There aren’t too many developers with a stable of software instruments, effects and content big enough to offer a truly massive “mega bundle” option. Native Instruments leaps to mind, but IK is right up there too, with many years’ worth of software products making up its increasingly diverse product family. Total Studio 3 MAX is its latest all-in-one bundle, priced at 899.99 Eur, but as you’d expect, representing a significant saving over buying even a fraction of the content in separate stages. A saving, according to the site, of almost 100,000 Eur!
IK is slightly unusual in that it has a relatively smaller number of flagship software products, but it has an awful lot of content and “packs” for those products. So what your purchase is getting you here is not loads of separate instruments, but all or virtually all of the content as well as the instruments. It’s safe to assume that if you are considering getting this, you’re not just after one or two of the things it offers.
IK’s new Product Manager is the hub for registering your serial, whereupon all the instruments and other applications included in the bundle will show up as available to download. There’s such a huge amount of content here - over 450GB were you to install everything - that it’s useful to be able to download apps individually. Most people will probably do it all online, though a USB drive version is also available for a little extra at 949.99 Eur.
Happily, registering your serial number pre-unlocks all the various collections, which can be downloaded individually from the Product Manager app. This varies slightly by app so for example Amplitube 5 comes with all the modules and preset collections (Brian May, Slash etc) ready to go. Presets that have been added to collections after you installed and registered (if you already owned one of the apps) appear as downloadable links under the Presets tab of the product in the Product Manager. In the case of SampleTank and Syntronik, sound sets must be downloaded manually. This is the optimum way to do it to avoid cluttering up your hard drive.
So let’s get to what’s included. To begin with, what’s new since version 2 of this bundle. Amplitube 5, the guitar processing suite, is first and has 4 new collections - Brian May, Joe Satriani, Dimebag Darrell CFH and the Leslie. SampleTank 4 MAX has over 260GB of content and 8000 instruments plus 8 new libraries covering keyboards and specific genres like reggaeton and synthwave. MODO Drum is next, then Syntronik Deluxe, with 5 new synths - VCF3, Memory-V, M-Poly, SH-V and Modulum. T-RackS 5, the mastering suite, adds 7 new plug-ins covering tape machines, space delay, Leslie and reverb effects.
You get ARC System 3, IK’s acoustic room correction software and plug-in, as well as the Hammond B-3X tone wheel organ. MixBox gives you a virtual rack of 500-series style plug-ins for mixing and 70 excellent processors for mixing.
In terms of the stuff that was in version 2 that’s of course still included in version 3, you’ll find Miroslav Philharmonik 2, a vast orchestral library instrument, MODO Bass, a hugely customisable virtual bass instrument with advanced modelling, MODO Drum and the Lurssen Mastering Console, a self-contained mastering chain developed by a Grammy Award-winning mastering engineer.
So IK has really pushed the boat out here in terms of the range of stuff on offer. It’s a one-stop shop for all the parts of the creative production process from programming the sounds themselves - keyboards, basses, guitars, drums, synths and all manner of combinations inside SampleTank - to processing and mixing them - AmpliTube and MixBox - and then mastering your finished products with T-RackS or the Lurssen Mastering Console. To top it off, the ARC software will also help you to calibrate your room and monitoring setup for optimum results. If you just add a DAW, you have everything you need to make music from start to finish.
The pricing is sensible too, considering the sheer breadth of content that’s included. Of course I don’t expect anyone ever really buys every product individually - in this case for 100,000 Eur - but nonetheless this is under 1/10 of that cost. Even if you aren’t too worried about one or two of the sound or preset packs, preferring others, you’ve still saved a huge amount on building your library up in stages. There is also, it must be noted, a more streamlined version of the bundle on offer, if your needs are more specific. Total Studio 3 SE costs 399.99 Eur and comes with 25 products as opposed to MAX’s 124, 3936 instruments instead of 14,683 and 110GB content instead of 445GB. You’ll find a detailed comparison of the two bundles here.
The MAX bundle gives you an incredibly solid set of tools for all stages of the production process. The instruments like MODO Bass and Drum are excellent, beautifully designed and very customisable. Syntronik with its multiple synth models is rich and great-sounding. AmpliTube provides everything a guitarist or bassist could need, and SampleTank is a multi-instrumental workstation in its own right, with layering, mixing and much more. Miroslav Philharmonik covers all your orchestral needs and the Hammond is great for blues and jazz players.
MixBox is a fantastic catch-all set of processors for mixing in any DAW, and Lurssen and T-RackS provide the finishing touches. All throughout there’s both amazing, carefully crafted presets and easy customisability of virtually everything. If you can’t find the tools you need here, for working in virtually any genre of music, then you probably won’t find them anywhere.
Price: 899.99 Eur full price. Upgrade from TS2 MAX 499.99 Eur. Upgrade from other IK products 599.99 Eur. Total Studio 3 SE 499.99 Eur.
Pros: Vast collection of sounds, instruments and collections. Everything you need from playing through mixing to mastering. Huge saving over individual purchases. Instruments are fun and intuitive to use, but powerful. Tons of FX. Everything sounds great.
Cons: On the off chance you only need a few of the products, individual purchases will be cheaper.