Do I need external plugins?

Hi everyone,

I’m new to music production and DAW in general. I invested in Cubase Pro 10.5 and very happy with it.
I am watching a lot of youtube tutorial about mixing and mastering, and wonder if I need to invest in a suite of plugins.
Don’t want to start a debate on plugins companies and who prefers Izotope or FabFilter, that’s another debate I’m sure you will agree.
Basically, I wonder how far you can get by using the stock plugins and tools that Cubase Pro offers?
Any suggestions and experience you guys have?
I guess we need to differentiate between mixing and mastering (I know Steinberg offers wavelabs for mastering, don’t plan to buy it for now).

No you don’t…you can do everything you need in the DAW, I recommend getting on with songwriting/producing and only buying a 3rd party plugin when you find you cannot move forward with your writing/producing…which I think is unlikely…

I agree with what shadowfax replied. Is 100% what I did.

Concerning your thoughts about sound and quality of plugins - I guarantee you that unless you are going direction “pro” what you do musically (songwriting, arranging, etc.) will be THE determining factor of your production quality! The quality of the included plugins is absolutely sufficient.

Save your money for later - and for targeted investments.

You mean 3rd party plugins (which is different from “external plugins” especially with Cubase Pro). Depends - there are certainly some plugins out there, that do things, you can´t do with the stock plugins. But basically all the standard “bread and butter” tasks can easily be handled with the stock plugins.

Even though I have thousand of dollars invested in 3rd party plugins, I could record and produce a “pro” product easily with just Cubase alone. The quality of Cubase plugins has evolved tremendously.

I also agree that Cubase covers almost all of the basic tasks, though as I have a choice, I do use a lot of third party, Softube especially.

Buy them when you really understand and need them is best advice.

I’d miss:

Aural exciter (I use the Waves Vintage Aphex)
Dynamic EQ (I use the free TDR Nova).
Maybe the Abbey Rd echo chamber (also Waves) - just because it’s a very quick fix for a good space and has a character I like.

Otherwise I’d be fine.

I’ve got a lot of high end 3rd party plugs, UAD, Waves, Isotope etc, but I’m increasingly moving towards using stock.
The main reason is for work flow. The stock channel strip EQ and Compressors integrate with your mixer and meter bridge.
For example, if I glance at my mixer at a session using stock plugs I can instantly see all my EQ curves and all my GR levels.
The same session with 3rd party plugs involves a lot more clicking, opening and closing windows.
So, it’s a much speedier process.

Does the stock vintage compressor sound as good as a uad 1176? No, but it’s close enough to make the speed advantages of using it over the UAD seem attractive.

So, recently I like to start with a stock template and add 3rd party plugs only IF and WHEN I need them.


It’s better to understand a small number of plug-ins very well than a large number of plug-ins superficially :wink:

If you can’t get a professional result using only Cubase 10.5 using stock plugins, then I’m afraid the problem is not the lack of 3rd-party plugins :wink:

Thanks guys,
I totally agree, I started to explore the stocks one and I reckon you can do pretty much everything.
Paying for 3rd party seems to be about easing the workflow and speed things up with dedicated tools that are maybe bit better in terms of UI, but that is not essential.
Any idea what would be the stock equivalent of the Izotope RX7 Voice De-noise, that I have in demo and I found really efficient and amazing?

You won’t find many restoration plugins in Cubase. RX7 is an amazing program if you need to fix anything.

What you “need” is to learn everything you can about EQ frequencies, compression and effects before you could possibly benefit from third party plugs. Experience is a lot more important than any particular plug.

Second this advice.

Also with many plugs, especially EQ and compressors/limiters, you’d do well to ignore any presets. Both compression and EQ are things where the settings are totally specific to the sound they are being applied to and also the audio environment (i.e. the other sounds in your mix) which that sound will be heard in. Presets simply cannot take all those variables into account. Learn how to use your ears and the plug-in’s controls to get what you want. FYI this is a skill that can take many years to master.