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

5 Responses to “My Little EQ Secret”

  1. 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.

  2. Michael

    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).

  3. 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.

  4. 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.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *