Wouldn’t it be great if we could use the plugin hype bypass button?
We’ve all done it. We’ve seen or heard a plugin that sounds awesome. Or we’ve been seduced by slick marketing videos and we’ve purchased it because we know we, “just gotta have it” – or so we thought. Here are some tips for finding that hype bypass button before you make that purchase.
Use a demo to activate the hype bypass button
We all love how most audio plugins come with time limited, but fully functional demo versions for you to trial. Don’t soley rely on other peoples’ recommendations or even examples of the plugin in use. Put your potential purchase into a project situation and hear what it can do with your own ears.
Pick a project that you think may be better done with the plugin you’re looking to buy. Disable or bypass the plugin you’ve used and set up the demo instead. See if you can better what you previously did, but now using the demo plugin instead. If it works better and it is quicker or easier to use, then this plugin might be a wise business purchase.
Don’t be fooled by your own loudness war
When you make this comparison, be sure to use a robust A/B comparison method so you’re not fooled by your own local loudness war. You don’t want to be picking the new plugin as better simply because it is louder. Remember we will always pick the option that is louder as the better one. That’s human nature and how our ears work, for better or for worse. So, always spend some time to making sure you’re making an equal loudness assessment. There are plugins available that do automatic AB level matching.
Eye candy is hype – bypass that too
Here’s an example of how I go about it. The other day I was reviewing a new “analog” style EQ plugin. I won’t say what it was, but I will say it had very enticing, glowing valves – “Eye candy”, I thought to myself.
When I tried the demo it added a nuanced, sparkly “air” to a vocal example I was using – not bad, I thought. I decided to get more serious about it, and I put it in parallel with an effect I used in a mastering job I’d done. When I made my A/B comparison, making sure I had the levels matched, it became immediately obvious to me that what I had was better.
Your internal “bypass plugin hype” button
We are emotional creatures but without this aspect of human nature, you could argue making art would be impossible. But when it comes to making sober business decisions about gear purchases for your studio, you want to bypass that emotion and focus on the cold, hard truth about what’s right for your business. You spend money for your business that benefits your service, so hit the bypass button on your own emotions and make a solid business decision – is this going to make my business better?
The bypass button has been fully utilised, so what’s your decision?
Now, in no way am I suggesting that this plugin is a dud. It may be the right thing for you, or in certain other production scenarios it may shine. What I determined was it was not what my studio needed. I was able to hit the bypass button on my own internal hype.
So, to make that wise business decision in plugin purchases, make sure you buy what you need, not what you want. You’ll then be buying it, not because it looks good, but because it IS good for you. You’ve learnt to find the “bypass plugin hype” button – both the marketing hype and the hype you’ve built within yourself. Happy plugin hunting!