We all love free stuff, especially when it can enhance and refine our music production skills. Most of you will likely be very aware of the big hitters, like Serum, Massive and others which are renowned for their sound design elements, but there are some very useful, free options. We’re back with another roundup of 9 must-have free plugins you need in your armoury that will take your tracks to the next level. Think epic soft synths that glitch and whirr, effects that will widen and double your sounds, time stretching tools that will tear your samples into new and amazing realms and some super handy organisational plugins that will leave you never hunting for your samples again. So, if you love free stuff and need some inspiration for your latest track, follow on below and download our top picks.
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Ichiro Toda’s Synth 1 was modelled on the Clavia Nord Lead 2 Red Synth and packs plenty into its compact interface. This plugin comes loaded with a bank of 128 presets to play around with as well as 2 Oscillators, FM modulation, 4 filters, arpeggiator, 2 LFOs and much much more to create your own sounds with. It’s designed to work with both Windows and Mac and can create some truly diverse sounds. Download it for free here.
Taking inspiration from the Electronic Dream Plant (EDP) Wasp, daHornet offers up a variety of gritty bass sounds. It features a random pitch generator as well as a noise generator, polyphonic mode with 2 to 16 voices, MIDI learn to name a few. It comes stocked with 128 presets as well as a random preset generator. Start experimenting with daHornet’s basses here.
The Tunefish synths were originally created by Brain Control as a demoscene project to accompany 3D visuals in live settings. Tunefish 4 was developed as a smaller replacement of Tunefish 3 for an animation project titled ‘Turtles all the way down’. It houses a noise generator, 2 ADSRs and 2 LFOs that can be linked to pretty much anything and a number of supported effects. Tunefish 4 is available for free download here.
SupaTrigga is a plugin which allows you to perform a variety of different processes in your DAW, most notably reordering and randomising your samples. This works particularly well on vocals and can create some incredibly interesting and super glitchy results. SupaTrigga currently only exists in 32-bit format, so you’ll need something like ‘32 Lives’ to make it work – but trust us, it’s definitely worth it. Check it out here.
Another fantastic tool for manipulating audio is Paul’s Extreme Sound Stretch. It’s perfect for sound stretching on an extreme level and works wonders for applying special effects by “spectral smoothing” the sounds. This plugin will help you transform audio into otherworldly textures and let you play the stretched sound in real-time with a number of different effects such as filters and pitch/frequency shifters. Download it here and start stretching your sounds beyond belief.
iZotope’s Vocal Doubler will bring richness and depth to your vocal tracks using its natural doubling effect. The gorgeous plugin interface uses a drag or pull function to create human-like variations and stereo separation. This piece of studio tech is great for adding space in your mix and can add beautiful textures to your vocal arrangements. Start doubling up your vox by downloading this plugin here.
If you’re looking to throw some unexplainable sounding glitches or atmospheric textures and pads, the Granulator II is the free plugin for you. Created by one of Ableton’s founders, it’s available for Ableton users only and works using granular synthesis to create a constant stream of short crossfading samples from a source sound. Download it from Robert Henke (Monolake) absolutely free, here.
For those of you who like to keep your sample libraries highly organised, ADSR’s Sample Manager is a blessing. With this plugin, you will be able to search and preview any sample in your library straight from your DAW using smart and custom tags. Another unique feature this plugin possesses is the ability to key detect and transpose your samples, so you can find the perfect one to drop and drag straight into your arrangement. Free download here.
Infected Mushroom’s Wider is a uniquely powerful stereo widening tool which can give your mono sounds an “awe-inspiring amount of width.” Wider is simple and easy to use and achieves full stereo at 100% on the dial but can be pushed to 200% for an exaggerated sound. The plugin is “mono-compatible” so any sound which means that any signal being extended will always stay in phase with itself even if summed to mono. Head here to download this fantastic plugin.
All of the above are just a fraction of freebies the web has to offer. To see what made our previous list of top freeware, head here.
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