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Best Exciter Plugins 2023

Introduction to Exciter Plugins

Exciter plugins are audio effects that add brightness and presence to tracks. They work by boosting high frequencies and adding harmonic distortion, which can help vocals, guitars, drums and other instruments cut through a mix. Exciters are versatile tools used in music production, mixing and mastering.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about exciter plugins:

  • What exciters do
  • The history and evolution of exciter effects
  • Different types of exciter plugins
  • Common controls on exciter plugins
  • How to use exciters on different instruments
  • Exciter plugin shootout and reviews
  • Tips for getting the most out of exciters
  • Alternative effects for adding brightness

Let’s dive in and explore the world of exciter plugins!

What Do Exciter Plugins Do?

Exciter plugins boost high frequency content and add harmonic distortion to make sounds brighter and more present. They lift and reveal detail that may be hidden or muddy in a mix.

Specifically, exciters work in a few key ways:

  • Add high frequency harmonics and overtones
  • Emphasize transients
  • Increase presence and clarity
  • Add subtle distortion and grit

The end result is that sounds processed with an exciter plugin cut through a mix better and have more clarity and detail. Vocals sound more crisp and intelligible, guitars and drums have more bite and impact, and entire mixes feel more lively and bright.

Exciter effects subtly reshape sounds by generating new harmonic content. This sets them apart from equalizers which simply boost existing frequencies. The harmonic distortion and added overtones make exciters more than just high-frequency boosts.

Used with restraint, exciters bring out nuances without drastically altering the core tone. Pushed hard, they can add obvious grit and saturation for dramatic effect. Their exact behavior depends on the specific exciter plugin design.

Key Benefits of Exciter Plugins

Here are some of the main reasons to use an exciter plugin:

  • Add clarity and intelligibility to vocals
  • Make guitars, drums and other instruments more present and vivid
  • Help instrument tracks cut through dense mixes
  • Restore brightness and detail to dull or dark mixes
  • Increase perceived loudness and excitement
  • Enhance the top end for air and sparkle
  • Provide smooth harmonic enhancement
  • Simulate analog tape saturation and distortion

Whether you need subtle polishing or more obvious effects, exciters have many applications for mixing and sound design. Next let’s look at the origins and evolution of exciter technology.

AudioThing Type B

Type B provides brightness and presence to your voice, bass, leads, and other instruments, drawing influence from the old Aphex Aural exciter hardware unit. We have a Tune parameter in this plugin, which is the frequency selector for the filter section directly below it. For the created harmonics, the Color knob functions as a slight low pass filter.

We preferred the sound of it on melodic instruments over drums and percussion instruments. On synths, a focus on the filter section can provide unique sounds. To produce even more dynamic sounds, you could try automating the Tune knob. The Direct toggle switch then aids in the addition of any missing low and mid frequencies while you’re having fun. We particularly appreciated the Noise Env toggle switch, which makes the noise appear only when there is audio input.

This plugin has the same sound as the Aphex hardware unit. So, if you like late-70s hits, this plugin will help you get the sound you want. This plugin’s user interface can be resized. If you prefer simplicity, you can hide the extra parts beneath the six fundamental characteristics. As a result, it caters to both traditional and experimental manufacturers.

The filter component can be placed before or after the saturation. Similarly, instead of utilizing a standard high-pass filter, you might try using a band-pass filter. Similarly, the Emphasis setting can easily add an interesting characteristic to your music. This plugin sounds identical to the Aphex Type B unit by default. However, with a few adjustments, you can make it sound pretty different as well. This sounds great on electric keyboards, large saw pads, and vocals. Driving the input higher creates an analog grit that could be the missing piece in your wavetable synth or guitar.

If you like analog-sounding plugins and want a little more versatility, this is the plugin for you. For added realism, there’s even a noise option where you can replicate the hum that the original gear produced. Check out the 12dB wet boost if you just want to hear extreme distortion. This is the best Exciter VST in 2022.

Softube Abbey Road Brilliance Pack

These iconic Abbey Road Studios equalizers will brighten up your life! The RS127 Rack, RS127 Box, and RS135 were meticulously designed by Softube to give the finest treble equalization possible. Today’s DAW-based mix engineers can add as much air and top frequencies as they like with the Brilliance Pack, exactly like Abbey Road Studios’ engineers did on their recordings from the 1960s forward.

The Brilliance Pack from Abbey Road Studios is a highly specialized but essential tool for mix engineers of all genres. The three provided equalizers are solely focused on the presence/treble frequencies, allowing solo tracks or entire mixes to breathe. The presence boxes were found to be good for guitars, vocals, and drums, particularly snare and kick drum direct to tape, by Abbey Road Studios engineers. The devices were used to define the sound of instruments, brighten the input to the echo chambers, and patch over compressors to create de-essers across the studios during recording and mixing. They made it into the cutting rooms as well.

In the 1960s, Abbey Road engineers created the first equalizers solely in-house, and they immediately became a studio secret weapon. They had never been available outside of Abbey Road Studios before the plug-in version was published. Component by component, Softube has precisely reconstructed the passive circuitry of the three original machines.

The grey RS127 Rack is the first treble equalizer from Abbey Road Studios. At 2.1, 3.5, and 10 kHz, it provides a boost or reduction of up to 10 dB. (or kilocycles per second as they used to be known). The portable green RS127 Box was developed when more units were required in the studio. The original RS127’s circuit was used, albeit with the addition of an audio transformer. The engineers rapidly determined that the transformer had a significant impact on the RS127’s sound quality and operating frequencies. The frequencies have been pushed somewhat higher, which is also true for the plug-in model. Finally, the RS135 was developed to bridge the frequency gap left by the RS127 units. It has an 8 kHz fixed frequency, boost only, and is as sweet and silky as its siblings. This is the best Exciter plugin in 2022.

Izotope Ozone Exciter

Izotope Ozone Exciter is undoubtedly the most popular VST exciter plug ins. This is primarily due to the circuit Triode and Dual Triode modes, as well as the modified Retro, Tape, Warm, and Tube modes. These modes may be applied to each particular frequency band, making it a great tool for adding variety and color to your music.

This plugin has a user-friendly interface. Each of the four frequency bands (low, mid-low, mid-high, and high) has two control knobs: an amount control knob and a mix control knob. Most of the time, users will apply excitation to the mid-high and high frequencies, while it is occasionally a good idea to raise the lower frequencies for a little more flavor.

The oversampling button on the Ozone exciter is used to dramatically improve the accuracy and sound quality of the analog modeling in the harmonic exciter. This capability can be used in real-time on powerful machines. Otherwise, utilize it when exporting the track. A bypass button is also included in the plugin. This is a handy tool since it allows the user to skip the effect on specific frequencies to determine which parts of the mix are being processed by each band.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use multiple exciter plugins in a single project?

Yes, you can use multiple plugins in one project. However, be careful not to overdo it as it can lead to an over-processed sound.

Are there free exciter plugins available?

Yes, there are free versions available, but they may lack some of the advanced features found in paid versions.

Can exciter plugins replace theneed for traditional mixing and mastering?

While exciter plugins can enhance the sound quality, they are not a replacement for traditional mixing and mastering. They are tools that can contribute to the process, but they can’t perform all the tasks of a skilled audio engineer.

Do all exciter plugins work the same way?

While all exciter plugins aim to enhance audio quality, they don’t all work the same way. Each plugin may use different algorithms and methods to generate and add harmonic content to the audio.

Can I use exciter plugins for live performances?

Absolutely! Exciter plugins can be a great addition to a live sound engineer’s toolkit, enhancing the clarity and presence of live performances.