Processing Audio & Plugins



So today what we like to talk a little about is processing and plugins. Whether to use external or out of the box, or should I use internal such as plugins.   As this is a question we are asked frequently, so we are happy to talk in a little more depth about “audio recording, processing plugins & more”, so let’s get to it.


I have to say if it’s a digital box.   For example, a digital delay, a digital reverb, a harmonizer. Like EvenTide’s 8000 or 9000 harmonizers. (I have to say both really Great Boxes.). But do you realize what of these boxes they are? They are nothing more than computers, they have memory in them. They have processors in them, with DSP which is really just another processor. Not to oversimplify it, but they still have processors. These processors are not like you would think of an Intel i7 or a Xeon.   But this is still a processor. Regardless of the type in which there are a few good flavors of processors out there.  So again all these components essential make them a computer.

DAW Plugins

The question then, so what is the difference if I am running an EvenTide plugin on that component or an Eventide plug-in on an audio PC / DAW Plugin?   Answer.  As far as the sound is concerned there should be zero difference since this is just an algorithm.   It’s a program, that’s all it is. So the computer or audio PC running the plugin. This feeds the audio into the plugin, and the plugin is basically using your computer for processing and DSP power. The computer uses its internal processor for the DSP power.   Again is the most common, but there can be some exceptions to this such as UAD. So to recap there really is no difference what so ever between the two.   Except you have to take into consideration based on the computing size of your computer.   Do you have enough horsepower like a memory processor to make the plugins run? That is it’s most important to have your power. So you ask what about the hard disk, well as for hard disk speed, with today’s new drives it doesn’t mean much as the slowest drives can run tons of audio tracks on them and not have an issue.  So again the important thing to remember is, does the computer have enough memory and processing power to run the plugins, virtual instruments, that you want to run.

Now analog, this is a different story. There are great reasons or purposes to use some analog gear. For instance, there is something to be said about a tube preamp. Again this is not for everything, but defiantly for certain things. For this example, the preamp can be used to color the sound, and this could be said about some other great gear. This other analog gear could be good for example to get its own unique sound.   All of which are great options to explore.

Now the difference with some of the chip-based devices frequently offers very clear, clean pristine sounds.  But they can use plugins that emulate analog circuitry. Meaning that they will give the impression that you have analog gear in place and the color that these analog devices can impart to your sound. Don’t be afraid of using these plugins because there is a lot of great ones like Rupert Neve plugins that do a pretty darn good job at emulating a tube front end.   And I’m here to tell you that they sound pretty dammed good. But do they sound perfect? I think that often they do, some would say its arguable.

I often use compressors and channel strips as plugin’s and honestly they sound every bit as good as the unit, and some I feel sound even better.

I feel that often it really comes down to things like what are you recording, what do you like and what do you want to hear. Because at the end of it all when you get a mix going are you really going to hear the little subtle nuances between the real Rupert Neve or the plugin for Rupert Neve? I’d have to say probably not.   And even if you can, for those who have the ears of a bat. If you can discern the difference, between the two. I can guarantee the person buying the music can’t tell the difference.   Remember we are selling this to the general public. They take the wonderful, terrific 96k files you created. Then they turn them into mp3’s even though the mp3’s sound like crap the public still buys them and converts the files into them. Even though I don’t get it whatever.   That being said I use them like in my car, because when you got as much as 70 dB of noise around you we don’t care. However, when I listen to them in my living room, and I put on an mp3 I have to say they make me sick.

Selling Your Music

Just remember that this is a business and you are trying to sell music.   And if you’re doing it purely for enjoyment, and for yourself. Then you can afford to buy that Rupert Neve console, and buy one and enjoy it. However, for the rest of the working world, that are trying to put out a song or make their first hit or their next big hit. Or even those that are producing or engineering as opposed to playing and doing performances. So let’s get real I’d say, as this is a tool to get a job done.

So comparing these things and trying to understand what your end audiences want. All these things are important to know when trying to understand what the product is that you are trying to sell and market  So understanding the question. Can I get away with a $50.00 plugin, or do I really need to spend $50,000.00 for a box? As I am not making fun of any of that great gear that does this, you have to ask yourself do you really need it? Does your core audience hear the difference? I would have to say that honestly no they are not. Again this is my opinion., and I’m giving it.

Are you a Gear Whore?


Now you may completely disagree with me on my thoughts regarding can your core audience hear this difference. But the important thing to remember if you’re not trying to make money selling your product then the client coming into your studio making music certainly is going to be trying to sell their product.   Needless to say, that is then how you’re going to make money. Because let’s just remember this equipment cost money. And If your anything like me then, you are a gear whore.   And you can never have enough, but you’re going to need that money to purchase the newest coolest gear.


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