I’m Jackson Ward and I’m a session drummer and audio engineer based out of Indianapolis, Indiana. Today I’m looking at the Soundtoys 5 Bundle to see what it can do within a typical rock mix.
The Soundtoys 5 Bundle is what I consider to be the best effects plugin bundle on the market. Its versatility, quality, and and ease-of-use with these plugins is second to none. The bundle comes with twenty different effects plugins, which can either be used within the Soundtoys Effects Rack, or on their own. The cool thing about the Effects Rack is that it can be used as an all-in-one plugin module to build and customize your own effects chains within the space of one plugin. This will be a familiar feature for users of the Slate Digital Virtual Mix Rack. These plugins make effects processing easy and fun, without sounding cheap or tacky – something I find an issue with many effects plugins. While all of the plugins within the bundle have their own unique features and uses, I found there to be a handful that really stood out from the rest.
Vocals are one of the first things people think of adding effects to, and the Soundtoys 5 bundle has plenty of great options for vocal processing. Right off the bat, I found myself reaching for the Echo Boy to add beautiful, three-dimensional delay to my vocals. The cool thing is that these delays are based on some of the most famous delay boxes made, such as the Echo Box and Space Echo. Beyond the Echo Boy, I found myself using a few other plugins heavily on vocals, these being the Decapitator, Little Radiator, and MicroShift. Decapitator is great for adding some bite and grit to a vocal, with plenty of analog flavor. Little Radiator was fantastic for adding some warmth and harmonics to a thin vocal, or really anything that could use some harmonic saturation. Lastly, my secret weapon of all these has been the MicroShift. I use it in place of an Eventide H3000 for vocal widening and doubling effects. When blended in parallel to a lead vocal, it adds natural width and depth to a vocal that is very similar to an H3000. I’ve been using this to give my lead vocals that extra 5-10%.
Beyond vocals, the Soundtoys 5 Bundle really excels on drums. I grew fond of the Devil-Loc Deluxe on room mics. This allowed me to heavily compress and distort my room mics, while the “darkness” knob allowed me to control the harshness. There really isn’t another plugin out there comparable to what this does to drum room mics. Even just blending in a little of it will give clean, boring room mics some attitude and character to glue your drum sound. And if you’re looking to add a little something extra to your snare, the Microshift and Primal Tap plugins can be a fun way to spice up a section of a song or even your snare tone.
With bass, guitars, and synth, I enjoyed using many of the same effects as I did on vocals. Decapitator is just perfect on bass for dirtying things up, and EchoBoy is my new go-to for delays on clean guitars, lead guitars, and synths. However, one plugin that really stands out on guitars and synths is the Crystallizer. This is based on the Eventide H3000’s effects processing. This plugin alone takes simple guitar and synth lines to the next level. If you’ve ever listened to a professional recording and thought “How did they get that guitar to sound so wide and three dimensional?” it was probably done with an H3000. It’s truly a unique sound, and to have it alongside so many great plugins is just another reason why I love the Soundtoys 5 Bundle.
Overall, this bundle is extremely diverse and brings a lot of value for the money. I can confidently say that it will take your mixes and productions to the next level, as I know it has for mine!