Nothing is better than letting freedom ring through your mixes! Just like outboard gear, you can never have too many audio tools in your gig bag. Here’s a nice compilation of some of the better free plugins that are available for common platforms.
Their Rough Ryder compressor gives a great 70s, warm, yet crunchy sound to your mix. It seems to work the best on low frequency instruments, like toms, kick drums and bass guitar.
Bomb Factory has a series of plugins that we use on a very regular basis here at the Conservatory. I especially like the BF76 plugin, which is a compressor in the style of a UA-1176 vintage limiting amplifier. Their other plugins are pretty useful all around tools.
Blue Cat Audio:
Blue Cat has a great series of plugins that work for an array of software on both Mac and PC platforms. There is a set of effects, such as a flanger, phaser and chorus, as well as some well designed EQs and an analyzer.
Big Blue Lounge:
While this isn’t a plugin for use directly in a DAW, it is an incredibly useful tool for calculation of digital data storage, frequency generating, discovering the tempo of a song, and more. This plugin works as a widget and to my knowledge is only available on the Mac platform.
This hi/lo-pass filter works really well. Using their “Anti-Crush” technology, these filters take out high and low frequencies without a lot of the common problems related to aliasing and the Nyquist frequency, giving you a clean, processed signal.
They have a wide array of plugins, but since we’re focusing on free stuff let me say – their stereo tools are a great tool to have. Providing individual controls over left and right pan, as well as input gain and a phase inverter, you can even see what’s going with their vector scope display.
You can never have too many compressors. This compressor, modeled after classic analog circuitry provides great processing, emulating the warm sound found on many classic console bus compressors.
Here are two demo/lite plugins to enhance your creativity. Sampletank provides an amazing collection of triggerable samples. 3 configurable engines can play back up to 16 channels of samples at a time. Amplitube sets fire to your audio by emulating classic amplifier heads and pedals.
Taking after the Sylvia Massey reputation for acoustic quality, there is an array of Massey plugins. Some are free, plenty have trial versions to pique your curiosity. Delay, compression, mastering, EQ and more can all be found in here.
I really like the Native Instruments brand. Their interfaces are top notch, and if you make music in the box, you simply cannot go wrong with their Komplete set of plugins. However, if you haven’t got the money to pay for that bundle, or if you aren’t familiar with their stuff, you should check out the following free options!
SPL is offering their Free Ranger EQ to give you a taste of the quality and effort they put into all their plugin designs. They strive to match analog quality processing.
Staying in tune is a must! There are usually a plethora of tuners at any studio, but batteries go bad, disappear, and are expensive, so why not have a free plugin that you can use to constantly keep your artists in tune?
Proximity is a module that allows you to simulate distance and depth of a sound using various psychoacoustic algorithms. Tweaking this just right can give you a great 3D acoustic image and provide depth to your instruments.
I absolutely love echoes and delay, so I like to have a large arsenal of options to choose from. The FreqEcho is an interesting plugin that combines frequency shifting with great reverberating delay to give a great atmospher.
What free plugins do you have in your arsenal? Let us know!