Here at WhiskAudio, we've discovered some extremely useful VST plugins that aren't so well known and some of these plugins have become a part of our daily arsenal when it comes to mixing, mastering and even production. This list is based on pure usefulness and practicality.
First off, we would like to say that VariMoon isn't the only useful plugin that comes from Analog Obsession. Some of their other ones worth mentioning would definitely be CHANNEV (a Neve channel with extra features), HLQSE (similar to the Waves Kramer HLS,) SweetVox (an excellent desser) and Rare (Pultec). It's not an exaggeration when we say Analog Obsession produces some of the best analog gear emulation circuits. The character that's added to the tone of whatever your working on when you use one of their plugins is truly unmatched.
That being said, we included VariMoon in this list to exemplify what we believe is AOs best compressor released. VariMoon is a 600 Style Vari-Mu Compressor/Limiter and has some extra features included. It includes a release knob with 5 different timings (0.3, 0.8, 2.0, 5.0, A1, A2) along with your basic threshold knob. To the left of the threshold knob there's another knob where you can switch between compression or limiting. It also has a dry/wet mix control, a HPF control and then also the option of sidechaining. Then of course you can't forget about the ability to turn on oversampling which is great in itself.
VariMoon is an incredibly versatile compressor and is excellent with all types of signals or tracks. We believe that it can really bring out the tone and produces both a very wide and pleasant sounding output.
SplitEQ™ is a groundbreaking EQ that offers a fundamentally new approach to corrective and creative audio equalization. It excels at Repairing, Rebalancing, Enhancing, and Widening any musical source or audio signal. SplitEQ is both a surgical tool for fixing particularly nasty problems and a creative tool as it opens up exciting new musical possibilities. More than just an EQ — It’s a new and better tool.
Eventide has really outdone themselves with this plugin. SplitEQ gives you virtually unlimited control when equalizing simply because it's not your average EQ, we wouldn't even really classify it as an EQ to be honest. What's unique about it is that you have the ability to manage both the tone and transient of your signal. Not only that but you also have the option to pan each of those nodes in EQ if you need to, giving you the complete ability to govern the dynamics especially when combined with automation.
This tool has a multitude of use cases but some of the more common uses would be to unmask frequencies with conflicting tracks or maintaining a proper tonal balance. You can even use it for creative purposes such as sound design. Because you have this control over the signals tone and transient it makes it relatively simple to also use it to repair a lacking audio source.
Furthermore, its interface is clean and mimics that of a classic digital EQ with 6 bands and underneath those bands is where you'll find the controls for both tone and transient, Q, shape and frequency.
The creators of Tonal Balance Control, Izotope, are very well-known in the audio space and because they have put out so many great plugin packages like Neutron, Ozone, Nectar and RX people tend to over look this simple yet useful plugin.
With Tonal Balance Control you throw it on your master bus and it'll give you a rough idea of how your mix sits tonally. There's two views, a broad one and a fine one. The broad view allows you to view your source in 4 parts (Lows, Low-Mids, High-Mids, and Highs) and then the fine view shows you a sort of spectrum that's outlined by the full frequency range. If theirs sections of your mix that goes out of the tone your referencing the plugin will let you know and you can make corrections as needed.
What's great though, is that aside from their reference presets they provide you can also analyze an external source that you want to match tonally. This option really allows you to take your mix further and glue the proper frequency ranges together making it sound as similar as you want to your closest reference.
One of the most underrated plugins, Bark of Dog 2 makes it easy to get great results in both low-frequency cleanup and bass boost. It operates in stereo or Mid-Side, enabling you to choose between Stereo, Mid only, or Side only processing. This plugin is comparable to the UAD "Voice of God" that so many are fond of, essentially doing the same thing making it a great alternative if you don't have access to UADs library. It is a resonant filter to a Pultec-style boost-attenuation EQ, Boz Digital’s free Bark of Dog 2 plugin is designed to boost your low end without making it sound muddy.
Bark of a Dog is great when working on your low end, and you can even throw it on a bus if you feel it's missing some energy. Since it's so versatile with the low end you can even use it with vocals as well to give them that "thickness" that's missing.
Their interface is pretty basic and it comes with a few dialed in presets that are an useful starting point. Simple to use, with just three knobs to play with, and now has two different modes (Classic, which uses the filter, and Passive, which promises simultaneous boost and attenuation) and a third ones that combines them. It is a completely free plugin which great for what you are getting.
The 11-band equalizer's forward-thinking feature set includes parametric bell, high- and low-shelving, and high- and low-pass filters for each channel; mono, dual-mono (L/R), stereo and mid-side modes of operation; a mid-side decoder (especially useful for recording acoustic instruments, drums and even bigger ensembles in a super mono-compatible and extremely natural way); spectrum-balancing Bass and Presence Shifters; the pioneering Mono Maker summing tool; and comprehensive imaging, monitoring and metering facilities for high-level mastering.
With Brainworx they put out so many great plugins emulating the analog feel and often many of them are overlooked. One of the best EQs in the game in regards to tonal control is the bx_digital V3. The amount of things you can do to manipulate your source is unbelievable. It's an excellent plugin for adding those final touches to your mix and getting the proper balance.
One of the most useful features is the ability to shift bass and presence, they produce opposing boosts and cuts in adjacent bands to prevent excess spectral energy buildup that can make mixes sound boomy, blurry or edgy. Each Shifter in V3 offers a selection of three different tilt-equalization sounds featuring different boost and cut frequencies, bandwidths and relative gain.
Use them, for example, to boost your mix's low-bass punch while simultaneously clearing out muddy upper-bass and low-midrange frequencies. Or increase presence to spotlight guitars and vocals, while softening searing cymbals.