Free plugins are one of the best things about being a producer in 2021. Quality music production tools have never been more accessible for the average musician. But with more freeware plugins showing up on the scene every day, knowing which ones are worth your time isn’t easy. That’s why we’re bringing you our top picks for the most useful and creative free music software every month.
In this edition—broken synths, a convincing room reverb, visual EQ and more.
This month ranges from highly applicable to slightly oddball.
We’ve even got a plugin that might make for the perfect prank on your studio mate.
Here are the free plugins we loved in September.
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If you love using vintage effects in your tracks Bad Contact is a funny avenue for interesting sound design.
The plugin essentially makes it very simple to add the cracks, hisses and buzzes associated with broken vintage gear.
For example, you could grab a free Oberheim XD plugin and throw this over top to make it really sound like it came from the 80s.
Also, this plugin doubles as an excellent prank to drive your studio mate who just shelled out an unspeakable amount of money on their new Prophet 5 absolutely crazy.
It's also an excellent prank to drive your studio mate absolutely crazy.
Add some grit and patina to your tracks with this fun, counterintuitive plugin!
Lately, Analog Obsession has been growing its Patreon-supported plugin library—they’ve put out some of the best free plugins in recent memory.
Room-041 is Analog Obsession’s first entry into the reverb game, which is significant because there really aren’t that many free reverb plugins out there.
This particular plugin models a room reverb and comes with a handful of knobs to play with.
There really aren’t that many great free reverb plugins out there.
While the developer says there’s no attempt to re-create any specific reverb, the UI and name are clearly inspired but the classic EMT 140 hardware rack reverb.
The top knobs control stereo separation, pre-delay, decay, and the wet-dry mix levels (which are controlled independently).
The bottom section sets the plugin apart from the free reverb plugin pack with pre-amp drive and high pass filtering as well as a post EQ section.
For a great sounding free reverb with the option to add drive and a high pass to the pre-amp you really can’t do any better than this.
The plugin is free, but if you really like it consider supporting Analog Obsession on Patreon.
We’ve covered a lot of free piano VSTs, but here’s another brand new one to add to the mix.
Grand Piano XXL from Audiolatry is a sample library based on recordings of a Yamaha C5 piano.
Its sample library is based on recordings of a Yamaha C5 piano.
The control panel is fairly simple with knobs for attack and release, tremolo, filter, reverb and volume.
Grand Piano XXL sounds very clean and comes with all the controls you need to adjust the basic character of the piano—without launching into sound-design territory.
For a convincing free piano VST, this one is definitely worth checking out.
Unfortunately, it’s only available for PC as of right now, but a Mac OS version is promised to launch in the near future.
Visual EQs are so incredibly useful for seeing exactly where different instruments are occupying the frequency spectrum.
So if you don’t have a visual EQ in your plugins folder definitely take a look at the Triple EQ 4 from Blue Cat Audio.
Blue Cat's Triple EQ is a free 3-band semi-parametric equalizer that can be controlled like a single filter, with a customizable shape.
This free plugin includes a low-shelf filter, a high-shelf filter and a boost and cut peak filter with wide ranges of gain and bandwidth for high versatility.
The three filters are linked together so that you can control the entire equalizer characteristics with a single mouse click.
If you’re getting started with the fundamentals of sound design, playing with waveshaper or wavefolder is an excellent way to learn how different waves sound.
This waveshaper from Audec is an excellent initial foray into the world of waveshaping—you can make some super interesting sounds with it too.
In the plugin, you get a drop-down to select the initial waveform. Waveform choices include triangle, sine, tube, hard clip, and soft clip.
To manipulate the sound of the waveform, the plugin comes with knobs to control gain, bias, dry and wet and output.
It’s a great tool for discovering interesting sounds and learning what each waveform can do.