Music Production

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Plugins: The Great Free And Cheap VST Round-Up

Plugins, Plugins, And More Plugins! So let’s talk plugins: The sheer expense of getting into sound design is one of the largest hurdles that beginners must overcome. But, it doesn’t have to be a dead end! If the Sound Design Santa didn’t leave all the plugins you wanted under the tree, I’ve pulled together a list of free and cheap plugins to get your sound design juiced up without breaking the bank. These are some great tools, at an affordable $50-or-less price point. It’s important to keep in mind however, that the plugins don’t make the designer! These are tools, and at the end of the day, how you use them is more important than what you’re using. Nobody ever got a gig simply because they owned the Decapitator. With that in mind, and without further ado…here’s what I’ve got for you! Bundles: Off the bat, here are some excellent vendors who have generously given out either cheap or freeware bundles of their software: Blue Cat Audio – Blue Cat Audio has a superb freeware pack that includes 6 plugins. Among them, the Frequency Analyzer is particularly important to any toolkit, and the 3-band EQ also boasts a frequency response chart. I also appreciate the Gain Suite for the ability to link multiple instances of the plugin together, providing easy control over multiple tracks. Melda Production –  Melda Production also has a generous freeware pack. The pack includes a whopping 30 plugins, with some standouts: the MCompressor, a 6-band EQ, noise generator, tuner, and an excellent utility rack. It can be upgraded for €49 to add a few extra features. Variety of Sound – VOS offers sixteen free plugins. Of note, the FerricTDS tape saturation and ThrillseekerVBL compressor are great. Most importantly, the preFIX preamp/alignment tool should not be missed if you ever work with mic arrays. Toneboosters – For about the cost of a large two-topping pizza, you can grab the Toneboosters Essentials Suite. It includes a saturation module, all-in-one modulation plugin, bitcrusher, 6-band EQ (with spectrum analyzer!), de-esser, noise gate, reverb, and compression unit. An absolutely outstanding set of plugins for only €20. Willing to pay for a subscription service? The Slate Digital “Everything” Package costs around $20 a month as well. I love being able to turn off my subscription when I don’t need it at a given time. It’s also nice to purchase perpetual licenses for the plugins that are consistently relied upon. I also HIGHLY encourage checking out Stillwell Audio. Stillwell offers an impeccable lineup of tools that are both fairly priced and cripple-free. Of course, though, please do the right thing and pay for them if you like them. EQ EQ is arguably the most important category of them all. There’s a ton of stuff out there, as you’re probably aware…but here’s a few that caught my eye, and that I rely on on a regular basis. Tokyo Dawn Labs “VOS Slick EQ” (Free / $30) – the VOS Slick EQ is an excellent 3-band […]

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Routing Multiple Inputs and Outputs Between Cubase and Kontakt

Hey, and welcome to another music production tutorial. I normally do two posts a week, but life has been getting really busy, and I’m now working on three game projects plus my two bands, plus dealing with the rest of the things life throws at me (like figuring out this “job” thing). I think I’ll be running back to one tutorial/lesson a week for a little while until I can write and schedule up another series. ANYWAY, as you may have gleaned from the title, Today I’m going to show you how to quickly get multiple inputs and outputs running on Kontakt 5. I’ll be showing you specifically the instructions and screenshots for dealing with Kontakt, but keep in mind you can use these general rules for just about any VST instrument out there and the instructions will be pretty similar. As most of my stuff has been, I’m a Cubase user, so my tutorial will deal with Cubase. Your DAW will likely be different, but probably not by much and the same principles will definitely apply. WHY IS IT USEFUL TO USE MULTIPLE INPUTS? Quite simply, using multiple inputs to a VST allows you to get more overhead. Kontakt is an incredibly sophisticated piece of software that can produce some very realistic bits of audio. But running six instances on six tracks is going to choke up even the heartiest of computers, forcing you to increase your audio buffer size (and therefore, increase your latencies). Additionally, routing multiple inputs keeps your session cleaner. Once your MIDI signal reaches Kontakt you can also use it to activate multiple instruments at once, allowing you to create an endless variety of textures. WHY IS IT USEFUL TO USE MULTIPLE OUTPUTS? It makes mixing simpler! Especially in a VSTi like Kontakt, you can quickly gauge the relative levels of each instrument without leaving Kontakt and set them individually. Additionally, you can export each output INDIVIDUALLY so that you can mix them later, without having Kontakt (or whatever VST you route out) installed on your mixing desk. This also gives you the freedom to turn off more VST’s during the mixing phase, freeing up even more valuable CPU cycles. So lets get started!