Last week I finished up a mix for a song I’ve been working on for a while.

(It’s actually the song I’m using to demonstrate everything I’m teaching to my latest round of Production Club students.)

The mix is sounding really incredible…if I do say so myself. It’s clean and full and punchy. It’s pretty much exactly what I envisioned for the mix when I first wrote the song.

But you wanna know a secret? (A secret that some people would rather I didn’t reveal?)

I didn’t use a single “fancy” plugin.

TRANSLATION: I used only the plugins that came free with Pro Tools.

I shared the mix with one of my buddies who sells music gear for a living. When I told him I only used stock plugins, he told me not to tell anyone, or they won’t buy plugin bundles from him!

(He was joking, of course.)

So, am I anti-plugins? Nah, not at all. (I own the Waves SSL and Gold bundles.)

But you know what I AM against? Putting up imaginary barriers.

Every time you say you can’t get a good mix with your “boring” plugins, you’re putting up an imaginary (and false) barrier.

And you know what? It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I can only speak from my experience, but let me encourage you with this:

You CAN get great-sounding mixes.

You can.

Even if you’ve never bought a plugin bundle in your life.

You can.

Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

To learn how to wield a “boring” EQ like a champ:


Joe Gilder

  • Shane Goodridge

    Just got back into mixing (along with interning at one of the top studios in NYC). I won’t bother buying plugins rather just learn about to be one of the best engineers using just Stock Plugins. If Dr. Dre can make an $100 equipment sound like $1000 i damn sure can do it. Not to mention it will help me get creative.

  • I make the same recommendation…make use of the stock plugins…especially when starting out with mixing. Yes, you can go out and spend $$$ on plugin bundles but your mixes will still be only as good as you know how to use those plugins; and that takes time.

    I too am a REAPER user – and I too LOVE IT! – and most always use the stock ReaEQ plugin in mixes. As Captain Betty said the REAPER stock plugins are quality.

    The only plugin bundle I recall buying is T-Racks3, for mastering. Other than that I’ve used stock and quality freebies (like Voxengo).

  • CamBam

    What is so great about “fancy” plugins? Is it just ease of use or features, or are there significant differences in the algorithms used? I am running Studio One and I love the stock plug-ins it comes with.

  • Captain Betty

    Amen Joe! Although I do go hunting for good, free plugins, I typically go to the stock plugins for eq, compression. I’m a Reaper user (LOVE IT) and it comes with a ton of quality plugins.

    Keep up the great work! With your suggestion/tips/hints, my mixes have gotten MUCH better. Next round of recording/mixing, I’m going to force myself not to solo as much and mix in context.

    • NICE! That’s the way to get better. Keep at it, keep adding limitations.