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“It’s not the gear, it’s the ear!” - can we stop this? Noise Reduction & Restoration Plugins
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

“It’s not the gear, it’s the ear!” - can we stop this?

Hey all,
While looking for some good mixing/mastering plugins and searching non-stop for comparisons, like “UAD vs Waves” or “FabFilter vs Waves” etc..... there seems to be a pattern.

Lots of people seem to state that it’s not the tools - it’s the person using the tools.

Well, that’s a valid and logical thing to say.

But some people take it to extremes and say “your daw’s stock plugins are enough to produce in top production levels”.

Now that sounds weird to me.

After trying Waves, UAD plugins, FabFilter and some other companies - for sure each of them bring different flavor.

But even Logic Pro’s stock plugins which are praised by many (because they are indeed good) - it seems impossible to reach top level sound with them.

Can someone name me one hit song (a fairly new one) that was made using only stock plugins for its mixing and mastering?

I’m having trouble believing such thing exists.

To be clear, I’m talking about top charting songs like “me!” By Taylor Swift Or “Psycho” by Post Malone, “Taki Taki” by DJ Snake and more.

Thanks!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
Gear Head
 

Yep you really can do it with stock plugins, 3rd party plugins are nice but are not essential to making that next hit!!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Addict
 
leckel1996's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by amirgelman View Post
Hey all,
While looking for some good mixing/mastering plugins and searching non-stop for comparisons, like “UAD vs Waves” or “FabFilter vs Waves” etc..... there seems to be a pattern.

Lots of people seem to state that it’s not the tools - it’s the person using the tools.

Well, that’s a valid and logical thing to say.

But some people take it to extremes and say “your daw’s stock plugins are enough to produce in top production levels”.

Now that sounds weird to me.

After trying Waves, UAD plugins, FabFilter and some other companies - for sure each of them bring different flavor.

But even Logic Pro’s stock plugins which are praised by many (because they are indeed good) - it seems impossible to reach top level sound with them.

Can someone name me one hit song (a fairly new one) that was made using only stock plugins for its mixing and mastering?

I’m having trouble believing such thing exists.

To be clear, I’m talking about top charting songs like “me!” By Taylor Swift Or “Psycho” by Post Malone, “Taki Taki” by DJ Snake and more.

Thanks!
I’m not entirely sure what those top songs were done with, but I know that Serban (the guy who mixed me!) uses pretty “mediocre” plugins by today’s standards. Metric Halo and McDSP to name a few.

You have to keep in mind these songs are created by top producers who are very picky with sound choice and arrangement so heavy handed mixing is less necessary. And they also are recorded using high quality mics, preamps, compressors, etc. on the front end and then are usually mastered analog.

I know I personally am usually stuck with sounds that aren’t as good and recordings that were done with cheaper mics in far from ideal rooms so I have to more heavily rely on my mixing tools to make things sound good.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by amirgelman View Post
Hey all,
While looking for some good mixing/mastering plugins and searching non-stop for comparisons, like “UAD vs Waves” or “FabFilter vs Waves” etc..... there seems to be a pattern.

Lots of people seem to state that it’s not the tools - it’s the person using the tools.

Well, that’s a valid and logical thing to say.

But some people take it to extremes and say “your daw’s stock plugins are enough to produce in top production levels”.

Now that sounds weird to me.

After trying Waves, UAD plugins, FabFilter and some other companies - for sure each of them bring different flavor.

But even Logic Pro’s stock plugins which are praised by many (because they are indeed good) - it seems impossible to reach top level sound with them.

Can someone name me one hit song (a fairly new one) that was made using only stock plugins for its mixing and mastering?

I’m having trouble believing such thing exists.

To be clear, I’m talking about top charting songs like “me!” By Taylor Swift Or “Psycho” by Post Malone, “Taki Taki” by DJ Snake and more.

Thanks!
If you're talking about big hits and names like that then you'll never find those songs made from stock plug ins..

1. Its too much $$ on the line
2. Top songs will all go through some of the best hardware in the end so its not really about the plug-ins, per se.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 
swafford's Avatar
 

It's not the gear, it's the fear.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
Lives for gear
 
mr. torture's Avatar
 

I have owned every mic known to man and my singer, while hearing slight differences in high / low / mid range frequencies, sounds the same on all of them in a mix.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by amirgelman View Post
Can someone name me one hit song (a fairly new one) that was made using only stock plugins for its mixing and mastering
No.

But I can only think of one "trick" I regularly do that can't be done with PT's stock plugins along with the stuff in their usual add-on bundles (like Sansamp and an 1176 of some sort). Good trick, though. :-)

And I can see how I'd want a snazzy convolution reverb in certain situations. But I haven't had that come up since I went all-ITB and sold my 480L.

And it's nice to have a cool bus limiter to push into to simulate mastering-limiter pushback and goose up the level, but I can come pretty close with the stock PT compressor (loosen up that knee).

Outside of those exceptions, in my mainly Rock/Americana/Country sphere I've never found the need to go apesh!t with plugins, and I don't get paid enough to justify it.

Last edited by Brent Hahn; 2 weeks ago at 06:03 PM..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
Lives for gear
 

While I'm sure that top producers COULD produce a hit single with stock plugins, etc, there's a reason that they DON'T.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
Lives for gear
 
Uncle Bob's Avatar
 

If you've got (or developed) great ears then you have the ability to appreciate and use great gear.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
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swafford's Avatar
 

It's not the gear, it's the beer.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #11
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

I feel compelled to add a bit to what I said earlier. I'm probably gonna get one of the dynamic EQ plugs pretty soon. I'm starting to realize that I'm doing a lot of checkerboarding of vocal tracks, dividing them up into "edgy" and "not edgy" and sometimes a third category like "too close to the mic," and I'm wondering if a dynamic EQ might do that job faster and better.

Thoughts from anyone who uses them?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #12
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Duardo View Post
While I'm sure that top producers COULD produce a hit single with stock plugins, etc, there's a reason that they DON'T.
I think the only reason they don't is because they don't have to. ;-)
Seriously though what do you think Prince, R.I.P would come out with if all he had to record with was Cubase or Logic etc.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Funny Cat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I feel compelled to add a bit to what I said earlier. I'm probably gonna get one of the dynamic EQ plugs pretty soon. I'm starting to realize that I'm doing a lot of checkerboarding of vocal tracks, dividing them up into "edgy" and "not edgy" and sometimes a third category like "too close to the mic," and I'm wondering if a dynamic EQ might do that job faster and better.

Thoughts from anyone who uses them?

I’ve got a couple of dynamic EQ’s. I have the first version of Nova before they joined with Tokyo Dawn and I also have the Tokyo Dawn version A.K.A. “TDR Nova”.

They’re cool for some things but I don’t often find them that useful on vocals. For me the main things I’m using on harsh, wooly or edgy vocals is a low cut around 150Hz plus precision cuts in the trouble freqs.

In addition I’m rolling off a little top end (around 18KHz). All while adding some parallel compression/distortion to get the energy back after making those cuts.

I also tend to use two de-Essers, one at the beginning of the chain and one at the end both doing very little amounts at slightly different frequencies. Usually somewhere around 8KHz and then the other around 9.5KHz does the trick.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by IAMGOD_OFFICIAL View Post
If you're talking about big hits and names like that then you'll never find those songs made from stock plug ins..

1. Its too much $$ on the line
2. Top songs will all go through some of the best hardware in the end so its not really about the plug-ins, per se.
1. No one really knows what was used unless you were there.

2. Many of the hits people are talking about are all itb generation, the only hardware used being the vocal chain, and all mixing itb too.

Why use fancy plugins? My opinions:

I actually really like the stock avid channel strip, and could totally work with that as my standard eq. I tend to use the waves ssl e as that’s what I learned on and it behaves as my mind does.

I vastly prefer 3rd party verbs and delays, I generally feel they’ve got more texture and depth - but with a bit of extra processing I could probably get the same thing out of stock plugins.

I find some 3rd party plugins don’t have a stock equivalent - PT doesn’t ship with tape sims like slate/uad, console saturation, decaptiator equivalent or specialist stuff like soothe or izotope rx, so I have to use .3rd party options.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #15
Anything and everything can, potentially, make a difference from small to large. I'm not someone who goes out and buys expensive bundles (at all) but I did make a point of occasionally updating/upgrading my DAW (Sonar, now living reasonably comfortably in the freeware zone as Cakewalk by Bandlab) which, under previous owners had included, I guess we could call them, 'freemium' plugins -- limited release and sometimes somewhat limited feature/function versions of premium plugs (many from respected developers). And, like many budget-challenged types (I'm retired), I've also collected an array of free and shareware plugs.

There is no question in my mind: I definitely like some plugs much better than others in their category; some sound better out the gate; some are easier to get desired qualities from because of features or differences in UI.

Differences in user interface, for me, can make a pretty big difference, even when the sonic quality or basic function are about the same. Some UIs make things easy; some make things much harder than they need be. Like, for instance those 'realistic' 3D renderings of knobs that have to be adjusted with a rotary mouse action (instead of the common and very useful 'hidden fader' motion option where you can 'turn' the knob simply by mousing up or down). It's such a common sense and relatively common approach, no innovation needed -- yet we've seen a number of plugins some graphic designer obviously labored over that, for whatever reasons, insist on the trickier, slower rotary mouse/finger action.


But, very real differences in sonic quality and ease of use aside, it's nonetheless worth noting that the quality range of plugins is probably narrow indeed compared to the quality range of engineer/practitioners.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Lives for gear
 
mr. torture's Avatar
 

Eurythmics did ok with minimal cheap gear and no plugins.
Old 1 week ago
  #17
Lives for gear
 
carlheinz's Avatar
 

Theres no secret sauce. Get the quality picking the apropriate(or inapropriate) chain and settings before you hit record and you won't need to have this discussion about plugs. Nothing against em and they are handy ....but you get it sounding right going in and rest is up to the the song and the performance....then you need to get that right.
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by carlheinz View Post
Theres no secret sauce.
In my case, I do have a little bit of secret sauce. Actually not secret, I'm happy to share, but I can only do it with a plugin.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
Gear Nut
 
HerbDelux's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
In my case, I do have a little bit of secret sauce. Actually not secret, I'm happy to share, but I can only do it with a plugin.
Im interested. Would you mind sharing?
Old 1 week ago
  #20
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by HerbDelux View Post
Im interested. Would you mind sharing?
Not at all.

Basically, it's extreme and steep parallel low-pass filtering of an acoustic guitar with a resonance boost at the "corner" frequency. The result, or at least the goal, is something that doesn't sound acoustic or electric, but sorta in-between. In the first song it's on the acoustic lead guitar, and the corner boost is pretty mild. In the second song it's on the acoustic "twin leads" at around 1:50, and the boost is more extreme.

I do this with the F2 HP/LP filter in McDSP Filterbank, but there are other filter plugins that will do it as well. And there may, in fact, be analog filters that can do it, but I'm unaware of them.



Old 1 week ago
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Not at all.

Basically, it's extreme and steep parallel low-pass filtering of an acoustic guitar with a resonance boost at the "corner" frequency. The result, or at least the goal, is something that doesn't sound acoustic or electric, but sorta in-between. In the first song it's on the acoustic lead guitar, and the corner boost is pretty mild. In the second song it's on the acoustic "twin leads" at around 1:50, and the boost is more extreme.

I do this with the F2 HP/LP filter in McDSP Filterbank, but there are other filter plugins that will do it as well. And there may, in fact, be analog filters that can do it, but I'm unaware of them.



I'm going to fool around with that! Thanks for the idea! I'd never thought to do that.

You make it work nicely in those examples. Love that laid back vibe. I've said it before, "When You Know" is a great little song.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
Gear Nut
 
HerbDelux's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Not at all.

Basically, it's extreme and steep parallel low-pass filtering of an acoustic guitar with a resonance boost at the "corner" frequency. The result, or at least the goal, is something that doesn't sound acoustic or electric, but sorta in-between. In the first song it's on the acoustic lead guitar, and the corner boost is pretty mild. In the second song it's on the acoustic "twin leads" at around 1:50, and the boost is more extreme.

I do this with the F2 HP/LP filter in McDSP Filterbank, but there are other filter plugins that will do it as well. And there may, in fact, be analog filters that can do it, but I'm unaware of them.




Wow thats pretty cool. Thanks for the reply. I hear that effect on “when you know”, and I’ve got to say it definitely is right in between an acoustic and an electric tone. Really cool! I was expecting it to sound super resonant, but it’s actually quite clean and smooth.

Also When You Know is such a good track I really liked it. The mix, quality, vibe, lyrics, everything was great. Plus I can relate to the lyrics!
Old 1 week ago
  #23
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by HerbDelux View Post
I was expecting it to sound super resonant, but it’s actually quite clean and smooth.
Exactly. It sounds way more natural and uncontrived than it actually is.

And thanks, fellas, for the kind words.
Old 1 week ago
  #24
Lives for gear
 
swafford's Avatar
 

It's not the gear, it's the tears.
Old 1 week ago
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by swafford View Post
It's not the gear, it's the tears.
And the laughs, and the longing... the audience has their own emotions, of course, and they may 'find' those emotions mirrored anywhere. But great works often get to be great when the creator has poured in her or his own tears, laughter, and emotions and the audience finds their own feelings reflected in them.


Anyhow, that's a great little axiom, just as you wrote it. It nails it.

(And it doesn't hurt that it seems to hint at Churchill's wartime phrase of struggle: 'blood, sweat, and tears.')
Old 1 week ago
  #26
Lives for gear
 
Funny Cat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Not at all.

Basically, it's extreme and steep parallel low-pass filtering of an acoustic guitar with a resonance boost at the "corner" frequency. The result, or at least the goal, is something that doesn't sound acoustic or electric, but sorta in-between. In the first song it's on the acoustic lead guitar, and the corner boost is pretty mild. In the second song it's on the acoustic "twin leads" at around 1:50, and the boost is more extreme.

I do this with the F2 HP/LP filter in McDSP Filterbank, but there are other filter plugins that will do it as well. And there may, in fact, be analog filters that can do it, but I'm unaware of them.




Love the overall vibe on these two tracks man. Good stuff!



P.S. I'm assuming these are mastered too? They're pretty loud and upfront. Did you use your Finalizer?
Old 1 week ago
  #27
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Love the overall vibe on these two tracks man. Good stuff!



P.S. I'm assuming these are mastered too? They're pretty loud and upfront. Did you use your Finalizer?
Thanks.

They're, um, "faux-mastered." Sold my Finalizer quite a while ago, these would have been done ITB with either Massey or Fabfilter or a combo of the two. Loud-ish, I guess. As for the "upfront," I'm often told I like things too dry.
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