Plug-ins. From the ridiculous to the ridiculously expensive…

At the workshop on the weekend I gave a quick overview of writing music with the inbuilt instruments in Pro Tools. We didn’t really have time to explore the world of 3rd party software, so I thought I’d post a few resources for RTAS and VST plug-ins.  These plug-ins are often cross-platform, mac or pc, and whatever program you are using to write music there will be something useful, or at least quirky and fun.

First up is kvraudio, the grandaddy of plug-in sites. Basically if a plug-in exists, then it is on KVR somewhere. This is my favorite place to find whacked out sound creating (and destroying) tools.  There is an unusually useful site search engine here, which can be tweeked to show only free or unreleased plug-ins. Because of this site I was inspired (or fooled) into setting myself the challenge of writing for a kids TV series using only weird and wonderful sounds. I failed of course – but glitch , nutseq, polyiblit and drumatic were the soundtrack to my life for a while.

Cheap and blippy is not to your taste? Fancy yourself as the next Stravinsky? Then have a listen to the ‘Rite of Spring’ made using the Vienna Symphonic Library. Believe it or not, this is entirely programmed on a bunch of fast computers, using the VSL’s enormous, gigantic, huge, monstrously expensive sample library.  How big? Well the largest, most expensive version has over 1 million samples, on 42 DVDs. For the cost of a small car (about $15,ooo AUD) you can have virtual versions of pretty much every single orchestral instrument ever made.  The funny thing is – compared to actually recording a real orchestra of top players, or event the cost of a single good violin, 15k is a bargain.

Obviously, meticulously sampling real musicians is an expensive business, but there are some much cheaper sample libraries out there, like the Miroslav Philharmonik collection. If you hunt around you can find it for 1% of the price of the VSL monster collection, and its definitely not 99% worse.

Before you go installing the lastest crazy find – please remember that some of these freeware plug-ins can be …unpredictable…and its worthwhile taking note of what you’ve installed,  so you can trash it later just in case.

Happy plug-in hunting!

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