What are your favourite plugins for Ardour?

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User offline. Last seen 7 weeks 11 hours ago. Offline
Joined: 2010-12-16

As above? Which ones do you find yourself using again and again?

GMaq's picture
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Joined: 2007-12-11


here's a short list of my faves (mostly LV2)

linuxDSP - ProEQ, ProDYN, SR2a, MBC2, Graphic EQ, mkii GRAPH-EQ
SWH - Barry's Satan Maximizer (LV2 or LADSPA)
CAPS - Plate Reverb 1x2 and 2x2 (LADSPA)
Frank Neumann - Mono to Stereo Splitter
nedko - LV2fil
Calf - Reverb, Delay, Pulsator, Overdrive (can be buggy but improving all the time)
Invada - High and Low Pass filters

And now also the great channel dynamics/routing in Mixbus for Linux, Well worth it in tandem with the great choices above.

vervelover's picture
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do you mean the new calf git plugins? Do you think they are reliable enough for professional use?

scg62's picture
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for me thats:

* the linuxDPS plugins,pro channel, SR2, MBC, the new parametric EQ (best quality you can buy. Do that !)
* the compressor, limiter, leveler, equalizer, tape saturation (!) inside the Linux MIXBUS , extremely cool !
* the Pitch shifter from Steve Harris
* and of course the IR, very, very cool !
* some CALF stuff, like the flanger


GMaq's picture
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Yes, I was referring to the new Calf from GIT, especially recent builds. I find them to be reasonably useable if you use single instances of them, however I do try to use them as a second choice and only if something else doesn't work. I forgot to mention the enhancer which also works really nice with acoustic guitars in my recent experience. I don't obsess about low latency so usually run at 1024fpp and I have heard that Calf are more temperamental at really low latencies and some people experience denormals with them but I haven't seen that personally, but then I spend too little time actually recording these days.....

I think the (Calf) developers have taken on a very ambitious project and certainly are providing a lot of niche plugins that aren't available elsewhere, unfortunately I think the word got out on the GIT branch a little early in the game and they must be pretty overworked getting the code to catch up with the UI's...

josander's picture
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My 1st priority when using plugins is that they functions and works predictable and the same way every time I use them (regardless of the version) and that they don't stand in the way for the music. That means knobs and easy access to every main function. Every plugin should in general also have a mono and stereo version.

  • MKII GRAPH-EQ and The SR2A Stereo Reverb from linux DSP
  • The HPF and EQ and Compressors from Harrison Mixbus. Mixbus seems to cover most of my EQ and filtering needs.
  • TAP DeEsser from Tom's Audio Processing plugins.
  • Zita-rev1, Zita-at1 from Fons Adriansen. I've also had the pleasure of testing a channelstrip-eq/filter he have under development. The strip is IMO by far the best I have tested in the Linux world. I hope that Fons and the Ardour gang can come up with some agreement about interfacing
    them and make it available in Ardour :-)
  • Compressor and ER Reverb from Invada

The list above is the core, but I use other plugins as well. I'm impressed by the Calf project and will probably use more of this plugins when they stabilize. LV2 IR from Tom will come into the core when I get time to learn it.


paul's picture
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i have no idea how it works for other kinds of instruments/sounds, but a quick shout out to steve harris' "barry's satan maximiser" for those of you doing anything with hand drums (possibly drumsets too). a light touch with this plugin on things like djembe's, dhoumbeks and pandeiros is just mind-blowing - it changes the acoustic experience from "yeah, the mic got that fairly well" to "wow, its like i have my ear pressed up against it, but both ears at once and at both ends/sides of the drum".

linuxdsp's picture
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I think the "barry's satan maximiser" plugin is just a hard limiter e.g. a compressor set to have a ratio of infinity:1 (with some 'make up' gain added) but with a very short attack and decay time and a hard knee e.g. a very abrupt transition from 1:1 below the threshold to inf:1 above it. Due to the short time constant in the side chain I would expect it to sound (horribly) distorted on anything except percussive sounds, but its probably quite useful if used as an effect in its own right.

paul's picture
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@linuxdsp: yes, that's a good summary of how it sounds when i've tried it with anything other than percussion. i personally wouldn't use it for such things.

User offline. Last seen 2 weeks 1 day ago. Offline
Joined: 2009-08-29

I'll have to keep in mind BSM to bring percussion up in a mix.

My most frequently used include the Calf stuff: compressor, filter, reverb, flanger and multi-chorus, mostly.

The Calf filter is great on the master bus, at the top of the master FX chain, when set to an 18 db/oct band reject filter @ 10 Hz. It gets the low-frequency jumble down and makes the overall mix clearer. You can really see the difference, too, using Voxenga SPAN with the range dialed down to 10 Hz.

I find the Calf compressor does a reasonable job on vocals at the default setting.

I hope to use the LinuxDSP stuff more. I hear a lot of good things. I have them, just haven't had a lot of experience with them yet.

User offline. Last seen 33 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2009-07-30

Double-checking the forum this is in.... Ok, it's not Linux-only.... so I'll add a trio of plugins I use with virtually every session I do in Mixbus on OS X, and a fourth open source LADSPA plugin that I compiled from source on OS X in order to get its sound.

(Short version of a long story: as a several-year Ardour user on Linux, I so badly wanted the sound of Mixbus when it was released that I did the OS X thing just to get Mixbus. Since that time I've added some commercial OS X software, things like Wave Editor (CD sequencing and final mastering to DDP on the cheap, where cheap is $80), Spectre (also from AudioFile Engineering, and has a large variety of metering/visualization things, and works on an AU insert/send) for $99, and the three plugins I'll mention, all from iZotope. Of course, now that Mixbus is on Linux, too, I now need to go back and re-tool to a degree, and will probably invest in the LinuxDSP suite once I have Melodyne studio paid for (yeah, I'm not a fan of autotuning, but the direct note access capabilities in Studio allow word alignment correction in vocals in an easier interface than regular multitracking......)

I have and use iZotope's Alloy, Ozone, and Spectron, and they are fantastic plugins, especially when used in conjunction with Mixbus. Ozone especially gives you a tremendous degree of control over the sound; although for the 'loudness maximizer' function I typically use the Harrison master channel's leveler and limiter rather than the one in Ozone, as the Mixbus version sounds smoother, in my opinion, and it gives a far better 'hard' limit. And the Ozone mastering reverb is just about the smoothest one I've tried.

But that brings me to the fourth plugin I use very frequently on mono material, and that is the CAPS Plate 2x2. I had to build it from the latest source in order to get a version that didn't cause a death of the LADSPA chain (and massive clicks instead of audio), but the CAPS Plate 2x2 will do a reasonable synthetic stereo, taking a mono signal and giving it real depth. I have found that if I instantiate it more than two or three times that it destabilizes things; so I tend to apply it pre-fader on a mixbus rather than per-track. But its sound beats even the Ozone plate's sound, in my opinion. And I've searched high and low for a similar sounding plate plugin for OS X AudioUnits, and have found none that are nearly so simple to use, nor that sound anywhere near as good.

This plate is available pre-built in most Linux distributions, so if you're on Linux and using Ardour or Mixbus and want a killer plate reverb, I highly recommend the CAPS Plate 2x2 for what I consider the best.

calimerox's picture
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..all linux dsp plugins...
and just recently a lot: the fantastic ir lv2 convolution reverb, that works superb, also in the updated mixbus version for linux that has a bugfix for it..

vervelover's picture
User offline. Last seen 1 year 39 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2009-06-10

+1 for linuxdsp plugins (all of them), couldn't live without the eq, gate and comp plugins
-mda delay LV2 (stable and sounds really good)
-Voxengo Elephant VST (runs ok in Ardour VST). No other mastering limiter for linux (maybe even for mac/win) has a comparable sound, just amazing.
-IR lv2 reverb manly with the True M7 impulse responses, and SR2A reverb from linuxdsp
-Voxengo Span free VST for spectral analysis

I found all this plugins to be almost 100% reliable by extensively using them, except Elephant and Span, but I only use them for mastering purposes and they work nicely anyway.

What I'd need:

-good and reliable pitch shifter. for vocal correction I use an external tc helicon voiceworks plus unit, but would love a software pitch shifter for general purposes. I remember running into stability issues with am's one, hope in wrong.
-a more versatile delay (loomer resound coming soon maybe)
-tape/tube saturator (calf saturator sounds really good but often tries to destroy my speakers, could be used anyway if you bounce the track immediately)
-de-esser (are TAP plugins reliable anymore?)

User offline. Last seen 17 hours 52 min ago. Offline
Joined: 2007-01-22

Tap plugins you need to make sure you are on the latest batch, but I believe they are again reliable like that. Not completely certain though, so test it first obviously.

Tape/Tube Saturation ... Mixbus has a Tape Sat I like very much myself. Not quite what you are looking for I am sure, but worth looking into IMO.

Delay - I need to try out the mda delay. The last time I tried out the mda plugs was as VSTs and I wasn't to impressed as a whole, but I will need to try it out again as an LV2. I am interested to see what comes of the loomer plugins, though in general I have been using various LADSPA delays myself.

Pitch Shifter - Very rarely do I need this, when I did I think I used a LADSPA in the SWH set IIRC, but when I use it generally is more for sound effect creation purposes so I am not listening for musicality in it.

I have a variety of AU plugins I use, I like a lot of the SWH and C*/Caps suites, though stability, especially for the SWH plugins, can be an issue on occasion. Really dying to try out the IR and LinuxDSP plugins once I switch back to Linux for full time audio production.


Ricardus's picture
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Joined: 2009-05-31

What is this Fons "channelstrip-eq/filter" that Josander is talking about?