must-have plugins for music producers

Top 10 Must-Have Plugins for Music Production in 2023

When it comes to producing music, having the right plugins can make all the difference. Plugins are software add-ons that allow producers to manipulate sounds and create unique effects. With so many plugins available, it can be overwhelming to decide which ones to invest in. In this article, we’ll explore the top 5 must-have plugins for music production.


1. FabFilter Pro-Q 3

A powerful equalizer that allows you to shape the frequency spectrum of your tracks with precision. It features a modern, intuitive interface and a range of advanced features such as dynamic EQ, linear phase mode, and mid/side processing. A must-have EQ plugin if you are a music producer or a mix/master engineer.


2. BABY Audio BA-1

BABY Audio has recently released the BA-1, a new synthesizer plugin, which imitates a small, toy-like synthesizer from the 1980s and has a distinctive gritty sound. The BA-1 has been able to accurately reproduce the original hardware’s signature sound while also introducing new features that enhance its capabilities. The BA-1 synthesizer offers greater versatility in sound design due to its analog-modeled oscillator, FM functionality, and 24dB low-pass filter with resonance. The envelope section can be used to shape the sound with unique side effects, similar to the original synth, but now with the added feature of being able to sync the attack time to the DAW’s BPM. Additionally, the BA-1’s FX section is exceptional and takes inspiration from low-budget 1980s rack hardware, effectively capturing the lo-fi aesthetic of the home studio scene during that time period.


3. Waves SSL E-Channel 

Solid State Logic’s SL 4000 series was the first console to integrate EQ and dynamics processing in every channel, improving workflow. The E-series consoles are now sought after for their classic sound, particularly the “black knob” EQ in hip hop and pop music. The plugin version, developed in collaboration with SSL, includes 4-band EQ, dual filters, and a soft-knee compressor/limiter with internal sidechaining. The plugin is CPU-efficient for use in large, demanding projects.



4. iZotope Ozone 10

Ozone 10 has the new Stabilizer Module – an intelligent and adaptive mastering EQ that dynamically shapes your mix for clear, natural tones. Use it to tame resonance, carve away harshness, and smooth transients for better translation across listening environments. Also new is the Impact Module, which enhances the rhythm and feel of your tracks by intuitively controlling micro dynamics with four sliders working across different frequency bands. For increased loudness without sacrificing audio quality, use the Magnify Soft Clip to amplify the Maximizer’s IRC algorithms. Experience a thicker sound with a punch and dynamic space, or use the soft clipper to bring your track forward.



5. Soundtoys Decapitator

Decapitator offers five analog saturation models that bring character to any track or instrument in your mixes. A modeled tone control and mix control allow you to shape the saturated sound and blend in some dry signal for parallel processing, without the need for routing and sub-mixes. With Soundtoys’ flexibility and reliability, Decapitator combines the best of analog and digital in one essential effect that captures the changing, responsive model of analog gear.’



6. Native Instruments Kontakt 7

A sampler plugin with an extensive library of sounds and customizable parameters, allowing you to create unique and personalized instrument patches. KONTAKT 7’s revamped Factory Library offers high-quality and extensive sonic options, along with big, beautiful, HiDPI interfaces. Explore various acoustic and electronic instruments, including Orchestral Tools’ large orchestral sections, and enjoy an endlessly playable and tweakable selection.



7. Valhalla Room 

A reverb plugin with a lush and natural sound that provides a wide range of control over decay time, size, and modulation. Featuring 12 original algorithms, including the latest Dark reverb modes, Nostromo, Narcissus, Sulaco, and LV-426, this reverb plugin produces a wide range of natural reverberation sounds from tight ambiances to vast modulated spaces. Influenced by classic room simulation boxes and modern theory, it offers traditional hall and plate sounds.


8. Serum

A wavetable synthesizer plugin with advanced modulation options and a clean and intuitive interface, allowing you to create complex and unique sounds. Serum’s built-in Wavetable editor allows for custom wavetable creation and the modulation system enables drag-and-drop connections between mod sources and destinations. With 256 wavetables per oscillator and real-time waveform manipulation through Warp, Serum offers a wide range of filter types, including brand-new ones, and flangers, phasers, and comb filters that key-track to the musical note played.



9. RC-20 Retro Color 

RC-20 Retro Color is a creative effect plugin that adds warmth and texture to any recording, easily recreating the vintage feel of old recording equipment. Its 6 effect modules, including noise generator, saturation and distortion, reverb, and more, work well independently or together in any modern production setting.




10. Izotope RX 10 Standard

A restoration and repair plugin that provides advanced tools for removing noise, clicks, and hum from your audio, as well as repairing clipped and distorted recordings. The latest version of RX has some amazing features such as Text Navigation + Multiple Speaker Detection, Repair Assistant Plug-in, Adaptive Dynamic Mode in De-hum, Upgraded Spectral Recovery, Selection Feathering, and more. Definitely a must-have plugin in your arsenal.



That’s all for our best must-have plugins for music producers in 2023.

Image credits: XLN Audio

Hemant has been actively involved in the dance music industry with over 3 years of experience. Currently working as a Project Manager and heading the We Rave You Tech division. Get in touch via email.

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