With all the great stock plugins that ship with Pro Tools, I see three hardly ever being talked about or used. And it confuses me because these are three of my favorite Pro Tools plugins. I use them on just about every mix! Maybe it’s because some people have little faith in stock plugins, or perhaps it just takes time for people to discover the potential of their Pro Tools rig. Either way, let me point out 3 of my favorite and underrated stock plugs.
The Versatile AIR Fuzz-Wah
When Pro Tools began shipping with a whole slew of new AIR plugins in version 8, I was pumped! Just open up the Modulation or Harmonic category of plugins in the insert menu and you’ll find a ton of great new effects to experiment with. But none is cooler (in my opinion) than the AIR Fuzz-Wah. This effect may seem like it’s meant for guitars, but trust me it can do it all.
The two biggest ways I use this plugin is to put a weird EQ filter on something with the “Pedal” setting. Imagine it like an actual guitar wah pedal where you can open or close the filter and leave it in one place. This can help take a so-so guitar part, piano riff, or vocal and sit in the mix differently. On top of that you have a “Fuzz” option which brings in some grit and distortion. Add as much or as little as you like and you’ve got a totally vibey sound which helps a part stand out in the mix.
Somewhat related to the Fuzz-Wah is the original Avid Lo-Fi plugin. While it may seem that it’s design is to crush audio and smash it to 8 bit glory (which it can do quite well I might add), this plugin finds a home in my mixes as a warm tape saturation effect. In fact there is a preset on the plugin called “Tape Saturation” and it simply dials in a tad bit of distortion and saturation from the plugin.
In practice this one little plugin can bring a subtle warmth and energy to your drums, guitars, even vocals. In fact, if used sparingly on a few tracks it adds up in a nice way. This is effect isn’t supposed to be really noticeable like a lo-fi recording (when used as I’m describing), but it can really bring your tracks to life and it’s nice to have it in your back pocket when a mix sounds flat and lifeless.
How Come DVERB Gets No Love?
For whatever reason, Pro Tools users have long shunned the use of the included reverb plugin, DVerb. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it’s because the default setting doesn’t sound all that great. Or perhaps it’s because it’s free. Either way, it’s a shame because this classic reverb plugin is solid and has served me well for over a decade!
The best way to use it is to not just pick a preset or a reverb type, but to tailor the filters and pre-delay setting to get just the right sound. It takes experimentation, but in just a minute or two you can dial in the perfect ambient sound. DVerb is my go to reverb. I know it, I love it, it’s light on the CPU (compared to say a convolution reverb), and it can be just what you need to glue your tracks together.
Discover What Pro Tools Offers
If you haven’t been using these three plugins. Do it! You might fall in love, like me. You might even have your own underrated Pro Tools plugins. Perhaps you could share them with us here! Either way, I’m sure there are a handful of stock Pro Tools plugins that you haven’t played with. Why not open them up on your next mix? Unlock the full potential of your DAW. It’ll cost you nothing!