Review: IK Total Studio 2 MAX

IK’s Total Studio MAX bundles practically everything the company makes for Mac and PC into one place. Hollin Jones tries not to drown in sounds…  

IK Multimedia is one of the most prolific music technology companies around, its range of software and hardware products arguably rivalling that of Native Instruments in terms of sheer diversity. And just as NI created the Komplete collection that bundled together a great many of its instruments and effects at a significant discount, so IK created Total Studio Max. With the release of more products in recent years, it has now updated this to version 2.

To The MAX

With this update, Total Studio 2 MAX consists of 94 products which is practically every piece of software that IK makes for Mac and PC. So this isn’t going to be a review of them all for fairly obvious reasons. But it’s worth assessing how the package stacks up for different kinds of users, given that it apparently represents a saving of 90% over buying every item separately (though I wonder who actually ever does this).

The full package, assuming an outright purchase rather than a crossgrade, is 1199 Euro which is around $1470 USD. So it’s not a small amount, but consider what it gets you. There are 43 software instruments with over 16,800 sounds and 179GB of samples. You get 17 synths, SampleTank 3 with 24 extra libraries, the full Cinematic and Orchestral collections, 39 mixing and mastering processors and 350 models of guitar amps, pedals and cabs.

These are split across IK’s flagship products including AmpliTube, T-RackS, SampleTank, Miroslav Philharmonik 2, Syntronik, MODO BASS and Lurssen Mastering Console. The modular nature of many of these means much of the content comes in the form of libraries and add-on packs. On top of that, most run as standalone applications or as plug-ins, meaning added flexibility as to how you use them. A fantastically detailed breakdown of everything can be found here http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/ts2max/ - and there’s a lot to read.

Who Is It For?

It’s fair to suggest that if you opt for the full package, you aren’t likely to need to get too many other third party plugins. It’s worth noting that IK’s focus tends to be on “real” sounds - sampled real instruments, recreations of vintage synths, models of guitar amps and mastering hardware. Its products are stylistically different to say those of Fabfilter, or NI’s more esoteric Reaktor offerings. They’re not about experimentation so much as more conventional production. Which is fine - many people need that kind of stuff. So what you get is an extremely comprehensive collection of instruments and effects that replicate the kinds of sounds you need for bands, orchestras and studios. You’re likely to be able to find every sound or processor you need for most kinds of music, excepting perhaps more left field electronica.

An Alternative

There are multiple cross grade deals available (prices below) and also Total Studio 2 DELUXE, a more modest collection of 35 products that covers the core of each field (synths, instruments, effects) for 599.99 Euros. Check that out if you want a very solid tool set that still goes beyond what most DAWs offer as standard, but for less money than the full package.

Prices (all inclusive of tax): Full version 1199.99 Euro
                

Crossgrade from any product valued at 99.99 or more - 671.99 Euro
                

Maxgrade From AmpliTube MAX, SampleTank MAX, T-RackS 4 MAX, T-RackS 5 MAX, Miroslav Philharmonik 2 - 479.99
            

Upgrade from Total Studio MAX version 1 - 239.99


Pros: Extremely comprehensive bundle of instruments and effects. Covers all bases for many kinds of music production. Mind boggling number of sounds included. Full versions of flagship products and all libraries. Significant saving compared to buying separately.

Cons: Relatively conventional in terms of style - radical electronic experimentalists may look elsewhere. The DELUXE collection costs less, if you don’t need absolutely everything.

Web: http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/ts2max/ 

Hollin Jones was classically trained as a piano player but found the lure of blues and jazz too much to resist. Graduating from bands to composition then production, he relishes the chance to play anything with keys. A sometime lecturer in videographics, music production and photography post production, Hollin has been a freelance w... Read More

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