How to pare down an overgrown plugin collection?

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ztrauq
KVRist
254 posts since 13 Dec, 2004 from USA

Post Sun May 24, 2020 11:54 pm

As I’m in the process of switching over to a new computer (and operating system, and DAW(s) for that matter) for my music production machine, I also want to use the opportunity to pare down some of the 1000+ plugins I have installed on the previous machine (especially with the knowledge that, inevitably, I will continue to buy plugins as new and interesting ones continue to be developed).

I was wondering if any of you have gone through a similar process, and what your methods were for determining which plugins are “go-to” and worth keeping, and which (purchased sunk costs or not) aren’t worth the trouble of installing and maintaining.

My own approach so far has been based on a handful of rules to do the initial exclusions:

-If it has a copy protection mechanism that has precariously limited installs or otherwise causes me problems (or has in the past), it goes off the list. So, no Codemeter, no iLok, if it weren’t for Padshop 2 being one of those go-to plugins eLicenser would probably also be on the list.
-If I look at the plugin name and can’t even recall what it is or what it does, there’s no way I’m doing anywhere near enough with it to justify reinstalling.
-Even if it passes the name test above, if I can’t recall using the plugin in anything at all during the past few years, well… if I haven’t managed to include it in my workflow at all, it probably doesn’t need to be installed.

If a plugin makes it through that gauntlet, my next approach is to divide things into two categories: my “core installs” that I use on a regular basis and know for sure already that I want to have on hand (these will also be the ones that get installed first), and ones that I use on occasion or only for special purposes. The idea is to finish the core installs, then install from the occasional batch a few at a time, and do intentional testing with them to see if they do (or are still doing) what I need or anticipate needing in my projects.

Anyway, that’s the initial process I’ve come up with for now, but I’m sure it could use some improvement. Looking forward to your thoughts!

JerGoertz
KVRAF
2829 posts since 20 Feb, 2004

Re: How to pare down an overgrown plugin collection?

Post Mon May 25, 2020 12:03 am

Seems like a reasonable list. You might also exclude plugins that are no longer being actively developed/maintained.
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ztrauq
KVRist
254 posts since 13 Dec, 2004 from USA

Re: How to pare down an overgrown plugin collection?

Post Mon May 25, 2020 12:08 am

JerGoertz wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 12:03 am
Seems like a reasonable list. You might also exclude plugins that are no longer being actively developed/maintained.
Hmm, good point. I know some in that category got purged when I phased out some 32-bit stuff several years ago, but with the accumulation of plugins over the years I'm sure that's the case with some. Although I have a feeling the exclusion may happen automatically for some of them, as if I no longer have the installer and can no longer download it, then I suppose they will be excluded by default...

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GaryG
KVRAF
6007 posts since 13 Jan, 2003 from Kent, UK

Re: How to pare down an overgrown plugin collection?

Post Mon May 25, 2020 12:32 am

I realised I had a lot of one trick plugins, effects or instruments that had one or two presets I really liked. I spent time really learning my core plugins that I used all the time and found, more often than not, that I could replicate the effect/sound with those. I think I eliminated about ten delays doing that...
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Blaster
KVRian
552 posts since 22 Apr, 2004 from Switzerland

Re: How to pare down an overgrown plugin collection?

Post Mon May 25, 2020 1:22 am

I try to limit myself to no more of 5 of each type of plugin and limit myself to a few developers (I prefer the ones that have simple copy protection, communicate with their users on forums, have reasonable pricing, good support, etc.).

Depends also on which ones I can sell, if I bought some presets etc.

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4damind
KVRAF
5038 posts since 17 Aug, 2004 from Berlin, Germany

Re: How to pare down an overgrown plugin collection?

Post Mon May 25, 2020 1:45 am

I don't want to win a medal for the biggest plugin folder, so from time to time I uninstall plugins that are either 32bit or/and have not been used for months. Plugins that are buggy or appear in the crashlog and where there are no new versions will be uninstalled.
Fortunately it happens very rarely (meanwhile some years) that I had to install the system completely new... in this case I only install plugins where I know exactly that I need them or where a project reports an error when opening it.

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Distorted Horizon
Banned
3919 posts since 17 Jan, 2017 from Planet of cats

Re: How to pare down an overgrown plugin collection?

Post Mon May 25, 2020 2:04 am

Install only 1 or 2 of each type (compressors, reverbs etc etc) of fx and one or two of each synthesis types (subtractive, wavetable, fm etc etc).

Throw rest to an external hd and change the installed plugins every/couple/few months.

Soon you'll notice what to keep.


Those nonkeepers you can sell here.

dune_rave
KVRAF
1732 posts since 23 Jun, 2006 from Hungary

Re: How to pare down an overgrown plugin collection?

Post Mon May 25, 2020 2:11 am

also a question: what is overgrown? i have around 15 vsti, but still try to sell 2-3 because those are not really used

fairlyclose
KVRian
749 posts since 4 Jul, 2019

Re: How to pare down an overgrown plugin collection?

Post Mon May 25, 2020 2:18 am

When I updated my machine I went through that process - only installed the must haves eg Kontakt and then installed as and if needed. After maybe 3 months or so I thought I would sell of some stuff so mostly I just looked to see what could be sold and then chose those I seldom used or overlapped a bit with stuff that is definite core or with stuff that cant be sold

I will do another trawl through my collection of sample libraries and vsts in a month or so, but am getting close to only having things I want quite a bit

Basically if you think you might sell it then you dont like it all that much and can do without it but in the end I have always had to consider each plugin on its merits

Chapelle
KVRian
1123 posts since 28 Dec, 2007

Re: How to pare down an overgrown plugin collection?

Post Mon May 25, 2020 2:53 am

Once a month I go through my plugin folder, and ask for every plugin "Does it spark joy?". If the answer is no, I delete it.

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BONES
GRRRRRRR!
9997 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Re: How to pare down an overgrown plugin collection?

Post Mon May 25, 2020 3:26 am

JerGoertz wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 12:03 am
Seems like a reasonable list. You might also exclude plugins that are no longer being actively developed/maintained.
Why? If it works, it works. Throwing it out would be stupid.

Anyway, fairlyclose has the right idea - install a few things that you know you will need, then just install other things as you want/need them. I bet you'll find that out of that 1000, there are only 50 or so that you actually want to use.
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Michael L
KVRAF
3170 posts since 25 Jan, 2014 from The End of The World as We Knowit

Re: How to pare down an overgrown plugin collection?

Post Mon May 25, 2020 3:35 am

Chapelle wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 2:53 am
Once a month I go through my plugin folder, and ask for every plugin "Does it spark joy?". If the answer is no, I delete it.
:lol: :clap: :lol:

(You first need to hold each plugin in your hand)
Last edited by Michael L on Mon May 25, 2020 4:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Mushy Mushy
KVRAF
15120 posts since 7 Sep, 2008

Re: How to pare down an overgrown plugin collection?

Post Mon May 25, 2020 3:59 am

People really do make their life difficult.

To assist I put together this little diagram.
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"I was wondering if you'd like to try Magic Mushrooms"
"Oooh I dont know. Sounds a bit scary"
"It's not scary. You just lose a sense of who you are and all that sh!t"

ztrauq
KVRist
254 posts since 13 Dec, 2004 from USA

Re: How to pare down an overgrown plugin collection?

Post Tue May 26, 2020 12:21 am

GaryG wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 12:32 am
I realised I had a lot of one trick plugins, effects or instruments that had one or two presets I really liked. I spent time really learning my core plugins that I used all the time and found, more often than not, that I could replicate the effect/sound with those. I think I eliminated about ten delays doing that...
Yes, I think there are definitely some of those in there. For example I can definitely purge a few random free-303 things since between SeqCollection2 and some synth patches I can get a sound that's close enough for my needs...
Distorted Horizon wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 2:04 am
Install only 1 or 2 of each type (compressors, reverbs etc etc) of fx and one or two of each synthesis types (subtractive, wavetable, fm etc etc).

Throw rest to an external hd and change the installed plugins every/couple/few months.

Soon you'll notice what to keep.


Those nonkeepers you can sell here.
Sounds like a good plan. That's probably what I'll end up doing with the non-core stuff I think.
dune_rave wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 2:11 am
also a question: what is overgrown? i have around 15 vsti, but still try to sell 2-3 because those are not really used
Well, I tend to (assuming my finances are decent that year) set aside some amount for "discretionary" spending on plugins each year, because one thing I love about doing digital music/audio is trying the cool new things that come out :) Do that for many years, though, and take a flyer every now and then on bundles that take you from 1 plugin to 10 or 20... they begin to stack up to the point where just maintaining them and remembering everything you have is a pain. Like wavetables... I got obsessed with wavetables for a while, and I ended up with a lot of wavetable synths, from the well-known to the obscure (except not Serum for some odd reason...).

Multiply that with a bunch of different categories, and I end up with... well, my scanner says ~1700 or so but a lot of those are from multiple plugin types with AU on the mac, so I'd say... still probably around 500 or so unique plugins. If I can get it down to about ~150 (say, 50 instruments and 100 effects) that's probably reasonably manageable for me, with enough stuff to try and potentially rotate out as I gradually get more new stuff.

That being said, there are a lot of categories of plugins at this point where I couldn't think of needing another plugin (like delays, boy am I all set on those), so I don't think the collection is going to grow as fast at this point. Which is probably sensible, as I really ought to apply the overhead from learning to use new plugins to actually working with the stuff I know and making music/noise...

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toonertik
KVRAF
2497 posts since 15 Feb, 2017 from a worn out vinyl groove

Re: How to pare down an overgrown plugin collection?

Post Tue May 26, 2020 7:07 am

Mushy Mushy wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 3:59 am
People really do make their life difficult.

To assist I put together this little diagram.
:lol:

I'd expect no less from you Mushy
pragmatic.. simple.. decisive


Oh.. hang on...

decisive :shrug:

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