Don’t always use plugins the way they’re intended, push the boundaries!

In the digital world we’ve got access to so many plugins. Which I think is great. I’m sure that in your DAW you’ve got an arsenal of compressors, EQ’s, reverbs, delays etc.

But my question is: how do you use them? Do you know exactly what you’re doing? (Please don’t feel offended if you’re an experienced engineer. Some of my readers are at the start of their careers.) Do you know the theory behind a compressor? Do you know what a threshold is and what it does etc? Or do u just start tweaking without actually knowing what you’re doing?
If the latter is the case I would definitely encourage you to do some self study (Google is your best friend), so at least you’ll get a sense of what you’re doing. But do keep experimenting, because that’s how you create your own unique techniques. In this post, I’ll cover more of a philosophy than actual techniques (I do have a few examples tho).


I love to use plugins in a way they’re not intended to be used. Guitar effects are my favorites! I use guitar effects on everything; I run vocals thru amps, pianos thru guitar chorus effects, put guitar distortion on synths etc.
Limiters and maximizers that were originally made for Master busses can also work on individual tracks–I especially like them on lead vocals.
Sometimes it can also be cool to run effects thru effects and then thru more effects to create weird original sounding effects and sounds. I’m also a huge fan automating effects! For example: run some background vocals thru a guitar chorus, put a huge reverb on it and then put a high cut filter on that on which you automate the cutoff frequency.
Like I said just keep experimenting! Keep pushing boundaries and break every rule you know!

by Shroom

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My 5 favorite compressors (plugins)

CLA3A-large1. Waves CLA3A
The CLA3A works good on everything. I use it all the time. Mostly it’s the first plugin in my chain, whether I’m mixing drums, vocals, guitars, it doesn’t matter. It’s super easy to setup and bring whatever you’re compressing more in-your-face right away. The CLA2A is also very good.
2. RVox
When I’m mixing vocals the RVox is one of my go to plugins. Mainly for the same reason as the CLA3A; it’s easy to setup and brings your vocal more in-your-face. I usually put it at the end of my chain.
3. Waves C4 multi band compressor
I love the Waves C4 cause of it’s control. You can compress each frequency band very easily. I like to use it as one of the last plugins of my chain, after EQ, to smooth it out a bit and make sure none of the frequencies get out of control. I use this for almost everything.
4. FabFilter  Pro-C compressor
If I want a very neutral compressor that just does the job without adding too much of it’s own characteristics then I grab the FabFilter compressor. Also not too hard to setup with great results.
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5. L2
It’s actually more of a limiter than a compressor but I love it so much that I had to put it in this list. I always use it on the master bus (when I send to mastering I send 2 versions; 1 with L2 and 1 without) cause it kinda glues the mix together and brings up to overall level. I always use it at the end of my mixing stage and adjust the balance of the mix after I put it on there.