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Have plugins peaked? Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Thread Starter
Have plugins peaked?

I've been keeping an eye on the new gear section like any good gear slut would - and it seems there's no real big breakthroughs and no excitement recently. Remember when Waves released their Abbey Road stuff? When Slate came up with console modelling? When Acustica's proprietary tech seemed exciting rather than a time and money sink? When you've got Keyscape, what else is there to do with sampled keyboards?

Isn't the truth that we already have all the plugins we could ever need - at a fidelity our ears cant really distinguish between?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Gear Maniac
This reminds of a day in 1997 when a friend of mine told me that the graphics on the games coming out at the time for the Playstation 1 were so good that he didn't think it would be possible for them to ever get better.
I think when you are enamored with what is currently available, it's really hard to conceive of what comes next.
I understand what you are saying. I think the current state of things is pretty satisfactory and yes, things don't seem to be moving at the rapid pace they once were; but I think it is inevitable that things will evolve into some stunning unforseen territory because that is the way these things typically seem to go.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
f33
Gear Nut
 

the new plugins ive seen in the last 2 yrs have been really great with lots of new concepts and techniques
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
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login's Avatar
CPU power has been quite stagnant for the last 5 years, only after AMD released their latest generation the competition has started to get hoot again and I would expect we would get more significant jumps in power in the next 4-5 years.

U-he is pushing heavy analog emulations as Repro1/5 which can use a hefty amount of CPU power so I would expect the same can be done for effects, but first the CPU power has to be available to push modeling even further and make it convenient to use.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Oh I don't think so. Some of the new wicked smaht ones are pretty cool, and saturation has made strides as well as compression. We may be just seeing the beginning of what they really can do......I keep waiting for the inflatable ones.....
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
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MusiKLover's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by login View Post

U-he is pushing heavy analog emulations as Repro1/5 which can use a hefty amount of CPU power so I would expect the same can be done for effects, but first the CPU power has to be available to push modeling even further and make it convenient to use.
In order to push this along, Clock Speeds must increase, but heat is the major issue. The Single Core is key as it’s Serial Processing.

The CPU companies have their hands full with Meltdown & Spectre — and class actions.

Oddly, Apple could be the one to successfully pull off such a technological breakthrough given the amount of Cash on its Balance Sheet. The A11 has a quite good Clock Speed, albeit on smaller screens. However, I’d bet they don’t go deeper since the margins might not be high enough (that is my SWAG, but seems intuitive at this point.)

Uhe could break all the rules and start selling DSP for its synthesizers, but I’d bet the ROI is not high enough. UAD is not an option to partner with as SHARC chips currently are about 1/10th of a Kaby Lake i5 on both the Single Core & Multicore.

I believe Uhe has engineered a Multicore synthesizer, but DSP is lacking on this prong too as mentioned. Same goes for Synapse’s Dune 2. Not many, if any, hosts can fully take advantage of it, either, given the way they are architected.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EisaMo View Post
... i would still say the best uad plugins are only 7/10 in how perfect a plugin could potentially be.

plugins are far from having 'all' the stuff. that's why so many people here push analogue gear.
Select the right plugs and you can get very close. Its already there, not everytime but enough. You can hardly improve on what UA achieved with their digital vintage FX. UAD EMT250 and RMX16 are perfect ITB reverbs and you probably can't pick the UAD Korg SSD-3000 from the hardware rack in a blind A/B. Arturia has a Synclavier synthesizer emulation which runs the hardware FM source code just like with the UAD RMX16. XILS did a blind A/B contest in 2013 with V+ and the hardware VP330 where only 2 people scored 100%. IMO 2011 was the turning point.

Soundonsound did a shootout between the Manley Massive Passive and UAD emulation. The audiofiles can be downloaded to compare.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by f33 View Post
the new plugins ive seen in the last 2 yrs have been really great with lots of new concepts and techniques
I’d agree. And while the channel strip isn’t a new concept, the extremely flexible approach Waves and Scheps took to put this together, just took it to the next level.

Looks like flexibility and speed of workflow was in mind when they put this together.

Scheps Omni Channel Strip Plugin | Waves

Mind you there has been many other examples. The H-Reverb was quite innovative since it used an FIR engine as opposed to your regular algorithmic or convolution style of reverb. Torque also has new non-Fourier Transform tech, that does an extremely effective job at changing drum tonality.

Yeah, innovation is still there.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
f33
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by simon.billington View Post
I’d agree. And while the channel strip isn’t a new concept, the extremely flexible approach Waves and Scheps took to put this together, just took it to the next level.

Looks like flexibility and speed of workflow was in mind when they put this together.

Scheps Omni Channel Strip Plugin | Waves

Mind you there has been many other examples. The H-Reverb was quite innovative since it used an FIR engine as opposed to your regular algorithmic or convolution style of reverb. Torque also has new non-Fourier Transform tech, that does an extremely effective job at changing drum tonality.

Yeah, innovation is still there.
also feels like the price is going down for quality reverbs/compressors/limiters which used to be really high.

All plugin makers would do good to drop prices, which they probably wont, but i guarantee you I, and most people would buy 5 $50 plug ins rather than 1 $250 plug in.

Vallhalla, Klanghelm, Sknote, Toyko Dawn Labs, and Audio Thing(etc) have all proven that high quality plugins can be found for far less than 100$
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
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Fanu's Avatar
The last really revolutionary plugin was oeksound Soothe.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by f33 View Post
also feels like the price is going down for quality reverbs/compressors/limiters which used to be really high.

All plugin makers would do good to drop prices, which they probably wont, but i guarantee you I, and most people would buy 5 $50 plug ins rather than 1 $250 plug in.

Vallhalla, Klanghelm, Sknote, Toyko Dawn Labs, and Audio Thing(etc) have all proven that high quality plugins can be found for far less than 100$
And they’re all good too. No one in there right mind pays fill price at Waves or IK, Brainworx, iZotope, etc... often you can’t pick things up for $50 or under, if you buy at the right time.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
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leckel1996's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fanu View Post
The last really revolutionary plugin was oeksound Soothe.
YES!! It's an amazing plugin that's capable of things hardware could only dream of. I'd say plugins are always breaking into new territory. It just may not be in the department of skeuomorphic, analog modelled guis.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leckel1996 View Post
YES!! It's an amazing plugin that's capable of things hardware could only dream of. I'd say plugins are always breaking into new territory. It just may not be in the department of skeuomorphic, analog modelled guis.
While it was impressive and innovative when analogue emulations first hit out computers, when you are thinking about it though, the idea of making an emulation isn’t that innovative at all.

You are merely copying a design that someone else created and made successful. Copying something is really the opposite of innovating.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
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Ain't Nobody's Avatar
 

Funny, I was just thinking the opposite.

FINALLY, developers are beginning to really get the concepts for some stuff that always should have existed. Sure, there's a ton of emulations of choruses, reverbs, and whatnot, but now we've got plugins that take information from one area and apply it to another. Trackspacer is one example, and so is some of the new Izotope stuff that reads information from multiple tracks in order to make use of that information in another.

We're also just scratching the surface on the midi controlled effects like using midi triggered envelopes (ShaperBox and others). The DAW's can't evolve fast enough to match the creativity of the plugin designers.

Tools are getting much smarter, too, in the way they assist in a given process. AI's are already used in all sorts of other fields, and it's only a matter of time before rudimentary ones are used to help make smart EQ's smarter, etc. And that's just the next step. Dynamic EQ's are already a quantum leap.

I'm not using Izotope's stuff because it kills my system, but they're on the right track. Stick a team of engineers working on that project around the clock, and it's only a matter of time before they figure out it's the DAW's that are holding them back, and a whole new DAW architecture needs to be created to allow the plugs to reach their logical conclusion (no pun intended.)

Many of the innovations share a common thread of using data in new ways by removing it from it's source, and applying it elsewhere. It's information unleashed.

Have we peaked? Sure. Just like the information age peaked with the invention of the encyclopedia.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by owen_musician View Post
I've been keeping an eye on the new gear section like any good gear slut would - and it seems there's no real big breakthroughs and no excitement recently. Remember when Waves released their Abbey Road stuff? When Slate came up with console modelling? When Acustica's proprietary tech seemed exciting rather than a time and money sink? When you've got Keyscape, what else is there to do with sampled keyboards?

Isn't the truth that we already have all the plugins we could ever need - at a fidelity our ears cant really distinguish between?
There is a story that back in 1899, the head of the US Patent office suggested closing the office because 'everything has already been invented'. It probably did not happen that way, but there is enough truth in the attitude exemplified to make people keep the story going - to illustrate a certain kind of thinking.

The things you have listed are what I would call "nice products". Not my idea of "breakthroughs". Just incremental improvements in a particular direction. Being models of classic analog gear for the most part, the most interesting thing about them is how close they approach the real thing and I will have to say some of current crop approach it quite closely.

Quote:
we already have all the plugins we could ever need
well I probably have all the 1176 compressor plug-ins I could ever need!

Nevertheless the real breakthroughs are not coming from the plug-ins that "model" something analog that already exists, even if they model it better than the one that came before it. There are new plugs that perform functions that would not even be possible in analog. Some I think are fulfilling a need we might not even know we had. Yet.

How about an EQ ducker like Trackspacer:
Quote:
...plug-in that creates space in a mix by carving the frequencies that the main track needs into another track in real time....The Trackspacer plug-in features a 32 band EQ that reacts to the incoming sidechain signal. It analyses the spectrum of the sidechain and applies a reversed EQ curve to another track. As if by magic, Trackspacer creates space for the primary track by cutting the exact frequencies on other tracks. ..
Stereoplacer is like an EQ in that you can select bands through bells and shelves, but instead of adjust band level up and down, you adjust pan position in and out. Why do I want that? I don't know yet, but I am very interested to find out!

SoundRadix, Kush, Nugen, Fab Filter, Izotope.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
Gear Nut
 

The developer of Cytomic the Glue compressor is talking about a new plugin that would model analog to the extreme. Here is a quote from him...

"I find the UAD approach a bit old fashioned, and I'm more interested in pushing what is possible with compute power. I like the way 3D software works where you have a preview render of the scene, but when it comes to the final thing you see at the cinema it takes a lot longer to render in full quality with all the bells and whistles.

In this regard all Cytomic software will have an "HD" mode where it does the most detail possible within reason, and possibly in the future I'll even add "UHD" where every transistor in every op-amp is modelled, including non-linear capacitance effects - and it could possibly all day to render a song, but it would be a very accurate analog model, probably too accurate for any practical use!

In 3D software, as part of the final render settings, they also support the level of anti aliasing (number of samples to average over to generate the final pixel, including the anti-aliasing type, eg Gassian, Catmull-Rom, Mitchell-Netravali etc), which is the equivalent to oversampling in the audio world (with linear, intermediate and minimum phase etc). The Glue currently has the most advanced selection of oversampling options I know of in any plugin, and all oversampling is sample accurate as much as possible so automatic latency compensation can be spot on."

I think he said in that thread( I don't have time to look it up sorry) that to render every transistor, cap, transformer at every voltage etc would take maybe 24hours per track!!
I think there is lots of room for improvement but as in all things audio...the last 5% will cost you 95% more.
Eric
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
It might be interesting if people can take this into the practical and talk about innovative products they are using. I'd nominate something like Soothe or Gullfoss as products that do things analogue doesn't. Soundbrigade also comes to mind....
Old 3 weeks ago
  #18
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Ain't Nobody's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ardis View Post
It might be interesting if people can take this into the practical and talk about innovative products they are using. I'd nominate something like Soothe or Gullfoss as products that do things analogue doesn't. Soundbrigade also comes to mind....
Hadn't heard of those. I'll have to check them out.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
They are mostly analytic plugs that process sound intelligently and tame problem areas. Some of the volume riding plug ins and new generation comps are really interesting. I like the idea of something that analyzes a track and then renders it out. That seems to be an up and coming area, as well as digital control of analogue elements.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #20
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Ain't Nobody's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ardis View Post
They are mostly analytic plugs that process sound intelligently and tame problem areas. Some of the volume riding plug ins and new generation comps are really interesting. I like the idea of something that analyzes a track and then renders it out. That seems to be an up and coming area, as well as digital control of analogue elements.
Does anything really do the gain riding thing properly yet? I wasted quite a bit of time with vocal rider when it came out, and it just did not deliver.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #21
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I'm an electronic tech by trade. When people say new and exciting, I simply see the same old cloned circuits being used with minor variations to make them sound slightly different and a shiny new box on the outsides to make people think its different. Seems to work given the numbers of people fooled however.

Based on my 20 years recording digitally I'd say most plugins use the same algorithms cloned out and simply different GUI's added. When you do blind comparisons I really don't see huge differences between many plugins simply because they clone the same old analog devices. I mean, How many more plugins do you need that copy the same LA-2 before you realize one will essentially do the same job as another? I'm not saying I don't like trying new plugins, but when you get through trying it out and the newness is over, then you use it as you would any other plugin getting the same results you did from any other plugin, maybe the plugin has less to do with a good mix then you think it does.

Have you ever gone back to an old mix that was one of your best and tried out new plugins and actually got superior result because of the plugin?
I've tried it many times and to be honest, it has more to do with applying the plugin properly then it does with the quality of the plugin.
I still run some of my oldest plugins. The gui's may be super plain Jane which make you think its low end but you wouldn't know it simply by listening.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ain't Nobody View Post
Does anything really do the gain riding thing properly yet? I wasted quite a bit of time with vocal rider when it came out, and it just did not deliver.
I think Hornet also makes one, haven't had a chance to use it
Old 3 weeks ago
  #23
Gear Maniac
There's still creativity and innovation. Just a question of if the existing customer base feels like they need to spend on it. A lot of the stuff is getting into the "nice to have category". There's not enough cool stuff being added fast enough to entice me into paying for subscriptions. And when the subscription price is so low, I'm not going to pay $150 for Novatron or $179 for FG-Stress. For $50-$80 I might bite. The prices are all about forcing customers into subscriptions. Developers really need to be adding at least 10 worthwhile plugins per year before I care to rent plugins on a month to month basis. It is getting harder to break new ground. There's probably things that go on in an all hardware setup that can't be modeled, especially if it's using tape. Maybe things that occur when hardware pieces and/or tape interact.

More stuff will come out that takes existing things up a level. This Sonnox Toolkit line seems promising with their idea of making complex things easier to achieve. Just making things cpu efficient without losing quality is a big gain. There's been some big stuff in the last year alone. The distressors, Novatron, Voxdoubler, Seventh Heaven, the new Exponential reverbs, Black Box, Elevate, Dopamine, Big Beautiful Door, Black Rooster stuff, New Bx Consoles, Fiedler Audio Stage, probably some others. All these raised the standard. You could also say Hornet Tape raised the standard for what you can get for $20 without a major sale.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #24
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by viciousbliss View Post
It is getting harder to break new ground. There's probably things that go on in an all hardware setup that can't be modeled, especially if it's using tape. Maybe things that occur when hardware pieces and/or tape interact.
I will disagree. "New Ground" is not being broken by 'closer' modeling of analog gear. Or even its 'interaction'. Somebody doing that slightly better than before is hardly new. When I think of New Ground I am thinking of the companies now making plug-ins that have no analog equivalent. In some cases, doing things that are simply not possible to do with analog circuitry. That's new ground.

Quote:
More stuff will come out that takes existing things up a level.
That alone means that plug-ins have not "peaked" but it not at all what some of us are talking about. A plug in that "nails" the 1176 better than last year's plug in "nailed" is, I agree, kind of boring. But people are naming specific new plugs that are not in that category and it's as if even after they are named, they are still invisible to those obsessed with hardware emulation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wrgkmc
I simply see the same old cloned circuits being used with minor variations to make them sound slightly different and a shiny new box on the outsides
Are you guys not reading the other posts in the thread? Have you not looked up the plugs being mentioned that are NOT models of classic analog gear?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #25
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Fanu's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
There is a story that back in 1899, the head of the US Patent office suggested closing the office because 'everything has already been invented'. It probably did not happen that way, but there is enough truth in the attitude exemplified to make people keep the story going - to illustrate a certain kind of thinking.

The things you have listed are what I would call "nice products". Not my idea of "breakthroughs". Just incremental improvements in a particular direction. Being models of classic analog gear for the most part, the most interesting thing about them is how close they approach the real thing and I will have to say some of current crop approach it quite closely.


well I probably have all the 1176 compressor plug-ins I could ever need!

Nevertheless the real breakthroughs are not coming from the plug-ins that "model" something analog that already exists, even if they model it better than the one that came before it. There are new plugs that perform functions that would not even be possible in analog. Some I think are fulfilling a need we might not even know we had. Yet.

How about an EQ ducker like Trackspacer:


Stereoplacer is like an EQ in that you can select bands through bells and shelves, but instead of adjust band level up and down, you adjust pan position in and out. Why do I want that? I don't know yet, but I am very interested to find out!

SoundRadix, Kush, Nugen, Fab Filter, Izotope.
Also check Directional EQ by DDMF for freq-specific panning.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #26
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nyandres's Avatar
Not really some enable pretty awesome workflows. Checkout the izotope stuff.... There is more to plugins than analog simulations... Nowadays yeah if I seek an analog sound I dont care whether I use a plugin or the real thing (at least for most gear that has been modeled well). But where plugins are still innovating is the workflow.... The izotope stuff, or a lot of the drum software is a pretty good example of this.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #27
Gear Maniac
Plugins are in a strange place right now. We started off aping the best of analog...that's mostly old now. Nice to have on hand, but everyone and their mother has access to the finest analog of yesteryear - we should all collectively get over it. There's nothing special about analog models anymore (they are wonderful though - I appreciate the fact that the universe gives me expensive pieces of analog hardware for comparative nickels now).

Clinging to analog hardware is for the nostalgists - for making good music as quickly as possible, hardware is a waste of time and resources (unless, of course, you PERSONALLY enjoy the hardware workflow, or, if your established analog studio business needs to maintain its client base. But there is nothing more practical about it). Apart from a minor future blowback from the digital workflow (i.e., I predict in some years, a group of folks will collectively get upset with all the "speed" available via digital and try to re-adapt their workflow to its analog roots - a misguided venture), the future of music production will capitalize upon the best of what digital has to offer, rather than continuing to mimic what we've all already experienced.

The amazing novelty of plugins is new for all of us. We're still in a state of revelation in the fact that the best of analog is available to us now. But things are truly moving beyond that.

The very best, most creative and most groundbreaking of what digital audio processing has to offer? We have yet to see it. Much to look forward to in coming years, I'm proud to be a Gearslut

Last edited by Ishkash; 2 weeks ago at 04:02 AM..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #28
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loopy's Avatar
 

Interesting thread.. Personally, I think we are starting to peak for conventional plugins. So those that do EQ, reverb, etc and/or model classic hardware. I think that is kind of getting old at the moment.

OTOH, "mangler plugins", which is the playful name I give to plugins or processors that mangle the sound, twist it, bend it, make totally new and unique sounds out of the source and so forth are still going strong. In fact, the creativity amazes me.

When I think of mangler plugins I think Beatles playing tapes backwards, introducing all kinds of different type sounds and recording techniques and so forth.
Currently, IMHO this is where the action is these days.

BTW, I'm a traditional jazz artist so go figure
Old 2 weeks ago
  #29
Here for the gear
I use UAD plugins for adding color and the Fabfilter plugs for transparency. I have both hardware and UAD plugins for Tubetech CL-1b, Korg DS-3000, ADA stereo delay, Thermionic Culture Vulture, and the 1176 Rev A. After having compared these side-by-side, I feel that the plugin emulations for at least these hardware units are pretty spot-on. The difference comes in when the hardware is pushed particularly in case of the Rev A and TCV. The other thing I notice is I need several plugins in chain to get the final mix ITB but when I mix OTB (D-Box) I need very few plugs (sometimes none ) to get to the same end product - but that's a different story, I guess. Nonetheless, plugins are great and do make life a lot easier.

My 2 cents.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #30
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by loopy View Post
OTOH, "mangler plugins", which is the playful name I give to plugins or processors that mangle the sound, twist it, bend it, make totally new and unique sounds out of the source and so forth are still going strong. In fact, the creativity amazes me.
Besides the Analog models and the Manglers, I think we also need to describe a third category of plugs - not sure what good name would be? Maybe "Miracle Utility"?

Spectral noise removal things like Izotope RX and algorithmic 'separators' like Audionamix ADX are performing functions that in the very recent past were considered "impossible". That's two right there and that's only scratching the surface. The various "riders" and "surfers" "aligners" and "spacemakers" allow us to link the performance of one mix element to another ways that make traditional side-chaining seem quaint. Many of these things are starting to use AI processes to analyze and identify elements as we humans hear them - for example to listen to a mixed track, figure out what part of the waveform is "drums" and raise or lower the drums - from within an already recorded mix.

I enjoy my classic processors, and I enjoy some of the wild and crazy far out sounds and 'effecty' plugs, but some of these new utility devices are actually changing the way I mix. The effects are not as 'dramatic' as some science-fiction mangling, but they are no less revolutionary in the long run.
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