You’ve acquired your first audio interface and recorded some tracks in your DAW software, so you’re well on your way toward realizing your musical vision. When it comes time to put that final polish on your tracks and mixes, though, you may be less than inspired by the plug-ins provided within your DAW software. Adding a plug-in bundle to your production system is one of the fastest ways to open up new creative avenues and production possibilities. Let’s look at five of the best plug-in bundles for beginners.
Around Sweetwater, Soundtoys have been a favorite creator of plug-ins for decades — and among professional producers and engineers, as well. The Soundtoys 5 plug-in bundle offers 21 acclaimed plug-ins that are sure to take your mixes to a new level. Highlights include Decapitator, an extremely flexible analog saturation emulator that pros have long used to add body to kick drums; density to bass lines; and harmonic enhancement to acoustic instruments, and EchoBoy, one of the most comprehensive echo/delay plug-ins you’ll find. Tying it all together is the Soundtoys Effect Rack, which allows you to create custom effects chains and multi-effects configurations.
Waves CLA Vocals
If you are a singer/songwriter, work with lots of vocal samples, or record bands regularly, then you’ll be amazed at what the Waves CLA Vocals plug-in can do for your vocal tracks. Created in collaboration with Grammy Award-winning engineer Chris Lord-Alge, CLA Vocals organizes his preferred vocal processor settings in a comprehensive chain that can be quickly tweaked to suit any singer. Whether you’re working with a sultry jazz singer or an aggressive rock vocalist, CLA Vocals makes it easy to dial in the perfect balance of EQ, compression, reverb, delay, and pitch manipulation, all from a single interface.
Waves Diamond Bundle
Many audio engineers have relied on Waves plug-ins and little else to craft world-class mixes. The Waves Diamond Bundle has long been a favorite among beginners and pros alike, offering over 60 powerful plug-ins that cover practically every application you can think of. Processing tools like the L3-LL Ultramaximizer, Linear Phase EQ, MaxxBass, and C4 Multiband Compressor deliver pro-sounding results with sonic precision. Effects like the H-Delay Hybrid Delay, IR-L Convolution Reverb, and OneKnob Filter are perfect for elevating your mixes. And precision tools like the PAZ Analyzer and WLM Plus Loudness Meter give you the advanced analysis tools you need to deliver spot-on mixes for any format. If you’re looking to expand your options beyond your DAW’s built-in plug-ins, then the Waves Diamond Bundle is an amazing value.
FabFilter Essentials Bundle
Talk about efficiency — with just three plug-ins, the FabFilter Essentials Bundle gives you all the tools you’ll need for every project you work on. Sound shaping is provided by the Pro-Q 3 EQ plug-in, which offers a huge range of filter types, up to 24 EQ bands, and highly shapable EQ curves. Dynamics control is provided by the Pro-C 2 compressor/limiter plug-in, complete with advanced sidechain and routing options and your choice of mono, stereo, or mid-side processing. Finally, the Pro-R algorithmic reverb plug-in provides lifelike ambience, without unnatural coloration or phase issue, ideal for everything from small drum rooms to cavernous halls. Between their premium sound quality and delightfully comprehensive interfaces, you’ll look forward to using the FabFilter Essentials Bundle on every project.
IK Multimedia Total Studio 2 MAX Bundle
Combining advanced processing tools with a ton of virtual instruments and sample content, the IK Multimedia Total Studio 2 MAX Bundle is like getting a new set of tools, a new workbench, and a new workshop, all at the same time. In all, you get 94 individual products, covering most of everything IK Multimedia has ever made. That means you get all the content from acclaimed titles like AmpliTube, T-RackS, SampleTank, Lurssen Mastering Console, and many others. Beyond pro-level processors, you get a staggering amount of sounds covering orchestral, electronic, acoustic instruments, and more — a total of 43 virtual instruments, over 14,800 sounds, and 175GB of samples. You can use any individual plug-in on its own, or you can configure your own custom mixing and mastering chains for a faster, more personalized workflow. No matter what you’re doing with audio, you’ll find the advanced tools you need in the IK Multimedia Total Studio 2 MAX Bundle.
Equip Yourself for Success
One thing the world’s best producers and engineers have in common is that they use any and all tools they have available at the time to serve their music — there are no right or wrong choices (usually); and as this article makes clear, there are more audio tools available to beginning engineers than ever before. There’s a lot of different ways you can achieve the sound you’re chasing, and plug-in bundles like these aim to maximize the options you have at your disposal. If you want to elevate your mixes beyond where your stock plug-ins can take you but aren’t sure which is the best plug-in bundle for you, give your Sweetwater Sales Engineer a call at (800) 222-4700. We’re avid producers and mixing engineers ourselves, and we’re always happy to help you weigh the pros and cons of these or any other plug-in bundles.