I’ve used many plug ins over the years, and find myself always pulling the same few up.
Ohmnicide is just a world apart from any other mangler. It’s sort of cryptic at first, but damn does it make everything you throw at it scream in agony, the good kind.
As stated, Raum is one of my favorite reverb. I’ve used many that were 4 to 5 times more expensive, and although those were really great quality, something about them just didn’t feel right, perhaps they did too good of a job of creating open space, and they also presented way too many options that can bog you down. Raum on the other hand gets right to it. It has a lush, wonderful sound to it, and has just the right amount of parameters to get to where you want, without bogging you down.
Synth wise, Omnisphere is an obvious desert island option, and I love it very much, butttt lately I’ve been diving deeper into U-HE’s great Hive, and amazing Zebra. Let me start by saying that you could go with any single one of U-HEs offerings and be good. I recommend all of it, especially Repro and Diva. As I said, lately I’ve been diving into the more intricate aspects of sound design and both Hive and Zebra really provide you with a near limitless amount of sound sculpting options. Zebra very much feels like a structured modular environment as you can route vcos and modulators where ever, and customize the shapes of all waveforms. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular amongst professional sound design artist, and movie soundtrack creators. Hive is perhaps a little bit more streamlined version of Zebra, with additionally euro rackesque modulation influences added. They all sound so damn good, and there have been a few sound shootouts between UHE products and analog instruments.
Soundtoys rack is another great addition to any library, and you can tell they spent a lot of time programming their tools to be as close to hardware as they could possibly make them. I just love the fact that their filter self oscillates if you turn the resonance all the way up, just like many analog filters. Great sound, and also doesn’t affect your CPU too much.
When you take into account the user library offerings, and all the absolute awesome options that provides, it’s hard not to get excited about Reaktor. If one had a powerful enough cpu, they could use just Reaktor for the entire music making process. It’s simply overwhelming the amount of free offerings that you can obtain for it. Additionally, Reaktor had been solid for over a decade, and many of its legacy programs are still work wonderfully today.
Just to rewind a second, U-HEs effects are superb as well. Satin is such a wonderfully executed saturation/tape emulator that I will often use on master or bus channels. I even throw it on some instrument channels to give it a little bit of added character. Presswerk is a really great compressor that’s also really musical in what it does. It doesn’t give you boring and sterilized compression, but rather can breathe added life into any channel you slap it on, I’ve seen MJUC mentioned above, which is also really similar and had a great sound to it. Color Copy is an awesome Bucket Brigade type of delay that allows for a ton of tweaking, and just sounds so good, and crazy enough, authentic. Finally Twangsteom is the most realistic, artificial spring reverb I’ve used or heard. It’s fantastic.
I could go on with a few more, such as Fab-Filters amazing set of options (that eq is the best), and Valhallas are more often than not in my tracks, but they’ve been covered.
I’d also say not to underestimate the free stuff. In recent years there has been quite a lot of quality free stuff provided, and which still continues to be free. One I use all the time is Pancake by Cableguys (another great vst company). It’s my favorite auto panner, and is down right simple to use and to get the results you want. Have a look at Computer Music/Electronic Musician magazine, as they offer a ton of free vsts for subscribers. Also their affiliate website musicradar.com has a link to tens of thousands free samples. Happy hunting.
Edit- I can’t believe I forgot one of the best free plugins ever released.
PaulXStretch does just what the title says. It stretches out wav files to insane amounts. On top of that it provides a long list of modifiers that will make any song, or sound into a drone of the highest order. Turn the sound of passing gas into a track Brian Eno could only have dreamed of making. Kidding of course…or am I?