The best audio plugins of 2023

2023 has marked a year of significant innovation in the audio production industry, largely due to the heavy implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI). This technological advancement has led to the development of groundbreaking tools and plugins, transforming how professionals approach sound design, mixing, and mastering.

MicroMusic for Vital

MicroMusic offers an innovative approach to sound design in music production. It excels in reconstructing and replicating synthesizer sounds by analyzing and processing input tracks, providing up to ten diverse presets per sound for Vital. Ideal for both simple and polyphonic textures, MicroMusic's unique strength lies in its precise parameter prediction, allowing for independent control over each aspect of the sound. This feature is particularly useful for refining and customizing tones, whether you're working with electronic beats or intricate acoustic samples. The plugin's user-friendly interface, combined with its AI-driven capabilities, makes it an essential tool for producers looking to explore new sonic possibilities and enhance their creative workflow.

JD Factory RoomWidener

The RoomWidener by JD Factory is an essential tool for sound engineers and music producers, designed to add depth and dimension to tracks. Its straightforward interface includes controls for size, amount, dampen, and wet only, offering versatility in manipulating the spatial aspects of sound. The size function adjusts the perceived space, while the amount and dampen controls modify the effect's level and tone.

Upon testing, the RoomWidener's size control effectively changes delay time, influencing the stereo image's width and creating a more immersive sound. It's crucial to use the Amount control judiciously to avoid an overly pronounced slapback effect.

This plugin ingeniously combines aspects of delay, stereo widening, and dampening, creating transparent reflections and adding a 3D depth to the sound. Its versatility makes it suitable for both sound design and production, particularly effective during the mixing stage for adding life to a mix.

Excite Audio Motion: Harmonic

Motion: Harmonic uniquely combines distortion and filters for interactive sound manipulation. It excels in transforming audio with versatile effects like distortion, bitcrushing, and creative filtering. With the ability to automate multiple parameters, it's ideal for creating dynamic, evolving textures. The plugin's standout feature is the 'Hexagon' controller, enhancing user interaction and control over sound design. Motion: Harmonic is perfect for producers seeking to add movement and complexity to their audio, offering an engaging, visually-led experience alongside its powerful audio processing capabilities.

It remembers Output Thermal a bit, but it offers some more tweaking capabilities.

LANDR Mastering

The Landr Mastering Plugin revolutionizes music mastering with its AI-assisted approach, simplifying the process for artists mastering their own tracks. Offering various algorithms for different sound preferences, the plugin analyzes a track’s key elements like frequency and dynamic range to suggest an optimal master. Users can easily tweak parameters such as input gain and choose from settings like warm, balanced, or open. This flexibility, combined with features like compression adjustment and gain-matching, makes it an ideal tool for efficiently achieving a polished, cohesive sound across various musical styles.

Not a fan of actually mastering tracks with such tools, but I welcome them for making quick drafts that I can later reference to.

Sonible PureEQ

pure:EQ offers a streamlined approach to spectral distribution control, transforming the tone and character of your track with ease. It features automatic parametrization for high-quality results, intelligent processing, and input-specific profiles. The plugin includes a balance control, style selector, and dynamic adaption, making it a versatile tool for various audio applications.

One of the standout features of pure:EQ is its use of intelligent profiles instead of static presets. Leveraging AI technology, it employs neural networks to generate a filter curve that balances your track, ensuring a smooth sound energy distribution. This unique learning feature, combined with a wide range of profiles, simplifies achieving optimal audio quality.

Sonible Smart:Gate

Sonible's smart:Gate plugin is a game-changer for audio producers struggling with track isolation and refinement. This plugin features a straightforward interface with target presets for various sound types, including vocals and guitar. It also includes an audition mode for analyzing content and a simple option for discarding unwanted versions.

At its core, smart:Gate offers standard gating with advanced controls like level bias and multiband components for lows, mids, and highs. This allows for precise frequency-focused track manipulation. Notably, it excels in separating elements within a drum loop without compromising the original sound quality.

While smart:Gate isn't designed for stem extraction, it's invaluable for isolating elements in drum breaks or samples, particularly in production and mixing. However, it's less effective on busier mixes. This plugin is ideal for those seeking efficient and reliable sound refinement.

Baby Audio Transit

Baby Audio's Transit is a groundbreaking plugin that revolutionizes audio transitions in music production. Its interface is sleek and user-friendly, centered around a master control wheel for easy automation. Transit offers seven slots for 19 diverse effects like filters and distortion, each with detailed control settings. Its standout feature is the intuitive automation control, visually guiding users with color-coded cues for positive and negative automation. The plugin also allows for custom curve control of automation lines, adding depth to transitions. For added spontaneity, Transit includes a randomization feature and a drag-and-drop option for reordering effects. Despite a limitation of seven modules, Transit provides ample versatility for most transition needs, with a global mixer and output gain for final touches. This plugin is a valuable tool for producers seeking simplicity and efficiency in crafting seamless audio transitions.

 

Playfair Audio Dynamic Grading

This innovative plugin redefines dynamic processing by moving beyond the traditional single threshold and compressor/expander mode. It offers multiple dynamic ranges that can be adjusted to your preference, allowing for a blend of upward and downward compression and expansion. A key use of this plugin is applying upward compression to the quieter levels of a source, effectively enhancing perceived loudness without compromising the transients. This approach offers a nuanced and flexible way to handle dynamics, particularly useful for achieving balanced and impactful audio production.

Spectral Plugins Pancz

Pancz stands out as a versatile multi-band transient shaper, clipper, compressor, and limiter, adeptly filling the gap for a multi-band clipper in any producer's toolkit. Its user-friendly interface grants control over three distinct bands, each with an adjustable threshold. The plugin's flexibility is further enhanced with options for soft clipping or limiting, parallel compression settings, and dedicated presence control for each band. In practical use, Pancz proves its worth by precisely shaping the drum bus while maintaining the integrity of the low end, making it an invaluable asset for detailed audio production.

Supertone Clear

This de-noise and de-reverb voice separator plugin uses advanced neural network models to divide audio into three channels: ambience, voice, and voice reverb. This separation allows for exceptional control over the voice's clarity.

It works great for mixing and sound-recovery purposes, but I mainly use it to fine-tune the audio of my videos, as my room still has a bit of reflections that are being caught by my microphone.

Plugins

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