When it comes to adding third-party plug-ins to your recordings, there is abundance. Many are over-priced and out of reach for most musicians. Relying on successful branding, Neve, Pultec, etc., companies like Waves and Universal Audio charge premium prices for digital “replicas” of classic outboard gear and may require the purchase of additional hardware to use their plug-ins.
Fear not! There are options to having these tools at your disposal.
Most companies offer Academic Software versions to dealers, meaning if you are a student, you can email or fax a copy of your student ID to a participating dealer and get the software at a significant discount. A source at Native Instruments told me, “Don’t spend your money on the full version if you’re a student, always buy the Academic versions, you’ll save a lot of money and it’s the exact same thing except there is an Academic sticker on the box.” Visit Florida Music Co for a full selection of Academic Software.
An additional option is the use of trial software plug-ins. These are usually 14-30 day, full working versions. Keep in mind, if you find yourself relying on the trial plug-in, invest and purchase the plug-in when you’re able to. Many companies also offer free plug-ins that could be very useful in your mix.
Stillwell’s 1973 is based on the classic Neve 1073 EQ and is offered in a fully functional trial version. The Neve 1073 EQ is clearly an essential recording tool and has been used on most professional commercial recordings. Stillwell offers a full commercial-use license for only $39.00. Compared to spending hundreds on a branded version, they offer a very economical solution to having that Neve sound on your recording. I have used various digital versions of the 1073 and find the Stillwell as close to the original as the Universal Audio officially licensed Neve 1073 plug-in, which I also own. For further information, visit Stillwell Audio.
— Dana Presson II, Only The Dust Remains