The $100 (or less) Audio Engineers Gift Guide: Software or Similar

Xmas is almost upon us! Are you ready? Are your friends and family ready? Do you have enough cheese to feed a small family for the next year?!

OK, that last one is optional - but what isn’t is someone knowing the things you need most this year. And you know what’s even harder than choosing presents for other people? Choosing what you actually need for yourself!

Well, good news! This week I’ll be giving you part 2, to the Gift Guide for Audio Engineers, but this time it’s all about software; that includes plugins, sample libraries, and more.

There’s quite simply 1000’s of products I could’ve put in this list, but I’ve decided to funnel it down to the few I quite literally use on a daily basis that (if you’re still struggling for ideas) you can link to someone looking for something meaning for you this year.

Let’s dive in!

Getgood Drums

Without a shadow of a doubt, these Drum Samples are used more than any other samples I’ve ever owned. Each library has its own flavor, vibe, style, and best genre fit, but they also work across the board which makes it very refreshing to add a fusion kit into say a pop punk record. My go to is usually the PIV or original Halpern Kit, both are under $100 and usable with the free version of Kontakt from Native Instruments.

Getgood Drums PIV Sample Library

But you may notice that this subheading isn’t specifying the sample libraries; oh no, I meant them as a company overall!

Smash And Grab From Getgood Drums

Not only do I use their libraries in 90% of my writing or productions, but I also use their Studio Cabs impulse response libraries (I can’t express how much I love the new Cali Oversized library, you all need that library in your lives), as well as the Smash And Grab Compressor on almost every session on at least 2 or 3 drum tracks out of the mix in its entirety - but i’d likely be able to do a full drum mix with just that plugin and their samples.

In any case, this company is a haven for not only quality software to produce with, but also a treasure trove of incredibly priced software for anyone this Xmas.

Omega 4 Pack from Kush Audio

Kush Audio is a saving grace for the up and coming engineer, as well as professionals alike. If you’re still yet to build your studio up and have a decent interface but are still left wanting on the preamps - the Omega Bundle has the answers you’re after.

Omega Transformer Bundle from Kush Audio

They’ve managed to crack the code in bringing analogue into the digital world better than many have done before by recreating the sound of Tubes and Iron Transformers like never before. Even today, I have both types of saturation in the physical form, and will often add these in the mix either on a bus, or simply to re-enforce the sound of the preamp I’ve already used. There’s various flavors that can really open your eyes up to a new world of ‘color’ when mixing and tracking the sessions you have simply by adding new saturation textures. They’re also wonderful to bring electronic instruments, like synths or pads, to life when you really push whichever Omega plugin you’re using to its limit and add a wide range of harmonics and depth you can’t achieve from many other plugins I’ve come across.

Korneff Audio

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, I’d expect you’ve likely seen me talk fondly of the Korneff Audio plugins available within their range. Admittedly, the Amplified Instrument Processor is out of the price range for this particular blog post, but not to worry; the Talkback Limiter and the Pawn Shop Comp both are well within the budget and are just as useful across any mix.

Talkback Limiter from Korneff Audio

The Talkback limiter has been a mainstay in my work for the last year especially, with it on everything from the drum bus or vocal bus, to directly on room mic pairs or texturizing instruments. As the description says, this original hardware unit was the secret trick up the sleeve of many engineers back in the 80’s for the huge sound they achieved as well as the intense attack and pump from mainly the kick and snare drum.

With the added features in this version however, you can tailor the distortion, bias of the circuit effectively lowering or heightening the threshold of the compressor, and lastly the lowpass roll off of the unit which is wonderful when paired with the mix knob to really dial in the right amount of both the effect of the unit.

If the extremeness of the Talkback limiter isn’t something you’re in need of however, you can always rely upon the Pawn Shop Comp. I’ve loved the sound of this unique compressor since it was first released, and I’m yet to find something it doesn’t add an instant vibe to, or a way to not use it on anything I reach to put it on.

Based of a blend of both FET and Vari-Mu compression, the Pawn Shop Compressor seeks to fill the gap in many engineers plugin arsenals by achieving any sort of compression you could possibly want within one unit, as well as adding various flavors and textures from the components on the back panel that can be switched out and replaced, such as the valve types, or the type of FET circuit.

Pawn Shop Compressor from Korneff Audio

However, arguably even more helpful than even the above features is the saturation that the plugin brings to the table. It has an internal preamp, which when coupled with the bias control, can add outrageous levels of saturation and instant mojo to anything it touches.

Valhalla Plugins

Valhalla are quite simply one of the best makers of effects plugins in the world. They never fail to bring excitement, immersiveness, and quality to any mix, as well as unmistakable sounds from all our favorite records past and present. My personal favorite is Valhalla Vintage Verb although if you’re looking for something that is slightly towards a more realistic sound, the Valhalla Room has many of the sounds you can achieve in Vintage Verb, but without the ageing effects.

There’s something for everyone in these plugins respectively, whether your need is creating a faux drum room, or a vocal chamber, through to synthwave tails on electronic textures or roaring guitar leads you can’t get out of your head.

VintageVerb from Valhalla Plugins

What's even better, is that on the website you can purchase a gift card at a minimum of $50 with a max of $300 allowing you to gift these wonderful plugins without hassle or fuss!