With many plugins come great opportunities. Plugins, for those unaware, are akin to cooking spices. Each one has a different flavor to add to your dish. Say you got this basic track going, drums – bass – vocal – maybe a keyboard – and guitar, cool? Adding a plugin depends on which one can change the track dramatically or subtly based on your choice.
“Stock” plugins are built-in with the price of admission to use your DAW. Thinking back to my cooking example, these plugins are your basic salt and pepper. Here is a really good article you can check out if you want to learn more about your DAW’s plugin format from Renegade Producer. The link will be at the bottom of this post. Some of the best examples I can give for what a stock plugin looks like in Logic X Pro match Equalizers and Multiband, they are easy to use and effective.
Besides stock, you can always go out and purchase plugins. Not all, but many of these are clones of outboard gear, tapes, preamps, or amps like the Suhr PT100 for example. They offer a way to work with iconic equipment in the box for a smaller price than the original hardware. These purchased plugins can bring even more flavors to the table – bring out that hot sauce baby!
The names that often get thrown around are Fabfilter, Soundtoys, Waves, and UAD, I would advise that the larger the price tag is doesn’t necessarily mean the best quality is guaranteed. If you are just starting out or are a student producer and have some spare cash I’d recommend the following.
Now unless you got the cash or catch a really good sale you’re looking at spending a lot. While I would highly recommend learning the basics on when to best implement reverb on those pipes of yours ( or friends ) on stock, I can’t say to go on a shopping spree and end up not understanding how they work and burning that hole in your wallet at the same time. As best as I could explain or a youtube guide could show its best with trial and error, cultivating your preferences and that unique flow that only you can.
*End note* if you really want to shell out for premium plugins I’ll let you on a secret… If you got that student ID on you can save massive amounts!! Acustica, Avid, Native, Soundtoys, Waves, FL, Fabfilter, and Ableton all have student discounts. Remember that Antares Auto-Tune I mentioned? You can get it close to 50% off with this academic link- https://identit-e.com/antaresaudiotech