FM8, Massive, Absynth, Spektral Delay, Reaktor, Guitar Rig, Battery.
Native Instruments (NI) have probably the best line up of software of all the big players in my own humble opinion and all of them (via the joys of Pirate Bay) have graced my hard drive at some point.
It’s so easy when stuff is free though to overlook what you have in your possession. There is a reason why these thing cost what they cost. They work flawlessly (at least in my own experience), they look good, it usually fairly obvious what does what in the UIs and by God they sound great!
The trap that one can fall into however is that you just preset browse away and don’t really try and get to know your softsynth. Too much choice, too easily gained breeds laziness.
I’d love to have the time to make spending £150 on one synth a sensible proposition because I could spend a few hours a day for weeks getting to know it intimately but that’s not the life I find myself living. There must be an argument that really all you need is one synth if you know it well enough to know how to make that sound you are thinking of. Diversity is a nice thing and how diverse you want your ‘sonic palette’ to be is very much down to the individual, but it isn’t an absolute must to make good music I don’t think.
This said, we all want more toys, more new shiny things to fiddle with. And because of that there are the vast array of choices that we find available to us today.
With all this I mind I wanted to make things right between me and the peeps at NI, I’ve used their stuff for ages and it was about time they saw some return for it. Again the ‘try before you buy’ ethos (partially) working.
I say ‘partially’ because all of their leading synths come in at roughly £150 and I don’t really have that to spend on one synth so the first thing I nabbed from them was the Komplete Elements package.
At about 40 quid this really is a steal. You get the Reaktor, Kontakt and Guitar Rig player in it (which are also all freely downloadable from the site)
But you also get some goodies above and beyond the standard freebie stuff which has all kept me entertained for well over a week now. The Kontakt player especially is awesome, “Lookameeee! Ima 50 strong string section of an orchestra!!” much fun and beautiful sounding. Oh and Reaktor.. wow.
On top of all this, you also get a £20 voucher against you next NI purchase.
So tempted as I was by all this loveliness and my previous dabblings with their stuff, yet with this enthusiasm tempered by lack of a lottery win I went back to our old friend eBay. I have heard said that NI are particularly good with their licence transfers and all second hand stuff should be good to go, hot to trot etc. The results are a mixed bag… and still ongoing…
Before I picked up ‘Elements’ I had gotten Guitar Rig 3 XE for £16 which is I suspect largely redundant because of the content of the ‘Elements’ package.
I got a copy of Absynth 3 for £50 and subsequently an upgrade box from version three to version four for £2.50. Yep.. £2.50!! However after 10 days of waiting it turns out the Absyth 3 guy actually double listed the item. Twit. So I am back in the bidding for A3 (once he returns my money of course). The more (but still not totally) successful purchase is a real find: Kore Electronic Experience. £59 + postage so not the cheapest but:
“Native Instruments KORE Electronic Experience consists of KORE PLAYER and seven KORE SOUNDPACKS. The library contains a vast arsenal of synthesizer and drum sounds generated by the integrated REAKTOR, MASSIVE, ABSYNTH, FM8 and KONTAKT sound engines as well as an unconventional effects pack for drastic sonic transformation of any kind of audio signal.”
Original value £170 but now discontinued. Only thing is, he is having trouble unregistering it because blah blah blah… should only be a delay not a deal breaker though so fingers crossed.
The fourth of my NI items is a possibly grey area but I think I’ll allow it withing my going straight ‘rules’: Spektral Delay, I’ve loved this for years, a really unique delay that split up the signal to many many eq bands (I think) and then messes with the bands in different ways. I used to run it ‘cracked’ or whatever but I’m now running it in demo mode which introduced noise into the signal after half an hour. I rarely spend half and hour on one single element so hurrah. The NI Service Centre doesn’t seem to have a problem with it running as a demo so… (I did still have to get the demo from PirateBay mind you, because the product is discontinued now.
So all in all, second hand software? Be prepared for some frustration but also be prepared I think to find some bargains and as long as you don’t mind a dented product box then the products itself is always going to be ‘as new’.