My Current Favorite Audio Engineering Tools in 2023
In my journey as an audio engineer, I've been fortunate enough to work with hundreds of tools that have shaped the way I approach sound. In 2023, I wanted to share some of my all-time favorite tools that have become indispensable in my music production routine:
1. Schwabe Digital Gold Clip
Crafted over three years by Grammy-nominated & Platinum-certified engineer Ryan Schwabe, Gold Clip emulates two of his beloved hardware mastering devices. This plugin offers a versatile, high-precision clipping effect, an amplitude saturation named 'GOLD', and a high-frequency contouring effect called 'ALCHEMY'. For me, its standout feature is the wet and dry balance knob, providing unparalleled control.
2. Sound Theory Gullfoss Plugin
Gullfoss is more than just an equalizer. It listens to a signal, analyzes it, and prepares the audio so our brain can derive the most information from it. This intelligent equalizer can fix balancing issues between different sound elements, even without access to individual tracks. I treasure it for quick fixes, especially when I'm bouncing out demos. Its capacity to change its frequency response over 300 times per second, without any audible artifacts, makes it stand out.
3. Baby Audio Smooth Operator Plugin
The Smooth Operator offers an innovative approach to traditional channel strips. It amalgamates Resonance Suppression, Spectral Compression, and Equalization, combating cluttered mixes with ease. The plugin consistently adapts, attenuating frequencies that have excessive energy buildup, resulting in balanced and harmonious tracks. I owe my friend Oskar Sadle at Avid a huge thank you for introducing me to this game-changer.
4. FabFilter Mastering Suite Plugins
The Mastering Bundle from FabFilter houses the essentials: a professional limiter, EQ, multiband dynamics, and compressor plug-ins. These tools have been integral to almost every mix I've crafted over the past three years, offering transparent processing that is hard to match.
5. Oeksound Soothe 2 Plugin
Soothe 2 is not just a dynamic resonance suppressor—it's a sonic lifesaver. Whether it's vocal harshness, sibilance, or the nuances of proximity in recordings, Soothe 2 effortlessly balances out these resonances. Instead of getting caught in the weeds of notching frequencies from individual sounds, Soothe 2 takes the reins, allowing me to concentrate on the musical aspects. Its versatility extends to individual tracks, busses, and even mastering applications, making it a staple in my toolkit.
Each audio engineering tool has its own unique strengths, but what they all share is their transformative impact on music production. They've not only enhanced my workflow but have also played a pivotal role in the evolution of my sound. I encourage fellow engineers, whether just starting out or seasoned in the field, to explore these tools and experience their magic firsthand.