IK Total Studio 3 review

Posted: November 10, 2012 in Audio
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Total studio 3 bundle includes all effects plugins and instrument libraries/players from IK Multimedia (that is 47 GB).

After having used Roland COSM effects from XV5050 for 12 years (great at that time -not very usable sounds, few amps and cab models, however nice distorsion), then Logic’s AmpDesigner/Guitar AmpPro/pedalboard and free Podfarm (both digital sounding), and reaching nice custom presets with Rammfire (far more greater than base free Guitar Rig amps, that also sounded digital – except nice delays), I tried Amplitube 3 demo and trial gears from Custom Shop (2 days trial), and finally got Amplitube 3 full, Amplitube Metal and Amplitube Jimi Hendrix from Total Studio 3 bundle :

Amplitube 3 sounded analog/warm and real/various, and it also provides a great sounding digital reverb (Guitar Rig’s delays seemed better). Only routing and switching between editing screens (one for each element – pedals, amps, cabs, mix effects for both channels of the routing path) was less practical than with Guitar Rig (single screen with scrolling through gears), despite displaying clear channels paths.
It was still cheaper through the 200 euros (plus added 40 euros VAT for EU) special price for Total Studio Bundle than by having to buy elements from IK’s Custom Shop. However thanks to the 4 for 1 credits packs group buy we could select best amps, cabs and pedals from Amplitube Metal, then the remaining amps and cabs from other brands and/or collections (Fender, Marshall, Ampeg, Soldano, etc.). I then added a 45 credit pack (30 euros), that is 180 credits at that time.
I also tried Peavey’s Revalver plugin, whose I didn’t like the tone/color, while providing a somewhat more real sound (nice for lower range however thinner overall).

IK’s Classik Reverb (also included in the bundle) is stunning (and only 79 euros without the bundle) : the reverb succeeds in keeping the original signal’s strength at early stage (early reflections) – while enhancing the sound -, and reverb trails are very natural (editable modulation parameters). Moreover as it doesn’t use hybrid solution (convolution for early reflections – to provide space sense – and algorithm for reverb trails in order to produce natural space modulation), it requires less processor resources. There are 4 distinct units (hall, room, plate, reverse), that sound all great (and distinct) in their area. The cathedral hall preset is even better than Independance’s Origami convolution reverbs or still great Kontakt’s convolution ones.

TRackS Deluxe also provided great mastering effects (compressors, limiters).

IK Sample libraries however didn’reach quality (details and strength) found in Kontakt’s factory library or EastWest’s Colossus. There are many presets however they didn’t stand out. The SampleTank XL base factory however provides a stunning Full cathedral organ preset, that is complementary to Kontakt factory’s and Independance’s ones by adding Classik Studio Reverb. Electric organs also sounded great.

Expansion libraries add some usable electric bass and guitars (use IK’s amp technology, however they may sound better using Amplitube from a clean  preset). Drums sounds are reported to be great, however can’t compete with Toontrak’s Superior Drummer 2 or NI’s Studio Drummer. Overall it doesn’t reach YellowTools Independance’s sound quality (larger library however).

Miroslav Philarmonik also sounded thin compared with EastWest and VSL libraries. However, through its only 8 GB samples (then not one sample per note) woodwinds sounded interesting, also some portato brass and strings presets, strings and brass ensembles (using sligth vibrato for strings). The cathedral organ presets weren’t better than SampleTank ones.

SampleTron and SampleMoog sounds didn’t bring an interesting sound color, then requiring more editing/additional effects. However they may simply sound right relative to the originals.

Sonic Synth provides nice layered pads, however sample based presets don’t sound better than SampleTank libraries ones, being then redundant.

Since Total Studio 3 bundle special price ended, the effects bundle (not available) may be more interesting. IK is really better at effects modeling.

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