I have paid for a lot of plugins. I have purchased nearly everything from Voxengo. I own Native Instruments Komplete. DMG Audio had my money in an instant. IK Multimedia also. Modartt PianoTeq is simply unbeatable. All good stuff and when programmers put the work in for amazing sound I willingly pay them for it… Maybe because I’ve been a programmer…
But I also have acquired a large amount of free plugins. Why? Because they’re great. Great little distortions, delays, comps, ring modulators and on and on. So I’m breaking with my “magician’s creed” and sharing some of my secrets with you guys, my favorite critics.
Now, a number of these websites will make you register with the site or something but not a HUGE pain. Only one of them (I don’t recall, I think Sonalksis) makes you download the hundred megabyte pre-install of their entire freekin plugin suite that you may never going to buy or use and I think one or two may make you download their anti-piracy registration utility but the price is ZERO so they are worth it, IMO.
Listing these from “large amounts of plugins from one company” to “just one from a single guy somewhere”. They are (almost) all available as both VST and AU plugins.
- Melda Productions “Free” bundle – It’s not exactly free, there’s a nag bar asking you to register but the suite is complete and completely usable. Flangers, Ring Mods, AutoPanners, Freqency Shifter, Auto-tuner type. REALLY flexible. AND if you want to register it’s only $26 USD.
- Voxengo Free Plugins – Voxengo makes a whole lot of amazing paid-for plugins but they also have a number of free plugins that absolutely kick ass. A tube amp saturating thingy (great for electric bass, IMO), a harmonically enhanced EQ, a mid-side graphic, a sweet RTA. Aleksy is 100% awesome with the customer support and visits the forums regularly.
- Togu Audio Line – OK not exactly a “bundle” but a whole bunch of stuff. TAL-U-NO-LX is a amazing little synth, Radio-Shack Moog style. NoiseMaker also excellent synth. There are more synths, an excellent multi-head “Dub” tape delay and a few nice bitcrushers, tube saturators, etc. ALL good stuff.
- U-he Zebralette – Great little synth multi-synth, their gateway to their flagship Zebra sorta-modular synth. Does NOT disappoint. Also U-he Tyrell N6 which is sorta JUNO6-ish
- Flux Bittersweet and STTool – Bittersweet is an awesome easy transient shaper and STTool let you not only view your stereo image in a phase scope but manipulate width and psychoacoustic placement.
- Martin IC Combo F and Combo V – REALLY the best dang Farfisa and Vox organ reproductions you will ever find. Instant Smashmouth and The Doors. Freekin’ instant man. I am not kidding.
- Green Oak Crystal – Super versatile Semi-Modular Subtractive and FM synth. Like a DX-7 crossed with an Oberheim with FX and tricksy LFOs… Or something like that.
- SoundMagic Piano One – Very nice piano emulator. Adjustable piano settings like “how open is the lid?” and string dampening. Better than most DAW stock pianos (I’m lookin’ at you, EXS24… and you too… all you other lame stock pianos)
- FXpansion Orca and DCAM Freecomp – Orca is a great sounding and simple use tweeky little synth and DCAM Freecomp is their “don’t you want to buy our pay-for line of stuff” bait that sounds great. It crushes nicely with a touch of distortion.
- Vaccumsounds ADT and Poor Plate – A very nice reproduction of the old Artificial Double Tracking used by Phil Spector al shit ton most recognizably on Lennon’s Imagine. Annnnd Poor Plate is, you guessed it, a pretty good plate reverb emu.
- MuCoder Tonespace – Very cool synthesizer. Music theory geeks will enjoy this one. It’s a little deep uhhh.. you can set the key and mode your in and it will usually play the right chord and tension for whatever note you play. Basically. Try it.
- AudioDamage RoughRider – a splatterringly good smash comp. I can’t even… just great.
- Cable Guys Pancake – Really interesting auto-panning plug-in. REALLY different.
- Camel Audio CamelCrusher – Camel audio makes some freekin amazing plugins. This one is free. It distorts, it squawks, it barks up the right tree. They’re offering the “player” version of their SFZ based synth Alchemy called “Alchemy Player” for free so check that too. It’s sick.
- Magnus Smartelectronix Ambience – An excellent algorithmic reverb.
- Massey Tapehead – Tapehead is NOW a pay for plug in but you can still use it you just can’t save the all of the settings… It was Massey’s first AU port and they released the “medium” for free and then it went “poof”! Luckily some of us held on to it. You can find the “medium” style over on this website which will let you manipulate it somewhat. (update: Steve has it up on his private site here.)
- Ohmforce Fromage – a super versatile and wild envelope filter distortion crushing thingy. TRY THIS
- PSP Audioware Pianoverb – A reverb based on the way the lower strings of a piano resonate sympathetically when you hold the pedal down. It’s pretty useful for some things and you can detune it to make some truly horrible sounds.
- Elysia Niveau Filter – FANTASTIC filter. Free = Just one band. One band of perfect. Elysia produces amazing stuff.
- Sonalksis FreeG – This is like Logic’s “Gain” plugin on steroids. It gives you a fader the height of your screen and SUPER fine volume control instead of what most DAWs come with as default. Like Logic moves up and down at tenths of a dB well this will give you hundredths.
- SSL X-ISM – Inter-sample peak detecting volume meter. SORTA dorrough like. The download link is actually a damn good read about digital sound reproduction, blah blah.
OK THAT’S ENOUGH OF THAT. I have a few other free plugs around that I use extremely rarely but those are the ones that have turned me on over the past couple of years. Like IZotope Vinly and SSL X-orsism, lol