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Author Topic: Minimalism and Mixing  (Read 4249 times)

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November 19, 2011, 05:04:30 AM
I was just reading a website with a nice article about minimalism, and thinking about my plug-in collection. I've been pretty hesitant to add new plugs, but I still have managed to collect a good number, some of which I never use, some which I use rarely, and some which I use on almost every track. I'm thinking it's time to filter out the junk, but it made me start thinking about what the right number is.

Clearly, we all need at least one of each of the basics; reverb, delay, eq, compression. And I have a couple of things I use a lot, like an amp sim, tape saturation, melodyne, and Aptrigga. But then I have a bunch of variations on those plugs, at least 5 different compressors, 5 reverbs, a few delays, chorus, etc.

I remember working in analogue studios, doing mixdowns with 1 reverb unit, 1 multieffects (spx90), 1 DOD delay, and 2 alesis 3630 compressors, and the board's eq (tascam 3700, I think!) And those mixes came out really well! Even the nice studio I worked at didn't have loads of outboard, the board was an Otari Concept One, there were at least a couple of compressors, and reverb, but nothing like I have in my computer!

How many plugs do you have, how many do you use. Do you think there's an advantage to limiting yourself to a set of core plugs that you know well? I don't imagine I'll ditch all of the plugs, but those specialty plugs that only come out once in a while can be put away in a folder I suppose. Anything to help with focus, and keeping me from wandering around menus trying to find the perfect  reverb...

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November 19, 2011, 09:57:01 AM
Yes I remember when I had a single hardware compressor and had to decide which two mono sources I should use it on. Of course because it was only an 8 track ADAT system so for a band recording you had to bounce the drums to stereo so I got to use it twice on each mix really. I also had 2 Zoom multi FX units and a Nanoverb, a delay unit, and a Aphex Exciterand never felt like I didn't have enough options - Mind you with only 8 tracks to mix it was more than enough  ;D

I recently moved house & hence studio room ( i.e. garage ) and had a faulty hard drive too so when I reinstalled I ditched alot of stuff that I'd tried once and never used, they were just clogging up the plugin menus in Sonar. There are a few that are my faves that I wouldn't be without.

In between whilst the studio was in storage I read Mike Seniors book Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio and I must say after reading it all more than once I find myself using less plugins and certainly less variety of them. I think I used to trawl through presets hoping to find that magic sound and chain a bunch of them together in the hope of discovering something cool. Trouble was I was boosting alot of stuff and trying to make the raw sound into something it wasn't. On my last mix I used far more of Sonar's built in EQ for filters or cuts , and for the boosts I did do I stuck with my Liquid Mix , Sonnox and a few Waves plugins. The Liquid Mix was great for the compressor side of things. I like the rooms on the Sonnox reverb, and the EQ is good for the surgical type stuff. I used the Waves De-esser and some of the Renaisance plugs.

I think by limiting myself I've delved into the setting much more of what I have used and the mix is all the better for it : - It's here if you want to listen,289.msg4864.html#new

So I guess for me looking to what I already have to find solutions and tailoring it rather than preset surfing for that Wow factor is the way forward.


We never finish a mix - We simply abandon them.  Adam A7's , Focusrite Pro24 DSP, Focusrite LiquidMix, Presonus FaderPort, Sennheiser HD250 Linear II

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November 19, 2011, 11:28:34 AM
Over the time i gathered alot of plugins. Quess i owned any free plugin that is out there. But i find myself just using a small fraction of them. At one day i erased every plugin i didn't use frequently or didn't use at all.
I reduced myself to the cubase stockplugins. For Reverb i only use the REVerence and Roomworks.
The only additional plugs i really use ervery time are the VOS plugins like the densityMKII, BaxterEQ, and the Ferric DTS. The Molot i use on specific drum tracks for compression. For EQ i use the MEqualizer from MeldaProduction or the VOS BootEQMKII

Now i first check a plugin on my notebook if its worth befor it makes its way to my collection.

I think its better to have just a few plugins and know how to use them instead thousands of plugs you rarely will use at all.

November 19, 2011, 04:26:22 PM

I think I could get by with just a few plugs if needed.

few compressors (need at least 1 multiband comp)
saturation and distortion
Room,plate and hall verb
Pitch shifter

I could get a decent mix with this plugin list...wouldnt really need much else

  • ****
November 19, 2011, 05:46:31 PM
I just counted 243 dx plugs and 1,146 VST's.  (I use CEP Pro 2.1, what uses both, with a wrapper for the VST's.)

I probably actually use about 10 of those, as the native plugs are good.

But I always download the freebies and try 'em, and then keep 'em.

Can you say, "packrat"?  ;D

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November 19, 2011, 08:10:42 PM
I really started noticing how many plugs I have when I started using Reaper, since it can use Audio Units and VSTs, and includes a bunch of its own plug-ins. I like the ReaComp, and the delay and reverb are usable. I'm pretty sure I could do a serviceable mix with the stock plugs, but do have that handful of 'character' plug-ins that I'd want, too!

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November 27, 2011, 09:05:57 PM
Most tracks i get need parametric eq'ing and some kind of program eq but program eq's with their fixed frequency steps do not work well on all material so having the choice of 4 eq's wouild not be a luxury.
Also parametrics have different functions like different styles of filters, shelves, all for it's own purpose. This is also true for compressors, fx and so on, so does it add or solve somethin'? I use a lot of my plug's frequently if only to try something new.
Mixing with just stock plugins is fun, i get that "i will make this damn thing work" feeling, probably working it twice as hard and getting great results too!

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June 30, 2012, 10:32:40 AM
I used to bring mixes from work to home all the time, so for several years I got by on just stock pro tools stuff.  :'(

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July 02, 2012, 05:27:54 PM
Minimalism and mixing?

Not with plugins only :D
"You don't go to a record school to go to courses, you go to record school to record there!"

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August 12, 2012, 02:23:05 PM
I think that it's worth repeating my new mantra that comes from a very esteemed engineer on another forum :
"It's almost never the mix"
I've also been so guilty of trying/purchasing/discarding various plug-ins looking for a "magic bullet" EQ or, they just don't exist. They are just different flavors of salt and pepper.
We all have to try and focus on the quality of the main ingredients rather than the spices.