Plug-ins are what make Pro Tools really versatile; you can do just about anything you're looking to do with good plug-ins, and using the right plug-ins can really make your recording project stand out.
Let's take a look at my top 5 picks for Pro Tools plug-ins. I've used all of these plug-ins; despite some being expensive, the difference they make in your recording quality is invaluable!
The Waves Restoration Bundle is a powerful group of plug-ins for Pro Tools that allows you to remove static, clicking, hum, and background noise from your recordings. The Waves Restoration Bundle is extremely easy to use; of course, there's also a depth of options for more experienced users. Sound quality is perfect upon restoration, and if tweaked properly, you'll hear little to no artifacts left over. Well worth the purchase if you're restoring vinyl to CD.
I first heard the Digidesign Smack! compressor plug-in being used on a Pro Tools-based VENUE system, and quickly got a copy for myself. It has a really foolproof algorithm for quality compression; beefing up drums like kick drum and toms make a great match for this plug-in. If you're looking for a great compressor with easy options, this is the one for you.
Let's face it: not all singers are perfect. One of the most frustrating things to do when working with clients is to retrack vocals endlessly trying to get the perfect take. While I don't always advocate it, Antares Auto-Tune is the perfect choice to add a little "bump" into perfect for less-than-perfect singers. It's also really easy to fix stray bass guitar notes and keyboard notes as well. Offering a variety of options and pre-sets, Auto-Tune is a great choice that helps you do the most important thing you can possibly do in a time crunch: save time!
The Waves SSL 4000 is considered by many mixing engineers as the top analog mixing console around. Now, Waves puts the SSL power on your desktop with the SSL 4000 channel strip plug-in collection. Along with downloadable presets by mix wizard Chris Lord-Alge (O.A.R., Dave Matthews Band), the SSL 4000 plug-ins give you analog warmth and legendary mastering quality in the digital domain. They're pricey, but they're likely the last plug-ins you'd need for mixing.
Getting a good bass sound can be difficult, especially if you don't have a selection of amps and heads for your bassists to record through. The Ampeg SVX puts the power of Ampeg's recording DIs, amplifiers, and heads in a digital package. It's not a replacement for true analog equipment, but this will get you close, on a budget way less than the latest bass gear will cost.