What plugins do I need to buy for my DAW?

Try before you buy!

Your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) already includes plug-ins - known as 'stock' or 'factory' plug-ins. You have already paid for these plug-ins in the price of the DAW! These plug-ins are a good starting point for learning, and you should try them out FIRST- before buying any commercial plug-ins!

Think of your DAW as if it was a car... Do you want to change the tyres, wheels, paint job, seats, tint your windows, drop the suspension, customise the engine timing, and change the steering wheel all at once? Or do you want to learn about the car itself and then decide what to customise? Remember that some commercial plug-ins are like 'furry dice'...

Don't I need extra plug-ins?

You have already paid for the stock/factory plug-ins that are included with your DAW. These are a good starting point, and until you know what they can do, then you will not know what you need to buy to extend or enhance your sound. If you don't understand what the stock/factory plug-ins do, then you might buy the equivalent of an expensive pair of furry dice...

If you have learned everything about the stock/factory plug-ins...

When you are familiar with what the stock/factory plug-ins actually do, then you will know what you want. It might be:

  • more presets,
  • more control, 
  • more functions, 
  • a better user interface
If you have explored what the stock/factory plug-ins can do, then you will know where they don't do exactly what you want. Make a note of what you want, and your budget. (because the people who sell plug-ins would like you to buy stuff you don't need, and to give them lots of your money!) For example:
  • Shimmer reverb
  • £/$/€ 50
Now is the time to look around! You can look at free plug-ins (search Google), or commercial plug-ins (search Google!). You can look at videos on YouTube and see what other people recommend.

Commercial plug-ins will try to get you to buy their 'even better' £/$/€ 59.95 version, but remember that this is an extra 20% over your budget! The £/$/€ 49.95 version is probably almost as good, and ignore the 'amazing!' £/$/€ 89.95 'Professional' version.

The best advice is: Don't buy yet! Wait until you know what you want, how much you have to spend, and then wait for special offers. At various times in the year, there will be 'once in a lifetime', 'super discount', 'disaster sale' pricing, and it is well worth watching these for a while so you can figure out when the best time to buy is. It might not be the next upcoming holiday: Black Friday, or Easter, or Spring, or Christmas. Instead, it might be their 3rd Anniversary, their founding day, a special 'Lockdown' discount. Take your time - the best deals come to those who know when to buy!

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