Soundtoys is a boutique audio company that’s been around since the mid-2000s. In the last few years, they’ve gained massive popularity among up-and-coming producers with their latest release: Soundtoys 5.
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Being that Soundtoys 5 is upwards of $500, is it worth your money? Today we’ll be answering that question and taking a look the plugins in the bundle.
My history with Soundtoys
I am a drummer and a music producer, so I’m always interested in plugins that can help give a drum recording a unique character or quality. Soundtoys has made music production less technical, more creative, and more fun all around.
While recording our band’s second album in 2016, one of our producers had mentioned Soundtoys to me.
He told me how much he enjoyed using the plugins and how great they sounded. I’m pretty positive he used them on the album (The Decapitator was absolutely on the snare drum in the final mix).
Back in 2017, Soundtoys offered a discounted sale (must have been for Black Friday), and I took it. I bought the entire plugin bundle rather than one at a time. It was worth every cent.
“Let’s try Soundtoys on that!”
I can’t count the number of times we’ve questioned using a Soundtoys effect on a part to make it sound more interesting. It may have even come up daily during the production of the last album!
They indeed are fun plugins that sound great, and they make the creative process of music production a blast. One turn of a knob opens up possibilities you may have never have conceptualized during pre-production.
I can’t say that I utilize every single Soundtoys plugin, but I almost guarantee that one or two of them make it in each session. The plugin bundle is second in line to the SSL Channel from Waves. My two favorite plugins currently are Decapitator and Devil-Loc.
I enjoy using Soundtoys because the plugins are both fun to use and add an excellent color to the sound that’s both unique and doesn’t sound overly processed if that makes sense.
When I use effect plugins from say, Waves, some of them are great, but some sound like they’re plastic and cheap.
It’s hard to explain, but I think Soundtoys does a great job making great-sounding effects with a hint of analog fuzz.
Soundtoys 5 – The Plugins
Soundtoys 5 comes bundled with 21 different effect plugins. Here’s the entire list.
Just because Soundtoys 5 comes in a bundle, doesn’t mean you have to get the whole thing. If only a few plugins stick out to you, just buy them a la carte. However, they are significantly more expensive out of the product bundle.
Let’s dive into two of my favorite plugins from the bundle. First up, the Crystallizer.
The Crystallizer is one of those plugins that I overused to death when I first bought it. It’s a rad plugin that takes the simple concept of delay and pitch shift and smashes the two together.
It only will delay a portion of the audio that you input, known as the Splice.
The Crystallizer is what’s known as a granular echo effect.
The name does its sound justice. The first menu in the presets, Crystals, sounds just as it sounds. The Crystallizer works incredibly well on clean guitars, giving them a spacey octave pedal vibe, but fresh and new sounding.
From left to right you have mix, pitch, splice, delay, and recycle knobs. The delay can either be set to forward or reverse; Reverse gets some of the coolest sounds, so give that a shot. Cystallizer, and every other rhythmic Soundtoys plugin can be synced to your DAW’s tempo.
Take a listen to it in action in the video below. Audio of the plugin begins around 10 minutes in.
The Decapitator is a Soundtoys plugin I find myself using on snare drum all the time.
It’s an analog-emulation of saturation that sounds remarkably smooth when used lightly in a mix. Decapitator works awesome in bringing out a little more punch to a snare drum to help it fit in a mix better.
To operate the Decapitator, it’s a simple as placing it as an audio insert on a track or bus and using the Drive knob on the left to your taste. In my experience, you shouldn’t need to go above four to get a great sound, but for those extreme cases, crank it up.
The volume will noticeably increase, so be sure to use the Output knob along with your DAW’s bypass button to adjust.
On the bottom of the Decapitator are five Style buttons. These control the character of the saturation applied to your sound. Each style was created and modeled by Soundtoys from hardware in their lab.
Here’s a brief description of each:
- A – Modeled after the Ampex 350 tape drive preamp
- E – Modeled after the Chandler/EMI TG channel
- N: Modeled after the Neve 1057 input channel
- T: Modeled after the Thermionic’s Culture Vulture triode setting
- P: Modeled after Thermionic’s Culture Vulture pentode setting
Hear it in action below:
So there you have it, two of my favorite plugins from Soundtoys 5. Another that I highly recommend checking out it Little AlterBoy. It works great on vocal buses and is currently all over pop music.
Soundtoys 5 - Our Rating
- Number of Plugins
Soundtoys 5 is a fantastic bundle of plugins that make music production exciting and creative. Every plugin sounds great and works with ease. If you can’t justify the price tag, at least give the Decapitator and Little AlterBoy a chance.
Have you used any of the plugins in the bundle before? What do you think of Soundtoys? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments down below! Thanks for reading. Bye for now.
Images used in the article are screenshots from inside my digital audio workstation.