10. Pulse by Rosen Digital Audio
The Pulse impulse response loader by Rosen Digital makes our list for a number of reasons. It’s simple to use, has exactly everything thing you would need from an IR loader, comes with a great IR built in – and to top it all off, it’s free!
Update: Rosen Digital Audio is now Lancaster Audio.
9. Air and Earth for VMR by Eiosis
The function of this plugin is pretty simple. High and low filters and curves. But what’s so special about that, you say? Well, in my experience it’s been a matter of time. I would spend a few minutes on any EQ and get what I’m looking for, but more often than not I can get my highs and lows dialed in the way I want within seconds just using these modules.
8. Pro-C2 by Fab Filter
I like to call this plugin the Swiss Army Knife of compressors. Pretty much any kind of compression you are looking to do, Pro-C2 gives you the means. Vocals, Guitars, Drums, Mixbus, Mastering – It can legitimately handle all of those things well.
7. PTEq-X by Ignite Amps
Ignite Amps are known for their guitar amp and pedal emulations, but this here PTEq-X is their emulation of the legendary EQs by Pultec. Now, Pultec EQ emulations are all over the place these days. I have used Waves’ version and Universal Audio’s – I don’t know what it is about this one, but to my ears it’s just better. I pretty much never used Pultec EQ emulations at all before this one, I just never liked what I was hearing. I don’t know what Ignite Amps did to make this happen, but I look forward to them branching out more! Oh and did I mention this plugin is FREE!?
6. KClip 2 by Kazrog
Kazrog is another company well known for their guitar amp sims and IRs. When KClip first came out, it quickly became a highly regarded tool for clipping and being able to achieve a transparent sound. KClip 2 just takes it all to the next level. This might just be the most versatile clipper I have come across so far. I have used it on drums, guitars, and mastering and it handles them all well. I especially love how it sounds on my mastering bus.
5. E² Deesser by Eiosis
This is hands down the most powerful Deesser I have ever used. No other Deesser I have used makes it this easy and is this good at getting rid of those S’s!
4. FG-116 Blue Series Modules by Slate Digital
This is one of my favorite compressors to use these days. While it sounds great on a lot of things, I especially love how it sounds on vocal tracks. The first time I used the FG-116 Modern I immediately could tell this was something special. It was the first time I used a compressor and it actually FELT like the real thing. It makes me really look forward to Slate Digital’s Distressor module which should be coming out early next year! You might remember from my VMR review, I put out a call asking Slate Digital for it. Ask and ye shall receive I guess! Thanks guys!
3. DF-Clip by Drumforge
Oh man. If you asked me 6 months ago what I thought was going to be my number pick plugin for 2016 I would have told you Drumforge’s DF-Clip. This plugin rocked my world. I end up using it at least once on every session I work on. The brainchild of Joel Wanasek and Joey Sturgis, DF-Clip is straight up the easiest and most musical way to get drums to cut through a mix. Getting drums to cut though a mix honestly was an area I always struggled in and would take me WAY longer than I care to mention to get right. Ever since I started using DF-Clip, the job gets done within minutes now. I cant say enough good things about this plugin, go check it out. For the asking price of $45, it’s practically a steal.
2. Pro-R by FabFilter
A lot of great reverbs came out this year. What makes this so great as to take the number 2 spot? Well, it comes down to 2 things – ease of use and the quality of the results. Reverb is a very powerful tool in mixing. You can totally mess up the feel of a song if you don’t have the reverb for everything dialed in well. With FabFilter’s Pro-R I found it really hard to mess it up. You have to go out of your way to get bad results with this thing. You hear the word “Natural” thrown around a lot when it comes to Reverb plugins. This might be the first time I could believe that. It worked wonderfully on every application I tried. Vocals, Drums, Synths, etc. – it’s my new go-to reverb for the foreseeable future. I have never really “liked” a reverb plugin before this one. That’s why it rates so high on the list.
1. DF-Q by Drumforge
I don’t know how Drumforge did it, but they managed to make 2 of my most favorite plugins in the same year. DF-Q pretty much did the same thing DF-Clip did – which is make it infinitely easier to EQ drums and get great results in a fraction of the time. This is another plugin that is pretty much guaranteed to show up at least once in any session I am working on. It’s really simple to use – pick the mode you want to use, and tweak the knobs. I’m a big fan of how they decided to word everything on the faceplate. It’s worded in terms that translate to the effect they will bring about, not just numbers on a frequency chart. It forces you to trust your ears instead of any expectations you might have from the past, or maybe from what you were told. It is by far the plugin that has transformed my mixing the most, and a tool that I think is a MUST for anyone that is even remotely serious about getting their drums to sound good and sit well in a mix.
Well, there you have it! Our picks for the Top 10 plugins of 2016. You might be wondering why some plugins like the new Slate Digital Reverb and Delay, JST plugins, etc didn’t make it on here. I would have loved to try them out but unfortunately I couldn’t get my hands on them. I do plan on checking them all out at some point though, so be on the look out for that.