There were so many great plugins released this, and many more that weren’t new that I only recently discovered. In this post we’ll just look at the new ones though, and there are a few that have found their way into my personal toolbox. Here we go with my top 6 plugins for 2020.
Many have tried to copy the SSL talkback limiter to get that “In The Air Tonight” sound, but few have succeeded. Dan Korneff got it right though, plus he made it a lot more versatile and usable for more than just that one sound. I have a feeling that his AIP channel strip would have made this list as well if I had more time to play with it.
Waves Abbey Road RS124
I’ve actually used the famous Abbey Road RS124 limiter on several albums and I think Waves has nailed it here. Abbey Road’s version of the Altec 436B tube unit is not like your other compressors, which is what I like about it. You can slam it and it still sounds smooth as silk, or it can sound super aggressive without sounding muffled.
If you’ve followed my posts then you know that I’m not a big one for saturation plugins but the Front DAW is something different. It’s subtle but it does provides some added character, and if put across a number of channels you can really hear some extra heft and glue brought into the mix. Plus, I love having both a trim and a HPF available so it eliminates the need for a plugin in many cases.
I’ve owned several Binson Echorecs back in the day and, until the release of the Pulsar Echorec, really wished I had them today. The Pulsar version does everything that my old Echorecs did and more though, so I wouldn’t be using the real thing even if it still had it. I really missed that multihead echo that the machine had going on, but now you can get that same sound for just $49.
I have to admit, I like the sound of every plugin that Chris Lord Alge is involved in, but I think his CLA Epic delay/reverb plugin might be the best thing he’s ever done. I’ve never found a reverb plugin that sounds so perfect in a track right off the bat. I tried pretty hard but couldn’t make it sound bad, and the long delays and reverbs are something special. It’s fast becoming my go-to effects plug.
I don’t think I’ve ever met a mix that couldn’t benefit from a pinch of top end to brighten things up a bit. The problem is that it’s not always easy to get just what you need from an equalizer without sounding harsh or out of place. The Slate Digital Fresh Air is so sweet and smooth that you won’t think of using anything else after you’ve tried it. The best part is that it’s free!
There are so many others that were worthy of my top 6 plugins that it was hard to make a choice. That doesn’t mean that those others aren’t great and don’t deserve your attention, but these are the ones that I found myself using regularly this year.