Top 10 Free Plugins from 2016
There’s no greater time to be in music production than right now, Practically any instrument or effect you could want is only a few clicks away, the best part is you needn’t shell out an arm and a leg for them.
There are so many new plugins being released every month it’s an IMPOSSIBLE task trying to keep track of everything that’s going on.
I find that at least 2 or 3 times a week I seem to stumble across something new through a Facebook ad or while reading an article that perks my ears up! the only thing is that myself just like anyone else can’t afford to be forking out $99+ every time I see something I want to add to my studio.
As much as it makes me want to throw my toys out of the pram its a case of buck up and shut up!
Luckily if you’re strapped for 2 pennies your not in as much of a bad situation than what you might think, From virtual analogue synthesizers and realistic sampled instruments to classy modelled mix processors and cutting-edge creative effects, gaining some new toys to play with doesn’t mean your wallet needs to take a battering.
But, again with so much free content being released, it can be difficult task sifting your way through what’s worth downloading, but by taking some time out to dig right in I promise you there are some 24K gems that you’ll eventually think you couldn’t survive without.
Throughout many years I have built up a catalogue of free plugins that I consider to be just as valuable as paid ones, 2016 though I feel was a special year for freeware and found myself knee deep in savings and using some quality free gear sometimes more than paid ones.
So put your credit card away and spend the Christmas money your nan gave you on something else (if you haven’t spent it down the pub already) here are the top 10 free VST/AU plugins to download from 2016.
1. SampleScience Orion Sound Module
Orion Sound Module contains almost 100 instruments, all built using public domain samples. As such, the quality varies between patches, but there are some fine sounds onboard. Access them using the arrows in the upper corners of the display or by clicking the instrument name to reveal a large menu.
2. Matt Tytel Helm
Matt Tytel’s Helm is a seriously deep synthesizer – almost as complex as a modular, thanks to its comprehensive modulation routeing scheme. You can create rich, evolving patches with this incredible open-source freebie.
3. LVC Audio Limited-Z
A terrific transparent dynamics processor that can be pushed very hard indeed without creating unwanted distortion.
4. Tokyo Dawn Records TDR Nova
If it’s functionality you’re after, Tokyo Dawn Records’ TDR Nova has it in spades. Nova does double duty, acting as a superb parametric equaliser or a dynamic equaliser, offering dynamics processing on each band. Add to that a gorgeous spectral display and you have a plugin that should cost a pretty penny – but doesn’t.
5. Softube Saturation Knob
If you need to impart a bit of warmth to your tracks, you should immediately avail yourself of Softube’s wicked Saturation Knob. Ridiculously simple, this one does just what you’d think: it adds a modicum of saturation to any incoming signal.
6. Dotec Audio DeePanpot
A simple, single-slider affair that allows for true panning of a stereo signal, as opposed to simply adjusting the balance between left and right channels.
Think about it: a stereo signal is normally manipulated using a balance control, which simply adjusts the levels of either left or right channels, but doesn’t actually simulate moving the signal further to one side or another. DeePanpot draws upon a psycho-acoustic phenomenon called the Haas (or Precedence) Effect to do exactly that. Honestly, we didn’t even know we needed such a thing until we tried it, and we’re sure you’ll feel the same way.
7. Audio Damage FuzzPlus3
Feeling dirty? If so, you’re going to love FuzzPlus3 from Audio Damage. This delivers filtered filth of the first order.
8. Maxsynths: Liberated
MaxSynths has made its entire previously paid-for product range free, due to the difficulty in maintaining support. That means you can now get superb synthesisers like the 3-oscillator Chrysalis and the analogue-style Latte, along with bombastic beatboxes like the DR-910 and the Simmons-inspired Simon Bassdrum, not to mention DSP-2 Vocal, a dynamite dynamics processor, and the DSP-3 Bus Compressor.
These are just a few of the plugins on offer – if you make music on a Windows machine, you owe it to yourself to check them out and donate if you like them.
*Please note maxsynths.com is currently down, therefore this plugin is unavailable.
9. Black Rooster Audio Canary
Canary works in a similar way to Metric Halo’s Thump in that it tracks the incoming signal and imparts its own tone to the mix in order to reinforce your drum sounds. You can tune the tone to the desired pitch, adjust the attack and sustain, and do a bit of filtering. You can, of course, dial in the dry/wet mix.
On its own, the sound is nothing special, but with a bit of care, you can indeed bolster almost any sort of drums and percussion.
10. Klevgränd Svep
At its heart, Svep is a modulation processor that performs the same sorts of effects that you’d achieve using a phaser or chorus. However, it’s Svep’s interface that sets it apart.
Rather than faux brushed aluminium or pixel-perfect recreations of Rogan knobs, Svep offers a large, friendly and tactile interface all but free of labels. There are is a stereo link button and a slider each for mono/stereo and dry/wet mix, but all effects parameters are controlled by dialling in and around two large concentric circles (one for each channel), the inner circle of which breaks into multiple tendrils that represent the modulation speed.