A recent question in Sound On Sound asking about the best freeware plug-ins available has inspired me to write my first post for the blog. This is not meant to act as a comprehensive list of all the freeware plug-ins available, but more of a pointer to some of the superior or more well-known freeware plug-ins out there.
There are a number of VST suites available including:
ReaPlugs VST FX suite– a package of FX that includes many of the plug-ins that come with REAPER (http://www.reaper.fm/reaplugs/index.php).
Antress Modern –This includes a variety of signal processors including an EQ, Compressor, Expander, Exciter and Limiter. They also produce clones of the LA-2 compressor, 1176 compressor, Fairchild compressor and Pultec EQ ( http://antress.er-webs.com)
GVST – (http://www.gvst.co.uk)
Pushtec EQ– this is based on the old Pultec EQP-1A and the Pultec MEQ-5. Both EQ’s are famous for their “musical” sound and still used in high-end studios around the world. (http://www.producerblog.net/2009/11/free-pultec-eq-emu-pushtec-5-1a.html)
Buzzrooms BuzMaxi 3 (http://www.x-buz.com)- Hard compressor, multi band Hard compressor, Digital linear compressor, Digital Linear multi-band compressor
Silverspikes Rubytube – RubyTube is a real time, digital tube amp simulator. RubyTube simulates the saturation effect that can be found in audio equipment with vacuum tubes. This effect is usually hardly noticeable but it is responsible for the classic tube sound. (www.silverspike.com)
The interrupter –a number of Dub influenced plug-ins, including delays (www.interruptor.ch)
OSX and Windows
Voxengo.com– Tube Amp AU and VST plug-in that can be used to add a slight valve warmness or a stronger overdrive to audio material (http://www.voxengo.com)
Camel Audio Camel Crusher– CamelCrusher is a free ‘colouring’ multi-effect plug-in. It offers two characteristically different distortion sounds, which can be blended together to create a wide variety of tones and textures. Great for guitars, drums and plenty more! (http://www.camelaudio.com)
Ohm force Fromage -a worldwide acclaimed resonant filter, which have been described by top producer Stuart Price (2 Grammys awards on his shelf + remixed/produced Coldplay, Madonna, The Killers, and many others) as “still the most original and best sounding filter”. It delivers a unique palette of sounds, combining low pass filtering and analogue crunch with a bunch of special features (www.ohmforce.com)
GSIs Watkat -WatKat is a digital “clone” of a Wem Watkins “Custom” Copicat. It sounds very lo-fi, noisy and irregular. When you turn it off and leave the tape loaded, the tape bends in proximity of the capstan, and this turns into a periodic pitch fall during echo playback; plus, it gets hot and the background hum gets worse in time… you should turn it off every now and then; the tape is never completely erased, and the capstan motor flutters… and it gets worse if you touch it while it’s spinning; heads tend to get dirty very soon, in fact you should clean them often. This is true for the actual hardware unit, and for the digital simulation as well! (www.genuinesoundware.com)
Brainworx Dynamic Range Meter (http://www.brainworx-music.de/en/download)
For more information on The Dynamic Range meter, check out this article (http://productionadvice.co.uk/how-to-avoid-over-compressing-your-mix/)
Fluxs Stereo tool-Stereo Tool features ultra precise control of input gain and individual pan for left and right channels. A phase inverter is available on each channel. Global stereo pan and stereo width settings are also implemented to complete the management of the stereo signal. Stereo Tool also offers accurate visual feedback reflecting the signal content. A vector scope display, PPM meters for both inputs and outputs, and a phase correlation meter permanently monitor the signal. (www.fluxhome.com)
BitterSweet II-Turning the central button to the sweet side decreases the transient’s amplitude. To the bitter side, the transient’s amplitude is magnified. BitterSweet also features a control for processing the signal. When the main position is selected, the process affects the stereo signal. If Center is selected, only the M signal of the internal MS matrix is processed. If stereo is selected, only the S signal from the MS matrix is processed. Three transient detection modes can be selected. Varying periods of integration for transients can be accessed. A Link function is available to compensate the output gain with respect to the transient processing setting. (www.fluxhome.com)
Brainworx BX Solo (http://www.brainworx-music.de/en/download)
Muxers Instant Sampler– Instant Sampler because it does what a simple ‘normal’ sampler does (playing audio fragments by MIDI notes), but it takes its samples (instantly) from the audio input whenever you hit a specific MIDI note for the first time. Every consecutive time you hit the same MIDI-note, it plays back the recorded fragment (or shorter, depending on the note’s length).
So, is this plug-in an instrument (as the name ‘sampler’ might suggest), or an effect? Technically, it is an effect, but one that is controlled using MIDI. But, in Logic for instance, it is considered to be an instrument, played with MIDI, while having an audio side-chain input. The bottom-line is: It needs both audio – and MIDI input! (http://www.muxer.nl/instant-sampler)
A particular favourite of mine are the TAL plug-ins. TAL does a great line of free plug-ins for both OSX and Windows. These include synths, such as the TAL Bassline, (a SH101 emulation) the U-NO-62, (Juno 60 emulation) and the Noisemaker. Other Plug-ins include delays, bit crushers, filters and tube saturation etc and is well worth checking out (http://kunz.corrupt.ch/?Products)
There is a huge amount of freeware out there so if there is something specific you are looking for it may be worthwhile spending the time to search on KVR Audio (http://www.kvraudio.com/get.php) or VST planet (http://www.vstplanet.com/)
If you think that there is a freeware plug-in that deserves a mention, add it below and hopefully we can develop a good database of freeware. Think of all the time you’ll save not having to look for cracks…