A lot of audio plugin companies base their business around big discount campaigns. You can get things for really cheap sometimes but before you go on a buying rampage, I wanted to share with you how I make buying decisions when it comes to plugins and audio tools.
Identify your needs and wait
First of all, I almost never buy anything at impulse. Instead I’m constantly identifying my needs while I work. I may notice I could use a better reverb, for example. I can then start thinking about it over time and reviewing the different options there are available.
When a good offer happens I will already have established that this is something that could actually be useful to me. It’s also easier for me to pass up on offers about other things. It can take me anywhere from one week to a year (sometimes even longer) from identifying a need to actually buying something.
If I want to get something from a company like Waves or someone else who’s business model relies heavily on running big sales every now and then, I will wait until that good deal takes place. It doesn’t make sense to buy anything at full price from companies who are constantly rotating discounts. Basically in these cases, I consider the discounted price the real normal price. That is the price you should use when comparing to products from companies like Tokyo Dawn Labs, who have chosen to go with fixed pricing.
Get to know the product properly
When considering buying a specific plugin, the first thing I do is download the demo and take my time with it. I think it’s important to not just toy around with it, but to try it with real projects I’m actually working on.
I also like to watch videos about the product on Youtube. It helps to see how other people are using it.
If it’s a complex product, I also take a look at the manual before buying. Sometimes a great manual can add to a product’s worth by offering you ideas and bonus instructions – or purely by being super informative and quick to figure things out from. This also works the other way around of course. A complex product that comes with a poor manual can truly be a pain!
While demoing, I typically ask myself questions like these:
- Does this product fill in a useful gap in my arsenal of tools? Would it add to my ability to do things? Does it make me more versatile as a producer/engineer or is it maybe adding to unnecessary redundancy and bloat?
- How much has novelty to do with my interest in this plugin? Be honest. It’s not a bad thing to feel inspired by novelty. In fact it’s quite natural and I often embrace it and use that as a boost when working. But when making buying decisions there are more important factors involved that must come before novelty.
- If I bought this, is there something I can then sell (yes – in case you didn’t know, you can sell many plugins – including Waves – as most companies allow license transfer)?
- Can I sell this plugin if some day I wanted to? Find out from the manufacturer’s website. There may also be a cost involved with the license transfer.
- How well would this plugin integrate into my existing workflow? I’m always looking to streamline things. Would buying this help make things quicker and easier or would it add complexity?
- Do I have the skills to use this properly or do I also need to invest significant time into learning it? Not a bad thing at all, but it is something you must then make sure you do. If you don’t, you won’t get from it what you paid for.
- If it’s replacing other plugin(s) I already own, how does it perform against them in rigorous A/B testing?
- Would buying this plugin actually improve the quality of my work?
Make the decision
Once you have assessed things carefully in this manner, you will be in a much better place to make a decision. Above all you’ll have made sure you have a legitimate need for the product and you’ll have avoided the trap of buying something purely out of desire for novelty.
If you do decide to buy the product, make sure to read the manual!
If you are considering getting something from Waves, you can now get many of their plugins for ridiculously cheap. You can also refer to my Best Waves Plugins blog post to check out my personal all time favorites.