The PG58-XLR has been built to handle life on the road and is one of the sturdiest mics we tested at this price range.

Pros:

  • Offers a solid, sturdy construction for heavy use
  • Has excellent sound capturing versatility
  • Superb price/feature combination

We Like the Shure PG58-XLR because;

If high-quality sound and sturdy construction are what you want in your recording studio (and who doesn’t), the PG58-XLR from Shure is a great choice. It will help you expand your musical horizons and give you sound and durability that are far above its price tag.

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Behringer Ultravoice XM 8500

With many of the best mics on the market, Behringer has an all-around appeal for musicians of all genres. The XM 8500 offers an excellent sound range, easily capturing both your vocals and instrumentals without interference or delays from unwanted noise and sounds. Plus, with its very reasonable price, the XM 8500 is an excellent choice for musicians on a tight budget, offering very good quality with faithfull recording and output abilities. As microphone investments go, the Behringer Ultravoice XM 8500 is a top pick.

In musician circles, you’ll find that the XM 8500 is highly praised because it offers a lot of features for a mic at this price. As a musician who’s just starting, or just beginning to play live, the Ultravoice XM 8500 is a very good choice and will serve you well for years to come.

For musicians that simply don’t have $500 to drop on a microphone but still want highly accurate sound reproduction, this microphone is a very good choice. We’ve seen it on sale for as low as $30.00! Just keep in mind that, once they hear it, your bandmates are going to want to steal it for themselves!

Pros:

  • Excellent sound reproduction for a very low price
  • Sound output is very high-end
  • Comes with an included Mic mount

Why we Like the Behringer Ultravoice XM 8500

With the 2nd-place spot on Amazon’s ‘dynamic mic’ category, Behringer has shown the music world that lower-priced microphones still have a lot to offer. Many who purchase the Ultravoice XM 8500 are surprised that such a low-priced mic can deliver such high-quality sound and, for that reason, it’s become very popular.

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Shure SM7B

 

Already appearing once on this list, Shure makes microphones that are used by professionals in every facet of the music industry. Providing excellent quality, you’ll find that most Shure mics are a bit more expensive than the competition, but for good reason, as they will last through years of hard usage and give you the ultimate in HD sound quality.

The Shure SM7B is one of their best, providing an especially crisp and clean output with a flat frequency and very little if any, delay. There’s no need to worry that your mic will skew or distort your sound when you’re using the SM7B as it precisely reproduces both vocals and instrumentals. From belting out show tunes to letting fly on your electric guitar, the Shure SM7B will give you excellent sound reproduction with none of the distortion or background noise.

Some users may note that, in the past, Shure mics had a tendency to reproduce an electromagnetic hum, but that’s been solved with the SMB7 and, whether there’s a smartphone, monitor or any other device causing a hum, you’ll be completely shielded from it with the Shure SMB7.

Pros:

  • A very wide frequency range
  • Reduced electromagnetic hum from other devices
  • Unwanted sound rejection using cardioid pattern

Why we Like the Shure SMB7

Shure has given the industry many great mics and the SMB7 is no exception. It captures your music crisply and clearly, with little to no disturbance or interference. Plus, with its removable windscreen, nearly all plosives produced by singing and talking are removed.

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The AKG D5

 

Overall one of the best microphone brands, AKG is also one of the most popular brands on the market today, delivering excellent sound quality for a very affordable price, an excellent combination for any musician both experienced and new to the recording industry.

Manufactured with a solid, durable construction, the AKG D5 will take a beating and keep on recording, every time, making it a great choice for taking on the road. The AKG D5 has also been re-released with a new cardioid pattern that makes feedback with high gain possible, making it perfect for female vocals or high-frequency sounds (although, truth-be-told, it’s not the best for male vocals and leaves them sounding a bit muddy).

With a wide dynamic range that delivers an outstanding balance of power, warmth, feedback, and clarity, the AKG D5 makes a great traveling mic, providing fantastic results at an affordable price.

 

Pros:

  • Solid, sturdy construction for years of use
  • Clear feedback that comes through fast
  • Delivers a warm, clear and potent response

Why we Like the AKG D5

A dominant force in the music industry, AKG delivers another solid mic with the AKG D5. Very little distortion, a clear, warm response and crisp, smooth feedback set it apart from the rest, with a potent and powerful response that’s one of the industry’s best.

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Shure SM57-LC

 

Looking for a microphone bundle that will provide all the recording gear you need at an affordable price? Then look no further than the Shure SM57-LC! This is the perfect choice if you’re just starting in live performing, as the mic itself is excellent and it comes with a cable and stand, which means you won’t have to stress trying to find all of those devices separately.

Shure gives you several options to choose from so that you can ‘mix and match’ your preferred devices and accessories. You can choose from a bundle that includes a stand, windscreen, and cable, or a bundle that comes without a cable, and even a bundle that comes with an XLR to USB adaptor (as well as their standard, but superb, full mic bundle).

Pros:

  • Bundles make it easier to choose the best combo
  • Excellent background noise reduction
  • Top-notch vocals and sound reproduction

Why we Like the Shure SM57-LC

Shure has made it much easier for beginners to get started with little or no stress finding the right combination of devices and accessories using their bundled options. In fact, for beginners, the SM57-LC is the best choice, with everything you need to get started recording and performing to a live audience already included. That and its durability make the Shure SM57-LC a top mic choice.

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MXL BCD-1

 

Made to rival the biggest names in the microphone industry, MXL produces dynamic mics that are some of the most sought after in the music business. The BCD-1 is no exception, delivering a bright, warm sound while also instantly eliminating almost 100% of background noises. Any bounce back and side noises that might occur during recording are completely ignored by the BCD-1 while it focuses on the main source, whether that’s your voice or the instrumentals. For musicians playing in noisy garages, the MXL BCD-1 is a great choice that will ensure your voice and music are isolated from everyone else who’s playing.

One small drawback the BCD-1 does have however is that it was developed to isolate close-proximity sounds, making it a not-so-great choice if you’re recording, for example, a choir or quartet. That being said, the BCD-1 reproduces bass very well, and higher sound too, with very little unwanted noise or feedback. To keep it looking and working well for years MXL also delivers the BCD-1 with a high-quality foam padded case.

Pros:

  • Rejects side and background noise extremely well
  • Very god main sound source isolation
  • Comes with a foam-padded case

Why we Like the MXL BCD-1

The BCD-1 is one of MXL’s top-rated mics, with excellent main sound isolation and rejection of side and background noise. Throw in a padded case and the MXL BCD-1 is a microphone that will serve you well for years to come.

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Shure SM58S

 

Another top entry from Shure, the SM58S can come with or without the on/off switch, cable and USB to XLR adaptor so that, like their other entries, picking a mic and accessories is much easier and faster. Simply choose what you need and Shure takes care of the rest.

The SM58S comes with an improved bass roll and midrange for greater accuracy, with a cardioid that isolates the main vocals or instrumentals well. The included windscreen and pop filter also help to deliver clear, clean and crisp sounds no matter where or what you’re recording.

Pros:

  • Bundle options galore
  • Ultimate control with the on/off switch
  • Wind and pop filter included

Why we Like the Shure SM58S

With no delay and a smooth, clear delivery inside or outside, the Shure SM58S is a fantastic mic. Throw in the bundle options that get you started stress-free and it’s a fine microphone choice, especially for newbies.

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Sennheiser E835

 

One of the best in the music industry, Sennheiser has been producing excellent dynamic microphones that deliver top value and quality since 2005. (They also produce top-quality headphones.) With all the features you could ask for, the Sennheiser E835 also offers a cardioid pattern that ignores all useless and unwanted background and side noise, especially for those times when you’re directly in front of the mic. It also delivers a lot of raw power, something your bandmates might have to get used to if you’re unwilling to adjust the output rate.

Pros:

  • Very powerful sound boosting abilities
  • Little or no distortion and/or delay
  • Smooth, clean and crisp output

Why we Like the Sennheiser E835

As microphone investments go, the E835 is the best of the bunch, with power to spare. Many customers report that their Sennheisers have gone 10 years or more without a problem, making the Sennheiser E835 an excellent choice for long-term performance, power, and durability.

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10 Best Dynamic Microphones for Vocals – Live & Studio 2020

Conclusion

No matter which of the above dynamic microphones you choose you’ll be getting a mic that delivers great sound quality and reproduction. We hope this article has given you the information you need to make the best choice for your musical needs, and invite you to leave questions or comments below.

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Hey everybody, Avi here. I freaking LOVE preamps, don’t you? Back in the early 2000’s, when I’d just started recording music in a professional way, I was using the onboard preamps on my RME Fireface 400 interface. It was nice, until I started using REAL preamps. And this is what we are talking about in this post.

Disclaimer:

I’m not going to get too technical here, just share my own personal experience with these sweet devices. If you need more technical details, look at the links under every preamp section. Enjoy.

What Is A Preamp?

A preamp, in simple words, is an amplifier for a microphone. The microphone output is called “Mic Level”, and it is considered to be a very low level signal. The microphone voltage range is between -60dbv to -40dbv. It is, of course, a very low voltage level, and you have to amplify it in order to get it up to “Line level” (-10dbv). Most audio devices are accepting “Line level” signals. This is the most basic and first reason to use a preamp.

Phantom Power

This is the second reason for using a preamp. When you are using a condenser microphone that needs a phantom power to work, a preamp is the device that sends this power over to the microphone. A phantom power is not needed when connecting a dynamic microphone. In most cases, if you send a phantom power to a dynamic microphone, nothing will happen unless you’re using a ribbon microphone, I don’t recommend that.

Sound Character

Different preamps have different “colors”. Much like microphones, you can choose your preamp according to the signal you’re about to record. For example, certain preamps will sound better on acoustic guitars, while others will be great for vocals.

Which Preamp

Most audio interfaces today have at least one microphone preamp. Are they good enough?

They are good enough, without a doubt. For most purposes, and especially for home recording, when you don’t have to meet the highest industry standard. Also, most people would not be able to tell what kind of preamp you used. Especially under all these different processes.

However, after using this simple onboard, transparent, and characterless preamp, you will start to have dreams about those nicer sounding preamps. This is where you would want to see our list.

Higher Level Preamps

Those are built for much higher demands and possess all kinds of sonic qualities. Preamps are divided by classes and different technologies.

Vacuum Tube Preamp

For these preamps, the amplification is done with Tubes. These will have more emphasis on the low end frequencies, and also tend to have softer highs. These will work great on vocals, electric guitars, amps, basses, and basically every instrument that you want to sound warmer, rounder, and with softer high frequencies.

Discrete Preamp

These are built with different electronic components like transistors, resistors, and capacitors. Transistor based preamps are more fast and punchy sounding. They are very good for recording instruments and vocals, with emphasis on the midrange and higher frequencies.

For example, acoustic guitars, aggressive guitar amps, drums, vocals with more sharp and aggressive characteristics, and practically every source that you would want to have “that” character.

IC Preamp

It is very similar to discrete preamps, but is made with small chips planted on a board. Naturally, it will put out a more clean sound with a low noise floor. A lot of audio interfaces are using this technology, but in most cases, it’s not considered to be high end.

Cables

It doesn’t matter what preamp you’re using. It’s highly recommended to use high quality mic cables for the microphone and from the preamp output signal going to the audio interface. It makes a big difference, trust me.

Our Favorite Preamps:

This is a list of preamps that I liked using in the past and that I’m still using today. Price is not a factor for now, only personal taste. This list includes only products by known companies and which you can get in stores. I’ve used amazing preamps before that were built by private individuals that no one knows and that you can’t get in the store, but this I will leave to another post.

Golden Age Pre 73 MKIII

I first started with the first version of the Pre 73 in 2011. This was the first class A preamp that brought that expensive sound to the home recording producers. It had the Neve 73 style circuit; all discrete components and no IC at all. With 80db of input gain and a great output control knob, I could get all the colors I wanted. Everybody had this preamp, so I had to try it and see If I fall for the hype. I did. It was really amazing for it’s price. It had one significant drawback: high noise floor. It was a noisy preamp, no doubt. After piling some tracks on top of each other, you can definitely hear this noise. It was nice for loud rock productions, but when I needed a cleaner signal, this preamp was not the one to use. After that, came the MKII, and the noise was gone. It was amazing on almost every source. The only thing I didn’t record with it was strumming acoustic guitars. With the MKIII, they made it even better and added more features such as:

  • High pass filter with two positions, to cut the low end. 
  • Air boost EQ’s, two positions.
  • Renewed input gain knob.

This preamp has one of the best instrument input I have ever used. I absolutely love how it sounds on direct bass guitar. I also had a few songs where I didn’t even record an amp, just my clean G&L Custom straight to the instrument input and to logic with a little EQ and compression, and that’s it, sounds amazing. This pre does everything with remarkable results.

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Universal Audio Solo 610

This preamp is so much fun! I love it’s design; it looks like a piece of console taken from a Russian submarine from the 40’s. It is based on the original Putnam 610 console, which had a classic tube sound and was used in a lot of studios by a lot of famous artists. This preamp is equipped with a 12AX7 tube and a 12AT7 tube. Even though it has a very simple design, and very few controls, it is very easy to achieve a wide range of beautiful tones and colors with it. By using a low input gain setting, you can get a clean and almost transparent tone. As you increase the input gain and drive the tube, you add more beautiful and sweet sounding harmonic distortion to your source.

Vocals I’ve recorded with it came out very smooth and creamy, if I’m allowed to use these terms. It sounds relatively soft and very musical. I loved it on male vocals, electric guitars, bass, brasses, and pretty much any source in general. What about acoustic guitars, you ask? It’s pretty much the same as the Pre 73, I like it very much on finger picking acoustic guitar. It has a warm sound; full, and overall, very rich sound. I wish I had a whole console of these pre’s…

I also recommend trying the Universal Audio 710 Twin-Finity preamp which has a discrete circuit in addition to the classic tube one, and you can mix between them with a mix knob. It also offers a lot of colors, features, and flexibility.

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API 512c

This beautiful beast came in an API Lunchbox. This preamp is a classic with origins back in the 60’s and 70’s. When I first started using this preamp, I was already using a bunch of other great preamps, so it was kinda hard to sweep me off my feet. But the API 512c brought a new era of sound to my recordings. Vocals sounded more punchy and clear in the midrange section, but still with a lot of low end body and high end precision. The 512c has a tendency to push every single detail to the front of the mix so it is perfect for pop vocals, rock, and any punchy sounding source.

It is great on electric guitars, bass, vocals, of course, and I also really like it on acoustic guitars. They sound clean, bright, and shiny, exactly how I like my acoustic guitars to sound. The 512c brings an old and classic flavor to the table. It is built exactly like the original ones, designed by Soul Walker. It is very musical and flexible. You can hear and see it in big production studios and in home recording studios as well. It is hand-assembled, very reliable, and built for years of hard work in the studio. I only wish it came with an output control and an independent box, but other than that, it is just perfect.

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OK, honestly, I didn’t expect this preamp to surprise me and sound that good, but it does! It is like everything that I ran through just came alive. It has a slightly compressed character; a little boost in the lows and highs, and every source that is going through it comes out a little processed. I usually don’t like a processed sound out of something that should give me a raw output, but in this case it is just magic! This unit sounds very special, and I use it anytime I need something to have a special place in a mix, or to cut through some production layers in a natural way. This one is also a 500 series, which I also liked to have in a half rack unit size. I’m a sucker for independent units, I admit it.

I first heard this preamp back in 2013. The Chandler Little Devil offers a lot of flexibility and tons of character to work with. I really like it on female vocals. It gives the ladies a brilliant shine and great breathy voice that throws me straight to Mariah Carey’s sound from the 90’s, but it might be just my own personal thing.

In the feature section, it is like all the others, but with the Little Devil, they add a little bright switch, which I like very much. It adds that cool boost in the highs, which gives a little air to the overall signal.

There is something very special that happens with the feedback knob, I won’t try to explain it here, because I don’t want to get it wrong, but I strongly recommend to read about it in the company’s website.

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This is a pricy one, but who thinks about money when you’re falling in love! The 737 is a big unit and, usually, I get scared when I work with big machines, after being used to working with small units. This one has a lot of knobs and lights and meters and weird symbols… it’s not for me,  I’m a simple dude! These were my first thoughts about this preamp. But, then I relaxed and gave it a listen. First, I need to say that this is not only a preamp, by definition, because it also has a compressor section and an EQ section. So, practically, it is a whole “Channel Strip”. I have a soft spot for real outboard compressors, so this was the first thing I started with.

The 737’s opto-compressor is really special. It resembles the classic LA2A compressor. It’s not the most aggressive compressor, which I like, and it has a cool behavior while it’s riding the peaks of an acoustic guitar or slap bass. The EQ is also on the sweet side. It’s highs are pretty soft, and it is quite easy to get a great, processed vocal right out of the box. Usually, I don’t recommend recording post process, because then you’re stuck with it. But if you’re experienced enough, and you know exactly what you’re after, it can help you achieve these very high end results. I know not everybody can afford this channel strip, and not everybody needs it, but if you, somehow, find it for a good price in second hand, snatch it, because it sounds beautiful, and you’re gonna love it! For sure.

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MIXING

Mixing On Headphones

Mixing On Headphones Share on facebook Share on google Share on twitter Share on linkedin

MASTERING

What Is Mastering

What Is Mastring Share on facebook Share on google Share on twitter Share on linkedin

production

plugins & instruments

Best Drum Plugin

Best Drum Plugins Share on facebook Share on google Share on twitter Share on linkedin

Best Amp Simulator

Best Amp Simulator Share on facebook Share on google Share on twitter Share on linkedin