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KSHMR Essentials VST Review

Easy to use and functionally fantastic, it’s no wonder that KSHMR Essentials was specifically designed by an artist, for artists. 

World famous DJ, musician, and producer KSHMR, as the product name suggests, created this plugin in collaboration with the developers at W.A. Productions. 

This processor gives you access to a specialist’s signal chain without the need for complex effect layering, getting your track sounding professionally produced in a matter of clicks. KSHMR keeps it simple without sacrificing quality.

Overall8.7
Features8.8
Compatibility9.8
Pricing7.2
Bonus & Extras7.6

How We Reviewed KSHMR Essentials

We tried out KSHMR Essentials on a track of our own, and heard for ourselves if it’s worth the hype.

Overall

Producers especially, but also sound designers and musicians will get a kick out of this plugin. KSHMR Essentials can add that certain je ne sais quoi you spend hours trying to achieve, without your CPU clogging or cumbersome adjusting through effect layering.

It’s user-friendly interface makes the learning-curve virtually nonexistent. It is particularly handy for newer producers who may need a bit more time to understand the undercarriage of audio production, but still want to achieve a polished sound.

For more seasoned professionals, KSHMR Essentials gives you a look into the signal chain of a successful artist. While most of the complexities of the process are kept under wraps, it is definitely possible to ekk out what the effect controls are doing to the sound. Moreover, this plugin will help you create a nuanced sound in less time.

Features

KSHMR Essentials offers a tidy signal chain toolbox for tweaking the instruments in your track, tailoring a set of unique tuners to each area: bass, drums, kick, synths, and vocals. 

On the whole, the overall effects of this plugin will not push your sound to overwhelming levels – an advantage to the production process. You can push the mix to 80% or even 90% and still be using the features in a way that enhances your track, rather than taking away from the power of your production.

The user-interface is broken down into a series of panels that contain 8 adjustment knobs specifically made for each module. The signal chain is used best when done in order, from left to right on the adjustment knobs. Each knob allows for flexibility in your mix, as well as a wealth of customization. We’ll break down what each panel (and applicable adjustment knob) allows for in the following.

Bass Panel

KSHMR Essentials Bass Panel

Bass serves as the focus of your track. It grounds your mix and adds the groove vital to a successful piece. KSHMR Essentials includes 8 adjustment modules to fine tune your bass, allowing you to give it the pump and power that will get your listeners off their feet.

The knobs, Harmonics, Fuzz, Pressure, Exciter, Sub, Side Cut, Width, and Compressor, each affect a certain aspect of the frequencies present in your bass. Some of these controls are a bit obvious as to what they’ll accomplish, but here it is laid out:

  • Harmonics – adds higher harmonic frequency to your instrument. This helps establish the sound and gives it the definition it needs to stand out in the mix
  • Fuzz – adds a bit of fuzzy distortion and makes your sound feel louder and punchier
  • Pressure – this is your multi-band compressor, making the bass throb
  • Exciter – saturates the high-end of your instrument for a more pointed feel
  • Sub – adds sub bass frequency to your instrument
  • Side Cut – defines the center channel, tightening the sound
  • Width – widens the stereo sound of the instrument 
  • Compressor – collects the signal effects, outputting a final cohesive sound

Drums Panel

KSHMR Essentials Drums Panel

Producing truly dynamic drums can be extremely difficult to achieve – especially when using midi instruments! These adjustments, Air, Body, Details, Pressure, Transients, Tape Saturator, Width, and Glue, will pump some life into your percussion, giving it the best of both worlds: solid weight and dynamic shimmer.

Let’s take a look at what each adjustment does:

  • Air – adds space around the drums, particularly on the high end, for a spacey shimmer
  • Body – adds some weight and punch to the mid and lows of your drums
  • Details – brings out quieter percussion instruments in the mix
  • Pressure – this is your multi-band compressor 
  • Transients – adds response so your heavy hits slap louder
  • Tape Saturator – saturates your sound toward the low end, giving an analog warmth to your sound
  • Width – widens the stereo sound of the instrument 
  • Glue – a cohesifying compressor

Kick Panel

KSHMR Essentials Kick Panel

Dedicating an entire panel to perfecting the kick shows just how attentive KSHMR Essentials is to the sound of your drums. This panel helps saturate the sound of your kick, defining it in a way that will outline the punch of your drums.

Sub bass, Mid, Air, Transients, Tape saturation, Pressure, Compression and Width are your adjustments here. This is what they do:

  • Sub bass – adds sub bass frequency to your instrument
  • Mid – adds high mid frequency to your instrument, making the sound more pointed and dense
  • Air – adds space around the kick, particularly on the high end, for a punchy resonance
  • Transients – adds response so your heavy hits slap louder
  • Tape Saturator – saturates your sound toward the low end, giving an analog warmth to your sound
  • Pressure – this is your multi-band compressor, and makes the sound feel louder
  • Compression –  collects the signal effects, outputting a cohesive sound
  • Width – widens the stereo sound of the instrument 

Synths Panel

KSHMR Essentials Synths Panel

Synths add life to your song, carry the harmonic progression, and help hook your listeners. A solid synth sound is sure to spice up your mix, and add variation and interest to your track. This panel we found to be particularly useful for creating a clarity and definition to your synth.

KSHMR Essentials has Body, Presence, Air, Exciter, Details, Pressure, Expand and Glue as your signal processing adjustments here. This is what they do:

  • Body – adds width and weight to your sound by emphasizing the low and mid range
  • Presence – adds an EQ curve to define your synth and reduce muddiness
  • Air – adds shimmer to the high end of your instrument, achieving space and shine
  • Exciter – saturates the high-end harmonics of your instrument for a more pointed feel
  • Details – brings out quieter aspects of your instrument in the mix
  • Pressure -this is your multi-band compressor, and makes the sound feel louder
  • Expand – widens your sound, sending it into the stereo field
  • Glue – a cohesifying compressor

Vocals Panel

KSHMR Essentials Vocals Panel

Good vocals are seriously tricky to produce. The human voice is full of complexity, and there is certainly no “one-size-fits-all” trick to vocal production. However, the vocals panel offered by KSHMR Essentials is incredibly useful. We noticed a real difference using this panel. It livened and defined the vocal mix, especially when we used the Clarity and Air adjustments.

Gate, Body, Clarity, Air, Compression, Pressure, Spread and Glue are the adjustments here that will help add life to your vocals, pulling them above the other lines and adding dimension.

  • Gate – helps to eliminate breath sounds and ambient room tone
  • Body – adds weight to your vocals by emphasizing the low end
  • Clarity – adds definition and tightens the high-mids of the vocals
  • Air – adds space and high-end to the mix, making the vocals really shimmer
  • Compression – defines the center channel, tightening the sound
  • Pressure – this is your multi-band compressor and makes the sound feel louder
  • Spread – widens the stereo feel of the vocals
  • Glue – a cohesifying compressor

Compatibility

We tested out KSHMR Essentials in Ableton Live, but it is compatible with all Digital Audio Workstations (DAWS) that support Virtual Instrument Technology instruments (VSTs), and is also available in AU and AAX formats. If you are just getting into audio production and don’t want to break the bank, Reaper is your friend. For Mac users looking to upgrade from GarageBand, Logic offers a similar interface with advanced capabilities. For more information on what DAWs are out there for your specific needs, here is our survey.

KSHMR Essentials is compatible with Windows 7 or higher (32 or 64 bit), Mac OSX 10 or higher (32 or 64 bit), and ProTools 11 or higher (for those using AAX). 

Pricing

KSHMR Essentials will cost you a couple bucks, but its user-savvy interface and versatile function make dynamics processing a breeze. Although there are a number of plugins out there that will accomplish a similar effect for less, there are no cheaper options that offer both the streamlined feel and high-quality output that this one boasts. Although it’s most useful for creating a unique sound, it’s called ‘essential’ for a reason—this plugin will certainly add a standout splash to your sound.

While the outright cost may be a bit steep for beginners and an unjustified investment for more seasoned producers, Splice offers a rent-to-own option that gives you full access to the plugin for about the same price per month as what you might spend on coffee in one day. You retain the ability to pause your plan whenever you like and pick it up at a later date. 

  • Rent-to-own price: $4.99/ month for 20 months, pause or cancel at anytime
  • Total Price: $99.80

Bonus & Extras

In addition to the features covered above, KSHMR Essentials also offers a couple extra features that help it shine a bit brighter.

Frequency Visualizer 

The visual feedback provided by the Frequency Visualizer is exceedingly helpful for monitoring your instrument. This is one of our favorite extra features, as it lets you see how your signal chain adjustments affect the frequency response of your instrument in real time. 

Frequency Visualizer 

The visualizer can be set to either waveform or frequency response view, depending on your preference.

Audio Gain and Clipper

One of the trickiest aspects of signal processing is being able to control the volume of the track without it losing its dynamic. 

Audio Gain and Clipper

The Auto Gain will help you keep your track at the same volume output, so you can compare just the effects without the worry of the decibel level changing. 

The Clipper drives the signal so it maintains its dynamic range, keeping your sound contained, but still dynamic.

Presets

KSHMR Vocal Presets

Not sure where to start? Flip through the options provided to you in the presets. They serve as great examples of how KSHMR Essentials can shape your sound, and offer a good place to start your fine-tune adjustments. However, we were hoping that more presets would be provided with the plugin.

Like many other plugins out there, this one also allows you to save your own presets, so if you come up with that perfect mix, you can easily save it and load it into another session for future use.

Looks Good, Sounds Good

KSHMR Essentials offers standout sound in a sleek package. While it is priced a bit high for its functionality, it offers producers a user-friendly interface for achieving a polished and professional sound.

This plugin is perfect for apprentice producers who might need a hand achieving that ‘next level’ sound, but is also useful for more seasoned professionals who are looking for a processor that will give them a niche sound without toppling their CPU.

This plugin is just one of many out there. If you’re looking to expand your catalog, make sure to check out our plugins page for inspiration on what to experiment with next. 

KSHMR Essentials VST

Functionally fantastic, easy to use and get started with a number of features to enhance your sound. Try it and rent to own for only $4.99 per month.