From Bland to Brilliant: Key Ingredients to Spice Up Your Sound

In radio production, audio plugins are the secret sauce that adds flavor to your audio. They’re similar to spices in a cook’s kitchen, enhancing the taste and texture of your creations. Use too little, and things can be bland; use too much, and it can be a disaster.

Navigating the thousands of free and paid plugin options can be overwhelming, so here’s a simple and effective tip: prioritize quality over quantity. Rather than amassing a huge stash of plugins, choose an “A-team” that integrates with your unique style and workflow, saving you time and helping you sound great.

So where should you start and what should you use? It’s all subjective, but you should certainly experiment to see what works best for you. You can also poll your friends and industry colleagues for their suggestions.  In fact, for this article, we did just that, hitting up members of the SPLAT! team to uncover the key ingredients they rely upon when cooking up crowd-pleasing audio.  Here’s what they had to say:

Kyle Taylor – Classic Rock SPLAT! Producer

I think if you took my iZotope Ozone away, I’d probably rethink audio as my job.

It’s such a great tool for Mastering music and is super fun to use in Imaging.  You can do a complete deep dive on your project if you want or take your hands off with the Master Assistant for suggestions.  It’s brilliant.

Denzil Lacey – Amped Producer

EQ is a technique we so frequently use, that sometimes I feel we lose sight of it and settle for whatever is given to us. I have used hundreds of different EQ plugins over the years, but none come close to Fabfilter’s Pro Q3.

I personally love using it to reference other tracks within the mix, that way it makes it much clearer to see and resolve problem frequencies quickly.

Dom Nero – Street SPLAT! Producer

Limiters (or ultra maximizers) are usually used not only on tracks but the last plugin you’ll find on the mix bus.  Not only do they control dynamics, but can also add some cool coloration. My go-to is the Waves L2.  Simple design, easy to use, and sounds great!

Ben Burside – SPLAT! VO Talent, Amped Creator & Producer

My favorite plugin period is Waves CLA-2A. It’s magical. Makes vocals pop out and sound big by just applying the plugin. No tweaks are required.  Just that simple.

Bryan Apple – GrooveTools Producer

Fabfilter Pro-MB is my go-to plugin for boosting and compressing problem audio surgically, also side-chain it to duck music with VO tracks.

As technology advances and new plugins emerge, it’s crucial to stay informed, experiment, and adapt. Remember, while these plugins serve as invaluable ingredients, it’s the creativity, expertise, and dedication of producers that ultimately bring great radio imaging to life.

Pic designed by www.freepik.com.

Dave Marsh is the CEO of Splat! Media.

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