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Have we reached the ceiling of effect plugin quality?
Old 31st July 2020
  #1
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Have we reached the ceiling of effect plugin quality?

Despite new compressors, eq's, saturators, and reverbs getting released every month, It's starting to get to the point where it doesn't seem like they are getting objectively "better". I have some ancient Waves and PSP plugins that still sound great on material right next to newer plugins in a side by side comparison.

For example, I'd go so far as to say I prefer Soundtoys Decapitator to a couple of different high profile saturation plugs released this year (not naming any names), and that's almost 11 years old at this point.

Have we (or when did we) hit the ceiling when it comes to ITB effect quality in your opinion? Keep in mind I do think there is still room for novel "new" effects like Gullfoss, and virtual instruments will always change to reflect the changing aesthetic of musicians of a certain time period.

When it comes to the basics however, I'm really starting to suspect that more often than not newer plugins have fresher looking interfaces, but don't necessarily sound any better.
Old 31st July 2020
  #2
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Definitely we've reached a point of diminishing returns on effects, though that won't stop them from churning out new stuff and people buying into the hype and exclaiming how much better it is lol

VIs are another story. They've made great strides there also but there is still room for improvement, esp with harder to sample instruments like violin or sax.
Old 31st July 2020
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bill5 View Post
Definitely we've reached a point of diminishing returns on effects, though that won't stop them from churning out new stuff and people buying into the hype and exclaiming how much better it is lol
Yes, seems like there is always room for another "game changer"
Old 31st July 2020
  #4
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No.

Code and technology always evolves. It can slow sometimes, or speed up, but it marches forward, still.

For example, there will come a point where hardware or software won't matter, audibly. It's not too far away in some cases. Also, software will continue to outpace hardware in terms of features.
Old 31st July 2020
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vitocorleone123 View Post
No.

Code and technology always evolves. It can slow sometimes, or speed up, but it marches forward, still.

For example, there will come a point where hardware or software won't matter, audibly. It's not too far away in some cases. Also, software will continue to outpace hardware in terms of features.
Just to understand your point of view, do you think ITB compressors released this year are audibly better than ones released five years ago?
Old 31st July 2020
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motomotomoto View Post
Just to understand your point of view, do you think ITB compressors released this year are audibly better than ones released five years ago?
As a whole, I’d say “probably a little bit”. But go use and master Unisum and I bet you’d say “yes!”. Or VSC-3, even.
Old 31st July 2020
  #7
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thismercifulfate's Avatar
I’ve hardly bought any new plugin in years. I have a long way to scroll through my dynamics plugin folder in PT on a 34” monitor but I still use Renaissance Comp all the time and as much as I love the interface, deep, narrow EQ cuts with Renaissance EQ sound much better than bx_digital V3. And no other plugin can do what Phoenix II does. The companies will do anything they can to sell their products, but in the end tried and trusted trumps new and shiny.
Old 31st July 2020
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vitocorleone123 View Post
As a whole, I’d say “probably a little bit”. But go use and master Unisum and I bet you’d say “yes!”. Or VSC-3, even.
I have VSC-3 and love it. However, when I test against other fav from years past I have a hard time saying it's "better" than some old favorites like TDR Kotelinov, PSP Fetpressor, or ProC. It's different yes, but better? I don't know.
Old 31st July 2020
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thismercifulfate View Post
I’ve hardly bought any new plugin in years. I have a long way to scroll through my dynamics plugin folder in PT on a 34” monitor but I still use Renaissance Comp all the time and as much as I love the interface, deep, narrow EQ cuts with Renaissance EQ sound much better than bx_digital V3. And no other plugin can do what Phoenix II does. The companies will do anything they can to sell their products, but in the end tried and trusted trumps new and shiny.
Recently got Ren Bass and it blows me away how good it is at what it does.
Old 31st July 2020
  #10
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Wolf LeProducer's Avatar
 

A lot of the plugins from 10/15 years ago are just as good as anything brand new. And if not by 2005, definitely the ones from 2010 are as good as the ones from today.

Even if, "technology always changes and evolves," music software sound quality is kind of, "done." There are very few unique ideas out there, in the absolute mess of of vst plugins.

And we are starting to see some really freakish, useless things.... For example... do you need all this, for a bass drum? https://d16.pl/punchbox

I know its a synth, sorta... its a synth with bitcrusher, disto, etc, etc,.... There has to be @ least 250 free bitcrusher vst's....
Old 31st July 2020
  #11
Gear Addict
Ive seen similar thread through the years Ive been on here. Where people state that we've reach the height of plug-ins.
And each and every year there are new plug-ins with new bells and whistles and new innovations. Just as we are creative with music as producers there will be engineers just as creative when it comes to making plug-ins.
Old 31st July 2020
  #12
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No where close.

I say this because it takes time, effort, talent, and money to make a good Audio tool. Does not matter if it's hardware or software. The more effort put in to the code, the better stuff will be. There are also computing speed limits.

UAD is a great example. They don't use tons of processing power with the old Shark chips, but they sound better than most native plugs. They put in the effort to have a persons ears adjust the software right.

New tools are showing up in new combinations all the time. Isolating transient vs steady sounds is a newer tool that has not been used to it's limits yet.

A real limiting factor of software is the sample rate and rate of calculations. Once we have sample rates of say 9600 vs 48, then things like compression and feedback will be easier to make behave like circuits that respond to changes at the speed of electricity (speed of light). This issue alone is what makes compressors one of the more difficult to get right in software.
Old 31st July 2020
  #13
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Synth Buddha's Avatar
Absolutely not.
Old 31st July 2020
  #14
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BT64's Avatar
What’s quality?
We emulate old crap and call it great and try to hear differences.
I guess if it gets the result you are after it’s what you are looking for.
Plugins can do things we could only dream about 40 years ago but still we manage to make crap with it.
Old 31st July 2020
  #15
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monkeyxx's Avatar
The classics have been emulated to death. I think those are fairly done. The ones that will stand out are the "new" ones, things that haven't been drilled into cliche.
Old 31st July 2020
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolf LeProducer View Post
A lot of the plugins from 10/15 years ago are just as good as anything brand new. And if not by 2005, definitely the ones from 2010 are as good as the ones from today.

Even if, "technology always changes and evolves," music software sound quality is kind of, "done." There are very few unique ideas out there, in the absolute mess of of vst plugins.

And we are starting to see some really freakish, useless things.... For example... do you need all this, for a bass drum? https://d16.pl/punchbox

I know its a synth, sorta... its a synth with bitcrusher, disto, etc, etc,.... There has to be @ least 250 free bitcrusher vst's....
Punchbox is great - one of my favorites. So... yes, I need that. It's a great hybrid plugin, mixing samples and synthesis. A true sleeper of a plugin, better than most for kick/bass drums. It was pretty original when it came out. Bad example, perhaps.

Music software quality isn't "done".

That's like saying "well, I can rub 2 sticks together to get fire... technology is done, this is as good as it gets!" (but at least that's analog! har har har).
Old 31st July 2020
  #17
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worm's Avatar
 

i don't know how true this is but i was told that once we get to 384khz sample rates, there will be no discernable difference to analog. that's still a ways away, but the plugins coming out in the last few years are already blowing my mind... at 44.1khz. i rarely use anything higher. oversample in the plugins themselves? sure... and the difference is clear. but there are still some things that plugins can't quite get, like filters and distortion/drive/saturation. those are the two weakest links in the software realm imo. once those are nailed (and yeah, it's all subjective... what does nailed mean? etc etc) i think the need for expensive studios will be even less than it is already. i'm pretty sure as we step into a new age of computing with AI based plugins running on cpus that make the current ones seem like a casio watch things will get very interesting. just have to wait and see
Old 31st July 2020
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IAMGOD_OFFICIAL View Post
Ive seen similar thread through the years Ive been on here. Where people state that we've reach the height of plug-ins.
And each and every year there are new plug-ins with new bells and whistles and new innovations.
Bells and whistles, always. New innovations? Precious little, and the amount continues to shrink.


Quote:
Originally Posted by vitocorleone123 View Post
Music software quality isn't "done".

That's like saying "well, I can rub 2 sticks together to get fire... technology is done, this is as good as it gets!" (but at least that's analog! har har har).
Nah. Audio tech is waaay beyond rubbing sticks together. A more accurate analogy would be like saying, "I can use this napalm rifle to get fire...but I hear they're coming out with a new one this year with a slightly more comfortable handle and a slightly more powerful flame." i.e. a tiny improvement at most.



Quote:
Originally Posted by worm View Post
i don't know how true this is but i was told that once we get to 384khz sample rates, there will be no discernable difference to analog.
Not this again

I doubt we will ever "get" to 384 because it's if anything worse, not better, than say about 96 (tops). Same with 192. Bigger numbers don't always mean better.
Old 31st July 2020
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bill5 View Post
Bells and whistles, always. New innovations? Precious little, and the amount continues to shrink.


Nah. Audio tech is waaay beyond rubbing sticks together. A more accurate analogy would be like saying, "I can use this napalm rifle to get fire...but I hear they're coming out with a new one this year with a slightly more comfortable handle and a slightly more powerful flame." i.e. a tiny improvement at most.



Not this again

I doubt we will ever "get" to 384 because it's if anything worse, not better, than say about 96 (tops). Same with 192. Bigger numbers don't always mean better.
That's the same for ALL tech. It peaks, plateaus, falls. But then it often peaks again as it changes or some new innovation occurs. A tiny improvement every year over 5 years means that there's a real improvement now vs 5 years ago.

Have we reached the ceiling effect of all analog instruments?
Have we reached the ceiling effect of medicine?
Etc.
Old 31st July 2020
  #20
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by bill5 View Post
Bells and whistles, always. New innovations? Precious little, and the amount continues to shrink.

Is Scaler 2 not one of the most innovative plug-ins? Took the Melodyne idea and ran with it.

How about Izotope RX, a tool sample based hip hop producers have ALWAYS wanted!

How about EZ Keys, talk about innovation!!!

Every year there's some new innovative plug-in
Old 31st July 2020
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vitocorleone123 View Post
That's the same for ALL tech. It peaks, plateaus, falls.
? Technology never falls. We always have at least as much tech as we had at any prior time. Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you mean? And we're not talking about all tech anyway; we're talking about music creation/audio production tech. But that is predicated largely on computer tech. And that has also been at a point of diminishing returns for a long time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by IAMGOD_OFFICIAL View Post
Is Scaler 2 not one of the most innovative plug-ins? Took the Melodyne idea and ran with it.

How about Izotope RX, a tool sample based hip hop producers have ALWAYS wanted!

How about EZ Keys, talk about innovation!!!

Every year there's some new innovative plug-in
Pretty sure they've all been around more than a year, haven't they? What new innovative plugin happened this year? A new version of an existing one which just enhances it somewhat doesn't qualify.

Again: I'm not saying nothing worthwhile ever comes out or "we're done." I'm saying both the number of improvements and how much they really improve existing stuff continues to shrink. Same with hardware. That's inevitable.
Old 31st July 2020
  #22
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by bill5 View Post
What new innovative plugin happened this year? A new version of an existing one which just enhances it somewhat doesn't qualify.
Dude we've been on lockdown this year where have you been? SMH
Old 31st July 2020
  #23
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ponzi's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post
The classics have been emulated to death. I think those are fairly done. The ones that will stand out are the "new" ones, things that haven't been drilled into cliche.
I never understood how some tube gear from the 50s got to be the gold standard. I don’t hear people trying to make their music sound like it was from the 50s.

So, yes to what sounds good rather than what sounds like ____.
Old 1st August 2020
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ponzi View Post
I never understood how some tube gear from the 50s got to be the gold standard. I don’t hear people trying to make their music sound like it was from the 50s.
Really? I do now and then. Or 40s or 30s or 20s even.
Old 1st August 2020
  #25
Here for the gear
 

There are some areas still lacking where there is lots of room for improvements.

For example, guitar amp simulations. They are getting closer and closer, but still not there yet (even though lately there have been some impressive releases).

Regarding virutal instruments there is one area that has a lot of potential if it gets developed and there are so far only a couple of tries, so not even on its infancy: human voice simulators. When someone developes a VSTi than can sing like a human being -and even like some particular human beings... imagine being able to choose a recreation of a selection of famous voices to sing your songs... like having Sinatra, Elvis, or Mercury available-... that would be the start of a new era.
Old 1st August 2020
  #26
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biksonije's Avatar
 

No. Not in a long shot! New code is emerging every day. New techniques. Machine learning capabilities. Smart(er) aps. More powerful computers (go back to new code and new techniques) facilitate all that. And round and round we go. ;-)

As time progresses so does the code and programming languages.
Old 1st August 2020
  #27
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Monkey Man's Avatar
 

Well, obviously the answer is "no", technically.

However, there can be no doubt that we've been in a situation of diminishing returns sound-quality-wise for many years now, especially for FX and processors (less so for VI's) IMHO.
Old 1st August 2020
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IAMGOD_OFFICIAL View Post
Is Scaler 2 not one of the most innovative plug-ins? Took the Melodyne idea and ran with it.

How about Izotope RX, a tool sample based hip hop producers have ALWAYS wanted!

How about EZ Keys, talk about innovation!!!

Every year there's some new innovative plug-in
I mean I love RX myself, but it came out in 2010 I think
Old 1st August 2020
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biksonije View Post
No. Not in a long shot! New code is emerging every day. New techniques. Machine learning capabilities. Smart(er) aps. More powerful computers (go back to new code and new techniques) facilitate all that. And round and round we go. ;-)

As time progresses so does the code and programming languages.
None of which in inherent to increased plugin quality. And FYI most of the most popular programming languages have been around for a long time.
Old 1st August 2020
  #30
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by motomotomoto View Post
I mean I love RX myself, but it came out in 2010 I think
Yeah but that version is nothing like the latest version
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