If you can think of something that you’d like to do to your audio, there’s a pretty good chance that there’s a plugin out there that will be able to help you out. And if such a plugin doesn’t already exist, someone somewhere is probably developing it.
Yep, the plugin market was already huge, and in 2017 it got even huger. We saw new takes on old favourites, and cutting-edge processors that sought to break new sonic ground.
We shortlisted our favourites from the past 12 months and asked you to vote for your best-of-the-year effect plugin. Now it's results time; click through the gallery and join us as we count down to the overall winner.
The MusicRadar Best in music tech awards 2017 are brought to you in association with Softube - Tools for the Audio Professional
PSP Audioware stompFilter
We said: "PSP's action-packed and endlessly creative frequency-shaping plugin delivers fabulous hardware-style filtering, both in the studio and on stage. A must-have!"
Audio Damage Kombinat Tri
We said: "Kombinat has long been one of our favourite Audio Damage plugins, and with its Mix control and improved interface and filter, the third version is nothing less than essential."
Exponential Audio R4 review
We said: "With its colourful, highly malleable sound, extensive feature list and straightforward interface, R4 is EA’s best reverb yet."
We said: "It may not be groundbreaking, but Punish combines excellent processing with simplicity to tweak or transform sounds."
Black Box Analog Design HG-2
We said: "We simply can’t fault Brainworx’ fabulous virtualisation of BBAD’s much-loved mastering and mixing monster."
We said: "Easy to use and full of sonic surprises, GrainSpace is a wildly creative glitching and texturising toolbox that’s two LFOs, a few Random targets and a Freeze button short of magnificence."
Acustica Audio Nebula 4
We said: "It’s as weird to use as ever, due to the nature of the technology behind it, but Nebula 4’s uniquely authentic and exquisitely detailed style of effects processing still stands alone in the plugin world."
Kush Audio Omega Transformer 458a
We said: "Ultimately, all you really need to know is that Omega 458a just sounds wicked, and despite its surprisingly high CPU usage and lack of wet/dry mix control, we can’t recommend it highly enough."
Togu Audio Line TAL-Dub-X
We said: "Bringing the free TAL-Dub up to modern spec and making modest improvements to its sound and workflow, TAL-Dub-X is an excellent feedback delay plugin."
AudioThing Outer Space
We said: "An emulation of Roland’s classic Space Echo RE-201, Outer Space features an echo section with three playback heads and the spring reverb tank. Three different tape frequency responses and saturations have been modelled, as have the imperfections associated with tape."
Empirical Labs Arousor
We said: "Arousor costs a pretty penny, but is the kind of compressor you’ll instantly fall in love with and quickly come to rely on."
D16 Group Tekturon
We said: "Tekturon has been deliberately kept straightforward and unintimidating, and with that in mind, D16’s powerful plugin is a resounding success, delivering spectacular rhythmic echoes via an inspiring, immensely enjoyable interface."
XLN Audio RC-20 Retro Color
We said: "Not only one of the best retro-ising plugins around, but also a powerful sound-design tool in a general sense, RC-20 is a wobbly, wonky, fizzy, soul-warming slice of awesome."
Universal Audio Moog Multimode Filter XL
We said: "Moog Multimode Filter has been a staple in our DAW since the day it dropped, and Moog Multimode Filter XL supersedes it in every way. It sounds even phatter, thicker, squelchier, creamier, screamier and dirtier, and the comprehensive onboard modulation tools make it infinitely more rhythmic and thus creative."
Tokyo Dawn Labs Limiter 6 GE
We said: "Up there with the best compressors and limiters, and much cheaper than most of them, Limiter 6 GE is an unmissable plugin."
We said: "A dazzlingly authentic tape emulation plugin that you’ll want to build into your template DAW project for use on just about everything (particularly if that DAW happens to be Studio One), Tape is unmissable."
Slate Digital Virtual Tube Collection
We said: "While there are plugins out there that let you get deeper into the technical specifics of valve saturation, we’ve not heard many that match VTC for quality and authenticity; and, frankly, its simplicity is a huge part of the sell. Wonderful, wonderful stuff."
We said: "A clever new application of Cableguys’ LFO-driven framework, TimeShaper is creative, fun and priced just right."
We said: "Again iZotope moves the RX platform forward to a place ahead of any competition. A truly powerful, innovative and intuitive toolset."
Winner: iZotope Ozone 8
We said: "It’s ridiculously powerful, every one of its modules sounds incredible, and for in-the-box mastering made as accessible as it can be, there’s simply none better."