This is obviously hypothetical, but if you were doing all the sound editing for a short film and were only allowed five plugins, which five would you choose? This isn't about mixing or music - you would be editing & preparing elements for a film mix:

  • production sound/dialogue and ADR
  • ambiences
  • sound effects
  • foley

Presume there are no built in plug ins so eg if you want to use the PT AudioSuite Gain plug in, then you'd have to list it as one of your five....

  • 1
    A lot of the core stuff done by a sound editor/designer typically uses a fair amount of those standard functions in PT. Otherwise I would have listed more interesting one's... but EQ, Dynamics, Reverse, Gain and Pitch Shift are some of those core utilities that we all need constantly. I'm left wondering why did you included that in the criteria? Are you looking for alternatives? Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 5:28
  • I am interested to see what is ACTUALLY needed as opposed to what is handy... Remember plenty of people made awesome soundtracks without any plugins so I ask the question to see how aware of the ESSENTIALS of your own process you are... and to see what peoples priorities are eg I don't agree with you re Dynamics and I dont need Gain (volume automation or Gain via an EQ plug would suffice)
    – user49
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 17:40
  • Here's the reasoning behind mine: Cedar noise reduction: Absolutely necessary on dialogue clean-up. Oxford EQ: Doubles as tonality clean-up, and rolling off pops and wind from recordings. Reverse: I need this to make awesome suck-ins and wooshes out of gun-shots etc. Pitch n Time: Absolutely necessary if you are going into a slow-mo shot or want to make something bigger/beefier or sometimes matching ADR. Altiverb: Matching dry ADR and adding space to background noises you want to put in or to create depth.
    – Utopia
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 22:01
  • I possibly could do without the reverse and supplant it with either a phase scope or a phase reversal plug-in, come to think of it...
    – Utopia
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 22:02
  • @tim Funny you mentioned that about the EQ and Dynamics. About 20m after posting that it occurred to me that sure, I could do that with automation and in general, we've mostly become accustomed to having things at our disposal. On the other hand, to have to spend that much time automating things it definitely slows us down and we have to consider the time it saves us as being an essential quality of that tool as well. Commented Feb 17, 2011 at 2:01

21 Answers 21

  • Analog Channel
  • Renaissance Channel Strip
  • GTR
  • Pitch n' Time Pro
  • RX2

my $0.05

  • EQ
  • Reverse
  • Reverb
  • Doppler
  • Pitch shift
  • I'm surprised to see no dynamics control here as well, especially with no gain plug listed either. I'd rate that as far more essential than a doppler, but I'm very interested as to your thoughts on that. Is this list doing the dialogue edit a disservice by omitting any form of noise reduction or multiband expansion? I'm intrigued by this list...
    – Rene
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 18:34
  • @Rene, depending on what EQ plug-in, you can gain it down at least with Oxford, but gaining up you can probably do with volume automation. Dynamics is typically saved for the dub stage, no?
    – Utopia
    Commented Feb 17, 2011 at 0:25
  • @Rene In my experience dynamics are not controlled during sound editorial, other than balancing via volume automation. Unless you are on a film dub stage how/why would you be making volume decisions without being in context? And re dialogue edit - you do realise how many great films have been dialogue edited with no noise reduction plugins huh? (ie literally hundreds) - of course noise reduction during editorial can help save time during the dialogue predub, but I could happily go to a dialogue predub having done no noise reduction and let the rerecording mixer do it using their (better) tools
    – user49
    Commented Feb 22, 2011 at 16:32

WNS Noise supressor

iZotope RX2



iZotop Ozone 4

  • Ozone would be a great choice! If you can only use five plugins, a high quality 7in1 would be helpful, hehe Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 2:43
  • I really dunno why I have trim. I have enough gain stages in there as it is. Id probably replace trim with a better reverb than Ozones
    – C3Sound
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 7:31
  • I find Trim is an awesome plug-in to pan stems like the string stem in an orchestral mix - un-lock the L/R button and bring the left or right side down slightly without having to pan it, works like a charm.
    – Utopia
    Commented Feb 18, 2011 at 21:52

Ooh, this is a tough one. Really good question though. I suppose it depends what genre of film it would be. Wish I didn't have to list standard audio suite stuff.

Absolute core, must have plug-ins for me would likely have to be:

  • Roger Nichols Digital: Uniquel-Izer / Firium (same plug, renamed after sale to a different company)

  • Altiverb

  • Gain

  • Reverse

  • Pitch Shift (also have a pref for Pitch'n'Time or Speed)

Now for a list of my five favorites not mentioned above:

  • GRM Tools (both bundles but use spectral more)

  • Reaktor

  • Paulstretch (extreme time stretch, standalone)

  • SoundToys Bundle

  • Soundhack (plug-in's and standalone)

  • I would have added iZotope RX and Vocalign to that list if I didn't have to list standard audio suite utilities (but also because I try to avoid Dialog and ADR if at all possible, likely one of my least favorite audio post duties). Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 5:25

If I could see the film before choosing my plugs that's probably be useful. :)

Given a relatively stylized short, I'd go with:

  • Izotope Alloy - this can control all of my dynamic and eq needs
  • Izotope RX2
  • Pitch N Time
  • Reverse
  • Altiverb

Izotope RX2

Ping pong



Reaktor-Metaphysical function


EQ (Pref Waves Q10 or similar)

Pitch Shift (Pref Serato Pitch'n'Time or Sound Toys SPEED)

Reverb (Pref Altiverb)



  • no dynamics control? I dont know...
    – Rene
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 5:12

Cedar DNS2000

Oxford EQ

Pitch n Time



  • Altiverb
  • Pitch n Time
  • Reverse
  • Oxford EQ
  • ML4000
  • Waves WNS
  • Digi EQ3 7-Band
  • Waves L2
  • Audio Ease Altiverb
  • Digi Signal Generator

So difficult to choose, but an excellent question. Thanks, Tim.


Syrah Compressor

Wave Arts Panorama

Meta Flanger



  • EQ (Digi EQ7)
  • Compressor (Waves RComp)
  • Noise Reduction (Izotope RX2)
  • Pitch shift (Timeshift will do ok)
  • Reverb (ReVibe)

Arrghh, I'll have to live without reverse and a good mastering limiter (ML4000 is the best), but i can't do without the comp either....

  • WAVES RCHannel
  • WAVES RBass
  • WAVES L3-LL MultiMaximizer
  • iZotope RX 2
  • Revibe
  • Pitch and Time
  • Reverse
  • H Delay
  • Sans Amp
  • Reverse
  • Pitch Shift
  • EQ
  • Sans Amp
  • Reverb
  • @Mitchell, +1 & Ditto.
    – g.a.harry
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 23:19
  • AudioEase Altiverb
  • SSL Compressor and Gate (can do good limiting as well)
  • Waves Q1-10 Equalizer (I would wanna say LinEQ, but it really drains the cpu relentlessly...)
  • Extrnalizer (plugin for Nuendo for patching up external effects as had they been internal)
  • Steinberg Timestretcher/Pitchshifter (I love abusing this one mercilessly! ;-))

I don't really depend that much on effects at all, even in my most surreal works I tend to build many effects like granulation, phasing, and such manually and work more with miking techniques and pitch. It's not impossible to do an entire exploitation slasher-flick using only these plugs :-)


Reverse (built into Cubase)

EQ (Cubase's Studio EQ...better options but this is good all around)

Pitch Shifting (built into Cubase)

Time Stretching (built into Cubase)

Compression (Waves Linear Multiband...creative routing and automation could make a few instances of this resource-hog worth it and useful)

Thinking about this topic is definitely making me think about different ways of doing things! I might try the routing and automation of the LinMb more, and use Steinberg's studio more often!


Digi TCE

Waves WNS


Digi EQ 7

Waves Lo-Air

  1. EQ
  2. Compressor/Limiter
  3. Noise Gate/Expander
  4. Gain
  5. Pitch shift

What I need to get the job done:



Pitch Shift

Dorrough Meters


What make the job fun/faster/easier:

SoundToys Bundle (if I had to pick one, Decapitator)

RX 2 (IMHO the closest one plugin has ever come to fulfilling the promise of "we can fix it in post")

Speakerphone (I could EQ it to sound like its coming out of the phone, but this is better/faster)

Signal Generator - this almost made the must have list, I think drives eat files called 2beep.wav Also, a sine wave at 80hz tucked under your principle sound is a quick way to add weight to transient sounds.

X-form (instant variation for FX you don't have time to build twice)


For Dialog Editing:

  • EQ - Waves Q10
  • Comp - SSL Comp
  • Gate - Waves C1 Gate
  • Denoiser - Izotope RX
  • Verb for ADR - Altiverb

For Foley:

  • EQ - Waves Q10
  • Comp - Waves L1 Limiter
  • Gate - Waves C1
  • Pitch Shift - Digi Pitch Shift
  • Verb - Altiverb

For Ambiences:

  • EQ - Waves Q10
  • Imaging - Flux Stereo Tool
  • Imaging - Waves Doppler
  • Ducking - Waves C1
  • Digi Reverse

For sound design and sfx editing:

  • EQ - Waves Q10
  • Comp - Waves L1
  • Comp Effect - PSP VintageWarmer
  • Verb - Altiverb
  • Reason's NNXT sampler (kinda cheating a bit, but it's still a plugin)

If I had only 5 for the WHOLE mix...

  • EQ - Waves Q10
  • Comp - WAves C1 Comp
  • Gate - Waves C1 Gate
  • Reverb - Altiverb
  • Delay - Waves Supertap

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