It was quite evident that Softube has really nailed the nonlinearities within each of the plugins, and they come close to competing with the quality of the best hardware DSP systems in a native package. Thankfully, some of the more CPU intensive plugins are also supported by UAD, which a plus for those with UAD DSP systems.
Despite the tremendous diversity of its offerings, I still felt a little restricted while using this bundle. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by the everyday practicality of Slate, but I just didn’t find myself returning to the bundle as much as I do to some of my old favorites.
While all the plugins sound amazing, they are often so niche-oriented that the full bundle lacks some of the workhorse versatility of the Slate bundle. I often found myself reaching for this bundle only when I was chasing a particular sound, not when I was just trying to simply EQ or compress.
To its credit, providing ordinary effects for ordinary sounds doesn’t seem to be the point of this bundle, though. Softube has traded a range of EQs and compressors in favor of more unique plugins like Heartbeat (an amazing drum machine), Fix Flanger (a realistic tape flanging effect), and the Drawmer S73 (a mastering grade multi-band compressor).
In addition to offering the roughly $2,000 worth of plugins included as a subscription bundle for $19.99 a month or $199.99 a year, Softube also offers this bundle as an outright purchase for just $499, and that seems to be the better value to me in the long run.
These are some fantastic plugins, even if they may not see the light of day in every single mix. Either way, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t check out the bundle for at least a month.
Even if buying here turns out to be the better value for you (you could buy the whole bundle outright for the same cost as 2.5 years of subscribing) starting with a brief month-to-month subscription seems like a great way to “try before you buy”.
Eventide is one of the most recognizable names in audio, so my interest was piqued when I heard they were taking a swing at the subscription model.
I had tried a couple of their plugins years ago, and they were decent at the time, but their latest offerings seem to be their best yet. They currently offer their Ensemble bundle for $29.99/month or $299.99/year, featuring over $1,800 worth of plugins.
Unsurprisingly, the “FX” plugins are the best of the bunch. While Eventide does include more general-use plugins like the E-Channel and the Ultra Channel, these plugins fall a bit below their other offerings here.
But where this bundle wins, it wins big. The most stand-out plugins here are Blackhole, Quadavox, and Octavox. Blackhole is one of the most amazing reverbs I have ever used. It ranges from subtle vocal plates, all the way to pad-like atmospheres. Whenever I need to do something in the realm of sound design with reverb, there is nothing quite like Blackhole.
Quadavox and Octavox (two of the newest plugins here) offer the famous Eventide Harmonizer sound in an intuitive and aesthetically-pleasing interface. Both plugins feel like H3000s on steroids. While they aren’t perfect solutions for generating false harmonies, they are some of the best out there, and well worth the price of the bundle alone.
If you’re shopping for some decent EQs and compressors, this is not the place to look. The EQs can feel a bit harsh compared to some of the better vintage emulations, and for me, the compressors often come off sounding either too light or way too hard, and both bring the appeal of the full bundle down somewhat. Still, the limitations here are mostly offset by the unique character and great value of their more forward-looking effects.
At $299/year it would take almost 5 years of subscribing to equal the cost of laying out the $1,450 for Eventide’s Anthology X Bundle ($1,000), plus the Blackhole ($200) and TVerb ($250) plugins that are not included in that package.
Though this isn’t a bundle I’d recommend for those who are just getting started, it does have a ton of tools to create unique-sounding effects for your productions. There isn’t anything out that sounds quite like Eventide. Check out a month for yourself to see what you can create.
Kush Audio is one of the more recent companies to jump on the subscription train, and I’m sure glad they have. Their OG Kush Complete Suite offers seven plugins (equaling over $850 in value) for only $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year.
While the advertised dollar value isn’t as high as some as the others on the list, they are easily worth double the asking price. Kush’s plugins are some of the most unique and best-sounding I have ever heard, and it’s rare that I mix or master without using at least one plugin from this bundle.
Trying out the bundle, I immediately gravitated towards the EQs included. The Electra EQ was amazing for dialing in the top end on snare drums, and the Clariphonic EQ was ideal for adding just the perfect touch of high end polish to an entire mix. However, I found myself going back to the Hammer EQ the most. Based on the hardware unit by A-Designs, the Hammer is a beautiful 3-band equalizer that just never seems to sound bad. This plugin can be pushed to extreme limits and still maintain a very musical characteristic.
Once again, this bundle does not offer the everyday versatility of the Slate bundle. Most of the plugins are focused on character and vibe, and less on utility functions. That’s not a bad thing, but much like Softube’s Volume 1, I didn’t find myself reaching for the Kush plugins to accomplish simple tasks.
Kush says that every new plugin released will be added to the bundle at no extra charge (much like Slate) and that more “High End Brands by Kush” will be added in the future. If you know anything about Sly–Fi Digital, then this should be exciting news.
For $9.99, it’s really hard not to try out these plugins. Thankfully, Kush even offers demos on each of these virtual devices so you can try them out before buying in. Regardless, I would still go pick up at least a month. You won’t be disappointed.
McDSP has been offering up plug-In subscriptions since November 2015 with their “All Access Plan”.
Their model runs $29/month or $295/year for all the plugins in Native format (or $49/month $495/year for HD systems).
In total, the bundle is worth a whopping $2,295 based on the already-discounted price of the native Everything Pack.
At this price point, the McDSP All Access Subscription offers one of the best values for money out of all the bundles here. Like with Slate’s subscription offering, it would take nearly a decade of leasing before buying becomes the better value.