Avid Pro Tools Instrument Expansion Pack (Mac/Win, $459)
Everyone loves a bundle. You get a bunch of items for a lower price than you would pay if you bought them individually. When those items are the five software instruments that have been designed by the highly regarded AIR division of Avid, you''ve got something to talk about. That something is the Pro Tools Instrument Expansion Pack. In it, you get Structure, a sampler that comes with 18GB of content and lets you drag and drop content into it directly from a Pro Tools track. Hybrid gives you a combination of subtractive and wavetable synthesis, and each instance of the plug-in gives you two parts, each with three oscillators and a sub-oscillator, three LFOs, a resonant filter, four envelope generators, and a 4-track step sequencer. That''s some serious synthesis power. Also included is Velvet, which gives you very realistic modeled Rhodes and Wurlitzer sounds, and synthesized classic FM synth piano sounds. Strike is a virtual drummer that can function as a MIDI drum sound source (with some impressive acoustic-drum kit samples) or play its own patterns to allow you to construct parts in a wide variety of styles. Transfuser provides serious loop manipulation for beatmaking and electronica-influenced synth sounds. The pack offers power, a diverse array of sounds, and a very reasonable price.