The Power of Stock Plugins in a Mix

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A video on the power of using stock plugins in a mix.

Transcript excerpt:

Hey folks. Matthew Weiss here —,, and That’s my newest tutorial, it’s all about equalization, how to use it, how to conceptualize it, and what it’s all about.

This tutorial right here is going to be about stock plug-ins. Now, I get a good number of messages that go something to the tune of, “Hey, Matt. Do you think with enough practice and skill and knowledge, I could create professional, high-end commercial results with only stock plug-ins?”My response is, “Well, I believe that you can.” Now, would it be easy? No, I don’t think so. There is a reason why there are very expensive, high-end EQs in the digital world. There’s a reason why I’ve purchased them. It’s because right off the bat, they tend to sound better.

But, it’s splitting hairs. It’s not like there’s a humongous difference between the moderns stock DAW plug-in and the high-end Hoser XT or FabFilter Pro-Q; the things that I tend to use on a day-to-day basis. I think that if I was limited to just the stock plug-ins, I could still get very good results.

Now, this is going to be aimed at Pro Tools users, so I’m sorry to you guys who are using Fruity Loops, and Logic, and Cubase. Most of the times, I am doing universal concepts. This one, I think that you can watch what I do and you can learn from it, but if you don’t have Pro Tools, you’re going to have to try and figure out some different ways of doing things within your own DAW platform.

That said, Studio One, Reaper, all the ones I mentioned before, these are great programs. They have a lot of really cool stock plug-ins, so take the time to explore them and learn what they can do. There’s probably some stuff that I can’t do as a Pro Tools user, so check it out.

Also, forgive the fact that I just totally slurred the words Pro Tools user. That’s hard to say.

Okay, anyway. Here’s a common situation that I’ll run into. I’ll get a vocal that was recorded in – not a bad studio by any stretch, but not a really high-end studio, so the vocals will oftentimes be recorded on microphones that are like, one of the Blue microphones, or a C414, or something that is very budget friendly, and produces very good results, but isn’t quite what an M49, or a U67, or a C800G would normally give you.

So, this is one of those examples.

[vocals play]

So, this vocal has some obvious issues with it. One being that it’s a very boxy sound. It was clearly recorded in a small room that has some mid-rangey reflections bouncing around.

But let’s ignore that for a second. The other issue is that it doesn’t have a harmonic richness that we would expect from, say, something like one of the vintage Neumanns, or one of the high end Sonys or something to that extent. So how can we get ourselves a little bit closer to that?Well, the stock Lo-Fi, believe it or not, in Pro Tools is really good for that. I have just a default setting where I’ve turned the distortion to 0.2, and I’ve turned the saturation to 0.1, and I then put a trim plug-in right afterwards to kind of level match it, and we get from here…

[rap vocals]

…to here.

[rap vocals]

So, if you’re not used to hearing and listening for a really high-end capture, the difference there might allude you a little bit, because it’s very subtle. But, if you’re used to putting up really high-end microphones going through a really nice console or nice preamps, and you know, compression or things like that, you’re used to hearing a harmonic richness that is not there when I take this off.


So, when I go to EQ this and really get it to formulate inside the mix, I’m going to ultimately end up with a much more polished sound, because a lot of that polish is actually the distortion. The really healthy, fun distortion that we get at the microphone, at the console, at the preamp, at the compressor, etcetera.

Okay, so now let’s take a look at something fun that I’ve been doing for this record. I have this bass line, and I haven’t totally balanced the basses yet. There’s like, five bass components, but here’s one that I really like.

[synth bass]

Now, one thing that bothers me is that it feels very digital. It feels very middy. It has, I think, as far as a digital playing goes, it sounds more life-like than most. It doesn’t sound like straight block kind of setting, but it doesn’t sound like a real bass, and I don’t think it was.


This is my way of getting a good Metal tone with only free plugins. All plugins used are below:

TS999 Subscreamer –

LePou Legion –

LePou LeCab – (Mac –…) (Windows –…)

Catharsis Impulse Responses – Can’t find a working link :/ Sorry!

Thank you and don’t forget to like and subscribe! 🙂

30 thoughts on “The Power of Stock Plugins in a Mix”

  1. You should do a series celebrating the power of ssl plugins lol, and maybe explain how the curves work on an ssl eq emulation… its kind of a mystery to me right now

  2. Hey man I love your videos. I have a question for you. I own pro tools 8 HD with a digidesign 192 interface. Can you please tell me how I can connect midi to this interface? I can't seem to figure out how. 

  3. Woah, this raw vocals sounds like mixer's nightmare! I guess it's not even Blue or AKG, or maybe it was recorded in the room that sounds like a crap by itself. In fact, I has recently realized that I could gain much more professional skills using just stock plugins – it's all about restrictions and creativity. Anyways great job done here. Thanks for the video!

  4. This video made me realise I overdid the EQ-ing way too much, no wonder it sounded like it was in a box. It was really hard for me to… accept the noise, I guess :)

  5. Hi, great video! It helps me a lot. It might be a stupid question, but how can I choose the channel EQ by Logic? The problem is I can't even find the EQ ( but I do have Logic Pro). Did I misunderstanding something? Thanks man!

  6. Tip: route the output of channel strips that will use the same effects to an auxiliary channel. This makes it less CPU-expensive.

  7. someone help me out. just bought a macbook pro and i am using reaper. I'm trying to load these free poulin amps and i can't figure how to get the plugins to load into my reaper. thanks

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