Fixing audio in post-production is necessary when working in audio production. There will be occasions where the recording environment isn’t perfect, surprise resonances overpower the overall quality, and the audio needs some TLC. Here are the best audio editing plug-ins compatible with Ableton Live 11.
The Importance of Audio Editing
Audio editing encompasses various tasks, primarily adding character to a sound. This can include reverb, delay, distortion, modulation, and more. This discussion will focus on the best plug-ins for cleaning up your audio. This involves EQ shaping, compression, resonance suppression, and de-reverb. These steps are crucial and can make or break the final product. The overall sound may be affected without clear-cut audio, even after applying other audio effects, resulting in something muddy or unbalanced.
Now, let’s explore the best paid audio editing plug-ins.
FabFilter Pro-Q 3
While Ableton and many other DAWs have outstanding stock EQ tools, FabFilter Pro-Q 3 is one of the industry-leading EQ plug-ins.
What makes this plug-in so legendary lies in its extensive and ingenious features. FabFilter Pro-Q 3 allows up to 24 EQ bands, offering precise EQ control. It also features a dynamic EQ control that acts as a compressor on specific frequency bands and a side chain feature.
If you frequently work with MIDI, Pro-Q 3 has a MIDI Learn function that enables you to associate any MIDI controller with any parameter. Another handy function is the piano roll feature, which displays EQ frequencies as musical notes and provides different display ranges for mixing and mastering, maximizing efficiency.
Pro-Q 3 is essential for the mixing and mastering stages, offering high-quality processing modes (zero latency, natural phase, and linear phase) for flawless EQ results. Pro-Q 3 includes intelligent software that identifies frequency points of interest, facilitating the process of finding resonant frequencies for adjustment. Furthermore, it provides a mini spectrum analyzer for each sound or instrument, serving as a valuable tool for identifying issues within the frequency spectrum. It truly has everything you need and more.
If that doesn’t convince you enough, it supports full surround sound support (Dolby Atmos) and has a consistent yet beautiful design with a straightforward interactive EQ display for maximum functionality.
Retailing at £144, while it is on the higher end of the market, with the exceptional parameters and features included, it is worth every penny and a staple EQ.
Another industry-leading plug-in perfect for cleaning up your audio is Oeksound’s Soothe 2. While this is closer to the £200 price cap, its groundbreaking technology to help “soothe” your audio is exceptional.
Soothe 2 aims to remove harshness from any sound source, handle sibilance in vocals and dialogue, and address issues like uneven tonal balance, muddiness, boominess, and proximity effects. Soothe 2 can effectively fix these common problems with just a few clicks.
It is designed as a dynamic resonance suppressor that can identify problematic frequencies affecting the audio quality. Working in real-time, it delivers a smoother and more balanced sound transparently. To enhance user experience, Soothe 2 offers two modes to help control unwanted resonances: Soft mode for gentle correction and Hard mode for more challenging issues.
Soothe 2 provides options for adjusting attack and release parameters and mid/side and left/right modes for precise handling of the frequency spectrum. It also includes CPU-saving settings to maintain the highest quality when bouncing audio. Additionally, the plugin offers a wide range of presets for various sound sources, including drums, piano, vocals, and sound design. Notably, its side chain function operates based on frequency rather than volume, revolutionizing clarity in audio processing.
While Soothe 2 offers an impressive array of tools to enhance your audio, it does come with a higher price tag of £175. If you have the budget to invest, Soothe 2 is the perfect choice for mitigating unwanted resonances. Its renowned reputation is further solidified by its use among leading music producers and sound designers.
iZotope RX 10 Elements
Another frequent issue in audio editing is handling the wonders of noise. Noise can be reduced in your audio recordings, but only if you have the correct tools. Sometimes, it isn’t salvageable due to imperfect recording conditions.
For those who may not have the budget to find perfect recording environments, iZotope has created a multifunctional noise repair plug-in, RX 10 Elements, that learns your audio and provides solutions to fix those all-too-common noise issues.
The tools included in RX Elements comprise the new Repair Assistant Plug-in and five real-time component noise reduction plug-ins. These powerful tools address clipping, hums, clicks, reverb, and voice de-noise issues. The noise repair tool is particularly beneficial for content creators who work from home, as it allows them to salvage poor audio.
RX Elements caters to various audio sources, whether vocals for a podcast or a full band recording. With available presets designed for different audio sources, the software can recognize specific characteristics and expedite processing solutions.
iZotope RX 10 Elements is priced at £138. However, Plugin Boutique has it for only £29, so grab the deal while it’s still available!
Another great noise reducer is Kelvgrand’s Brusfri, a highly advanced noise reduction tool with a straightforward interface.
One of Brusfri’s key features is its ability to reduce noise without interfering with audio phasing, thus preserving clarity. Instead of altering the audio phasing, it utilizes finely-tuned gates to silence the noise effectively.
The plug-in is divided into three sections: Attack, Threshold, and Release, which include parameters to adjust the behavior of the noise reducer. The Tonality section allows you to make necessary adjustments to the processed signal. The Learn tool analyzes the noise and directly feeds the information to the interface.
Despite its simple interface, Brusfri delivers excellent performance. Priced at £43.96, it offers reliable technology to salvage your audio, making it an excellent value for the price.
Waves CLA-2A Compressor / Limiter
Compression in audio editing is crucial to give your final mix the perfect balance. One of the most popular Compressors is Waves CLA-2A which is both a compressor and limiter.
This plugin is a favorite among audio engineers due to its warm yet natural-sounding compression, which effectively enhances the sound in a balanced manner. It is modeled after the personal vintage hardware of Chris Lord-Alge, a legendary figure among studio engineers, ensuring excellent results.
CLA-2A features a straightforward interface with optical-based dynamic processing, offering the choice between compression and limiting. The attack and release parameters clarify vocals and instruments without introducing audio choppiness. The plugin provides dynamic control flexibility across the frequency range, zero latency, a side chain function to synchronize with other tracks, and presets created by Chris Lord-Alge himself.
CLA-2A Compressor and Limiter are priced at $249, but a sale is currently available for $35.99, making it an absolute steal for a legendary compressor!
Baby Audio Smooth Operator
Looking for a plug-in for that ultimate smoothness in your mix? Baby Audio’s Smooth Operator sculpts, cleans, and smooths your audio in one simple and effective process.
Smooth Operator combines the functions of resonance suppression, spectral compression, and equalization into one interface, ensuring a seamless workflow during the mixing stage. It simplifies channel strips and provides a user-friendly device for crucial mixing moments.
The features of Smooth Operator include the ability to set the desired frequency response curve with up to 4 adjustable nodes, effectively eliminating unwanted resonances in real time based on the incoming signal. It also offers a solo mode to identify problematic frequencies and a focus slider that determines the response behavior to frequency spikes. The plugin provides two algorithm modes: “High-res” for a cleaner response and “Classic” with lower latency for tracking and production workflows. Additionally, it includes a side chain function for signal ducking based on the frequency balance of another track. Finally, it provides up to 63 presets for added versatility.
Considering its features, Smooth Operator is reasonably priced at $69 (£59). It is an essential tool if you are looking for a plugin that combines compression, EQ, and resonance suppression into a single package.
If you are recording a voiceover or vocals for a track, isolating the voice without room reverb can be challenging, especially without proper acoustic treatment. There may be instances where your recording exhibits noticeable reverb. Acon Digital has created DeVerberate 3 to address these issues and separate the voice from unwanted reverb.
DeVerberate 3 is a reverb reduction plug-in that focuses on tackling unwanted reverb or enhancing it in an existing recording. This newer plug-in version utilizes a deep learning algorithm that automatically recognizes the reverb for an easy and streamlined workflow.
Features of DeVerberate 3 include automatic and manual modes for reverb recognition and adjustment, separate control over the direct sound and reverberation, an early reflections filter that works in conjunction with the reverb suppression, and a frequency spectrum representation of the input signal, output signal, and estimated reverberation.
This plug-in is handy for those working with vocals, making it an essential tool for podcasting or ADR. Priced at £63.90, it is highly worthwhile, especially for those who lack the budget for acoustic panels or their own studio.
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