Check out Plugin Deals | Access 4 million sounds w/ Loopcloud Free Trial | Links for the Top 5 Best Beat Making Plugins below… RC-20 Retro Color (XLN Audio) When it comes to beat making VSTs, which are the essential selections that’ll get you slick, professional and vibey beats? From drum machine plugins to instant retro-ising effects, here we’ll take you through the best beat making plugins for getting that professional edge on your beats. Far from the abilities of your DAW’s stock plugin collection, these are the best beatmaking VST instruments and effects out there… 5. StiX (AudioThing) 4. Three Compressors You’ll Actually Use (Arturia) 3. PunchBox (D16 Group) 2. RC-20 Retro Color (XLN Audio) 1. DrumComputer (Sugar Bytes) StiX (AudioThing) StiX is another friendly drum machine that gives you a lot of sonic potential in a single plugin. There’s drum sequencing, drum sound design, and loads more tweakables on offer here. First, StiX comes with a huge amount of inbuilt sounds to start with, and for those who like to program, there’s a three-oscillator drum engine and FM synthesis to get a sound started. All these goes through filtering and enveloping, as you’d expect for deep drum synthesis. Stix’s step sequencer lets you set up patterns and groups of patterns, helping you to use presets and saved groups where you want them, instead of simply loading global presets and nothing else. The sequencer is built to give you everything you need for making beats, and there are Delay, Reverb and Phaser effects on output too. It’s £150. Three Compressors You’ll Actually Use (Arturia) To keep a lid on your beat, and to introduce some character at the same time, you’ll need to use some compressor, and these three classics have been emulated by veteran modellers Arturia, so you know they’re awesome. Comp FET-76 emulates the 1176 compressor, known for its fast attack times, and pushed towards its limits by Arturia’s extra features. Comp VCA-65 takes on the DBX 165A, which is great for drums, bass and transients, among other things. Comp TUBE-STA brings us a Gates STA-Level broadcast compressor simulator, great for bass and vocal compression. 3 Compressors You’ll Actually Use costs you £175, although all three are available individually too, if you’re only interested in one. PunchBox (D16 Group) This kick drum synth comes straight outta Poland from plugin legends D16 Group. With four modules for getting your drum source sounds started – Click, Tops, Tools and Kick – there’s more than enough drum programming before you even hit the output effect. PunchBox offers the kick sounds from Roland’s 606, 808 and 909 drum machines, and also lets you load your own samples in. The other three oscillator modules load their own types of sample, with help from a very well-tagged preset library, too. There’s plenty of envelope, filter and even stereo tweaking from the start. And then onto the in-built effects – these include an Equalizer, Bitcrusher, Distortion, Filter and Limiter. You can mess with the orders of these effects ir just bypass each entirely if you need to. RC-20 Retro Color (XLN Audio) Forget programming drums and bass for a second, another hugely important part of making great music is about getting the right vibe, and RC-20 gets it right in spades. With its Noise, Wobble, Distort, Digital, Space and Magnetic modules, this plugin introduces all the beloved imperfections of retro electronic circuits, letting youdial in how much you want of each type. The Noise module contains parameters like Tone, Routing, Folow and Duck, while Distort gives you a type of component to model, and filter settings to hone the sound. The Magnetic module is a tape-style simulator that adds dropouts, wear and flutter to your audio. Each of the six modules has its own Flux control, too, so you can introduce more random movement and imperfection to the signal. All this for €80. DrumComputer (Sugar Bytes) An eight-track drum machine plugin for PC and Mac, Drum Computer gives you mixing, sound modification parameters, and the sequencing features to play it all as well. All for £100. Each one of the source sounds in Drum Computer has a huge number of parameters to tweak, with resonators, wavetable oscillators, and resynthesis modules providing high-quality drum tones, and familiar stuff like filters and envelopes helping you control the sound. You also get insert effects per instrument. That sequencer lets you program patterns for each drum in the virtual setup, and choose the velocity level of each hit as well. Drum Computer also gives you plenty of randomisation options to help you get to a fresh and interesting starting point.

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