Stock plugins are plugins that come pre-installed in your digital audio Workstation. They are part of the complete package that you purchase.
Almost every DAW comes with it’s own stock plugins that are available to the user and basically give a glimpse of the overall functionality of the DAW.
Some music producers do use stock plugins but it can be rare because most choose to install and use their preferred third party plugins due to added functionality that can be utilized, however for more basic plugin effects and instruments, it usually makes no difference whether stock or third party plugins are used. Therefore you’ll find that most music producers will go for stock plugins rather than spending money on third party ones.
When would producers use stock plugins
There are a number of situations in which a music producer may choose to use stock plugins. Let’s get into them to have an understanding of the logic behind this.
To Avoid Costs
One of the reasons why most producers, especially beginners, that don’t have a lot of money to invest in digital equipment use stock plugins is to avoid the costs of purchasing third party plugins.
Digital Instrument and Effect plugins are some of the most pirated software on the internet, this has made most manufacturers of Plugins up their prices so they can avoid incurring losses due to piracy.
This has made worthy plugins expensive, and they usually have a subscription based payment system used as a counter-measure against piracy.
Therefore sticking to stock plugins can save you money that would otherwise be spent on plugin purchases.
When the effect or instrument is basic enough
Not all effects or instrument plugins perform complex work. For example most EQ plugins serve the same basic function.
Therefore a $1000 EQ plugin will perform the same basic function that a free EQ plugin would. Granted some features would be different but the overall principles of cutting and boosting frequencies would be the same on both plugins.
In situations like these, a music producer can simply choose to use a stock plugin because it would perform just as well as a third party plugin would.
To save on RAM and CPU Usage
Another reason why producers may choose to work with stock plugins is to reduce any strain on the CPU that may be a result of third party plugins.
Most third party plugins may draw up a lot of your processing power and memory, as a way to avoid this, you can swap them out with stock plugins.
To avoid malfunction when the plugin is gone
The problem that comes with using third party plugins is that your sessions may malfunction and fail to completely open, when the plugin is accidentally lost or deleted.
As a way to avoid this, producers may choose to use stock plugins in order to avoid any malfunctioning that may come as a result of the plugin being lost or corrupted.
Another reason why producers may choose to use stock plugins is to make it easier for them to share the sessions with other producers without having to worry about whether the person has the plugins used in the session or not.
What Plugins do producers use?
There are a variety of plugins that producers use, let’s get into some of the common ones.
Synthesizers are some of the most common plugins used in music production nowadays. Most people are using synthesizers because of their synthesis abilities that allow the user to design their own sounds.
Multi Instrument Plugins
Another type of instrument plugin is a Multi Instrument plugin that comes equipped with various instruments and isn’t only restricted to a single instrument.
Delay plugins offer a repetition effect that is used in music to give it a fuller sound.
Reverb plugins offer what is often referred to as “wetness” and space within a mix. They help you smooth out dry signals that may cause problems for your mix.
Compressors are used to controlled the overall level with an audio signal in order to give it good dynamic range.
Saturation is a type of distortion but it is less pronounced and more subtle. It is used to brighten the frequencies in a mix.
De Essers are used to control sibilance and harsh high frequencies. De-Essers are mostly applied to vocals to control sibilance usually from pronunciations of letters that have S and T.
Should I use stock plugins?
Well this depends with the situation at hand and what is being hoped to be achieved.
Some situations will call for more functionality that can only be found in third party plugins designed to address specific issues.
If your situation is simple enough to be handled by stock plugins, then theres no objection to using them.
Can you make good music with stock plugins?
What always comes into play with questions like this, is the person behind the stock plugin.
If a person is qualified and has the right skill they can use stock plugins and still create amazing music,
on the other hand, if a person is not rightly skilled, working with stock plugins can make it difficult for them to create anything that would be considered “good”.
Therefore it all depends.
Can I master with stock plugins?
Definitely can. You can find lots of mastering stock plugins that can help you finish and polish up your track.
The only catch is you have to know what you’re doing because mastering is an art that requires careful planning and even better execution.
You also have to take into account the quality of the stock plugins that are available with your DAW.
If it should so happen that you figure out that they’re not well equipped to handle mastering, your best bet is to look for third party plugins that can get the job done.