Over this past year, countless plugins have been released, but few stand the test of time as being absolutely unique or dramatically helpful in productivity or creativity. It’s been over a year since our last top 5, so we’ve compiled a short list of our favorite new or updated plugins so you don’t have to sort through the bullshit or waste money on more “snake oil” products. Let’s get into it!

Audionamix Xtrax Stems

For aspiring or professional remixers, DJs, or producers Xtrax Stems is an essential, unique, and absolutely fantastic tool. Simply load a mix or master into the plugin and Xtrax Stems does the rest of the work for you, automatically separating the file into three distinct stems. The product works excellently for isolating the vocals in pop or dance music! While the base version offers little to edit the processed ‘stems’, you can buy Trax Pro which works similarly to iZotope RX in a standalone program.

Roland Cloud‘s TR-808 and TR-909

Roland Cloud is another contributor to the growing number of cloud-based tools and libraries for musicians. Their subscription service gives you access to many iconic virtual recreations of their famous instruments, as well as several original software synths. What we like most are the software recreations of the 808 and 909 drum machines, because they’re perfect for any techno or house fanatic! They sound truly authentic and look awesome- we also love being able to automate natively in our DAW of choice. Become a Roland Cloud Core Member and you’ll have full access to over $4000 in new software for only $19.95 per month! Try a 30-day trial and hear for yourself.

Wavesfactory TrackSpacer

cred: Trackspacer

Sidechain lovers unite! However, this plugin is unlike any sidechain tool you’ve used before. Trackspacer boasts a 32 band EQ that reacts to the incoming sidechain signal. It analyses the frequency spectrum of the sidechain audio input and applies a reversed EQ curve to another track. Instead of compressing relative to the input, TrackSpacer carves out the opposite sonic content in real time. Download the free demo and try it out for yourself- see why many are making the switch from stock sidechain compressors to this powerful dynamic processor!

Softube Modular

Dip your toes into the world of modular synths without sacrificing your first born!

The modular phenomenon is currently at its peak, no doubt. Created in close collaboration with Doepfer, Softube has done a fabulous job of transferring some of that wire-tangled fun into ‘the box’. It includes seven modeled Doepfer modules and over 20 utility modules, with many more modules available for purchase like Mutable Instruments’ Clouds or Buchla’s 259e Twisted Waveform Generator (drool).

Waves Scheps Omni Channel

Last but certainly not least we have a powerful multipurpose engineering tool. Whether you prefer a vintage analog sound or modular capabilities, this channel strip will win over even the pickiest audiophile. Scheps Omni Channel has five modules that you can rearrange into any order you like. We extensively tested the five modules (pre, comp, EQ, DS, and gate) and they work and sound great. The buttery EQ stood out to us as the real MVP, doubling as both a great mix or instrument equalizer.

Designed in collaboration and supervision by Grammy-winning mixer Andrew Scheps (Adele, Jay Z, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers), this is certainly the best value on our list. It’s currently on sale for the low price of $69 and can be bundled with any of Waves’ other excellent production tools.

What’re some of your go-to plugins in 2018? We’d love to hear about your favorites- drop us a comment below!