What is the Best Plug-In?

If you’re like me, you’re always wondering which reverb(s) and delay(s) you should be using on your mix. There are so many options. So many that “look cool.” So many that people have told you “sound the best.” So which one is the best?

Well the good news is, you can’t mess up. By using your ears, you’re going to be able to tell if something is working or not. So rule out the scare/mess up factor, because that’s bogus.

The best way I was able to figure out reverb and delay was to try one at a time. It’s kind of similar to what I say about EQ and compression (which is a huge time saver, just picking one thing), it’s more about learning the gear, which results in a big problem I have with plugins. The reason being, if you buy a $1500 outboard compressor, you’re going to run everything through that. You spent 1500 flipping bucks on that thing, you’re going to learn it. But when you buy 200 plugins for $500, you all of a sudden have a bunch of tools to learn from. And more often than not, you’re only going to part way learn them. Some of them you’ll open once and then never open again. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Once you experiment and learn each individual reverb and delay type, you’ll develop a very special skill, which I like to call: the WHY. When you learn the why of something, you know when and how to use it. which is more valuable than 1,000 plugin bundles. You’ll have learned this gear so well, that you’ll know what works and what doesn’t work with a plate reverb. You’ll hear something and know “Oh, that would be awesome with a plate reverb.” It becomes a huge time saver, and it helps your mix become more cohesive. You’re not just tossing this and that reverb and delay all over the place just because your mix “needs more space.” You’ll know what space it needs and what tool(s) to use to get there.

Don’t expect this to be something you develop overnight. This is something I still work on, despite working at it for years. I feel like I know my delays a lot better than my reverbs, but I’m getting there. These are things that take practice and patience. Sometimes you’ll notice that there isn’t a “right answer” (as there is with almost everything in mixing.) You could do a delay OR reverb. Or it sounds good with multiple times. Again, USE YOUR EARS! Trust your gut. Bless ya.


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