any of the Native Instruments programs are good for a newbie to get nice sounds out of
what do you want to do with them
you want them for effects(filters eq's etc.) or for producing noises(pads synths etc.)
PSP Mixpressor (has a mix knob, so you can very easily apply parralel compression by adjusting this to half wet half dry or as desired)
PSP Vintage Warmer - throw it over your mix and fuck around. Don't write with it on tho - add it at the end. A very nice sounding analogue mondeled compressor.
Essentially if you want to learn synths and sound design, learn the functions of a synth or Kontakt (ie modulating filters with LFOs etc etc). Then if you learn those basic functions, you can learn another synth very quickly.
I really like NIs Massive - I've started making basses in it. It's a CPU hog tho, but seems okay with the stuff that i"m making. Here is a sketch of a housetrack I'm sort of fucking around with to learn different uses for side-chain compression (used on the bass from kick, and on delay signal from source). I made the bass in Massive. http://www.epicacademy.com/downloads...0sidechain.mp3
Camel Space and Camel Phat are both really great for creating some over the top effects. if you're stuck just throw these over something and hit the randomize button a few times. Re-sample it and there ya go - fresh material! As mentioned, the OhmBoys plugs are all crazy too. The TC native pack's filtrator is pretty interesting.
Other than that I just say get a bunch of free delay plugins (cause they're all quite different, and will inspire you in different ways). I tend to mostly use the Cubase plugs for things like reverb, chorus, and delay and reverb, and straight compression, unless i'm finding I can't get it to do what I want.
Again in terms of sound design, and bass creation, learn a few things really well. Try different filtering (BP, LP, HP) and see if you can use it creatively. Then see how you can use modulators to effect those things (you'll gain alot of inspiration from this). I know you're using kontakt and I suggest learning it really well because everything is applicable in other synths. Then when you're scratching your head wondering how to be creative with what you have a few tracks down the road, then just pick up one more thing and learn it well. Every time you learn something new, you'll gain inspiration from that, and a few tracks will result. It's easy to get caught in a loop of trying to get more plugins, more software, but if you dont learn what's already there, then it wont necessarily be giving you inspiration or advancing your production.
I wish you luck Ian! Can't wait to work on some collabs. From what I've heard (your first track) it seems like you have alot of natural talent and a great ear. I'm sure you'll have tons of fun making beats!
Kontakt as always, Reaktor for Fx and synths ets.. Tc natives, Wave Arts, Waves, Camel Audio, Ohm, iKmultimedia, MDA, linplug(Rob Papen), Arts Acoutyic Reverb, Silverspike, Spectroscope,. I don't know a bunch of thihgs. Beat Counter is pretty handy.....