FREE TEMPLATE

The Tools I Use & Love

A full list of everything I use to make music. I use these plugins day in and day out. All the pictures below come from actual projects of mine.

Quick links:

[EQ] • [COMPRESSION] • [SATURATION] • [LIMITERS] • [OTHER DYNAMICS] • [REVERB] • [DELAY] • [STEREO IMAGE] • [PITCH] • [SYNTHS] • [ANALYZERS] • [OTHER FX] • [MAX FOR LIVE]

Discover The 5 MUST-HAVE Plugins For Pro Quality Tracks

Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. I'll get a small commission for your purchase, but the cost will be the same for you. Buying through these links is a great way to support what I do, so thanks!

EQUALIZATION

Ableton Live's EQ8

My go-to general-purpose EQ. I weirdly love this because I can control and fine-tune the EQ nodes with my arrow keys.

Learn More

FabFilter Pro-Q 3

I mostly use this for surgical and dynamic cutting. The proprietary "spectral grab" feature makes this EQ a no-brainer.

Learn More

Waves API-560

My general-shaping EQ. The fixed frequencies make it simple and easy. Overthinking is not possible.

Learn More

COMPRESSION

Live's Glue Compressor

This is my go-to compressor. I use this on almost everything: drums, vocals, synths, busses, you name it.

Learn More

Live's Compressor

When I need to be more surgical with the dynamics (beyond the Glue) then I reach for this. I also use this for side-chain comp.

Learn More

FabFilter Pro-C 2

For when I need to get SUPER detailed with dynamics (beyond Ableton's digital comp). Plus it has an awesome visualizer.

Learn More

Waves API-2500

My single-band mastering compressor. Great sound. Easy to use. Helps me get the perfect bounce and fatness.

Learn More

Waves R-Comp

I use this for a very specific reason: to level out the average level of sustaining sounds. Other comps can do this, but I use R-comp.

Learn More

Waves R-Vox

This is magic on vocals. It does more than just compression under the hood. Plus it has a gate that's super handy.

Learn More

SATURATION

Live's Saturator

One of my favorite plugins ever. Presence and grit all day. I bet I've got projects where this is on every single channel and group.

Learn More

Live's Overdrive

I use this to make sounds POP out of the mix. I often use this instead of an EQ boost because it's richer and adds more presence.

Learn More

Submission Audio Flatline

My go-to clipping plugin. I use it to put a ceiling on sounds, clip off the peaks and open up more headroom in the mix.

Learn More

Ozone 9 Exciter

Multi-band saturation with mid-side options. I mean, how much better can it get? I always use this in mastering.

Learn More

SoundToys Decapitator

Drive, punish, style, tone, mix it in, done. I love the PUNISH button. And the tone knob is my fav knob of all plugin knobs.

Learn More

Waves Kramer Tape

This thing sounds amazing! Rounds off transients, de-hypes the top end, and adds presence and character.

Learn More

Waves NLS

This emulates different console sounds. Is it accurate? Don't know. Don't care. Gives me that extra *something* on my mix busses.

Learn More

Sonnox Oxford Inflator

Want transparent presence and loudness without destroying the dynamics? Here you go. Black magic is definitely under the hood.

Learn More

FabFilter Saturn 2

I need to dive into this more. But I mostly use it to add harmonics to the bass so it cuts through on smaller listening systems.

Learn More

XLN Audio RC-20 Retro Color

Running through presets is super fun. By my favorite modules are Wobble and Magnetic for creating interesting stereo movement.

Learn More

Waves R-Bass

If you don't have this plugin you're doing a disservice to your bass sounds. Instant growl, richness, fatness, character, etc.

Learn More

Live's Redux

The bit reduction adds a deliciously dirty air to sounds. And the downsampling adds a distinctive lo-fi ringing. Love this on bass.

Learn More

LIMITERS

Waves L2

My man. This is what I produce and mix through. Even in mastering, after Ozone, I'll drive an extra dB with L2 just for the sound.

Learn More

Live's Limiter

My go-to general-purpose limiter. So easy to drop the ceiling down to control peaks, then gain into it for some transparent fatness.

Learn More

Ozone 9 Maximizer

My mastering limiter. I always run limiter shoot outs in mastering and this always wins. Louder and punchier with no artifacts.

Learn More

FabFilter Pro-L 2

I mostly use this to limit vocals at the end of the chain. I also test this against Ozone for mastering, but Ozone usually wins.

Learn More

OTHER DYNAMICS

Xfer LFO Tool

Favorite plugin of all time. I use it for side-chaining, chopping up loops and monitoring the waveform. Could not live without it.

Learn More

Nicky Romero Kickstart

The LFO Tool is very precise. But Kickstart is so easy. So when I need some quick side-chaining, I slap on Kickstart.

Learn More

NI Transient Master

Punchy, tight, fat — however you want your drums, this is an absolute must. And it's so easy with only 2 controls: attack and sustain.

Learn More

Neutron Transient Shaper

The surgeon of transient shaping because of its multiband functionality. I love using this to sculpt the perfect kick transient.

Learn More

FabFilter Pro-DS

My go-to de-essing plugin. The default preset works right out of the box. Pro tip: push this hard before your vox verb and delay effects.

Learn More

Ozone 9 Dynamics

Multiband compression and limiting with a stereo or mid-side option. This is a permanent staple of my mastering chain.

Learn More

Live's Multiband Compressor

The best thing about this isn't the infamous OTT preset, rather its extremely intuitive approach to upward compression.

Learn More

Waves MV2

I use the upward-compressor to bring up a subtle fatness and air from under the mix. Feels like the entire mix lifts off the ground.

Learn More

FabFilter Pro-Q 3

I use the dynamic EQ constantly for clarity. And I use it to side-chain different sounds and frequencies to create more space.

Learn More

oeksound Soothe 2

An absolute godsend! Automatically pulls down the bad frequencies in a sound making everything sound much cleaner.

Learn More

REVERB

Live's Reverb

My general-purpose reverb. I'll use this whenever I need to create space with a sound or place a sound in a space.

Learn More

Valhalla Room

I use this for one reason: to place sounds in a "room" and push them back in the mix. And there's 2 great go-to presets for this. 

Learn More

FabFilter Pro-R

This is my drum bus reverb plugin. I love the order of the controls. Helps me dial in the perfect drum verb.

Learn More

SoundToys Little Plate

This reverb goes on all my hooks: vocals and sound design stuff. It also creates the "atmos beds" in my breakdowns.

Learn More

Valhalla Vintage Verb

I reach for this reverb when Ableton's reverb isn't getting it done. Or if I'm feeling more adventurous and creative.

Learn More

TAL Reverb 2

This plugin lets me ADD in the verb signal instead of blending between the wet and dry. So it's great for "growing" the builds.

Learn More

DELAY

Soundtoys Echoboy (and Jr.)

The only delay plugin I use. The different "styles" help you find a delay sound that stands-out or blends-in perfectly.

Learn More

STEREO IMAGE

Ozone Imager 2

My go-to. You've got the width slider. But you can also "Stereoize" mono sounds with 2 modes and a delay slider for fine tuning.

Learn More

Ozone 9 Imager

Multiband widener. I mostly use this on the master to widen the mids and highs. But I'll also use it on bass to widen the mids.

Learn More

Waves Center

Super simple mid/side balance control. But there's also some mid/side control over the  tone and dynamics! Super cool and easy!

Learn More

Voxengo MSED

Another free winner from Voxengo! Easily change the mid/side balance. Plus you can pan the mid/side channels. Interesting!

Learn More

Live's Utility

The wimple width knob is great. But you can right-click and select Mid/Side Mode which most people don't know about.

Learn More

Live's Autopan

This is great for easily creating movement in the stereo field. Also fun to automate the rate in builds to create a cool buzzing effect.

Learn More

PITCH

Antares AutoTune

Classic. Great for quickly fixing pitchy vocals like old acapellas. Or going deep with graph mode for surgical tuning.

Learn More

Waves Real Time Pitch

Affordable alternative to AutoTune for quick and easy pitch correction. It's also zero latency.

Learn More

zplane ElastiquePitch 2

Afaik, Ableton outsources its pitching algorithms to zplane. Flawlessly clean pitch and timbre/formant controls.

Learn More

Soundtoys Little Alterboy

Another modern classic from Soundtoys. This plugin is responsible for most pitched down and "formanted" vocals you hear today.

Learn More

Waves Vocal Bender

Another cool pitch/formant plugin. All these plugs have different flavors, so it's about finding the "right" one for a specific sound.

Learn More

SYNTHESIZERS

Spectrasonics Omnisphere

When I need a lead sound, I reach for Omnisphere. I can't do it enough justice in 3 lines so I'll just say it's #1 for me.

Learn More

Live's Operator

Most of my bass sounds are made with Operator. I don't even use the FM stuff. I just like to move the harmonics around.

Learn More

NI Massive

My favorite synth for programing sounds from scratch. Love the look, sound, layout and insane modulation possibilities.

Learn More

Xfer Records Serum

The synth I need to get into more because (1) everyone uses it and (2) it's built for nerds like me. Atm, I use it for thick unison saws.

Learn More

Arturia Analog Labs

My Arturia Keylab 49 lets me fly through presets in Analog Labs while playing and twisting knobs in search of the perfect sound.

Learn More

Arturia V Collection 8

A bundle of classic synths. Endless inspiration and endless tweaking. The result? Unique and surprising sounds for my tracks.

Learn More

NI Kontakt

Kontakt is all about the libraries. And reach for Kontakt when I want to play a "real" instrument: strings, horns, guitar, etc.

Learn More

AUDIOREALISM BASS LINE 3

Want acid? Boom! Pop this into "Midi Trigger" mode and it's like any other synth - except getting the perfect acid sound is effortless.

Learn More

ANALYZERS

Live's Spectrum

Exactly what you think. I use this to check the levels of the frequencies in the mix. Always use a reference so the info is useful.

Learn More

Voxengo SPAN

I can't believe this is free! But this is a more in depth frequency analyzer than Live's Spectrum. And so much more.

Learn More

Izotope Insight 2

My favorite thing about Insight is the Spectrogram. Just another way of looking at the frequencies in your mix. Looks cool too.

Learn More

Youlean Loudness Meter

This is what I use to check the loudness of my mix. There's also tons of other features I need to dive into. Also free.

Learn More

Brainworx bx_meter

This has a dynamic range metric that I love. They recommend being around 6. But I always try to smash 3. Loudness wars FTW!

Learn More

Flux Studio Session Analyzer

This shows me everything. But it's the Christmas Tree graph that's unique: showing the stereo image of specific frequencies.

Learn More

Other FX

Live's Chorus

A great way to create stereo movement. I like cranking the depth, dialing in the rate, then pulling back on the depth. Easy.

Learn More

TAL Chorus LX

The classic Juno-60 chorus. There's also two modes for two different flavors. Or run them together. Can't go wrong here. Free!

Learn More

Waves CLA Vocals

Even module here is gold on vocals. But my favorites are the widening modes, the slap delay and bite EQ. Goes on all my vocals.

Learn More

DS Audio Tantra

My favorite multi-FX plugin. I'll run all my hooks through random presets in every track to make signature ear candies and FX.

Learn More

Sugar Bytes Turnado

This multi-FX plugin is great for creating FX and modulations. But I like simply automating knobs up for weird build FX.

Learn More

Sugar Bytes Effectrix

One of the OG glitch and multi-FX plugins. Super fun to run sounds through random presets to create stand-out moments.

Learn More

Dada Life Endless Smile

A super simple way to "grow" the space in builds. One knob saves you from having to use and automate 5 different plugins.

Learn More

Max For Live

Peak Level Meter

By ummo. A simple peak level meter that helps with gain staging. The meter displays directly in the Device View. Very convenient.

Learn More

ml.Distance 2.0

By alkman. What makes a sound appear far away? Quieter, less highs, narrower image. This adjusts all 3 with 1 knob.

Learn More

STING!64

By SKINNERBOX. Can't come up with a good acid pattern? Let this guy do it for you! Just hit the smiley face for a new pattern. Done.

Learn More