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All those DAWs are using plugins to extend their capabilities. A small, “add on” software programs that works inside your main workstation

When people asked: “What’s the best digital audio workstation software?” I’d say that every each of them are unique and can be (subjectively) the best for every user. Depends on your need, your requirement? How is your typical music production workflow? What is your purpose? Are you more into electronic music production? Involving real bass and guitars? Or, more into mixing and mastering? If you want to go professional in your studio, then you’d probably best suited with the Pro Tools. It has been the industry standard big, major studios for many years. If you’re serious about music production, then this should be on your shortlist.

But probably some of you want to make it easy and minimal. Maybe you should try FL Studio from Image-Line. This DAW software is just as easy as dragging and dropping. In my opinion, a lot of beginner producers use FL Studio as their starting point. Simplicity-wise, you can straightly use your PC / QWERTY keyboard as a controller (although more and more DAWs nowadays can use PC keyboard as a controller).

All those DAWs are using plugins to extend their capabilities. This is one of the most important parts that most beginners don’t notice. Plug-ins are small, “add on” software programs that works inside your main workstation. For example, plug-ins are effects or some type of: compressors, limiters, reverbs, analyzers, equalizers, and so on. Then, there is another class of plug-in. Those are virtual instruments, software samplers and synthesizers that work right within your DAW software. This is an amazing breakthrough for producers, DJ’s, composers, arrangers, and songwriters. These enable them to rely entirely on their computers with an addition of software instruments and processing, thus won’t need any outboard / hardware gears to start producing music.

The most used plugin format is VST (Virtual Studio Technology). Invented by Steinberg, known for their Cubase and Nuendo software. They’ve been running it since middle of 1990. As the name suggests; Virtual, basically they are a digital version of hardware processors. You can only play it inside your

computer and you will not able to play it without a host, which is a Digital Audio Workstation in this context.

Let’s take a look at another DAW; A software from Sweden, named Reason by Propellerhead is using proprietary plug-in format called Rack Extension. Previously known as a self-contained software for electronic music, Reason grows into a more complete DAW  aimed to other musician segment as well.

There is also Apple’s plug-in technology called Audio Units, which is mostly supported by OSX apps, from iTunes to Logic Pro, Final Cut Pro, Soundtrack Pro and Garage Band. Another one worth noting is called Real Time Audio Suite (RTAS) plug-in, which has been replaced by the newer Avid Audio eXtension (AAX) for Pro Tools 10 or later, are exclusively used within Pro Tools software, or Avid Media Composer.

VST Logo

This logo means that the plugins or the host are VST compatible

From iTunes to Logic Pro X

Apple’s Audio units

Can be used from iTunes to Logic Pro X to Final Cut Studio

64-bit Compatible

64-bit compatibility (applies to both Mac or Windows) means you can take advantage from the 64-bit processing capability, of course the host DAW also need to run on 64-bit.

universal logo

Mac Universal Binary Logo

Means that this single plugin on a mac platform can support both 32-bit and 64 bit DAW host.

Avid Audio eXtension. An exclusive plugin format for Avid softwares. i.e. Pro Tools

AAX Logo

Avid Audio eXtension. An exclusive plugin format for Avid softwares. i.e. Pro Tools

This logo means that the plugins or the host are made for Reason's RE platform

Rack Extension

This logo means that the plugins or the host are made for Reason’s RE platform. Usually a different purchase due to different development phase, store policy, etc

Kuassa’s plugins starting supports all DAWs format

Started from the release of Cerberus Bass Amp on March 2015, their range of Equalizers: EVE-MP5 and EVE-AT series now supports all kind of plugins format. Kuassa aims to complete all of their plugins’ update before November 2015 to support all plug-ins format from VST, VST3, Audio Units, AAX, to Rack extensions. Although best known for their line of digital guitar amps and bass amp, Kuassa also develops effect plugins for professional mixing and mastering in studio environment. Within five years, Kuassa satisfies many musicians, engineers, and composers around the world with their 9 masterpiece products:

1.     Amplifikation Lite – A free guitar amp simulator that allows you to create ultra-realistic sounding guitar sounds simply by plugging your guitar into your computer’s soundcard input. Get high-quality guitar tracks with a simple interface and non-obstructive workflow using Amplifikation Lite. IT’s engine is based on one of the amps featured in Amplifikation One with a fixed tonestack and power amp output type.

2.     Amplifikation One – This is the original guitar Amplifikation, a guitar amp software that will help you create realistic guitar tones and build great tracks immediately. It is designed to provide a clear, straightforward workflow, without any confusing or obfuscating control parameters, to ensure you can get down to work without hassle. Featuring a generous number of Amps, Distortion pedal models, cab & mic type, and a “Custom” Amp for creating your own signature amp tone. If all of those isn’t enough, the Quad IR loader can load 4 simultaneous Impulse Responses can be routed in many ways to shape your guitar tone further.

3.    Amplifikation Creme – The crème de la crème of guitar amp simulator. It is the second entry to the acclaimed Amplifikation line of guitar amplification software tailored for modern, high-gain guitar tone, vis-à-vis: Metal. It features a digitally engineered head and matching cabinet with built-in overdrive sections, based on three legendary overdrive pedals, giving you full control of intense, dynamic, harmonically-rich distortion.

4.    Kratos Maximizer – This works as plugins for finalizing tracks. A transparent, mastering grade look-ahead brickwall limiter and loudness maximizer. Insert it into your mastering bus channel to produce that loud, commercial quality sound out of your mix without the squashing effect and artifacts. The easy workflow is the highlight if this plug-in, turn the “Maximize” knob to increase the perceived loudness of your tracks, and use the 4 smaller knobs to tweak the final track into perfection.

5.     BasiQ – This straightforward freeware equalizer is well-suited for both mixing and mastering purposes, though the neutral characteristic of basiQ lends itself as more of a sweetening device or to give a transparent tilt to your mixes, rather than surgical frequency correction. It is best paired on the master channel before the Kratos Maximizer,

6.    Amplifikation Vermilion – A guitar amplifier plugin inspired by classic guitar combo amplifiers. Designed to deliver crisp clean tone to fat overdriven tone or even cranked high for somewhat metal. The authentic tremolo and spring reverb model are trippy enough to surf your way through the Hawaiian beaches. Vermilion offers gorgeous looks and endless tonal possibilities for serious guitarists who demands versatility.

7.     EVE-AT Series – It is a compadre of equalizers modeled after the classic Neve* 1081 and 1084. Add oomph, remove muddiness, give vocals a husky treatment, increase presence, remove rumble, and add character to any tracks, or a mix just before final mastering.

8.     Cerberus Bass Amplifikation – This monstrous bass amp simulator is a three-channel amplifier plug-in that will deliver beefy lows straight from your computer. With it’s gorgeous, intuitive single screen interface for whatever your playing stye is; pick or fingerstyle in any music you play. Try them on bass synths to add organic feel or overdriven edge.

9.    Eve-MP5 – Kuassa EVE-MP5 is a reproduction of two of the most sought-after classic hardware equalizers, the Pultec* MEQ-5 Midrange Equalizer and the EQP-1A Program Equalizer. We drew inspiration from them and combined both EQs into a compact, single plug-in with a color coded, straightforward interface intended for fast workflows and maximum usability.

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