7 of the Best Music Production Plugin Bundles on the Market
Many plugin manufacturers bundle their products together and offer them at a discounted price. Some plugins are quite expensive on their own, which makes identifying quality plugin bundles essential if you want to save money. I’ll be providing you with an overview of 7 of the best plugin bundles on the market so that you can decide for yourself which bundle suits your needs most appropriately.
Waves has been around since 1992, and over almost 30 years they’ve developed a massive collection of plugins. The Waves Horizon bundle brings together over 75 different plugins that include creative effects, as well as mixing and mastering tools.
This isn’t Waves’ largest plugin bundle, but I think it provides tremendous value to music producers and audio engineers at a very competitive price. If you’ve been mixing with stock plugins and you’re looking to upgrade to third-party software, Waves Horizon is my recommendation. It takes a while to sort through everything included in the bundle, but once you do, you’ll realize that there’s an assortment of processing available at your fingertips.
I use plugins like Waves’ Bass Rider, CLA-76, Linear Phase EQ, MV2, Renaissance Bass, S1 Stereo Imager, SoundShifter, TrueVerb, and Vocal Rider in plenty of mixes that I work on; all of which are included in Waves Horizon. This plugin bundle will help ensure that you almost always have the right tool for the processing task at hand. Check out "The 7 Best Waves Plugins on the Market" for more recommendations.
Native Instruments Komplete 12 Ultimate - Collector’s Edition includes 150+ products, more than 90,000 sounds, and over 900 GB of content. This plugin bundle includes orchestral and cinematic instruments, synthesizers, multi-sampled instruments, drums and percussion instruments, effects, and expansion packs.
Komplete 12 has become somewhat of an industry standard product when it comes to virtual instruments. Most DAWs are extremely limited in the number of virtual instruments they offer, and the quality is rarely acceptable for professional use. If you need to expand the number of sounds that you have access to, Native Instruments’ Komplete 12 Ultimate - Collector’s Edition is calling your name.
Some of the most notable products included with this bundle are Kontakt, Reaktor, FM8, Razor, Massive, Battery, and Guitar Rig. All of these products integrate nicely with Native Instruments hardware like Maschine and Komplete Kontrol. By navigating the menus on the LED displays of these hardware units, you’re able to get away from your computer screen and create music more organically.
Komplete is available in 5 different versions. The contents of each version scale along with the price, so you may not need everything included in the Collector’s Edition initially. There’s Komplete Start (Free), Komplete Select ($199), Komplete 12 ($599), Komplete 12 Ultimate ($1,199), and Komplete 12 Ultimate - Collector’s Edition ($1,599).
iZotope’s Music Production Suite 2 provides you with 30 products that can assist from the recording process of a song, all the way through to the mastering process. The products included in this bundle are Vocal Synth 2, RX 7 Standard, Nectar 3, Neutron 3 Advanced, Ozone 8 Advanced, Tonal Balance Control, and Insight 2. Many of these plugins contain various modules that can apply different forms of processing to your signal.
Some of these iZotope plugins allow you to perform automatic processing by running the device’s “Assistant” algorithms; it listens to your audio and provides custom signal processing chains with the selected tool’s built-in modules. A majority of a song’s mix relies on quality arrangement and sound design, but if you’ve got that down, these automatic tools can help a lot. The beautiful thing about the automatic processing features is that they’re optional, and each plugin still provides you with a surplus of precision control.
Each product included in this bundle has a clearly defined task that it excels at. Performing audio repair? Use RX7. Need mixing tools? Use Neutron. Want to start mastering your own music? Use Ozone. These are all-in-one solutions to otherwise complex problems that require a variety of plugins from different manufacturers to solve. By saying this, I don’t want you to think this means that iZotope products aren’t powerful; they absolutely are. iZotope also does an excellent job of providing educational content via their YouTube channel, so if you own their plugins, it’s easy to learn how to use them.
FabFilter products are known for being clean, precise, and excellent at surgical processing. The Total bundle focuses on quality, not quantity. It doesn’t consist of as many mixing/mastering plugins as some of the other bundles on this list, but it includes a powerful set of the fundamental mixing/mastering tools you’ll need in most situations.
The thing I like about FabFilter products is that they’re easy to operate, they all have a friendly GUI, and the results they produce lean on the side of transparency. The highlights from this bundle include the Pro-Q 3 (EQ), Pro-C 2 (compressor), Pro-MB (multi-band compressor), Pro-DS (de-esser), Pro-G (gate), Saturn (saturator), Pro-R (reverb), and Pro-L 2 (limiter). These plugins are predictable in the way they apply processing, which makes them reliable problem-solving tools.
Analog modeled plugins may be somewhat limited in the number of controls they provide, but since FabFilter has plunged headfirst into digital waters and hasn't ventured in analog modeling, their plugins include all the bells and whistles. They do a great job of updating their plugins as well, which helps them stay extremely relevant. The recent Pro-Q update brought external sidechain triggering along with dynamic EQ nodes.
Universal Audio is a rather unique company because their plugins make use of the digital signal processing (DSP) provided by their audio interfaces and other hardware. This reduces the strain on your computer’s CPU and allows you to run projects with a potentially massive number of plugins. The cost associated with buying into the UAD line of products is quite high in comparison to other plugin bundles (due to the hardware), but the quality of the plugins is unmatched.
If analog modeled plugins are something you’re interested in, Universal Audio creates some of the best emulations of vintage hardware units that I’ve heard. Plenty of plugin companies create analog modeled plugins, but very few companies actually succeed in capturing the sound and feel of the original units. If you search up plugin vs. hardware comparisons on YouTube, you’ll find that UAD plugins often sound indistinguishable from their analog counterparts.
Another big bonus that comes along with buying a Universal Audio interface is their Console software. It allows you to apply pre-amp emulations and other plugins to your input signal before it reaches your DAW. By baking processing into your recordings on the way into your DAW, you can save a tremendous amount of time once you begin mixing. If you’ve always dreamed of owning a hardware studio, but don’t have the budget, Universal Audio provides a convincing alternative at a fraction of the cost.
All 21 of Soundtoys’ plugins apply raw, natural, and organic sounding effects. Non-linear processing is what Soundtoys is all about, which makes infusing your songs with analog vibes a breeze. All of their plugins can be used within a mixing context, but I like to think of them more as creative effects and sound design tools; the two processes lean on one another, so they aren’t entirely detached.
Some of my personal favorite plugins from this bundle include EchoBoy (delay), Decapitator (saturator), Little AlterBoy (vocal formant and pitch shifter), Crystallizer (pitch shifting granular reverse echo), and Radiator (saturator). If truly unique audio processing is what you’re looking for, Soundtoys will deliver it like no other.
The Soundtoys 5 bundle includes a component called Effect Rack that you’re able to load individual Soundtoys effects into; this lets you save custom Effect Rack processing chains. You’re also able to control the Dry/Wet knob within Effect Rack to manipulate the blend between input signal and processed signal.
Slate Digital offers a subscription-based bundle for $14.99/month called Virtual Mix Rack (VMR) which they’ve dubbed “the analog channel strip of your dreams.” It contains various emulations of analog gear that you can quickly create custom channel strips with. Since this bundle is subscription based, you don’t need to worry about paying for product updates like you do with some of the other companies on this list; all upgrades are included with your subscription.
If you’ve picked up on it by now, analog modeled processing is all the rage. The interesting part about this is that although many digital processing tools sound similar to each other, analog modeled devices sound vastly different from one another. Collectively, each plugin company has developed an overall sound based on the emulations they decide to create. When selecting a plugin to use, I first think of which company provides the sound I'm looking for, and I then focus in on a specific product.
Music production requires a healthy initial investment to get up and running, but at a certain point, you need to start managing your finances and spending less than you make through music-related revenue streams; this is the only way you can make money with your music. If you’re bringing in just $20/month via Spotify streams, that’s enough to pay for your Slate subscription and avoid taking a loss on your music production hobby. Forking over hundreds of dollars at once for a plugin bundle isn't all that fun, so it's good to know that you at least have options.
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