Shell's music + production sale review => why NOW could be the BEST time to step in!
I'm gonna say this one more time: I called it (more or less), and it is happening! 😎 In case you haven't heard (?): Native Instruments & iZotope have now officially joined forces together and are now offering one HECK of a deal: Komplete 13 bundled together with iZotope's Music Production Suite 4.1, two products one price. This is HUGE, but I'm not just gonna tell you that, I want to show you why I think this way. See, what do you get in this bundle? Why is this such a big deal according to some (people such as me anyway 😉).
Each to their own, and with all due respect, but I looked at the YouTube video which is carried by both YouTube channels (NI & iZotope) and although it was very entertaining I also thought it was a bit confusing and... maybe slightly misinforming? I dunno, but leaving such a producer with the request to turn in his material as raw as possible almost made me wonder.... are they trying to make it look as if iZotope is best used after the facts?
Either way... Here's my take on the whole thing.
This could be the best time to step in!
When it comes to sound and sound quality then I think it goes without saying that Komplete is definitely a force to be reckoned with, and it has been for a long time now. When I jumped onto the Live bandwagon in 2010 (Live 8 Suite with Max for Live as a separate purchase) I also wanted a bit more variation which I got thanks to Reason. Many of my friends wondered about that choice because Komplete was the common way to go. Eventually I did add Komplete Elements 7 (awesome package!) to my setup and that was the beginning of the end for me.
We've come a long way and right now we're at 13 which isn't as unlucky as you may think.
So, Komplete... a huge collection of instruments & effects which basically provide you with a little something from everything. From the cheerful and warm sounds of the Carribeans right down to blowing up speakers with heavy metal... it's all here and possible.
I'm sure we all know Komplete around here so I'm going to keep this a little bit short by just going over some of my absolute favorite parts of Komplete (note: while I own UC myself I'm making sure to only focus on Komplete 13, no more & no less!):
Sure, this critter is OLD. I know because I bought it individually back in 2013 or 2014 (too lazy to look it up) and boy was it worth it. Absynth was worth it back then, and it's still worth it right now (time of reading! 😊). Pads (OMG, those pads), scapes, leads, percussion, bass, plucks, vocals (?!!).... Move over kids, grandpa Absynth has something to show you! 😎
Electric Sunburst (!!)
Remember me mentioning heavy metal (implying hardrock) above? Yeah... so about that... 😎
Now, don't get me wrong here.. Electric Sunburst is all about electric guitars but trust me: you don't have to put 'm through a note grinding distortion but if you want to (like I do!) you can! If you enjoy electric guitars then you're going to love this IMO. This is a huge personal favorite of mine.
Which also brings us to Kontakt, the sampler environment within Komplete. Playing sample based instruments, customizing sample based instruments (beyond recognition?) or even creating your own sample based instrument(s). Kontakt has you covered!
And Komplete has you covered, you get a lot of awesome sample based instruments here! India, Middle East, Analog Dreams (!), Ethereal Earth (!!),
No, not any Reaktor instrument (though there are some awesome ones included with Komplete as well (be careful though because Native Instruments is giving you The Finger with Komplete! (sorry, sorry, sorry!! 😲))... but it's true! 😏).
I'm talking just Reaktor, nothing more, nothing else. Build up or assemble your own instruments and / or effects and then use 'm within your setup. One of the key elements to get noticed is to stand out a bit. And what better way is there than to apply your own fully custom sounds and/or effects? Hard? Studying? Theories?! DUDE! No?! Reaktor doesn't have to be that hard, you can even build up an instrument through dragging & dropping (shown above), and I hope you do realize that those beloved electric guitars of mine came to life because people just "went" for it, without even really knowing what they were doing but... it sounded cool!
Now... to be honest I don't think I'm doing Komplete justice here but at the same time I'm also convinced most of us heard this whole spiel by now. But for those who haven't... imagine the Titanic... now imagine that iceberg that they hit. Then imagine a snowball hitting you. The snowball is what you see above. The iceberg is what awaits you within Komplete, but don't worry: you won't sink!
Let's enhance our sounds!
"Why would I need Ozone? I'm not mastering anyway, lol!"
"Isn't mastering seriously difficult?"
"One size fits all? Errr, yah, NOPE!"
All honest comments I picked up from various places and all true in my opinion, well.. maybe not fully but at least understandable. When you talk iZotope most people talking Ozone (9) and that suite is all about mastering, right? Why would you buy a mastering bundle if you're not going to master your score yourself anyway?
Well.... So first.. who said that Ozone was only about mastering? Sure it has that reputation, and we all (?) believe it but seriously.. mastering only? I think not!
Let's take my above screenshot.. here I am playing Electric Sunburst (FTW!) with my Push and I added the Ozone 9 Exciter, I used the "Forward Center" preset. Then I added the Ozone 9 Imager which is an awesome tool (IMO anyway) for both visualizing your score as well as softly "tuning" it (notice the EQ section at the top?). Please take special note of the Vectorscope?
See, while this whole setup may look mighty spectacular it actually isn't! This is subtle as heck, but I can tell you that if you disable the exciter you are going to notice this in your score. A completely fabricated score by Sunburst I might add....
Ozone isn't only about mastering, it's also about enhancing your scores! And you can see one subtle (and simple) example right here. It gives you tons of effects: dynamics, equalizers, limiters and even balance control. And those can and will make a different, if you want to...
So here we have Sunburst again. I picked the default Ibiza preset but sent it through a rock sound compactor to give it extra distortion and a rough metal sound. Then I added the Ozone 9 EQ and you can see the results above. Although I am definitely an advocate for "trust your ears, not your eyes" it's hard to ignore the extensiveness of that EQ in my not so humble opinion.
What goes before mastering?
So... what we're looking at: Ableton Live (obviously) in which I loaded Maschine. Within Maschine I loaded my all-time favorite 808 kit (I love that group preset, so darn versatile!) but this time I also "Ozone'd" it: the Ozone 9 (vintage!) limiter on the group channel and the imager (as mentioned earlier) on the master channel; above you see the limiter (bottom left corner) from Maschine. THEN I added the Ozone Balance Control onto Live's master track but pointed its attention to my Imager VST within Maschine, all while within Live (any headaches yet? 😉).
Let this sink in... I am adding percussion to my Live setup using Maschine in which I am using Ozone's limiter + imaginer. I then add Ozone's balance control to my Live (!) master track, point its attention to Maschine BUT.... master track anyone? Remember my metal setup with Sunburst? That audio is also coming through the master channel and will also be picked up by balance control. Resulting in... a solid recommendation on how to combine both audio streams and let them interact through both stereo audio channels. Where in my example the emphasis lies on Maschine's percussion.
Did you ever have issues with mixing? Could you imagine how this setup could help with that? ;)
So why is this deal so special?
While Ozone may have its reputation of being a mastering tool it can honestly do a whole lot more, some of which I demonstrated above. And... NKS support anyone? There is a reason why I am pretty much always using Imager within Maschine: I can fully control the critter from my Maschine (Mk3) controller. Ozone is NKS compliant, and it shows.
Sure, you "only" get the standard within this deal but really... is "only" getting Komplete really all that bad? There honestly isn't that much difference between Standard or Advanced and this critter had all the potential to add, enhance and maybe even fix your score. Nothing like seeing a suite fixing your stuff while you didn't even realize there was something to fix! (come on... surely we've all been here once: recording and setting up the "perfect" score, then noticing massive clipping and distortion?).
Trying to do a remix with stuff from the 80's but your source material just isn't good enough (talking about audio quality, not personal preference)... Yah, if that shoe fits then RX9 may be the polish you need.
Sounds sweet, right? That's because it is!
While the focus is fully on vocals this suite can do a whole lot more. Still... I have to mention Melodyne because that VST is a beast on its own. But please.. think out of the box here. Who claims that breath control can only be applied to vocals?
Oh... and since we're on the subject... Vocalsynth? Trust me: this can even help enhance material from Kontakt!
Jimmy says hi! 😄
I do apologize for applying personal favoritism ((artificial) vocals will always hit a soft spot with me and I tell you: Harmor (feet Veela) + Vocalsynth... = awesomeness (don't get me started on SoundIron's Vocal Suite 2!)).
Having said that.. now imagine a compressor, equalizer, exciter, sculptor and shaper which will go beyond whatever you already have! For the simple reason that these plugins can connect, like I already demonstrated above. So many people think "Ozone" when hearing iZotope but totally overlook Neutron! (I blame Jimmy! 🙄).
Just when you thought you knew all about reverbs then the big red drop hits you!
Think reverb, think 3D (not surround!), then add this gizmo to your setup and... live out your fantasies?
Everything you read above is based on personal experience. See... a few years ago I had some savings to use and spent the whole of it on my audio passion. Push, Maschine, upgrades but also Ozone and RX8.. there's a very good reason why I am so excited about this new bundle.
If you're just starting... if you already have a nice DAW but are still thinking about adding something "more" to your setup then I honestly cannot think of a better time to step in than now. Native Instruments (= sound quality) + iZotope (= sound enhancement) is... - IMO - the power combo which is hard to ignore.
Komplete + Ozone + Neutron + RX9 Standard = all the tools you need for professional results!
(and that's me ignoring a ton more tools as well!)
Do with that as you will, but... these are special times.
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