Plug-ins are one of the most discussed (and often controversial) topics amongst producers and engineers around here, so we "asked our database" what the most popular ones are in forum discussions - here are our findings:

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 Arousor V3

Empirical Labs Arousor V3

What is it? The evolution of the iconic Distressor with some interesting new features such as attack modification and controllable saturation.

Pros: The coveted Empirical Labs compression sound on a highly efficient plug-in that allows for countless instances to be used simultaneously.

Cons: Relatively costly when compared to similar tools and requires iLok USB dongle.

 Neutron 3 Advanced

iZotope Neutron 3 Advanced

What is it? Innovative channel strip with intriguing twists and AI-aided tools. Comes in three versions - Elements, Standard and Advanced.

Pros: Highly flexible and capable of taking care of nearly everything that a mix requires, including handy analysis tools.

Cons: Some interesting features are only available on the (more expensive) Advanced edition.

 VTM (Virtual Tape Machines)

Slate Digital VTM (Virtual Tape Machines)

What is it? Magnetic recording tape emulation with the Slate Digital pedigree.

Pros: Realistic sounding, easy to use and covers a good range of different tape flavours.

Cons: Unless you "don’t like tape" (said almost no one ever) there’s hardly anything to complain about.

 VCC 2 (Virtual Console Collection 2)

Slate Digital VCC 2 (Virtual Console Collection 2)

What is it? Adds that sought-after big-analog-console-sound to your DAW.

Pros: Six console options on a well optimised plug-in, allowing for many instances to be used on a session without crippling our computers.

Cons: Requires VMR and thus the USB iLok dongle, which may be a hindrance to some.

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 Brainworx bx_console N

Plugin Alliance Brainworx bx_console N

What is it? Emulates the Neve VXS console down to the component level.

Pros: A one-stop solution for basic channel work and very light on the CPU.

Cons: Not as colourful as other classic Neve consoles.


DMG Audio EQuilibrium

What is it? The ultimate equalizer plug-in with an insane amount of EQ curves, configurations and inner-workings settings.

Pros: Excellent sounding and customizable like no other EQ plug-in.

Cons: Might feel a bit overwhelming with so many options.


Kush Audio Novatron

What is it? A versatile compressor that can go from clean to gritty - and everything in between.

Pros: Not as cryptic to dial in as the other Kush/Sly-Fi compressor plug-ins.

Cons: Hardly any, but it requires an iLok USB dongle.

Five important notes/observations:

1. Our findings are based on how many times a product has been mentioned on

2. The list tells us that users definitely loves equalizers, compressors and saturators.

3. The quest for the elusive character of analog gear never ends and a good chunk of this list is comprised of plug-ins that are set to capture these magical aspects. It never gets old, does it?

4. Our list shows an interesting mix of authorization solutions, with proprietary and third-party solutions almost split, but a physical security dongle is still required for around half of the entries.

5. All the entries on our list are cross-platform and available as AAX, AU and VST plug-ins, which is a testimony to the dedication and professionalism of the current crop of developers. From small/one-man operations to big companies, everybody is putting on some great work that anyone can use no matter what their platform.

So what do you think? What are you looking forward to when it comes to plug-in development in 2018? Share your thoughts with us!