Plugins Comparison - Are The Most Famous/Suggested Better For Real?

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Frankie.T
KVRist
Topic Starter
183 posts since 24 Mar, 2021

Post Tue Dec 06, 2022 9:51 am

Playing with plugins can be fun sometimes, but if you dig seriously into it, it's also very informative.
I don't know what's your process when you try to evaluate a plugin for a purchase, or just when you try to understand which one is generally better, or what's the best for a specific job.

I was used to test 2 or 3 max between the most suggested on internet, cause going furhter it's very time consuming!!!
Anyway you may leave on the table good products, just because you didn't even take them into considerations, or you may even overestimate a plugin just because it's usually the one people like to suggest.
But people's suggestions may be the result of the same process, 2-3 comparison and call it a day.

Don't get me wrong, this may be good enough to pick good products, but for audio nerds (like me) who enjoy the discussion, and are genuinely curious, can be very interesting to do something more.
For that reason i've decided to tests different plugins of the same kind


The first comparison it's about Pultec EQ, i tried to match with plugin doctor the eq curve trying to make them to sound as close as possible, but i discovered some of them have a very different response, so the sound can be very different, but i got the tonal differences, so instead to go back to matching them just using my ears, i decided to keep a more "scientific" approach.
At the end, knobs and frequencies response are part of the plugins.

If you want you can watch the video in the following link
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKTekpVzE7o

a tl;dw some of them sound pretty similar, while others sound like i made a big mistake with knobs (expecially one that's very dark) but if plugin doctor didn't had any weirdness, they are all with the samish curve. Anyway as i wrote before, with this listening i got what i was looking for, and to me there is not a complete winner, but i just spotted the one who i enjoy the more how low freq sounds, and the one who sound very balanced and natural


The next comparison i'm working on is between 1176 emulations, and i can already say that's even more interesting.


If you have any suggestion/request feel free to share it, i'm very curious to know your experience with plugins comparison and with plugins you usually use for different purposes

Pultec
1176
La-2a
SSL 4000E
Fairchild
Last edited by Frankie.T on Thu Jan 05, 2023 9:09 am, edited 4 times in total.

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rod_zero
KVRAF
3486 posts since 28 Jan, 2011 from MEXICO

Post Tue Dec 06, 2022 10:04 am

Thta's why I don't use emulations, I just want an eq with some options to tweak and not obsessing about which is more accurate to some vintage gear, it is a whole mind set that distracts from more important question of good workflow.

Also, pretty much any modern plugin sounds great, people were doing great albums with waves in the 2000's and now stuff is even better. Just choose what is easy to learn for you.
dedication to flying

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jamcat
KVRAF
3132 posts since 2 Sep, 2019

Post Tue Dec 06, 2022 1:27 pm

You didn't test the T-RackS Pul-Tec?
THIS MUSIC HAS BEEN MIXED TO BE PLAYED LOUD SO TURN IT UP

Frankie.T
KVRist
Topic Starter
183 posts since 24 Mar, 2021

Post Tue Dec 06, 2022 1:49 pm

jamcat wrote: Tue Dec 06, 2022 1:27 pm You didn't test the T-RackS Pul-Tec?
Unfortunatly i don't own t-racks plugins. I'd really like to include them, but their demos insert noise too often

whassup
KVRist
199 posts since 2 Oct, 2021

Post Tue Dec 06, 2022 2:14 pm

I like these comparissons. It's somewhere between FOMO and the quests for certain sound characteristics that I want to get.
The last comparissons I did were compressors, synths and I checked some EQs.
Compressors, well, nobody liked the blind test I offered a while ago. No prob. It was fun for myself to do it. Learned a lot.
Synths, very eye opening. Found two new synths that way. Happy I did.
EQs, I bought a Pultec and APIs. Couldn't have cared less if I didn't actualy tested them.
So yeah, I will check your video and I am interested in what you will find out about 76 compressors. I have some good 76 stuff here but am always open to new things that surprise me.

whassup
KVRist
199 posts since 2 Oct, 2021

Post Tue Dec 06, 2022 2:37 pm

Yeah watched your video Frankie. Cool, thanx. I like your format, good variety of examples.
My comments on the plugins:
PuigChild: Sounds smooth and just nice in the highs. Lows are ok but a little flubby. Overall good vibe.
Kiive: Na, OKish, but not as nice in the highs and not as vibey.
AO: Even less vibey and less interesting than Kiive.
Acustica: Sounds broken with that big hole in the mids. The least of the batch.
Tube-Tech: Sounds like a Tube-Tech EQ. Vibey but tighter in the lows than a Pultec. Highs are harder too but nice. Great eq.
Bettermaker: LOL, sounds the most digital of the batch. Not so vibey but analytical. Not bad but not what I expect from a vibe eq.
UAD: Wow, sounds good! This one and the Waves which I just bought are my favourites outta this batch.

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adammonroe
KVRist
58 posts since 17 Oct, 2012

Post Tue Dec 06, 2022 9:21 pm

I have made some lengthy plugin shootout videos and blog posts (mostly virtual instruments like this Rhodes Plugins Blog).

Sometimes, the most suggested and popular plugins coincide with the high-quality products, but more-often-than-not, I believe it comes down to which plugins have the best marketing strategy, budget, or branding. I know we'd all like to believe that the most popular products are "the best," but more often than not, that is simply not the case.

There also seems to be a high correlation between higher prices and perceived value, even where no such correlation exists.

And of course, the more people who purchase the suggested and popular plugins, the more people will recommend those plugin, reinforcing the bias. This is almost the entire business model of certain software *cough* Protools *cough*

In short, like most things in life, popularity and public perception utterly dominate objective value and usefulness when it comes to music plugins, but that's not really surprising, considering that most people tend to follow trends, recommendations, and rely on "expert opinions" over doing the work of researching or testing products themselves.

Then there are people who spend inordinate amounts of time researching and trying to figure out the best plugins...some of these people we call reviewers ;)

Ploki
KVRAF
6059 posts since 17 Dec, 2009

Post Tue Dec 06, 2022 11:29 pm

Frankie.T wrote: Tue Dec 06, 2022 9:51 am 76 emulations, and i can already say that's even more interesting.


If you have any suggestion/request feel free to share it, i'm very curious to know your experience with plugins comparison and with plugins you usually use for different purposes
I did a 76 blind shootout a couple years ago between 12 fets, 11 plugs and 1 hardware.
Logic's drum samples, real drums multitrack (mine from studio), real bass
Matched by:
- ears
- curves (plugin doctor + a 4 minute test file for the hardware, full of blips bloops sweeps and pops, to match timing and saturation)

Link to blind files + source: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/ua8oanoq ... pe7lvzhwqx
List of plugs used (not the order of files)
- BlackRooster VLA-FET
- Arturia 1176
- Hardware Distopik 1176
- Plugin Alliance Purple MC77
- Softube FET Compressor
- Unisum preset "Vocal FET" tweaked
- Presswerk preset "1176 smash" tweaked
- PSP FET
- Pulsar Smasher
- DMG Trackcomp
- NI VC 76
- Overloud GEM


test is blind, results are in this post if someone wants to humour and test themselves:
viewtopic.php?p=7747059#p7747059

I could probably do some things better now but eh, and would've included 1178 by Pulsar and Waves at least.
Still think best (most hardware like) 1176 are Softube FET, Pulsar Smasher and DMG. Pulsar 1178 also.
Presswerk is not the best 1176 but it's one of my fav compressor plugs.
Image

Frankie.T
KVRist
Topic Starter
183 posts since 24 Mar, 2021

Post Wed Dec 07, 2022 12:14 am

whassup wrote: Tue Dec 06, 2022 2:14 pm I like these comparissons. It's somewhere between FOMO and the quests for certain sound characteristics that I want to get.
The last comparissons I did were compressors, synths and I checked some EQs.
Compressors, well, nobody liked the blind test I offered a while ago. No prob. It was fun for myself to do it. Learned a lot.
Synths, very eye opening. Found two new synths that way. Happy I did.
EQs, I bought a Pultec and APIs. Couldn't have cared less if I didn't actualy tested them.
So yeah, I will check your video and I am interested in what you will find out about 76 compressors. I have some good 76 stuff here but am always open to new things that surprise me.
How did you compared synths? I mean what points did you were looking for trying to be objective to spot the "best". They usually can be very different, i can't even imagine a way to compare them, so i'm very curious!!!
whassup wrote: Tue Dec 06, 2022 2:37 pm Yeah watched your video Frankie. Cool, thanx. I like your format, good variety of examples.
My comments on the plugins:
PuigChild: Sounds smooth and just nice in the highs. Lows are ok but a little flubby. Overall good vibe.
Kiive: Na, OKish, but not as nice in the highs and not as vibey.
AO: Even less vibey and less interesting than Kiive.
Acustica: Sounds broken with that big hole in the mids. The least of the batch.
Tube-Tech: Sounds like a Tube-Tech EQ. Vibey but tighter in the lows than a Pultec. Highs are harder too but nice. Great eq.
Bettermaker: LOL, sounds the most digital of the batch. Not so vibey but analytical. Not bad but not what I expect from a vibe eq.
UAD: Wow, sounds good! This one and the Waves which I just bought are my favourites outta this batch.
Thank you very much for your comment, i really appreciate it!!!
I had the same thoughts about bettermaker, ao and kiive. Uad is very interesting, probably the most balanced. Acustica is a bit weird, i mean i found the best details on low end, but i agree with you, on mids it get lost. I'm not fully convinced by waves, i mean doesn't sound bad, probably it's like uad, but more digital
Ploki wrote: Tue Dec 06, 2022 11:29 pm
Frankie.T wrote: Tue Dec 06, 2022 9:51 am 76 emulations, and i can already say that's even more interesting.


If you have any suggestion/request feel free to share it, i'm very curious to know your experience with plugins comparison and with plugins you usually use for different purposes
I did a 76 blind shootout a couple years ago between 12 fets, 11 plugs and 1 hardware.
Logic's drum samples, real drums multitrack (mine from studio), real bass
Matched by:
- ears
- curves (plugin doctor + a 4 minute test file for the hardware, full of blips bloops sweeps and pops, to match timing and saturation)

Link to blind files + source: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/ua8oanoq ... pe7lvzhwqx
List of plugs used (not the order of files)
- BlackRooster VLA-FET
- Arturia 1176
- Hardware Distopik 1176
- Plugin Alliance Purple MC77
- Softube FET Compressor
- Unisum preset "Vocal FET" tweaked
- Presswerk preset "1176 smash" tweaked
- PSP FET
- Pulsar Smasher
- DMG Trackcomp
- NI VC 76
- Overloud GEM


test is blind, results are in this post if someone wants to humour and test themselves:
viewtopic.php?p=7747059#p7747059

I could probably do some things better now but eh, and would've included 1178 by Pulsar and Waves at least.
Still think best (most hardware like) 1176 are Softube FET, Pulsar Smasher and DMG. Pulsar 1178 also.
Presswerk is not the best 1176 but it's one of my fav compressor plugs.
Thanks for sharing it, i'm gonna check your test asap, i'm very curious and since i've finished mine it does not impact with what i've done

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blueberryjam
KVRer
7 posts since 7 Dec, 2022

Post Wed Dec 07, 2022 12:22 am

Frankie.T wrote: Tue Dec 06, 2022 1:49 pm
jamcat wrote: Tue Dec 06, 2022 1:27 pm You didn't test the T-RackS Pul-Tec?
Unfortunatly i don't own t-racks plugins. I'd really like to include them, but their demos insert noise too often
I think you need to keep their custom shop app open so the plugins won't generate white noise in demo mode
she wore a bluuuueberryjam beret

Frankie.T
KVRist
Topic Starter
183 posts since 24 Mar, 2021

Post Wed Dec 07, 2022 5:16 am

blueberryjam wrote: Wed Dec 07, 2022 12:22 am
Frankie.T wrote: Tue Dec 06, 2022 1:49 pm
jamcat wrote: Tue Dec 06, 2022 1:27 pm You didn't test the T-RackS Pul-Tec?
Unfortunatly i don't own t-racks plugins. I'd really like to include them, but their demos insert noise too often
I think you need to keep their custom shop app open so the plugins won't generate white noise in demo mode
Thanks for the tip, i'm trying right now, but i still ear the noise. There is any move i have to do to start a kind of demo without noise?
EDIT: I found the problem, i wasn't logged on the custom shop app, now no more noise. Thanks
Last edited by Frankie.T on Wed Dec 07, 2022 5:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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kidslow
KVRian
867 posts since 26 Aug, 2019

Post Wed Dec 07, 2022 5:16 am

Haven't watched the video yet, but I appreciate these types of comparisons and plan to do some of my own. Did you limit the comparison to Pultec EQP-1A models (as opposed to midrange Pultecs)? Did you try both variants of the 1A available in Acustica Purple (P-1, P-AA)? Why no Noise Ash or Black Rooster, which are both generally considered above average?

Frankie.T
KVRist
Topic Starter
183 posts since 24 Mar, 2021

Post Wed Dec 07, 2022 5:34 am

kidslow wrote: Wed Dec 07, 2022 5:16 am Haven't watched the video yet, but I appreciate these types of comparisons and plan to do some of my own. Did you limit the comparison to Pultec EQP-1A models (as opposed to midrange Pultecs)? Did you try both variants of the 1A available in Acustica Purple (P-1, P-AA)? Why no Noise Ash or Black Rooster, which are both generally considered above average?
I like these comparisons too, are always juicy to watch imo.
I had to limit to 1a models, cause otherwise would be too long, and i don't like to make long videos.
The reason i decide to do not include NA and BR was the samish, i mean i thought to include the most popular, but i think this can even be subjective if something is popular for you may be not for someone else, with maybe the most known exception (waves, uad..)
Anyway it was a mistake i regret too. In the 1176 video i've finished to prepare yesterday (will be up next week) i included more companies i think, but BR still miss.

Now i'm preparing la-2a and i think i'm including if not all, let's say almost all.
If you have any suggestion/list feel free to write it here, that's the right moment, cause i'm preparing it right now

Debutante
KVRAF
3281 posts since 16 Jan, 2005 from Ottawa, Ontario

Post Wed Dec 07, 2022 7:26 pm

WWOWW!! WIERD how they all imaged soo sooooo differently.
I liked the expressive Kiive and Acustica best: they were the least shy IMO.
Puig sounded like fahkin' money: most similar to Tubetech.

ampetrosillo
KVRist
53 posts since 26 May, 2018

Post Thu Dec 08, 2022 6:24 am

No two Pultecs are alike, essentially, so two plugins that sound a bit differently is par for the course. Honestly, I'm very well served by the free Pultecs (Ignite Audio, Analog Obsession, Kiive) even though for the low end I really like Variety of Sound's Flavour.

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