In the crazy world of mixing music, there are a ton of variables that determine the final outcome of the product. How was everything recorded? What type of Interface/converters/clock are you using? How are you setting up and routing your mix? One of the most important factors however are the tools you use to get there. The more experienced you get, the more you begin to find your go to tools for certain situations. You are almost always going to encounter a fork in the road at some point in the mix where something is just not quite sounding how you are envisioning it. This can hinder the creative aspect and greatly stall your progress. Below are 5 of my favorite Plug-Ins I use to avoid hindrances and keep my mix moving forward.
WAVES H COMP - Are there better compressor plug-ins available? Sure there are. However I have yet to find a better compressor for Side Chaining. If you need your kick drum to cut through a track, bounce with the bass on a Dance/EDM track, or make sure a 909 type kick doesn't get drowned out by an 808, then the H-Comp will get the job done in an amazingly musical way. The interface is super easy to use. With big knobs and the orange back panel it's easy to get around in which keeps one from guessing. One of my favorite plugs in the entire Waves catalog.
UAD EMT 140 - Honestly I could probably do this entire article using only UA Plugs but since everyone reading this might not have an Apollo or UAD card I'm only going to include a couple. The EMT 140 is easily the most lush Reverb plug-in I've ever heard. The depth is unbelievable. Having a Two band EQ, High Pass Filter, along with 3 different Plates to choose from it really allows you to shape the ambience you are wanting your mix to have. While some mixers may prefer verbs with Hall, Room, and various other spaces, the 140 gets the job done for me in almost every situation.
SOUNDTOYS DECAPITATOR - I could do an entire post on the different ways I use the Decapitator. The best way I can describe this is the ultimate tone shaper. If anything is a little thin or "in the box" sounding try blending this directly on the track or using a send to an instance of Decapitator and blending the dry and wet signal will definitely yield you positive results in most cases.
UAD AMPEX ATR-102 - My self proclaimed secret sauce. In a visual sense, say your sound is the size of a quarter. Put this on a track or group of tracks and they will be the size of the moon. I consider this a tone shaper like the Decapitator. While the former adds "hair" to a track giving it more personality, this actually makes each sound larger than life. A lot of the tape emulators I've tried are glorified distortion boxes, this is the closet thing I have heard to sounding like real analog tape. I absolutely HAVE to have this plug in to mix.
METRIC HALO MULTI-BAND EXPANDER - When I purchased the Metric Halo Production bundle 3 years ago, admittedly I had absolutely no idea what an Expander was or how use it. Hum and Buzz can be the worst nightmare of a mixer especially on an electric guitar track. This allows you to remove this extraneous noise while maintaining the majority of the original tone. The Expander only serves one purpose for me but I wanted to include it on this list as MH makes amazing stuff and having their entire Production Bundle in your arsenal is would greatly benefit your plug-in library.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org