The 9 best creative and mix effect plugins coming your way in 2024

Gear Expo Effects
(Image credit: Minimal Audio)

GEAR EXPO 2024: As computer power increases so does the power of the plugin effect, and now, rather than just performing standard mix duties – delays, reverbs, filters, EQs and so on – we get effects that deliver multiple instances across specific frequency bands, or AI-driven algorithms to help you home in on specific sounds. 

In short, plugin effects can now be as creative a tool as any software instrument, and we have the best of the current and future crop rounded up below.  

Minimal Audio Swarm

Minimal Audio is a developer known for its unique and creative effects plugins (the Rift distortion is our favourite) and also the Current soft synth and content platform, released late last year. 

Minimal's latest plugin release is Swarm Reverb, a "fun and flexible" reverb plugin capable of producing everything from "expansive ambience" to "pumping spaces and lush creative effects". 

Swarm Reverb is a dual-stage reverb with separate algorithms and controls for both early and late reflections, meaning it can confidently handle the whole spectrum of reverbs from realistic spaces to stratospheric ambient decays.

Both the early and late reflections tabs are equipped with controls for attack, decay, reverb size and damping, in addition to width and diffusion. You're able to blend between both types of reverb with a balance control. 

swarm reverb plugin

(Image credit: Minimal Audio)

Swarm is equipped with input filters (high and low-pass) and a diffusion filter for sculpting the frequencies of your reverb tail, alongside controls for tempo-synced predelay and a handy wet/dry mix slider at the bottom of the window to dial in the desired amount of reverb to your signal.

There's also a built-in ducker that'll carve out space in the reverb tail using the dry signal, along with a modulation section that adjusts time values across both reverb algorithms, with controls for depth and modulation rate. Swarm also has a soft clipper at the output stage for introducing limiting and saturation to the final product. 

Swarm Reverb is available now for Windows and Mac in VST/AU/AAX formats and is priced at $49.

Find out more on Minimal Audio's website.

Baby Audio Transit

Transit is the latest effects plugin from Baby Audio and artist/producer and YouTube monolith Andrew Huang. It is designed to help create polished transitions between different sections of your tracks so that momentum is maintained. 

Transit has an eight-slot modular grid with seven effects slots that you can fill from a choice of 18 different effects, plus one slot for a manual and syncable macro control. 

What makes Transit a transition designer is the way you can manipulate all the effects collectively using the macro control and a Transition Control macro knob or using a sequencer mode. 

Baby Audio Transit

(Image credit: Baby Audio)

You can, for example, set the transition length, then, with your DAW in playback, use Transit’s play button to trigger the macro from the beginning of the next bar.

In our review we concluded that Transit is "a flexible processor that covers more than just transitions – and paging through the presets reveals some brilliant effects. Transit really is more than the sum of its parts: it delivers easy-to-use and dynamic effects that are perfect for convincing track transitions – and beyond!" 

Transit costs £86/$99 and you can get read our full review here, or get more information from the Baby Audio website.

iZotope’s VEA (Vocal Enhancement Assistant)

iZotope's Vocal Enhancement Assistant promises to make any voice recording “more powerful, more polished, and more professional,” so is aimed at podcasters and other content creators. It features enhancement technology from other iZotope products like RX, Ozone and Nectar.

VEA is apparently great for increasing clarity, setting more consistent levels and reducing background noise, and has three controls with this in mind: Shape, Boost and Clean. Shape is an EQ alternative, while Boost handles compression and limiting to even out your volume, and finally Clean is a de-noiser.

iZotope VEA

(Image credit: iZotope)

There’s also the 'Audiolens' feature, which enables you to target a specific voice recording that you like and try and replicate its sound. VEA’s attempt to match the tone is visualised so you can see how close it’s getting.

VEA runs on PC and Mac in VST/AU/AAX formats and costs $29. You can find out more and download a 10-day demo on the iZotope website.

Plugin Boutique Scaler EQ

After all these years EQ-ing, you've been doing it incorrectly, or so hints Scaler EQ's world-first operation. In a nutshell, Scaler EQ allows you to boost or cut specific frequencies that are in or out of key with the rest of your track – rather than just boosting or cutting everything of the same frequency. 

When you think about it, perhaps it's not such an out-there concept – why would you want frequencies that aren't in the key of your song? So maybe all EQs should be doing this. 

Scaler EQ

(Image credit: Plugin Boutique)

Scaler EQ does its thing using Harmonic Peak and Plus/Minus filters. The key of the song is automatically detected – or you can set it yourself – and the notes within that key shown on the virtual keyboard. Then it's simply a matter of boosting all frequencies that match those notes, or even selecting your own ones. 

There are several other tweaks you can make, like the width of the operation, the Q (slope) of the EQ and the width of the stereo. The results are definitely more pronounced, as the video above demonstrates, especially with the acoustic guitar demo, and there are plenty of presets to try to apply to specific instruments. We'll be getting Scaler EQ in for a full review soon, and it is available now, from Plugin Boutique, for $£49.

Nembrini Audio NA 501

Plugin companies are diving into history to find things to emulate and with NA 501, Nembrini Audio is revisiting the Roland RE-501 Chorus Echo. This classic 1980 effects unit might not have had the profile of the Space Echo, but actually had more under its bonnet, including a tape echo, BBD chorus and spring reverb.

Nembrini's emulation models all of those and, yes, adds one or two modern extras, so you also get DAW tempo sync, more chorus and delay parameters and independent SOS (sound on sound) timings.

501 chorus

(Image credit: Nembrini Audio)

NA-501 keeps the simplicity of the original effects box, though, despite its modern sensibilities. Another modern twist is that it is available as an iOS effect as well as the more standard PC and Mac versions. The former costs £16, while the desktop plugin is $99. 

Get more information from the Nembrini Audio website

Solid State Logic G3 MultiBusComp

The G3 MultiBusComp offers three processing bands, each graced with an individual compressor modelled on the G Series bus compressor found in SSL's SL 4000 G large-format mixing consoles. 

It is effectively a multiband version of that compressor and in designing it, SSL has come up with the ultimate 3-in-one compressor that is equally good for mix, submix and mastering compression. 

Solid State Logic G3 MultiBusComp

(Image credit: Solid State Logic)

In our review we found that the results when using the compressor in any of these scenarios, are second to none. 

"The results delivered by G3 MultiBusComp could not be more perfect, whether it’s adding loudness to a full mix, making a drum submix sound huge, or laying a blanket of silky smoothness across a bed of backing vocals. 

"The G Series’ quintessential character and musicality shine through from every pore, as does SSL’s legendary attention to detail. Perhaps best of all, the narrow sweet spot of the original G Series bus compressor has been transformed into a wide, sugary plateau packed full of sonic possibilities. We have, without question, found our new favourite mix and mastering compressor!"

Read the full review here, and find out more at the SSL website.

Mixing Night Audio LOLCOMP

LOLCOMP is an incredibly welcoming and colourful channel strip plugin that has a choice of five compression-based channel strip chains along with a 5-part effects section. 

Each chain has a clear targeted purpose and comes into its own with a single control and what you might think are odd names to go with it. You get Smiley, Panda, Kangaroo, Peacock and Dragon – of course you do. Smiley is a reasonable transparent chain, great for bringing instruments to the fore. Panda beefs up your bottom end using a combination of dynamics and harmonics and adds both depth and presence. 

Mixing Night Audio LOLCOMP

(Image credit: Mixing Night Audio)

Kangaroo is designed for emphasising attack, while Peacock applies gentle compression and sweetening EQ, and works well on submixes and buses. Finally, Dragon delivers pretty aggressive saturation, so you can see, those names do actually mean something. 

In our review, we concluded that, "make no mistake, under the hood this plugin is packed with quality processing, and quickly delivers a broad range of tones and effects. Once again Mixing Night Audio has delivered a great plugin that you’ll love using, and we can only wonder what they will come up with next".

Mixing Night Audio LOLCOMP costs $149 and you can get more information about the plugin from the MNA website

IK Multimedia TONEX 1.5

TONEX is IK Multimedia's AI-powered software that allows you to capture your own guitar or bass amp rig and saturation or EQ-based pedals, using machine modelling to create realistic and adjustable tones. 

We gave TONEX a thorough testing last year and discovered there was much to like about version 1. "Using the modelling system we captured a very convincing representation of our Marshall JCM900 complete with vintage G12M cabinet and tried multiple mic types and positions to get a selection of track-ready tones. Each model took about 20 minutes to create and sounded really amazing."

Tonex 1.5

(Image credit: IK Multimedia)

The good news is that IK has just given TONEX a major boost for 2024 with a v1.5 update, and there are a lot of extras included. You get Improved Tone Model filtering and searching, with a dedicated sidebar to the left of the UI, better organisation of user folders and presets, better rescaling and resizing to show more content, and 15 new Premium Tone Models covering clean to high-gain amps.

The update is free to existing users and TONEX costs from €149, although there is also a free version, TONEX CS. Get more information from the IK website

Wavesfactory Equalizer

Equalizer is a 32-band EQ that effectively takes your audio back to its source sound or, if you like, makes it sound more natural. As Wavesfactory says, it “takes from where there is too much and adds where there is need. Put simply, it’s an Equalizer”. Equalizer will work on individual tracks or entire mixes too, so you can use it as possibly the simplest mastering tool ever. 

You get a simple UI showing the processing being done to each band, with very obvious boosts shown above the central line and cuts shown below. A central dial lets you push theses boosts and cuts. There are more options to dig deeper, including the ability to draw your own EQ curves. 


(Image credit: Wavesfactory)

The idea is that you can use  Wavesfactory Equalizer on any level you like. Let it do all the heavy lifting, or get involved and use it as your assistant. It certainly seems to be a fast and smart EQ and we'll be reviewing it soon. In the meantime, Wavesfactory Equalizer costs £85/$99 and you can get more information from the Wavesfactory website.

Looking for more great new gear? Get all our roundup, news, features, tutorials, tips and more at our Gear Expo hub page.

Andy Jones

Andy has been writing about music production and technology for 30 years having started out on Music Technology magazine back in 1992. He has edited the magazines Future Music, Keyboard Review, MusicTech and Computer Music, which he helped launch back in 1998. He owns way too many synthesizers.

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