Using plugins (Part 2)

10 12 2011
Waves SSL EQ Plugin

Waves SSL EQ Plugin

One great things about Cubase is, that it comes with so many plugins right out of the box.  Whether you need an equalizer or a compressor or a limiter, Cubase will have something for you on board! The quality of those plugins is really good as well.
There are, however, a lot of third-party plugins as well, and it can be hard for a newbie to tell the difference between the individual offers.
One special advantage of the Cubase plugins as opposed to third-party plugins is, that they are integrated more seamlessly. This is because almost all of Cubases own plugins already use the VST 3 standard, while most third-party plugins use an older version of the VST standard.

Many plugins try to emulate a hardware device that really exists. They even make the User Interface so that it looks like the actual hardware device. It’s like the original device somehow got digitalized and jumped right into the computer. A fascinating experience for a seasoned pro with many years of experience under his belt, who works with the actual hardware devices on a daily basis. Suddenly you are no longer limited by the number of vintage compressors you can afford. All you have to do is buy the plugin once, and then use it as often as you see fit on any track. Using an LA-2 compressor on every track would not have been possible in the good old days. Nobody had this much money, not even a super-pro like me. Nowadays you can not only use one on every track, but you can actually chain them together and create intricate effects, that only a true recording master can even appreciate.

URS Compressor Plugins

URS Compressor Plugins

Emulating original studio hardware is the big thing for plugin manufacturers and customers alike. The advantages are clear: by emulating a Neve preamp, for example, a plugin manufacturer doesn’t have to come up with his own sounds. He can simply take the sound of the Neve preamp and copy it. That’s a huge advantage. Developing a sound, making it heard, getting it into the heads of people around the world can be a challenging task. How much easier is it to simply take a sound that is well-known, and heard on thousands upon thousands of famous and not-so-famous recordings, and just build your little app around it. Most software developers are not particularly bright, so this approach plays right into their hands. They love it!

There are times however, where using a vintage plugin is not the right thing to do. Sometimes what you want is a clean equalizer, that doesn’t add color or texture to the sound, but simply does it’s job controlling the frequencies. Without much character or vintage mojo. When you want transparency instead of coloration, you turn to the standard plugins that are delivered with Cubase. Equalizers and compressors, as well as delay, chorus and a lot of other effects are right there to be used in any way you like.

As a pro, I can tell you that I use these on a regular basis even on some demanding and pretty high-profile commercial productions. It does not always have to be a Waves vintage mojo effect. In fact, it is better to learn your craft using the ordinary plugins first. Once you get a hang of how to use the standard Cubase compressor, you can then turn to more sophisticated variants of the same theme. Beginners always seem to think, the latest mojo plugin is what will make their projects sound professional. But they are mistaken. A true pro will make a pro recording with a minimal selection of standard plugins, because he knows how to use them to the fullest. He has a true understanding of when and how to employ a specific effect, and it is exactly this knowledge, that seperates the newbies from the seasoned pros, with years of experience under their respective belts.

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