Captain Plugins 5 Review: Music Production and Songwriting Made Easy (Sort of)

Captain Plugins makes songwriting pretty simple (in a good way)

Mixed In Key recently released a new suite of plugins designed to make your time in the studio more efficient.

The Captain 5 bundle includes five unique plugins that help easily generate musical ideas by working together to quickly develop sketches. Using these tools, you can write chord progressions in Captain Chords which then help dictate the Captain Deep before moving on to Captain Melody to write a contagious earworm.

Some of the biggest artists in the world, the Zedds and Diplos, use the plugins designed by Mixed In Key. So let’s find out how the rest of the corks are measured.

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What’s Included in the Captain 5 Bundle

  • Captain Chords. Use this plugin to create your track frame. It allows for quick voice changes over chords and lets you add complexity to the progression with just a few clicks.
  • Captain Deep. This plugin helps create groovy low end basslines that are effective and minimal. Often relying on chord progression input, this plugin can quickly create basslines that make sense.
  • Captain Melody. This plugin enables the creation of a locked melody which helps you produce our ideas efficiently.
  • Captain Beat. This simple plugin has hundreds of drum presets quickly for loops to add rhythm and groove to your tracks. IT even helps create drum fills from the samples you use!
  • Captain Play. This plugin pulls it all together and lets you instantly create complex musical ideas on the fly.

Captain’s Agreements

captain chords

If you struggle with music theory, chord generation tools can be one of the most powerful things to help your initial ideas get off the ground. This plugin will help you create complex and intriguing chord progressions yourself without having to rely on hacks such as MIDI files and more.

The plugin also comes with lots of preset progressions and beats that can instantly create awesome chords that you can adjust yourself. You can even record your pattern and have Captain Chords adjust the notes to match your desired progression! It’s awesome.

These chords create the frame of the song that the other plugins in the bundle, like Captain Deep, play.

Captain Deep

captain deep

The main job of this plugin is to create bass lines under the chord progressions you have made.

And while I know the bass notes are meant to be relatively basic and simple to follow, the lack of features and levels of customization in this plugin is a slight disappointment.

There are four basic choices you can tell the plug-in regarding how chord movement is played. It can mirror the root note of the chord progression directly, make an opposite move, counter the root note, trim the melody down, or stay on the root note.

To do this, Mixed In Key requires the plugin to connect to Captain Chords.

The final verdict on this one is that it has incredible potential but needs some work before it becomes a staple in my workflow. I imagine an update on this one is coming soon as it doesn’t match the features of the rest of the suite.

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Recommended items

Captain Melody

Of all the plugins in this bundle, Captain Melody, by right, is the most badass. With all its different tools and uses, it is the flagship tool.

The hardest part with this plugin is finding an initial riff that works for you. Once you have that missing, the bells and whistles included here do all the rest of the heavy lifting. You can match the rhythm of the initial riff, alter minor notes to add ear candy or flourishes, and even have the plug-in generate new ideas as sections progress.

This plugin in the bundle is a serious powerhouse and well worth the price of the entire bundle on its own!

it even has a randomizer for when you’ve completely hit a wall and want an act of God to spark new inspiration for you. It’s impressive.

Captain Beat

beaten captain

This plugin helps you create beats and beats for your music. Much like the Deep plugin, this has a ton of potential that hasn’t lived up to the rest of the bundle.

There are a ton of presets in the library that you can fiddle with and tweak, but not a whole lot of randomness and spontaneity that would be simple to include. Of course, these kits are production ready. But I found myself getting tired of scrolling through them pretty quickly.

The saving grace is that this plugin can help you generate percussion fills almost instantly. It was a super smart idea that I was surprised to see included.

captain play

captain play

Captain Play works like a quick and easy sketchbook that turns your keyboard into a complex MIDI instrument.

It helps lock in popular scales, chord progressions, and more, so you can generate complete song ideas without the need for MIDI chord or theoretical knowledge.

Once you’ve played an idea you’re proud of, you can export it to your DAW with just a few clicks.

Is this package right for you?

After playing around with this bundle for a few weeks, I will admit that I was pretty darn impressed with the few plugins I found myself coming back to.

Where this set thrives is in generating complex melodies from chord progressions. So if the songwriting process is slowing you down, this set of plugins could be the biggest game-changer of your career.

Although the bundle may need a few updates to get the most out of the plugins, I’m sure these are coming. So don’t let my Deep and Beats review keep you from taking full advantage of what the best bits here have to offer.

That being said, there are alternatives to the Captain 5 Pack if those are breaks for you. HookTheory offers a much more intuitive chord-writing workflow than this if you can compose just in your browser before exporting MIDI notes.

But the fact that you can enjoy all of this right in your DAW and for a one-time purchase instead of subscriptions makes it an easy investment to recommend.

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