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Artist Focus: Jordan Rudess Top-10 (Actually 12) plugins

Artist Focus: Jordan Rudess Top-10 (Actually 12) plugins

Chris [KVR]By Chris [KVR] on

Voted "Best Keyboardist of All Time", Jordan Rudess is most recognized as the keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist and technologist extraordinaire for platinum-selling Grammy-nominated prog rock band, Dream Theater. He is also a member of the instrumental band, Liquid Tension Experiment, and has a successful career releasing albums as a solo artist

A classical prodigy who began his studies at the Juilliard School of Music at the age of 10, Jordan's music is a unique blend of classical and rock influence. In addition to playing in Dream Theater, Jordan has worked with a wide range of artists including David Bowie, Deep Purple, Jan Hammer, Enrique Iglesias, Paul Winter Consort, Annie Haslam, Tony Levin, Marco Minneman, Liquid Tension Experiment, Steven Wilson, Aviv Geffen, the Dixie Dregs, Rod Morgenstein and Tony Williams among others. Jordan's new album A Chapter in Time can be found on Bandcamp.

Jordan was kind enough to share a list of 12 of his favorite plugins:

Granular Synthesis by Output

This plug-in effect takes granular synthesis to a whole different level. Smooth space Delays- stretches and smears with a beautiful intuitive interface.

Jordan Rudess


Portal is a granular synthesis FX plugin that transforms audio in a forward-thinking and musical way. Turn your VSTs, drum samples or any live input such as vocals or guitars into infinite new possibilities.

In the past, the results of granular synthesis were often chaotic and abstract. PORTAL re-synthesizes sounds to give you a result that's more closely related to the original input.

Easily alter any audio input—VSTs, drums, vocals, live guitar, you name it—in a new and musical way.

Experience the playability of granular effects that are actually centered around the music you make. While in the past granular sounds have been chaotic and abstract, PORTAL re-synthesizes sounds that are more closely related to the original input.

Acoustic piano sound is very important to me and Ivory has been my go-to Software Piano for years. I always come back to it. The American Concert D is my current choice. It's beautifully musical and covers a lot of ground. It's been on every Dream Theater album since the day it came out.

Jordan Rudess

Ivory American Concert D

Ivory II-American Concert D is a recreation of an important New York Steinway D piano, featuring a larger sample set, with more detail than ever, paired with Synthogy's Ivory II virtual piano engine.

In the rarefied world of great concert artists, there are precious few instruments that leave a lasting impression upon the masters who played them. Ivory II-American Concert D is one of those instruments.

This vintage 1951 New York Steinway D (CD 121) was chosen by the Steinway & Sons concert department for Steinway artist promotion. Throughout the years, the instrument has been lauded by some of the world's greatest concert artists. Indeed, the plate of the piano is signed by Glenn Gould, Rudolf Serkin, and many others, as a testament to high praise by the world's great masters.

When I need a symphony orchestra in my studio. Wow- this amazing collection of orchestral sounds all fit together like a glove and up the game of orchestration for everybody.

Jordan Rudess

BBC Symphony Orchestra

In partnership with BBC Studios and the world-famous BBC Symphony Orchestra, Spitfire Audio has captured what no other sample library has before: the musical synergy of a family of astoundingly accomplished players with a 90-year heritage of performances and recordings, expertly recorded at London's famous Maida Vale Studios — home of the BBCSO, and host to The Beatles, Hendrix and Bowie. Spitfire Audio's most expansive and ambitious project to date, this landmark library is the stuff of composing dreams: strings, brass, woodwind and percussion, presented in an award-winning dedicated plugin.

Sonic gold- I love this software so much and it's often the first plug-in I open on any project. I've have it for years and every time I open it I can find something new and cool.

Jordan Rudess

Omnisphere 2

Omnisphere is the flagship synthesizer of Spectrasonics - an instrument of extraordinary power and versatility. This award-winning plugin brings many different types of synthesis together into one amazing-sounding instrument that will inspire a lifetime of exploration.

Cutting edge flexible sound shaper/warper. This is next generation stuff.

Jordan Rudess

VolumeShaper 6

With seven powerful Cableguys effects – TimeShaper 2, DriveShaper, CrushShaper, VolumeShaper 6, FilterShaper Core 2, PanShaper 3 & WidthShaper 2 – ShaperBox 2 creates musical, rhythmic effects and helps solve complex mix problems. Load any Shaper effect and simply draw the modulation shapes you need with Cableguys' easily editable LFOs. Or use envelope followers that react to audio. Control filtering, volume, width, panning, bitcrushing – even the flow of time.


  • Get louder, tighter mixes: Gain impact and clarity, and add 'bounce' with easy multiband sidechaining in VolumeShaper.
  • Expand your stereo range: Inject stereo movement just where it's needed – animate hi-hats, shuffle synths, and more.
  • Make drums punch harder: Edit transients and trim flabby hits with Pens in VolumeShaper 6. Dial in hard-hitting visual compression.
  • Make synths sparkle: From subtle movement to glitchy ear-candy, combine Shapers to make your synth lines dance.
  • Design motion-packed riffs: Get creative! Turn single notes into crazy TimeShaper 2 melodies, add pumping filter patterns, and more.
  • Generate addictive hooks: Stuck for a hook? Feed your loops into ShaperBox 2 for wild variations you'd never have thought of.
  • Isolate drum hits: Extract kicks and other percussive hits with precision filtering. Then use them in your own tracks.
  • Creatively twist vocals: Add time-bending stutters, pitch-warping scratches & tape-stops, real-time reverses, and more.

I used this incredible plug-in on my latest album A Chapter in Time. It is deep and you can go way into a very mysterious world of piano sounds like you've never heard before.

Jordan Rudess


Experience firsthand the signature grand piano sound of composer and pianist Nils Frahm. This is the sound of a unique concert grand – handpicked by the artist, custom intonated, and augmented with a felt damper. NI captured the piano in its native habitat – the ambient environment of Saal 3 in Berlin's renowned, Bauhaus-designed Funkhaus recording complex. The result is a unique, intense, and evocative instrument, with an atmosphere all of its own:

  • NOIRE was captured using vintage mics and preamps in the rich acoustic environment of Saal 3 in Funkhaus Berlin.
  • NOIRE offers pure and felt preparation versions of the 9' concert grand piano.
  • Quickly customize the sound from any page of the interface.
  • Dive deeper into advanced customization options to fine-tune your sound.
  • Add motion and spur new creative ideas with an innovative particles engine that automatically generates notes based on what you play.
  • Apply effects to shape or completely alter the piano's character. Blend in a variety of noises to enhance realism.
  • NOIRE was captured using vintage mics and preamps in the rich acoustic environment of Saal 3 in Funkhaus Berlin.
  • NOIRE offers pure and felt preparation versions of the 9' concert grand piano.


$399 (Damage 1 owner $199 with serial)

This has some of the most amazing BIG HITS- Impacts and powerful percussion one can imagine.

Jordan Rudess

Damage 2

After nearly a decade, the epic sequel to the iconic original has finally arrived. Damage 2 will melt your face off. It's the epic ensembles recorded at Skywalker Sound. It's the aggressively Damaged hybrid elements. It's the 860+ gut-punching loops. It's the truly-realistic crescendos, swells, and flourishes of the MIDI performance tool. It's the three discrete engines with unique and inspiring workflows. Welcome to the next generation of percussion virtual instruments.

Damage 2 is brimming with over 40,000 samples, and nearly 60 GB of pure percussive inspiration. The Heavyocity team brought in truckloads of drums and percussive elements for the D2 Sessions; an arsenal of 24" to 72" gran casas, 24" to 60" Taikos, huge bass drums, giant snare ensembles, toms, ethnic drums, a myriad of struck found sound elements. Heck, they even rolled a dumpster onto the world-class scoring stage at Skywalker Sound.

I go to this one for the large orchestral sounds. 8Dio has incredibly musical software instruments and this is one of them.

Jordan Rudess


Majestica is produced by Academy Award, TEC and G.A.N.G Award Winning Composer and Producer, Troels Folmann and Emmy Nominated Composer and Orchestrator, Colin O'Malley. Majestica is the largest symphony orchestra ever sampled containing over 240 players divided over strings (100), brasses (60), woodwinds (60) and percussion (20).

Majestica was recorded in the same large world-class orchestral hall used for exclusive V8P series and 8Dio CAGE, AGE and Lacrimosa Epic Choir – and contains 96kHz, 3 microphone positions (Mixed, Decca and Far). The UI system for Majestica was built from scratch and contains over 35.000 lines of code giving you the ultimate experience in ease, flexibility, and playability.


Crystallizer can add that magic sparkle and shimmer to any track. It's a unique sound- comes with great presets, easy to modify and I use it all the time.

Jordan Rudess


Inspired by the Crystal Echoes preset in the Eventide H3000, Crystallizer combines granular reverse echo slicing and retro pitch processing to create a huge range of radical sonic manipulations and classics with a twist. Use it to create synth-like textures from simple acoustic guitar rhythms, lush detuned echos, or completely psychedelic pitch-shifted reverse echo effects. Great for drums, guitar, bass, sound design, electronic music, and just about anything else.

If you listened to the radio in the late 80s, you've heard the original Crystal Echoes effect. It's sound was absolutely unmistakable, and was often used on an intro or at the end of a song to create a synth-like pad from simple guitar chords. Crystallizer adds a few improvements, like MIDI sync, built-in Gate/Duck control, and high-cut and low-cut filters to help tame this sometimes unruly effect. Of course, automation is also supported.

My secret weapon when recording the new Dream Theater album. The coolest way to put together performance playable versions of your favorite software. I was able to rock some awesome layers between various software instruments with ease.

Jordan Rudess

Unify (Standard Edition)

Unify is a Flexible plug-in that allows you to work with your MIDI Effects, Instruments and audio effects in a creative environment (standalone, VST, VST3 and Audio Unit versions of Unify are included). Unify comes with 436 Patches that play anything from grand pianos to rhythmic pulsing pads and more thanks to the side-car of plug-ins that are included with Unify. We received permission to include OB-Xd, PG-8X, Dexed, Digits and many other plug-ins plus our own built in sample player to give Unify a huge spectrum of sounds before you scan your plug-ins.

Once you scan your plug-ins you then have access to loading ANY of your VST, VST3 or Audio Unit (Mac only) plug-ins and layer unlimited numbers of them to create anything from splits to huge layers. It is truly a inspiring place to let all of your plug-ins interact together.

Orchestral Sound Library and Arpeggiator Engine by Best Service
Upgrades & Crossgrades

Upgrade Licenses

for owners of Elysion (1)

Crossgrade Licenses

for owners of "The Orchestra" family products

This is sonic gold. A beautiful collection of layered and animated sounds that always gets my inspiration going. This is really the perfect virtual instrument to get magic happening fast. A secret weapon of sorts!!

Jordan Rudess


As the first one able to catch the incredible dynamic and lively character of synthetic instruments, Elysion redefines sampling. Best Service recorded, sampled and produced these synthesized future-sounds, treating them like acoustic instruments. This results in an unimaginable dynamic and unprecedented sound. Integrated into their pathbreaking ensemble engine, Elysion forms the new massive hybrid twin to The Orchestra.

A Whole New Experience:

  • Elysion is made to expand the range of Best Service's flagship The Orchestra into and beyond the digital era. Together, they set a new level of hybrid composing: incredibly simple and outrageously beautiful.
  • Experience the simplicity of 142 instantly playable hybrid organic instruments.
  • Experience the infinite depth of over 12.500 samples, all carefully recorded, handcrafted and layered with up to 5 velocity layers.
  • Experience the flexibility of over 230 complex animated and fully customizable themes.


Was $99.99; Save $40.00 until 30 Apr 2024!

This is a powerful additive synth that sparkles with clarity and coolness. When I need to add something that has that special shimmery glossy edge I reach for this. Amazingly- it also has great basses -hard hitting synth tones as well as lush soundscapes. The FX engine also sounds great and there are tons of parameters that one has access to.

Jordan Rudess

Loom II

Loom II is an award-winning modular additive synthesizer with a shape-shifting Morph Pad that makes it easy to create rich, swirling and captivating sounds. The original Loom was considered a triumph of its time when it was launched. Now, Loom II builds on this with unique and powerful new features as requested by our loyal users.

Loom II takes a unique modular approach to additive synthesis, a synthesis technique that involves combining simple waveforms together to create complex sounds, by enabling anyone to select from and combine 34 editable modules. Create anything from wobbles, organs, ethereal pads, ambient soundscapes and so much more. The programmable Morph Pad brings your Loom II patches to life by morphing between user-defined variations of your patch, adding motion and momentum that continuously evolve.


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Discussion: Active
1 June 2021 at 9:57pm

I agree regarding loom II, a hot instrument. There's nothing that sounds like it and the original. It takes a heck of a lot of post processing however if wish the sound to be glassy. Thanks Jordan for the list, I'll likely try your suggestion as time allows :).

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