When going for the classic golden age hip hop sounds, samples are obviously a big part of the equation. But what if you are producing inside the box? Then you probably want plugins to dirty up your sound. What’s the best hip hop VST? Below you find some plugin recommendations that you can use to make your own samples sound like things DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Madlib etc would have sampled from vinyl.
First and foremost you will want to look at coloring plugins that make your sterile computer generated samples sound like they come from cassette or vinyl.
The D16 Group from Poland makes some amazing vintage modelled plugins. My favourite has to be Decimort – a high quality bit-crusher plugin that tries to emulate some old hardware. Put this little friend on a BusTrack and select the MPC60 preset and it always gives your drums some really nice vintage character. Decimort is a hot contender for best hip hop VST! Get it here!
The RX950 Classic AD/DA Converter was designed to perfectly mimic the whole AD/DA conversion process of Hip Hop’s unsung hero – the Akai S950 – in order to give your music this vintage, warm and crunchy sound with the ease & flexibility of a VST/AU. Everybody talks about the SP-1200 and the MPCs, but if you ask anyone, the S950 was a studio essential for almost all producers. Definitely a hip hop VST you should check out!
Izotope Vinyl. Free.
The ultimate lo-fi weapon. Simulate the dust, scratches, warp, and mechanical noise reminiscent of yesteryear for FREE with Vinyl. Perfect for music production and audio post, Vinyl lets you control each nostalgic element independently, giving you all the vintage turntable sounds you love, save for the headache.
RC-20 Retro Color. €79.
We’ve reviewed the RC-20 Retro Color last year and it’s a powerful sound design tool. You can really make your audio sound wonky, noisy and analog like past recordings. The presets are a great starting point and feature some realistic and some experimental defaults to choose from. The RC-20 is easily one of the best plugins in this category. Cop it here!
Other free options:
- Lofizer is a plugin that tries to emulate cassette players and dirty vinyl records. The wow & flutter effect is great to put on the master to give it a little bit more character. It’s a free download.
- The Camel Crusher by Camel Audio is great distortion plugin to give your drums some character. You can grab it free from here .
It is often the case that the samples you chopped out of a song have an annoying sustain, or you want to give them more punch. In this case a transient shaper is your best friend.
Transient Master by Native Instruments. €99.
I personally use Transient Master. I’ve had it for a long while, so I might just be used to its sound, that I don’t like the competition as much. All I can say it gets the job done, with a minimal interface and CPU footprint. It’s one of my real essential plugins, so it gets a unanimous recommendation 🙂
Smack Attack by Waves. $69.
If you’re into Waves plugins, you might prefer Smack Attack – their signature transient shaper. Add smack and bite to drums, loops, synth hits and all percussive sounds by designing the level, shape and duration of their transients’ attack and sustain.
Transient by Audio Assault. Free.
I don’t like this one nearly as much as the above two options, but if I were on a budget I’d gladly add it to my arsenal!
Update: If you’re an Ableton Live 10 user, like myself, you should check out the included Drum Buss device, which has a decent transient shaper included. For Live 9 and lower, you can get the Transient Machines Pack.
Hip Hop VST Winner: Vulf Compressor. $149.
When it comes to compressors for that rugged hip hop sound, I’m just gonna give one recommendation for best hip hop VST. It’s pricey but a real workhorse, which I use on every single beat of mine. A true beast of a compressor is Vulf Compressor. Modelled after the legendary Roland SP303, which was used excessively by Madlib and Dilla, this Mac-only plugin really packs a punch and gives drums and instruments a vintage character.
If you have any other suggestions please feel free to discuss in the comment section.