IK Multimedia Total Studio 2 MAX review

Total Studio 2 Max from IK Multimedia

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Total Studio 2 MAX from IK Multimedia

The IK Multimedia Total Studio 2 MAX just could be your golden ticket to creating your next hit song. This all-inclusive package (available via USB or download) is a full suite of powerful tools for composing, recording, mixing and mastering your music, all culled from IK’s award-winning software products. Among the 94 products, including the SampleTank MAX sampler, Miroslav Philharmonik 2 orchestral collection, industry-standard AmpliTube MAX guitar instrument, Syntronik synth, Modo Bass, T-RackS 5 Max, Lurssen Mastering Console, you’ll find 16,800 sound samples, 39 mixing/mastering processors and 350 guitar and bass models. The instruments are authentic, easy to use and offer a myriad of playing styles, techniques and tones, all created in conjunction with top-name industry legends such as Slash, Neil Peart, Tom Lord-Alge and many others. You’ll be a kid in a candy store exploring different ideas for your new material for years to come!

As with all virtual instruments, all the sounds are triggered via a keyboard MIDI controller. Let’s say you have a sensitive acoustic-based song that needs something extra to invoke the perfect mood. Here’s where the Miroslav Philharmonik 2 library can instantly help. It contains a treasure trove of orchestral sounds—from woodwinds to brass to strings—all breathtakingly sampled. Accessing the perfect sound is as simple as going through the numerous instrument folders and calling up one of the many patches, be it an expressive, legato cello or a gentle flute. Each sound can also be modified to achieve the exact timbre you desire, and of course, as these are MIDI instruments, you can edit your performance at any point before your track is finished while keeping the original sound.

Several other sound libraries within Total Studio 2 MAX follow the same workflow. AmpliTube is a virtual guitar instrument offering hundreds of tones—emulations of classic amps and numerous players’ sounds and rigs—so that when you’re tracking your guitar, you don’t have to instantly commit to a specific guitar tone. Wish you had a little more grit on the guitar track after the initial pass? Simply change the amp (from a Fender to a Marshall, for example) or add one of the many included virtual overdrive pedals.

The Modo Bass recreates some of the most authentic bass emulations I’ve ever heard. It covers a variety of basses, tones, and even playing styles (pick, fingers, and slap!) ranging from ‘60s or ‘70s Precision and Jazz Basses to the more modern low-end 5 and 6-string monsters.

Don’t have a drummer? No problem—SampleTank 3 has you covered. Three of the greatest drummers in the world are here to help: Neil Peart, Billy Cobham and Terry Bozzio all provide a suite of their signature grooves, each having a dozen or more variations. SampleTank 3 includes anything you could possibly want drum-wise, ranging from acoustic drum kits to some really great modern EDM drum sounds in the Electronica series. Need a keyboard? Over 10 Grand Pianos are included, courtesy of famed producer Alan Parsons (Pink Floyd).

Once you’re done recording, when it comes to mixing, T-RackS 5 has you totally covered, containing dozens of processors such as compressors, limiters, channel strips, equalizers, reverbs and more, some based on classic and time-tested units from the past such as the 1176, LA-2A, 1073 and 1081. This is where you can make your tracks stand out, so put on your producer’s hat and explore away. Add some punch to the bottom end, slap on a bit of reverb to your vocal, or channel your inner Jimmy Page with some tape echo on the guitar. And when you’re finished mixing your track, send it straight to the Lurssen mastering plugin, to create that broadcast-quality sheen.

Part of the fear acoustic musicians and singer/songwriters have is that their music will lose the “organic” feel when digitally-sampled sounds are brought into their tracks. A little bit of production, though, can go a long way and re-invigorate your tunes. What if your song calls for something extra—maybe a Wurlitzer or a vintage ‘70s synthesizer and a keyboard player isn’t available? Or say you need an intricate funky groove and your drummer isn’t cutting it? Why wait? The SampleTank library has everything to, well, sample, and it’s ready to go immediately!

For some of you songwriters, it may be overkill to have all these resources at your fingertips—you may not need or use all the included instruments and effects. But isn’t good to know that any time you may need any type of instrument or sound, you’ll have it at your fingertips? And if you’re motivated and really dig into this collection, it will indubitably lead you down the path of becoming a better mixer and producer, which will only make your own songs better going forward. You might even find yourself in demand among your circle of friends for your vastly-improved production skills!

Total Studio 2 MAX opens a world of possibilities to create, mix and master your songs. If you invest a little time into understanding the power and versatility this package offers, you will quickly and noticeably improve your songwriting skills and undoubtedly take your material to the next level. It is a ridiculous value.

Street price: $999. Upgrade from existing IK products start at $249. Total Studio 2 Deluxe version: $499.


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