Analog warmth and character is very sought after in the audio world and the amount of plugins designed to emulate analog hardware is ever-growing. I've used many analog emulations over the years and I've narrowed this list to my top 5 analog sounding plugins that I use on nearly every mix. These are my go-to analog sounding plugins when I need to add saturation, warmth or depth to my mix.
1. klanghelm - SDRR
SDRR was one of my first favorite analog sounding plugins. This one lives on my mix bus. I tend to start with the "MASTERING Analog Glue" preset. From there I usually change the gain stages to two and tweak a couple other settings to taste. It adds a nice depth and little cream over the top of my mix. It tends to soften the top end and overall makes the mix more pleasing to my ears. This plugin is also great on snare and guitars. With the right settings you can really use it on anything in your mix. I highly recommend this little guy.
"SDRR was built to satisfy almost all of your saturation desires. It provides a comprehensive set of controls to manipulate the character of the saturation to make it fit exactly. SDRR offers four different main modes: TUBE, DIGI, FUZZ, DESK and reacts dynamically to the input signal. Each mode has its unique crosstalk behavior, which can be switched off or exaggerated. A unique RMS level difference metering mode makes level matching an easy task. SDRR can be different things: a saturation, a compressor, an EQ, a bit-crusher, a subtle stereo widener, or simply add some movement to your tracks with the DRIFT control. Add warmth, depth and character to your tracks with SDRR..." - Klanghelm Website
2.softube console 1
Console 1 is one of my favorite pieces of hardware and software. The Console 1 control surface allows me to EQ, Compress, Shape, Saturate, Pan and Adjust the volume of a track or bus with the twist of a knob as I would on an analog console. Without staring at the screen you can switch between tracks and twist knobs to your hearts desire. This allows you to mix quicker by forcing you to use your ears more than your eyes. Not only does the workflow make this product a winner, the emulation of the SSL 4000E console just sounds great. Additionally you can purchase the British Class A and an SSL XL 9000 K-Series consoles. The Console 1 is now at the heart of my studio as I use it on nearly every single track in a mix and use it to make all of my initial mix tweaks as I would on an analog console. I highly recommend this product.
"Quickly switch between your tracks and control EQ, compressor, gate and more. Mix with the sound of the included Solid State Logic SL 4000 E. Or customize your channels to fit your needs—there are over 60 Console 1 ready plug-ins available from Softube and Universal Audio." - Softube Website
3. slate REPEATER
Repeater is a vintage modeled delay which has been modeled after the most popular vintage delay units over the past 70 years – ranging from early tape machines to modern digital designs. This is now my go-to delay plugin and it blows my H-Delay and many other delay plugins out of the water. Not only can you get simple synced delays in your session, Repeater offers the ability to tweak your delays with High-Pass Filters, Low-Pass Filters, Color, Panning, Phase Invert and more on the Left and Right channels individually. This delay is feature rich and just adds more depth and vibe than other delay plugins. This is a must have!
"Repeater is a collaboration between Slate Digital and our friends at D16, and it’s a dual-delay powerhouse that features 23 authentic delays ranging from classic oil cans and plates to the most famous vintage digital designs. It’s packed with sounds and cool features that will add depth to your mixes, and all of that versatility comes with a user interface that’s immediately easy to understand and tweak." - Slate Website
4. slate virtual tube collection
The Virtual Tube Collection by Slate Digital is a nice addition to the Slate Bundle and is currently my favorite set of plugins in the bundle. The saturation these plugins produce is top notch, pleasing to listen to and can really be that "final touch" on your buses to really glue your mix and add vibe. There are three different flavors to choose from depending on the vibe you want -- Hollywood, New York and London. I like to use these on my Drum Bus, Bass Bus, Guitar Bus, Vocal Bus and Mix Bus. I tend to use these sparingly to add vibe to an already good sounding mix. It is easy to over-do it with these plugins, but even when you do, the sound is not harsh and is pleasing to the ears. These plugins are the ultimate analog character plugins in my opinion. Give them a try!
"The Slate Digital VIRTUAL TUBE COLLECTION is a set of three plugins for Virtual Mix Rack that recreate the sound of classic vintage tube circuits. Each module can act as a preamp, a saturator, and even a virtual tube summing console. Using VTC, you can add color, warmth, depth, and vibe to your mixes and masters. VMS users can also use VTC preamps with the microphone models for rich and vibey tone on their tracks." - Slate Website
5. softube tape
Not only is Tape beautiful looking but the sound of this plugin matches its looks. This is one of those plugins that offers instant gratification. Throw it on a guitar track or a drum bus and you will instantly hear that creamy, warm character that analog tape offers. Tape offers features such as your choice of three tape machines, variable tape speed, high frequency trim and crosstalk, just to name a few. I like to use this plugin on my instrument buses as well as my Mix Bus. You can't really go wrong with this plugin. Just tweak to taste and you're on your way to a better mix.
"Time to get reel! Softube's Tape plug-in adds cohesion and weight to your mixes. But Tape goes far beyond your average tape machine emulation. It includes three distinctly different tape machine types, and it offers the ease of use and low CPU strain that today's music creators rightfully expect." - Softube Website
This concludes my Top 5 Analog Sounding Plugins list. Comment below and let me know what you think of these plugins and what analog sounding plugins you like to use in your mixes. Please feel free to comment or contact me if you have any questions or recommendations for future lists or reviews. It's time for me to get back to mixing. Happy recording!