This article will discuss the ten best paid and ten best free 808 plugins for music producers in 2023.
It is no secret that 808 has taken over the music industry and the modern electronic soundscape in the last two decades. It was initially an unsuccessful drum machine or rhythm controller by Roland that the music producers at that time outwardly rejected for being “non-traditional.”
However, in the 80s, the TR-808 by Roland gathered a cult following among musicians and slowly became mainstream because of its thick, deep, wide, and booming sound. Kanye West popularized 808s in his 2008 album “808s and Heartbreaks” Soon, the industry saw the evolution of hip-hop music through the deep and aggressive sound of the 808 basses.
Today, everyone is familiar with the wall-splitting 808 bass sounds, as it’s used by renowned artists/producers like Travis Scott, Mike Dean, Justin Bieber, Migos, Wondagurl, Metro Boomin, Post Malone, and many more. 8o8 is probably the most popular bass sound of 2023. So let’s list the top plugins for 808 production and sound design.
The 10 Best 808 Plugins For Music Producers in 2023
1. Roland TR-808 (It All Started Here)
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The Roland TR808 plugin is a virtual yet authentic recreation of the original 808 drum machine of the 80s.
When Roland launched the 808 Rythm Composer, it used transistors to synthesize unique drum sounds instead of samples. Unfortunately, it wasn’t accepted by the music industry then because it didn’t create traditional/acoustic drum sounds. However, it got picked up later after some musicians used it creatively and turned it into a trend.
Today everyone knows the 8o8 and its impact on the modern-day soundscape. The plugin version stays true to the original’s interface, workflow, and sonic characteristics. It places each sound, like the bass drum, snare drum, cowbell, hi-hat, etc., chromatically, so it can be accessed via a MIDI keyboard and played in real time.
- Step sequencer
The 16-step step sequencer is synced to the tempo and is easy to program with a simple workflow by which you can click on the sound to add it to the pattern. It allows you to right-click on a step and add a flam to that step. The flam is of nine different types. In addition, you can shift-click on a step to enter weak beats or notes with lower velocities. That allows you to add human variations and randomness to the patterns.
- In-depth Programming
A ‘Total Accent’ row allows you to add an accent to any pattern step. You can also add substeps as triplets, quadruplets, and duplets and create interesting drum rolls. Further, you can individually select instruments/sounds, and there’s also gain, pan, tune, and other knobs like decay and snappy to sculpt your sounds even more sonically.
- Pattern Flexibility
There are eight different patterns that you can create, such that you can copy a pattern and paste it into another pattern. So you can have similar patterns with slight variations that you can use at different time frames. In addition, you can drag and drop patterns to MIDI and then edit the MIDI data separately to go in-depth with your programming.
- Multi-out instrument
If you select the multi-out instrument option, you can route each sound to different mixers or auxiliary channels to add different effects to each sound and mix them separately.
You can choose an 8o8 kit from ten different kits, each offering different sonic flavors, and tonalities. Further, a bank contains 128 patterns and 128 kits, such that you can import/export/create/delete patterns. Lastly, there are a bunch of presets available that you can use to get started with the plugin.
The Roland TR-8o8 is available in VST 2 (64-bit), VST 3 (64-bit), AU, and AAX versions, and it requires Windows 8 or higher or macOS 10.14 or later versions of mac operating systems. It requires 2 GB or more RAM and a minimum Hard Disk size of 400 MB.
The plugin is an honest and organic reproduction of the original synth and offers sufficient flexibility to program and create drums for various sub-genres of dance music. However, the 8o8 sound has also evolved from what it used to be, and many derivative sounds with a modern context are used in modern-day music.
To conclude, if you’re going for the classic 8o8 sound, the plugin is perfect! But if you’re looking for more modern and punchy sounds, better alternatives are available in the market.
2. FAW SubLab XL
Sublab XL by FAW is a sub bass and 8o8 plugin which uses samples and synths to generate and create various bass sounds.
It consists of three main sound engines: Sampler, Sub oscillator, and X-Sub. It has an expansive soundbank, with nine signature bass packs by Richie Souf, This Hits Hard, Sean Divine, Traptendo, and Analog Machines, and bass packs like Crushed and Reese Subs.
The overall signal flow consists of the sound source, modulation (volume envelope, pitch ADSR, filter envelope, LFO, and Glide), filter, mixer, tone window (EQ and harmonics processing), and effects (distortion, compressor, tape, and more effects). Lastly, there’s an output slider for the main output.
- Macro Control
There are two Macro controls: A and B, to which you can assign any parameters. Then you can click on “Macros” to open a simplified version of the instrument with just two controllers/sliders to shape your sound. Finally, you can go to the expanded synth version by clicking on “synth.”
Apart from the pre-loaded EQ as the “Tone” window, you can have up to three different effects in the plugin. You can load up any effects from the following: distortion, tape, crusher, compressor, and waveshaper. You get distortion with different algorithms like DarkDrive, OverDrive, Grunge, TubeA, TuneB, and Orange.
The effects are expansive and give you detailed control over the sound and parameters. For example, the compressor allows you to set threshold, ratio, release, and gain.
- Sound Sources
The synth in the plugin has sine, triangle, saw, supersaw, and other basic waveforms to start with. Then, the plugin combines them with high-quality samples from the Minimoog, Roland TR-909, and various other drum machines. Finally, the X-sub allows you to add that extra oomph and weight to your bass sounds.
The plugin allows you to modulate the pitch and volume of the sounds using ADSR envelopes. In addition, you also get an expansive LFO with sine, triangle, square, saw, and noise waveforms, for which you can select any parameter in the plugin as its destination. As a result, you can create interesting movements and also use filter & glide modulations for the extra groove in your basslines.
The plugin is available in VST 2, VST 3, AAX, and AU plugin versions and requires a macOS 10.12 or higher or Windows 7 or later operating systems.
Sublab XL is one of the best bass plugins, especially for deep and hard-hitting 8o8 sounds and sub-bass. Even for impulses and bass drops, it’s great! It lets you go in-depth into your sound design and create great sounds from scratch. The preset bank is also pretty expansive and good enough to get you started. Overall it’s a versatile and flexible bass plugin with endless possibilities.
3. Output Substance (Kontakt Library)
Substance is a bass instrument and Kontakt library for hard-hitting, deep, and versatile bass production and sound design.
It’s great for huge and impactful bass sounds and has many different high-quality textures, effects, modulations, and samples for creating bass sounds for various genres. The main window has four macro sliders and three different sound sources. Apart from that, there is an edit window, an EQ window, and filter, fx, and rhythm windows.
- Preset browsing
Browsing sounds in Substance is easy and simplified. The preset menu lets you select certain keywords like “sound design,” “bass guitar,” “clean,” “pluck,” “wavy,” etc., by which you can filter out the presets, preview them by clicking on them, and then select them as per your taste and requirement. The preset range is huge and versatile. You can also save and access user-created presets.
Lastly, “Aggressive,” “dirty,” “glide,” “swell,” “sub,” and “percussive” are the best categories for finding good 8o8 presets.
- Edit window
The edit window allows you to select the volume envelope or ADSR of the three main sounds. In addition, it allows you to fine-tune them, set pan values, set their stereo images, edit their sample rates, etc., to tonally and transiently shape the sounds. It allows for deep editing and tonal sculpting.
So, for 8o8 sounds, you can adjust the spread for more width, increase the attack for more punch, and increase the sample rate for more aggression.
- In-depth Tonal Shaping
The EQ window allows you to apply a three-band EQ to each sound and a global EQ to the main output. In addition, you can select the gain, frequency, and resonance/Q-value for each equalizer. Further, in the effects window, you can add effects like distortion, compression, pitch, delay, etc., on individual sounds and global effects to the main output.
Effects like distortion and compression are great for creating hard-hitting and upfront 808 sounds.
You can add interesting rhythmic movements to the sound using the step editor and wave in the rhythm section. You can also add modulators to layer sends and global sends of the plugin. Further, a filter section allows you to add various filters or ADSRs to the individual sounds.
- Easy Interface
The plugin has immense functionality and features, yet it’s straightforward to navigate. The interface of Substance is simplified and easy to use. Even a beginner with no knowledge of sound design can easily use the plugin, as it’s intuitive and well-organized.
The plugin is compatible with a mac OS X 10.12 or later or Windows 7 or later operating systems and requires at least 4 GB RAM and 5 GB of hard disk space. In addition, it can work with the free Kontakt version or Kontakt 5.8 and higher.
We have discussed many features, but the best part about Substance is its high-quality sounds/samples and oscillators. The presets are sufficient for music production purposes, but you can take a step further to customize the sounds per your sensibilities. To conclude, it’s one of the best virtual bass instruments and has great 8o8 sounds.
4. SINEE CHOP SUEY
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Chop Suey is a dedicated kick drum sound design plugin for tonally shaping the low-end.
It’s primarily divided into three main categories: Transient, Body, and Tail. The plugin allows you to edit and shape each kick drum part separately. You can set the plugin to be velocity sensitive, sync it with the project tempo, or drag and drop the sample from the plugin to your DAW arrangement window or sampler.
The plugin has a great interface that lets you easily navigate, zoom, and scan through different kick parts. You can also set the note for the sample, fine-tune its pitch, and do endless sonic shaping on it.
- Huge Sonic Palette
There are a bunch of sounds and categories of kicks to choose from. The patches or patch categories are 606, 808, 707, 909, basic waves, clicky, heavy, experimental, Linn drum, techno, punchy, and so on. Hence, you can find electronic kicks and samples across various genres of music and can also load user-created presets.
You can scan the kick sample in milliseconds and or in terms of musical bars and beats. The skew and zoom parameters let you zoom in on the kick’s transient, body, and tail, which are colored and separated well. The company could have easily made the workflow complicated with many functionalities and editing, but that’s not the case with Chop Suey.
- Pitch Control
Chop Suey doesn’t just let you adjust the pitch of the kick, but it also analyzes it. You can change the pitch by creating as many envelope points as possible on the sample. Further, the “Puch Protect” will allow you to preserve all kick frequencies below 150 Hz when turned on. Further, you can use the available low-pass filter and set the filter’s cutoff frequency, resonance, and beef parameters.
- Other features
You can make the kick punchier by driving up its gain and turning on the “clip” switch. Further, the “Glue” slider emulates analog distortion, adding warmth and punch to the sound. Further, you can mute or solo the kick’s transient, body, or tail.
The plugin is not compatible with Pro Tools, as it doesn’t have an AAX version. However, it’s available in VST 3 and AU plugin versions and is compatible with macOS 10.15 or later and Windows 10 & 11 operating systems.
Chop Suey is a highly functional and versatile kick drum instrument with many sounds. The 808 sounds in the plugin are phenomenal, and you get great flexibility to change the pitch, shape the transients, fine-tune every detail, and sonically shape your sounds. In addition, you can find some great drum machine sounds like that of the 606, 707, 909, and Linn Drums. Also, consider checking Kick 2 plugin by Sonic Academy in our top Kick plugin roundup – this one is also great for 808s!
5. United Plugins SubBass Doctor 808
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SubBass Doctor 808 is a bass and sub-bass mixing plugin that promises to help you with clean low-end even in an imperfect room or on headphones.
The problem that the plugin solves is that of a lack of a studio or a 100% acoustically treated room. Let’s say you’re traveling or mixing at a home studio and don’t have access to a perfect monitoring system, and you need to get a demo or song ready. You can use the SubBass Doctor 8o8 to clean your low-end and sub-frequencies.
A good low-end can make or break a mix, especially on big speakers. And in most home studios or on headphones, you don’t get the same clarity at the low end. The plugin ensures a clean and tight low end. So it’s marketed as an insurance plugin but has great functionality.
- Cure knob
The cure knob is the main controller that carves the bass for you in a musical way with great filters. It rolls off where the muddiness and cleans the harsh higher frequencies typically found in sub-bass.
The saturation knob will boost some pleasant harmonics in the mid-range, and the sub knob will musically emphasize the sub-harmonics. These controllers can add great yet subtle textures and depth to your bass sounds.
The plugin has a resizeable interface and is simple and easy to use, with three main knobs and an ON/OFF switch. It also has a dB meter and input and output volume/amplification knobs.
The plugin is compatible with Mac OS X 10.10, newer, Windows 8, and later operating systems and is available in VST, VST 3, AU, and AAX versions.
The plugin delivers what it promises and is quite easy to use. It has a warm and clean sound and can add deep harmonics and texture to your 808 sounds. Since 808 bass and kick sounds are boomy and aggressive, it’s important to ensure they are cleaned, which can be best done by the SubBass Doctor 808.
6. Initial Audio 808 Studio 2
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808 studio 2 is an 808 bass synth for creating high-quality, hard-hitting, and customized 808 sounds.
It consists of two main oscillators, one sub-oscillator, a sampler, a filter, two LFOs, two envelopes, one master envelope, effects like distortion, compression, EQ, chorus, filter, etc., sidechain, portamento/pitch bend effect, and slide adjustments. You can choose from plenty of presets and design/customize the 808 sounds per your song’s key.
- Sound range
Whether it is trap, drill, or a regular commercial record that gets played in a club, the 808 studio 2 has you covered, as it has a huge range of presets across various genres and sub-genres of hip-hop and electronic music. As a result, you will find what you’re looking for, anything from hard-hitting and knocky 808s to overdriven and fat sounds, in the preset bank.
The plugin has great effects like distortion/overdrive with overdrive and distortion control knobs, a compressor with threshold, attract, release, and makeup gain knobs, a three-band equalizer, a chorus effect with lowpass, rate, depth, and mix controls, and highpass & lowpass filters with resonance and cutoff controls. In addition, there are portamento and slide controls as well.
The LFO modulations in the plugin are expansive, with four assignable destinations to which you can assign any parameters in the plugin. Furthermore, the LFO has knobs like speed, gain, and smooth and buttons like retrigger, bipolar, and sync. In addition, you can apply two mod envelopes to any parameters and one master envelope with ADSR controls.
The 808 studio 2 is available in VST and AU versions and is compatible with Mac and Windows.
The sampler, sub-oscillator, and oscillators compensate for a full and fat 808 sound. Overall the plugin has everything you need to create and sculpt great sounding 808 bass sounds. The 808 studio 2 is a better and more comprehensive alternative than an 808 sample, with more flexibility and control.
The interface is resizeable, and you can use the sidechain feature to duck the bass down whenever a kick is triggered. Lastly, the built-in step sequencer and the 5-effect effect rack are also worth mentioning about the plugin.
7. Wave Alchemy Revolution (Kontakt Library)
Revolution by Wave Alchemy is a samples-based virtual drum machine and Kontakt instrument.
It models the sounds of fourteen iconic analog and digital drum machines, including classics like the Roland TR-808, Roland TR-909, LinnDrum, and Sequential Circuits DrumTraks. In addition, it features a mixer window for all individual sounds, a sequencer window, an fx window, and a huge library of authentic drum samples.
- Tonal shaping
The plugin allows you to select the sound and develop your desired character. For example, for the kick drum, you can get adjustable knobs like tone, decay, and character, which you can tweak to your liking. For other drum samples/sounds, you get a different set of controls.
You can swap the samples and select a sound from a different kit. Further, you can adjust the sample’s pitch, envelope, and other tonal characteristics.
The plugin has many presets to choose from, categorized as Drum Machines, Analog Kits, Digital Kits, Hybrid Kits, and Processed Kits. Every category has many tape-type, analog-type, etc., drum machine presets. Further, there’s a library of pre-built patterns and sequences from which you can load different grooves.
- Global Sequencer
The 32-step step sequencer allows you to program and draw drum patterns easily. You can also play in real-time and record sequences and patterns. Some shortcuts and key controls make your sequencing workflow easy and fun!
Further, there are twelve patterns that you can have at one time. Lastly, you can drag your patterns to MIDI, program them further, and assign multi-outs to the mixer tracks or auxiliaries.
Revolution is available as VST, AU, and AAX plugins and also works with the free version of Kontakt. Hence, you do not need a full version of Kontakt to use the instrument. The minimum requirement of the operating system to run it is Mac OS X 10.10 and Windows 7.
Revolution is a comprehensive step sequencer with a great collection of retro electronic drum sounds. It’s perfect for the classic 8o8 sounds. However, it’s completely based on samples and doesn’t utilize any oscillators, which limits its use. But that also maintains the authenticity and originality of the sounds.
8. Cymatics Diablo
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Diablo by Cymatics is a drum enhancer plugin that can add that extra punch and oomph to your 8o8s.
The plugin has unconventional controls named boost, punch, sizzle, body, heat, etc. Each of these adds different tonal and transient characteristics to the sound. In addition, there’s also a three-band equalizer, a filter, and a mix knob. This drum processor can make your 8o8s punchier, warmer, fatter, or longer.
- Shape your drums
There’s a transient processor in the plugin called punch that lets you increase the attack amplitude of your drums and make them knock. Then there’s a compressor with fast attack disguised as a knob called body which increases the sustain of the drums. Finally, boost is another knob that triggers different algorithms of EQ in different settings.
- Harmonic Processing
The Sizzle knob, at different algorithms, lets you add high-end harmonics to your drums, and the Clip knob lets you clip-distort your signal as a soft or hard clip. The hard clip gives an overdriven and aggressive distortion tone, and the soft clip will give a warmer and smoother texture to your 808s. In addition, a Heat controller lets you select from four different distortion algorithms, each with its unique harmonic characteristic and feel.
- Stereo imaging
Diablo has a width knob that lets you set the stereo imaging of the sound. When the knob is turned down completely, the sound becomes mono, and when it’s turned beyond 50%, the knob acts as a stereo separator. Further, there’s an HPF (High Pass Filter) switch that, when turned on, lets the width knob act only on high frequencies.
The plugin is available for both Mac and Windows and is compatible with Logic Pro, Abelton, FL Studio, Reason, and any DAW that supports VST and AU plugins.
Diablo is the perfect drum processing plugin for modern sound. Whether you’re creating trap, drill, R&B, or pop, the plugin will help you create bangers. It’s important yet challenging to have earth-shaking drums and 808s that rock your clubs/parties, especially as a bedroom producer in 2023. But plugins Diablo helps you achieve that thump and energy in your mixes/productions.
9. Cymatics Vortex (808 Enhancer)
If you want to enhance your 808, the Vortex plugin from Cymatics will do a great job since it was created precisely for that.
If you’re in electronic music or hip-hop production, you know about the 808s. Its history goes back to the legendary Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer drum machine. In simple terms, it’s a sample used as a kick drum. The 808’s main characteristic is a powerful bass sound that will make your walls wobble.
The Vortex plugin is a simple software that will help you make your 808s more expressive by emulating analog saturation. It has four modes of operation and only three knobs with the most necessary settings. You can also use interesting presets to experiment with the plugin’s sound.
- One Big Knob
The heart of the plugin is a large knob located in the center. Turning it to the right will give you the most extreme sound. It is how you control how much your saturation effect will be noticeable.
- Make It Electric
The first mode of the plugin is called Electrical. Its sound is based on a pentode tube. And it’s not strange because it will give you a bright, aggressive low-end.
- Add Some Fire
Thanks to this mode, you get a warmer sound, as if it were heated by analog tubes. The developers promise that with it, you can get a loud signal without any harshness.
- Danger Radiation
Radiation mode is the third in the order. It will serve perfectly to give your low-end more edge since it is based on symmetrical clipping.
- Extreme Ultraviolet
The last and most extreme is a mod called Ultraviolet. It will give you metallic timbres that can make your sound unique. That’s because it uses waveshaping.
- Dial Into Additional Settings
You can always influence the sound of your plugin even more with additional settings. The three knobs at the bottom often help you adjust the color, filter, and mix levels.
The plugin is available for Windows and macOS, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Vortex is a simple plugin from Cymatics that will help you achieve the wealthiest 808s. You can use the four modes of operation and get both expressive and unique sounds. Thanks to the additional settings, Vortex can positively influence the sound or destroy it completely. Of course, this is in the figurative sense.
10. Diginoiz Subdivine
Subdivine by Diginoiz is a simple yet expansive 808 instrument plugin.
Diginoiz is known for its sample packs and loops, and it has gathered all that knowledge to create Subdivine, a virtual bass instrument, which is great for professionals and beginners both. It has collected bass and 808 samples of great resolution and quality and put them together in this instrument, which will suit the modern bass production requirements for a huge range of electronic genres.
Subdivine has a huge library of sounds, categorized into categories like Analog and Digital, which consists of hundreds of presets, and there are expansion libraries like More About That Bass 1 and 2. The 808 presets sound great and have great use across different genres of music.
The sounds in the analog library are sampled from great analog synths, and the digital library is sampled from some of the best digital instruments.
The plugin has a huge Drive knob, which can be turned ON or OFF and can be set to be routed as pre or post. In addition, you can choose from seven different distortion algorithms that ultimately decide how the distortion sounds.
- Other features
There are four slides to adjust the ADSR/amplitude envelope of the 808s/bass sounds, a glide knob, and a modulation wheel. Glide effects are significant while programming 808s, especially in Drill and Trap, and the plugin allows you the flexibility to do that.
The plugin is available in AU and VST versions, compatible with DAWs like Cubase, Logic, FL Studio, Abelton, Studio One, etc., and requires about 1.5 GB of hard disk space. The minimum operating system requirement of Subdivine is macOS 10.12 or Windows 7.
The best part about Subdrivine is that it’s extremely easy to use. You can browse through the presets and find the right sounds for your music. Once you do that, adjusting the parameters per your sensibilities is intuitive and easy, as everything is laid out straightforwardly. The sounds are high-quality, and the GUI is attractive and user-friendly, which makes Subdivine a great bass instrument.
11 Best Free 808 Plugins
1. Electronik Sound Lab 808 BASS MODULE 5 LITE
808 Bass Module 5 Lite by Electronik Sound Lab is a free 808 instrument plugin.
The plugin contains 15 factory presets for fat and gritty 808 bass sounds. It has a simple and intuitive interface and few controls like glide time, LFO modulations, Amplitude envelope/ADSR, filter cutoff frequency, and effects like distortion and chorus. However, in the paid version, there are 338 sounds instead of 15, but you get access to all controllers in the free version.
- 808 shaping
You can tweak the attack time, release time, sustain, and decay tail of your 808 bass sound and set it according to the song or its tempo. You can also adjust its glide time to create the typical 808-pitch motions. Lastly, you can tune the sound to the key of your song and get a consistent pitch.
- Fat 808 sound
The presets in the plugin are great, but you can also add a distortion effect with adjustable drive, gain, and mix knobs to create fatter, punchier, and grittier 808 sonics. You can also add chorus effects at the mid-high frequencies of the 808 to give them more depth and width.
- Ease of use
The plugin has few controls, and presets are sufficient for interesting 808 productions. However, the interface is visually-appealing and user-friendly. You can also use the modulations to create cool 808 slides and movements. For example, you can modulate the cutoff frequency and the drive knob to open up at certain time intervals.
The plugin has minimum system requirements of Mac OS 10.14 or Windows 8, 200 MB RAM, and 200 MB hard disk space. It’s available as VST, VST3, and AU plugin.
808 Bass Module 5 Lite has a great core sound, as it’s aggressive, dirty, and fun to use! It can fire up your speakers with fat bass lines and help you simplify your beat-making process, skipping all the sound design and sample selection, refining, and tuning.
2. Matt Tytel Helm
Helm is a great subtractive soft synth to create all types of sounds, including 808s.
It has two oscillators with interesting waveshapes and 32-voice polyphony and is connected via a mod knob, which is a great way to alter the timbre of the oscillators. In addition, it has switchable modules, a filter, a filter envelope, two mono LFOs, one poly LFO, a modulation envelope, and a step sequencer.
- The formant filter
The formant filter is great for creating vowel sounds by picking different spots in the XY pad, which is especially great for creating dubstep and talking wobble sounds. You can also create interesting rhythmic patterns by connecting it to an LFO and changing its intensity and intervals.
- Cross Modulation between oscillators
The two main oscillators, as mentioned above, are connected via a mod knob, through which the left oscillator modulates the phase of the right oscillator, and the right oscillator modulates the tone of the left oscillator.
- Global Unison control
In the oscillator window, you can increase the width of the sounds by increasing the number of voices and adjusting the unison parameter by which the unison voices will be detuned by the value of cents you set on it. Further, a global voices knob controls the number of voices of the master output.
- Interesting Effects
There’s a dedicated arpeggiator section with frequency control and octaves up to which the arpeggiation can happen. You can also select different kinds of patterns of arpeggiation. What’s unique about Helm is the Stutter effect that you can add to the sound with frequency, resample, and softness parameters. That adds gated effects to your sound at different time intervals. In addition, you can also add distortion, reverb, and delay to your sounds.
The free plugin can run on Linux, Mac, and Windows as a standalone program and on DAWs/hosts that can run LV2, VST, AU, and AAX plugins.
Helm has many effects and features that make it great for creating electronic music with robotic movements and artificial sounds. In addition, it offers great inspiration for sound design due to its different pitch and amplitude modulation algorithms.
3. Sampleson SUB
One of the few drum synths in the free market, SUB can be useful if you are into trap and hip-hop.
SUB recreates the famous sounds of analog drums in software form. There are 16 drum sounds, each with a unique synth engine under the hood. While the sound is different, we could compare it to Rhythm 55 or Roland TR-707. Interestingly, the interface of this plugin is resizable.
- Exclusive Controls
Each sound type of the drumkit has unique individual controls for manipulating the sound. For example, you can control the tone and snappiness of the snare drum. On the flip side, the sounds like the rim shot, hand clap, and cowbell do not have any tonal controls.
As the name of the plugin suggests, SUB features a sub bass generator. It is originally for adding depth to the bass drum. However, by manipulating/automating the pitch and decay of the sub bass, you can create interesting effects suitable for trap beats.
The plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit and 64-bit and macOS 10 or higher 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2 and AU formats.
The style of sounds you can generate using this plugin is very limited. However, for what it does, it does laudably well. You could use it for percussions or a specific part of your song. Or, you could solely use it for sub bass, too, of course. Overall, it’s worth checking out.
Welcome the classic yet slightly lesser-known Roland SH-101 to the digital world through TAL’s excellent emulation.
While it can function monophonically like its hardware inspiration, the TAL-BassLine-101 is a polyphonic bass synth with a vintage analog flavor.
The user interface is intuitive and straightforward, making it far more accessible than its hardware. It uses its precisely calibrated engine to produce familiar sounds in any kind of setting. BassLine includes a 24dB/oct low-pass filter that sounds as smooth as its hardware counterparts.
- Hardware Emulation
As with Roland’s original design, you’ll find a VCO, a VCF, and an LFO. It also employs an envelope to control the amplifier. Unlike the original hardware, it can generate up to the 6-voice polyphonic sound. So, you could use it as a key-style synth too. However, its smooth filter makes the synth iconic, which sounds even smoother when modulated and pushed.
The built-in arpeggiator/sequencer employs 96 steps with a recording option. Of course, there are standard features like swing, arpeggio modes, rate, etc. After creating your pattern, you can also drag and drop the midi straight to your DAW software.
TAL-BassLine-101 is available for Windows XP or higher and macOS 10.7 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
While the plugin does rather basic work compared to other synths, devotees of the Roland original will love the similarity in sound and design.
Furthermore, the 300 included presets demonstrate what the plugin can do. I would suggest giving it a try and seeing if you enjoy the workflow before making a purchase decision.
5. MonsterDAW Monster Bass
Monster Bass is a bass rompler plugin designed by MonsterDAW.
Monster Bass is all about the bass and low-end focused sounds. The sounds come in presets divided in three categories depending on the type of bass sound they offer. It’s an excellent choice for producers working in bass-centered styles of music like Trap, Dubstep, and Bass music.
- Wide range of sounds
Monster Bass includes sounds that can cover almost any genre of music. The bass sounds are split into three categories: synth bass, electric bass, and acoustic bass. In the synth’s bass category, expect to find Dubstep-appropriate wobble bass sounds and thick fuzzy bass sounds. The other two categories include bass sounds that can be used in any genre, from pop to rock music.
- Basic control
Monster Bass is exceptionally straightforward and includes just a handful of knobs to shape your bass sounds. There is an ADSR envelope for volume shaping and a filter for sonic sculpting. The filter has lowpass and highpass modes which add a bit of extra sonic flexibility.
The most hands-on feature of Monster Bass is easily the LFO. It’s a single LFO that can modulate a few different parameters. You can choose from a few different shapes, such as triangle, square, and saw, and send the LFO to destinations like pitch or expression to add interest and movement to your sounds. The source of the LFO can be set to aftertouch or mod wheel, something that adds a bit of life and expression to your sounds. You can tweak rate and depth knobs to fine-tune the effect.
- Low RAM
Because it’s such a simple plugin, Monster Bass requires minimal RAM to run. It requires a tiny percentage of your CPU, so you can run multiple instances of it without worrying about lags or freezes. This is another reason why it’s a great first choice for someone just starting out producing.
Monster Bass is available on Windows and macOS in VST and AU formats.
Monster Bass is a fantastic choice for a beginner producer who needs a quick and reliable synth to create bass sounds. The interface is simple and easy to learn, the sounds are varied and cover a lot of styles, and the low RAM usage means it can run on the cheapest machine without issues. Not much to fault here.
6. Diginoiz Subdivine Lite
The Subdivine Lite is the free version of the powerful 808 soft synth called Subdivine by Diginoiz.
The plugin has the exact same functionality as its paid version, except that it has six presets instead of hundreds of presets in the paid version. But it still remains as easy to use, high-quality and versatile as the paid version. You can browse through the seven different algorithms of distortion that can add unique flavors to your sound.
- Comprehensive Sound-shaping
You can adjust the ADSR of all six sounds in the plugin and customize them as needed. You can also get a suitable glide time using the Glide knob. You can use or automate the mod wheel to create interesting and groovy pitch slides. You can set the distortion as pre or post and turn up the drive knob to mix in the distortion.
- High-quality samples
The sounds in the plugin are taken from some of the best analog and digital instruments, and they sound deep, huge, and punchy. The effects are also high quality, and you can play the samples chromatically without introducing any artifacts, unlike when you use samples.
The plugin is available in AU and VST versions and requires 8 GB of RAM and 150 MB of free hard disk space. The minimum operating system requirement of Subdivine is macOS 10.12 or Windows 7.
Subdivine Lite gives you high-quality sounds, flexible controls, pitch adjustments, and more for free. Using the plugin, you can create some great 808 basslines for many electronic genres. Also, in terms of interface, it’s intuitive, simple, eye-pleasing, and easy to use.
7. Cymatics Diablo Lite
Diablo Lite is a drum enhancer effect plugin by Cymatics. It aims to make your drums and 808s cut through the mix and hit harder.
Diablo Lite processes the incoming signal in two different ways to get this effect. It uses a transient shaper to emphasize the attack of the drums and a clipper to saturate them.
- Transient shaper.
Diablo Lite’s interface has two main knobs: punch and clip. The punch knob works as a transient shaper. When you dial it up, the transients of the drums will be accentuated. This is extremely useful if your drums feel lost in the mix or if you are using soft drum samples or breaks that are soft and need some more attack to cut through the mix.
The second knob inside Diablo Lite is called a clip, which works as a soft and hard clipper. It will saturate your sounds and add harmonic frequencies for a warmer and richer tone. You can be subtle with this clipper or crank it up on hard mode to crush your drums.
- Utility controls.
You also get utility controls, like input, output, and mix knobs. Increasing the input value will drive the incoming signal even harder and achieve pleasing distortion. The mix knob is a great addition for parallel processing, and the output is necessary to keep your signal in control. There are also handy in-and-out volume meters for visual feedback.
Diablo Lite is available on Windows and macOS in VST, VST3, and AU formats.
Diablo Lite is a reliable mixing tool to have. It’s hard to fault it since it does perfectly what it aims to do. Dubstep requires hard-hitting drums, so a tool like this will be useful to all Dubstep producers.
8. Plugin Alliance bx_subfilter
bx_subfilter is a free filter effect plugin that tightens the low end of your productions/mixes.
It primarily consists of a resonant high-pass filter knob, which can be set to sub-bass frequencies. Apart from that, it’s a simple and easy-to-use plugin that can be applied to your 8o8s, kick samples, and other low-end instruments. It can make your 8o8s tighter, fatter, and punchier.
- High-pass filter
You can set the cutoff frequency for the highpass filter between 20 Hz and 60 Hz. In addition, there’s a resonance switch that you can use to set the resonance as low, high, or extreme. However, handle the resonance carefully, as it can make your sounds boomy and muddy.
- Low-end control
You can use the ‘Low End’ knob to accentuate or attenuate the low frequencies, specifically 55 Hz, up to 10 dB of amplitude. Further, you can increase the input gain to make the plugin more effective and decrease the output gain to balance the increased amplitude.
- Ease of use
bx_subfilter is easy to use, as it has a simple and easily understandable interface, dB meters, and volume knobs for input and output. There are four settings: A, B, C, and D, that you can save. In addition, you can copy, paste, and reset the settings to make your workflow easier. Lastly, undo/redo arrows can go back to 32 steps of parameter history, and you can use the bypass knob to A/B the plugin effect.
The plugin is available in AAX, VST, and AU versions and is compatible with Windows and Mac.
The plugin, if used rightly, can clean up your low end and add great punch and thump to your 8o8s and kicks. It’s a great tool to shape your basslines and create impactful low-end in your tracks.
9. Thenatan X-EIGHT 808 Lite
The X-EIGHT 808 Light is the free version of the 808 plugin by Thenatan, with reduced features.
The plugin has 80 fine-tuned 808, kick, and sub-bass sounds, attack and release knobs to adjust the envelope of the 8o8, a glide knob, a high-pass filter, and a master volume knob, all packed in a green-colored interface with an old-school digital aesthetic. There’s also a preset browser bar on which you can select and browse through different pre-loaded sounds.
- Sound selection
You can find the right 808 sound from the eighty factory preset sounds available in the lite version. So you can find appropriate sounds no matter what genre you are creating, whether it is Trap, R&B, dubstep, etc.
- Sound Shaping
You can make the sounds punchier by increasing the attack knob and can increase their tails using the release knob. Further, you can automate the glide knob and high-pass filter cutoff frequency to create dirty and intense 808 slides and bends.
- 80s aesthetic
You have to credit the design team for creating the cool interface, which makes the production process more fun and engaging. The digital machine look is slick, and the knobs, switches, and other controllers are also designed well.
The X-EIGHT 808 is available in VST and AU plugin formats and works with Mac and Windows.
The paid version of the plugin has many more features like 1000 presets, monthly expansions, high/low pass filters, full ADSR, tune knobs, etc. However, even with limited features, the Lite version works well and can fulfill the basic requirements of MIDI programming and creating 808 slides and glides.
10. Alipapa VR-08 free (Roland TR-808 Emulation)
The VR-08 is a free 808 drum machine plugin and emulates the Roland TR-808.
The company recorded samples from the classic Roland drum machine and included 2134 samples in this virtual instrument. It has drum sounds like a bass drum, snare drum, low tom, mid tom, hi tom, conga, clap, cowbell, etc., with each sound having its own horizontal strip, along with access to controlling the level, accent, pan, tuning, and other characteristics of the sound.
- In-depth sample processing
You get complete hands-on control over the sounds and their sonic parameters. You get dedicated knobs for setting the level, pan, accent, tuning, P.Slope, and decay time for each sound. You can turn on the ‘analog’ switch and adjust the tone knob for some sounds. In addition, you can add swing effects and humanize your sounds using the Timing knob.
- Global Controls
You can also control some parameters, like shift, scatter, and random, of the main output. You can adjust the master volume and browse through the presets using the preset selection menu. The plugin also provides information about the CPU load and RAM it uses.
VR-08 is only available as a VST and can only work with DAWs with VST compatibility. FL Studio, Cubase, Abelton, Studio One, etc., are some DAWs that can run the plugin.
Sonically, the plugin is an honest emulation of the original 808 drum kit, but in performance, it lacks functionality. Samples are also of decent quality, as they were recorded at 44.1 kHz. However, for a free plugin, it works great, and you can utilize it to create some great-sounding drum patterns.
11. Synsonic BD-808 by Synsonic Instruments
Synsonic BD-808 is a free 808 plugin for customizing your 8o8s.
The plugin allows you to shape the tone and transient of your 8o8 and fine-tune it using the fine [-100,100 cents] knob and tune [-12,12 semi tones] knob and other parameters for attack and decay of the amplitude. Further, you can trigger the BD-808 manually using the trigger pad and activate the MIDI control and learn.
- MIDI Sync
MIDI sync allows you to play your 8o8s chromatically. The same note will play on all keys if it is turned off. Hence, you can create cool trappy 808 transitions and tune your 808s to the roots of your chords. Further, you can change the pitch of the samples using the tune and fine knobs.
- Transient Shaping
You can increase the tail of the 808 by turning on the long decay switch on the plugin. Further, you can add more attack to the amplitude envelope of your 808 by using the Accent knob. Finally, you can enhance your decay using the Decay knob and create sub-drops and transitions.
- Tone shaping
The tone knob allows you to add more clicks and top-end to the 808s when you turn it up. On the other hand, when you turn it down, the 808 sounds subtle and warmer.
BD-808 is only available as a VST and cannot work with DAWs that do not support VST plugins, like Logic Pro and Pro Tools.
BD-808 is a solid plugin for shaping your 808 sounds. It’s also easy to install and use as it has only six knobs and four switches as controllers. Supported sample rates on the plugin are 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, and 96 kHz.
We have listed the best free and paid 808 plugins, some of which are sample instruments, some Kontakt instruments, and some synth plugins. Some give you the classic 808 drum machine sound from the 80s, and some give you the modern 808 bass version. Some plugins are just for processing, while others are instruments.
Depending on your needs, you can find the right 808 plugins. For authentic TR-08 drum kit sounds, the Roland TR-08 plugin and Wave Alchemy Revolution are the best plugins. Wave Alchemy Revolution may be slightly better and more versatile as it also has sounds from other classic drum kits 909, Linn Drum, etc.
For the modern 808 and other bass sounds, Output Substance (Kontakt library) and SubLab XL are the best instruments. They are highly flexible with plenty of controls and have great-quality sounds. However, if you’re looking for a more simplistic or minimal instrument, you can consider Subdivine by Diginoiz.
Cymatics Diable, Cymatics Vortex, Chop Suey, and SubBass Doctor are appropriate for sound shaping and mixing! SubBasss Doctor is perfect for a clean low end, and Chop Suey is perfect for an in-depth sound design of your 808. The best free 808 plugins are Matt Tytel Helm, Sampleson SUB, MonsterDAW Monster Bass, and Subdivine Lite.
Hope the article was of help. Thank you for reading!
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Shaurya Bhatia, is an Indian Music Producer, Composer, Rapper & Performer, who goes by the stage name MC SNUB, and is also 1/2 of the Indian pop music duo, called “babyface”. A certified Audio Engineer & Music Producer, and a practicing musician & rapper for more than 6 years, Shaurya has worked on projects of various genres and has also been a teaching faculty at Spin Gurus DJ Academy.