Ask live mix engineers their favorite effects and processors, and you’ll get dozens of different answers.
Some still prefer outboard gear, ranging from the more common to the esoteric. Vintage purists may want older tube gear that’s no longer even manufactured, while others in this camp aren’t satisfied with anything less than a single particular unit that was only used (and possibly built into) a specific recording studio.
In the past it was difficult, if not impossible, for a production company or venue to assemble a rack of outboard gear that would satisfy every engineer. It was also hard for concert tours, particularly those comprised of one-off fly dates, to carry all of the outboard pieces that they wanted, or more importantly, that the artist that they worked for needed.
Those days are largely in the past, as consoles with onboard digital processing and software plug-ins have taken over effects duties. Do you prefer the onboard effects and processing in your digital console? No problem, just patch them in where want.
Need a particular effect or processor that’s not available onboard? Again, no problem as you can probably use a plug-in directly with the console or augment it with a full server-type plug-in platform such as Waves SoundGrid or the Soundcraft Realtime Rack. Further, Avid consoles come with a collection of plug-ins, with VENUE consoles using the TDM VENUE format and the more recent S3L console accommodating the growing AAX format.
In a recent article (here), I provided an overview of the various types of plug-in formats as well as the platforms that support them, along with some general applications. I’m continuing the discussion here with a look at specific plug-ins that I’m using and/or that have peaked my interest.
For most bands, I keep things relatively simple from an effects standpoint. I begin by patching in a quality vocal reverb, an adjustable delay for vocals, and a solid snare drum reverb.
While the onboard effects and verbs of most consoles range from pretty good to great (and a few are quite stellar), there are times when I want something more specific to suit the needs of a particular performer or to better duplicate the recorded sound in the live realm. And for me, this is where plug-ins can come into play. Here are a few that have caught my eye.