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Cristian Valera shares his 5 favorite plugins and tools

Cristian Varela is acknowledged as one of Spain’s pioneering techno producers, and was one of the first underground Spanish DJ’s to receive international bookings when he started his career over two decades ago. Originally gaining DJ fame for playing experimental techno sets on four vinyl turntables, many do not realize Cristian Varela is also a successful composer, having even recorded a symphonic album at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London.

Techno is always evolving and like the genre, Cristian has moved with the times. He is always experimenting with new sounds, and today he shares with us some of his favorite tools and plugins.

1. ARTURIA ARP 2600 V3

It’s very difficult to make a decision because I love many plugins to create different styles of music but I will try my best. Before starting with my favorite EQs, Compressors Limiters and Analyzers for Mix & Mastering I want to start with some of my weapon synths to create original and effective sounds.

ARTURIA has an incredible package of synthesizers and Modular but the ARP 2600 V3 is one of my favorites to create experimental music and great sequences. It’s very interesting how you can combine the 3 oscillators with the voltage processors and LFOs. It reminds me of my old and loved Korg Ms20 but here you can find lots of new combinations.

The Chorus is beautiful, especially for basslines, but the great thing in the 2600 V3 is the sequencer and all the possibilities.


One of my best tricks for a precise mix surgery is the combination with these two amazing plugins when I am not in my main studio. I can find and adjust exactly all the frequencies like a musical surgeon. Spending a certain time and experimenting with both, I can reach some harmonics very interesting.

I like to automatize some of these frequencies giving movement there and after to use the WAVES-Mondomod to make flow everything across the stereo pan (be careful with the Anti-Phase here). I use sometimes also the Phat FX (Multi FX) or Autofilter from Logic for some atmospheres or even percussions to give these organic movements used especially for techno, and of course for films.

It’s very interesting the SSL EQ before the Manley but sometimes also the opposite because you find totally different and interesting combinations. Also with the Hi + Hi and Low + Low Cut Freq (combinating both plugins) sometimes you can find strange but beautiful harmonics, especially in the sub-low freqs.

3. MASTERING with UAD API 550A + 2500

This is a good combination between an effective EQ and his perfect brother Compressor-Limiter I like to use this chain just for a quick Mastering before to try my tracks in a DJ set but also because I can use it as a reference to try another EQs, compressors, and limiters from UAD and try different chains of Mastering and compare. The presets here are good if you don´t have too much time and you need quick and good results. If you have time to spend in the Mastering world I have better choices like PULTEC EQ, Teletronix Compressor, and Precission Limiter also from UAD.


In my opinion, this is one of the best compressors for any kind of music and instrument. Very easy to use but at the same time you have many ways to compress and you will find always a warm and elegant sound. Also, you can try with the versions LA-2A Grey and LA-2A Silver. Really interesting to compare between the 3.


As you know before a good mastering we need a proper mix to have the best results and here we have two different worlds. The other part of these worlds is to have the perfect Frequency Analyzer. In the past, I used so much the PAZ Analyzer from WAVES but actually I find very precise and visual the TR5 Metering.

We can find different meters (Precisión Loudness LUFS, Dynamic Range, PEAK and RMS) but also the spectrogram and real-time analyzer, Phase and Correlation. TR5 is amazing for a complete and visual understanding of a mix and mastering.

Cristian Varela’s ‘Code Five’ compilation is now available via Black Codes Experiments. Stream here

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