We use two separate Pro Tools Systems at home. We affectionately name my big studio at the end of the garden "The Mothership", my wife's studio in the house is called "The Small Rig". My wife uses a handful of IK Multimedia T Racks plug-ins along with some Pro Tools stock plug-ins which makes her Pro Tools plug-in folder on "The Small Rig" quite easy to navigate. The plug-in folder on the "Mothership" computer is a fair bit larger so when my wife uses "The Mothership" to finish off her mixes she always curiously looks over at me with a judgmental expression on her face as she asks "How many plug-ins do you have on this system?" That's a good question, one I have avoided answering because the answer will inevitably sprout more difficult questions:
How Many Plug-ins Do You Think You Have On Your Computer?
I'm a Pro Tools users so I'm only going to guess how many AAX plug-ins I have. Without checking, I believe I have in the region of 250 to 300 AAX plug-ins on my system. That includes both Pro Tools stock plug-ins and plug-ins from third-party developers.
How Many Plug-ins Are Actually On Your Computer?
Time to get the calculator out. I had to search through several folders on my operating system in order to get an exact plug-in count:
- Macintosh HD > Library > Application Support > Digidesign > Plug-Ins: Total 248 AAX plug-ins
- Applications > Waves > Plug-ins: 112 Waves Plug-ins
Total: 360 plug-ins
How Many Audio Plug-ins Do You Regularly Use In Your Mixes??
After completing the three tests you may find there's a disparity between how many plug-ins you think you have, how many you really have and how many you use. It's at this point you have to ask yourself when it comes to audio plug-ins am I amassing a collection that has little to do with my production needs.
Off the top of my head I reckon I only use about 30 plug-ins regularly in my mixing workflow. I could quite easily ditch all the Pro Tools stock plug-ins as I just don't use them... well, except EQ3 1-Band, that's a very useful tool. I would also not miss at least half of the Waves Horizon Bundle plug-ins as many are not to my taste.
At some point in the near future, I will do a big plug-in cull on my system as there really isn't any point in having a large list of plug-ins for the sake of it. Afterall, finding plug-ins quickly in Pro Tools' plug-in drop down menu isn't exactly a quick affair, I may as well streamline my plug-ins leaving only the tools I actually need - Watch this space.
What's your position on your plug-in collection? How many plug-ins do you think you have, what is it in reality? How many do you think you really need?