GEAR EXPO SUMMER 2022: Get set for a plugin blowout as we round up the best new plugs for 2022. There are complex, new effects, perfect emulations of classic hardware and clever AI-fuelled one-knob wonders that make making great music faster and easier than ever.
So open your DAW and say 'hi' the virtual stomps, racks, effects units and processors that'll you'll want all over your sound, all year long.
Universal Audio Hitsville EQ Collection
Released as part of UAD Software 10.1 - and also included in the UAD Spark plugin subscription service - the Hitsville EQ Collection gives you the only plugin EQ emulations that are officially licensed by the Hitsville USA Studio.
The package includes both an all-purpose graphic EQ and a rare mid/side disk mastering EQ, both of which were used on records by some of Motown’s greatest artists - just the thing to get that 'Motown sound'.
The emulations model the entire electronic path, including transformers, makeup amplifiers, EQ band interactions, and internal clipped filter distortion and includes UA artist presets from the likes of Bob Olhsson and Michael Brauer. It’s available for purchase priced at $299, or included in the $20/month Spark subscription.
Find out more at Universal Audio.
40's Very Own Drums & Keys
Best known for his collaborations with Drake, Noah “40” Shebib has been at the top of the production game for more than a decade. Now, in collaboration with Native Instruments, he’s bringing some of his most iconic sounds to your DAW via two new Kontakt Play Series instruments: 40’s Very Own Keys and 40’s Very Own Drums.
The Keys instrument is packed with bottom-heavy bass, lush pads and spritely leads, all of which can be tweaked using a range of custom controls. These include a dedicated ‘40 macro’ that’s designed to give you his signature ‘underwater’ sound.
40’s Very Own Drums, meanwhile, is full of kicks, claps and hi-hats, all of which should sound familiar to those who are au fait with the producer’s work.
Sample material for the two instruments was sourced from 40’s own collection of synths, pianos and drum/percussion collection, and captured using high-quality mics before being processed with prized outboard gear at 40’s SOTA studios in Toronto.
They're priced at $69/£49/€69 each. Find out more at Native Instruments.
Tracktion Chop Suey
Tracktion Software is serving up Chop Suey, a new kick drum designer plugin from the creative minds of mathematician and AI specialist Peter V (Aka Dawesome) and German techno artist Björn Torwellen.
You can shape your kick on the visual interface by creating and editing curves. This is done individually for the transient, punch and tail, so any edits made to one element won’t affect the others.
Chop Suey’s filter, meanwhile, has been designed specifically for kick editing and is said to react extremely fast to cutoff and resonance changes and not to introduce ‘zipper noise’ or artefacts.
Another intriguing feature is Punch Protect; when activated, frequencies below ~150 Hz (the ones that deliver the punch, basically) are protected from the filter.
Chop Suey is available now for $89 after 22 May. Find out more at Tracktion Software.
The AmpKnob RevC plugin promises “a one-knob revolution for album-ready guitars,” giving you just a single Gain control to play with. Everything else takes place behind the scenes.
The plugin is the brainchild of Swedish metal producer Jens Bogren, and is based on the sound of a Mesa/Boogie RevC Dual Rectifier amp with a pre-500 serial number. An undisclosed pedal has also been added to the recording chain to tighten-up the low-end response. We’re told that Borgen has already used the plugin on album releases.
AmpKnob RevC runs is available now for the introductory price of $55/£44/€50. You can also download a 10-day trial version. Find out more at Bogren Digital.
Spitfire Audio Intimate Grand Piano
Designed for solo composition, accompanying or for use as part of a larger ensemble, Intimate Grand Piano delivers the sound of a vintage Steinway Model A piano that was recorded in the cosy acoustic environment of Castlesound Studios in Scotland.
The piano was captured by a range of carefully curated bespoke microphones and comes with seven presets (Direct, Intimate, Soft Drama, Subdued, Reverberant Ribbons, Ambient and Dynamic). You can also control the level of the included hall reverb, string tightness and hammer/pedal volume.
Spitfire Audio says that the 4GB Intimate Grand Piano is a nice step up from its LABS Soft Piano, and offers an alternative to the felt piano sound that we’ve all become accustomed to hearing over the past few years. It costs $29/£29/€29. Find out more at Spitfire Audio.
Caelum Audio Flux Mini 2
Caelum Audio has updated Flux Mini - its fun, free envelope shaping plugin - to version 2, giving it a spring clean and spruce-up in the process.
The focus of the effect is a graph - simply create a shape on here to modulate filter cutoff/resonance, amplitude and mix. You can also set the desired amount of modulation for each parameter.
New for version 2 is the ability to control multiple parameters at once, fix the graph to milliseconds (as well as the host tempo), output the graph as CC messages and control the shape of your curves with two control points.
You can get started with the 20 supplied presets, but the real fun lies in creating your own shapes.
Flux Mini 2 is completely free, though the developer asks that you consider making a donation to help support future free projects. Find out more at Caelum Audio.
Aberrant DSP Digitalis
Aberrant DSP’s Digitalis is an audio degradation and glitch plugin that promises to be “your personal vehicle through an endless digital wasteland, taking sonic inspiration from “bad converters, unearthed CDs, weak internet connections, and catastrophic errors”.
The Digitalis interface is divided into sections, starting with the Data Manipulation window on the left. This offers a spectral filtering paintbox, pitch controls (pitchshifting, formant shifting and pitch quantisation) and a telecommunications section for adding lossy audio effects.
To the right of this is the Corruption section, which contains downsampling and bitcrushing effects, and can emulate the sound of data loss and corruption on old digital media. The Time window gives you a repeater section, plus rhythm glitch and pitch glitch controls.
Baby Audio Crystalline
Crystalline is the new algorithmic reverb plugin that harks back to classic digital reverbs of the past while taking advantage of modern processing power.
For a start, Crystalline enables you to hard-sync the reverb attack and decay time to your DAW’s tempo, creating reflections that sync with the music. That said, you still have the option of setting the pre-delay and decay times in milliseconds if you’d rather.
A dedicated Reflections section allows you to add ‘Sparkle’ which emphasises the high frequencies within the reverb algorithm. The Depth section can adjust the level of ‘Shimmer’ making the high frequencies of the reverb tail decay lower than the rest of the spectrum. While the Clean-Up section lets you use the gate to create that classic ‘80s reverb sound.
Find out more on at Baby Audio.
Roland Juno Chorus
Finally Roland itself is having a stab at the legendary chorus effect from its Juno-6 synth, released back in 1982. Famous for thickening the thin DCOs of the synth, it's become a great go-to sound enhancer in its own right.
There are – of course – three modes, accessible via push buttons, with each one said to have been modelled in “meticulous detail”. Variable analogue noise gives you the full retro experience. And it even has ‘wooden’ end panels…
The Juno-60 Chorus is part of the Roland Cloud subscription service and you can also purchase a Lifetime Key for $99. Find out more at Roland.
Klevgrand’s Borsta is a percussion plugin with a difference in that it’s completely focused on stroke and brush sounds.
To this end, it features an audio engine that supports continuous changes in intensity, the theory being that this will enable you to create realistic brushing phrases that would be impossible to produce with a standard sample-based instrument.
You’re given parallel envelope and events sequencers that enable you to determine when to start a stroke, how its pressure/speed should evolve over time and when it should end. You also get multisampled one-shots with choking capabilities.
Waves Clarity Vx
Waves is promising “the new standard in noise removal for vocals,” as it releases Clarity Vx and Clarity Vx Pro, a new pair of plugins.
Both plugins are powered by Neural Networks, Waves’ AI audio technology, and can isolate vocals from ambient and background noise instantly, in real-time, and without any artefacts. Operation is as simple as turning a knob clockwise until your vocal is ‘clean’.
Clarity Vx is said to be ideal for podcast creators while the Pro version comes with advanced features for surgical noise removal, making it suitable for post-production work. The Ambience Keeping feature will remove the voice and keep the background ambience (useful for ADR tasks), and you get multiband control.
Eventide Anthology XII
The Anthology XII Bundle is Eventide's latest comprehensive collection of plugins.
This famous compendium now contains 33 effects, including the recently released SplitEQ and fellow structural effect Physion. These sit alongside existing favourites such as the H910, H949 and H3000 harmonizers, while other highlights include Tony Visconti’s Tverb and the classic Blackhole reverb.
In fact, there are a total of seven reverbs, along with pitch effects, multi-effects, modulation processors and more.
The Anthology XII Bundle comes with a total of 4,500 presets and is available for $1,999. Find out all about the goodies on board at Eventide.
Now this is something special. Skew is capable of all kinds of tape rewind, pitch slide, glitch and scratch effects. It works by constantly recording the incoming audio into a buffer and then playing it back in reversed chunks.
Sounds crazy, sounds random, but sounds great.
There’s plenty of potential for parameter adjustment, along with a DJ-style crossfader. The idea is that you manipulate it in real-time to add spice to your build-ups, breaks and transitions.
Skew is available now for just $29. Find out more at Sinevibes.
Roland Zenbeats 3.0
And finally in our round up, allow us to point you in the direction of our favourite new piece of iOS fun. Roland has updated its Zenbeats music creation app to version 3.0, adding a new drum sampler and tones from the TR-808 and TR-909 in the process.
ZR1 is a pad-based sampler - sounds can be recorded or imported and placed directly onto the pads, and there are advanced editing features, too. There’s also a step sequencer with accents, per-step automation and more.
Zenbeats’ UI is also improved, with a new browser making it easy to find, tag and filter sounds. You can add more sounds via the Zenbeats Store, which also contains loops and other creative tools.
You can try Zenbeats for free, while a ‘Platform unlock’, which gives you all features, instruments and effects for your favourite platform (Android, iOS, Mac or Windows) costs from $15. The Max Unlock option, which gives you all features, instruments effects and store packs across all platforms, costs $150. It's also part of Roland Cloud.
Find out more at Roland.