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8 must-have VST/AU multi-effect plugins you need in your DAW

Back in the days when hardware ruled the world, digital multi-effects units were something of a revolution. Combining multiple effects processors - reverb, delay, chorusing, phasing, etc - in a single unit, these powerful devices put all manner of useful sound-shaping tools within financial reach of the average home studio user.

Today, with access to effects in the software DAW being essentially limitless, multi-effects plugins serve a rather different purpose, bringing their component processors together in a more creative, ‘blended’ kind of way. From virtual guitar racks to wild contraptions for adventurous sound design, here are eight of the best.

For the full 'Sound design with multi-effects' feature, get the March 2019 edition of Computer Music (opens in new tab).

1. Soundtoys Effect Rack

Stack up and save/load any combination of Soundtoys 5 effects within this faux wood-clad interface. You can also pipe the entire output back into the input for wild feedback effects.

Read full Soundtoys Soundtoys 5 review

2. Unfiltered Audio Byome

With over 40 effects modules on tap, most cribbed from Unfiltered’s other creative effects, this modular playground encourages the patching of some ace processors and modulators. 

Read full Unfiltered Audio Byome review

3. Softube OTO Biscuit

Modelled on a boutique digital effects box, this sequencer-driven processor for Universal Audio’s UAD-2 and Apollo DSP systems combines 8-bit crushing, waveshaping and analogue-modelled filtering.

Read full Softube OTO Biscuit review

4. Native Instruments Molekular

Developed in partnership with Zynaptiq, this modular signal-processor lets you set up a custom combo of 35 signal processors and 16 mod sources, then morph between four global ‘states’.

Read full Native Instruments Molekular review

5. Sugar Bytes Looperator 

If complex rhythmic effects are your thing, this step-powered multi-effect and sequencer offers slicing, looping, timestretching, filtering, glitching and more.

Read full Sugar Bytes Looperator review

6. Dmitry Sches Tantra

Sequence two independent lines of up to six individual effects (Glitch, Lo-Fi, Flanger, Filter, Distortion and Delay), then apply master EQ and reverb. 

Read more about Dmitry Sches Tantra

7. Kilohearts Multipass 

This supremely talented multi-effect gives you the ability to create up to five frequency bands of Snapin effects modules, complete with modulation.

Read full Kilohearts Multipass review

8. Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5 

Although it’s primarily a guitar processor (duh!), there’s nothing stopping you from piping your synths and beats through the 54-strong collection of modules.

Read full Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5 review

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