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Nomad Factory (www.nomadfactory.net/index.html) is best known for its high-end tube emulation effects, but Liquid Bundle II ($187) is a well-balanced collection, with crisp, clear sound and just about everything except a good equalizer—the compressor and delay are superb, the modulator deep and soulful, and the strain on your CPU is minimal.
German creative genius Urs Heckman (www.u-he.com) makes a highly advanced delay processor called MFM2 (More Feedback Machine 2), and it’s the very first plug-in we turn to for putting things in deep, dark caverns or in the middle of a star about to go nova. If you want a single plug-in that goes from simple ambience and reverb to some of the most insane, spacey, spicy delay effects ever imagined in this part of the universe, look—and listen—no further than MRFM2. For $79, it’s a steal.
Catch This Wave, Brah
Wave Arts Power Suite 5 won’t hog processor power, we promise!
Even though it’s on the high end of the price spectrum ($600), we have personally come to rely on the Power Suite 5 bundle from Wave Arts (www.wavearts.com), a collection of world-class equalization, dynamics, and reverberation plug-ins that packs an awesome degree of pro-quality power in an extremely attractive package. MasterVerb 5 might be the best reverb for under a grand, and it’s amazing how little CPU power it uses to work its mojo. If you want to save some cash, consider the $99 TrackPlug 4 channel strip plug-in, which presents a serious challenge to Metric Halo’s ChannelStrip for GarageBand. You can also pick up MasterVerb 4, a version earlier than the one in the suite, for $99, easily the best bang for the buck for adding “air” to vocal and instrumental tracks.
The ilLogic of Logic
When Apple lowered the price of the Logic Studio bundle to $499, it sent shock waves throughout the music software industry, and for good reason: The sheer quantity and quality of the synths, effects processors, and music loops included with the package is really astounding—terrifying if you’re a third-party plug-in developer. If we consider that the single softsynth in the bundle—Sculpture—would easily sell for $200 by itself, the gravity of the situation becomes clear: If you tried to assemble a third-party collection of instruments and effects to match what comes with Logic Studio Pro, you’d easily have to spend thousands of dollars. Toss in the Apple Jam Packs ($99 each, available for GarageBand, bundled with Logic Studio Pro) and you’re up to $400 on just those, if purchased separately. It comes down to simple math: If you’re considering investing more than a few hundred dollars in plug-ins for GarageBand, it makes sense to upgrade to Logic Studio Pro, with the understanding that there’s a considerable learning curve involved in getting up to speed (but Logic can indeed import GarageBand projects). Logic Express is $199, but frankly, we’d recommend skipping it and going right to the Pro bundle.
We do have one bone to pick with Apple though—If we buy Logic Studio Pro and install it on the same Mac as GarageBand, why can’t we access Logic’s instruments and effects from inside GarageBand?