This article will talk about the best plugins to create glitch & stutter effects and synth sounds with free plugins in the end and 2 bonus effects.
Glitch sounds can be used in most modern electronic music genres. Although there is a Glitch genre that mostly features intentional degradation of audio, glitch sounds that imitate malfunctioning audio playback devices, and other similar artifacts, Glitch sounds can be used in Dubstep, Future Bass, IDM, Techno, Hip Hop, and most electronic genres.
Creating Glitch sounds can be tricky since it involves advanced audio manipulation techniques that often utilize complex effects sequenced to create its intricate signature sound. This list will try to inspire new techniques for you to use and inform you on the best and most appropriate plugins for producing Glitch sounds.
How & When To Use Glitch Audio Plugins?
Glitch plugins are all about sound manipulation, audio degradation, and how you sequence effects to create original and exciting patterns. The best way to use Glitch audio plugins is to keep these principles in mind while producing.
For example, try to group your drums and apply some of the multi-effect plugins below. This will help you add interest to your drumbeats and create ear candy and excitement moments.
Another thing you can do is apply plugins like Digitalis or 2Rule filter on your lead synths. This will help you create distorted, bit-crushed synths that also modulate throughout the song. Talking of modulation, automation will be your best friend when producing Glitch music. Experiment with automation on all the parameters of your plugin of choice. It’s the easiest and most successful way of achieving your own signature sound.
Top 12 VST Glitch Plugins In 2023
Aberrant DSP Digitalis
Digitalis is an audio degradation plugin from Aberrant DPS. It performs various processing tasks to degrade the incoming signal.
Digitalis is an ideal effect to use to create glitches due to its three processing modules dedicated to distorting and destroying the incoming signal. It’s capable of bit-crushing, formant filtering, pitch-shifting, and filtering. The plugin is all about the 90s aesthetic, and that’s apparent in both the graphical interface that emulates an old-school Mac computer and the retro sound of the plugin. Furthermore, it approaches sample rate degradation from a digital angle. This is refreshing since most similar plugins try to emulate analog sounds and results.
- Three processing modules
Digitalis has three different processing modules that perform different tasks to degrade your sounds. The modules are data, corruption, and time. All of them can be easily enabled or disabled and can run simultaneously. The data module looks like an old-school drawing app where the user gets to draw with a pencil. What you are actually doing is setting up the spectral filter. There are loaded images and patterns on board, but you can also draw your own to create new and exciting spectral filtering patterns. Additionally, formant and pitch processors are included in the data module, which achieves satisfying artifacts that color the sound. The last section of the data module is telecommunications and simulates the low bandwidth data compression effects on the incoming audio; it basically sounds like a 90s internet audio.
- Corruption and time
The corruption module alters the bits and bytes of the audio. It includes a decimator that extends the length of each digital byte, therefore reducing the sample rate of the sound. A crossover control will let you tame the high end and allow you to decimate the low end much harsher. There’s also a bit-crusher in this module which can go as low as one bit per sample. If set up right, the bit-crusher and decimator can achieve self-oscillation.
The time module is built around a repeater. It repeats the short samples of the incoming signal and repeats them to build new segments. The length of the samples and the rhythm of the repetitions can be set to ms, beats, or note length. Finally, there’s a step sequencer included that can control one of Digitalis’ effects.
- Amazing interface
The graphical interface is easy to navigate and fun to work with. It’s modeled after Mac computers of the 90s, therefore achieving a familiar and straightforward look. You also get Jon, a cat who will share information about the plugin’s functions from time to time. This makes the learning curve of the plugin much shorter, deeming it perfect for beginners.
Digitalis is available on Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.12 or higher in AU, VST3, and AAX formats.
Digitalis is an excellent audio degradation plugin. It can achieve a lower sample rate in unique ways and gives you unparalleled control over the character of the distortion. The three modules provide different sonic results, and the interface is fun and easy to learn, a great tool to fit your glitch arsenal.
Sugar Bytes Graindad (Stutter/Glitcher & Granular FX)
Graindad is a granular effect plugin by Sugar Bytes for high-quality and real-time audio manipulation.
The advanced grain engine plugin allows you to adjust the grain size, position, pitch, speed, and jitter settings. You can also adjust the settings for filter and time modulations and add reverb and delay effects to your sounds. In addition, it has an audio editor that allows you to freeze, texturize, reorganize, and slice your audio.
- Granular capabilities
The plugin allows you to chop the audio into 64 grains and has 12 main controllers for manipulating the audio. In addition, the plugin has two modulation structures: harvested for creative, playful, and simplified granular manipulation and the classic system with step sequencers, LFOs, and envelopes.
- Modulation capabilities
You can use MIDI notes and randomizers as the sources to trigger modulations, along with the typical step sequencer, LFOs, and envelopes. The plugin also has Modmix control, allowing you to crossfade between the two granular engines.
The plugin allows you to have high quality and a wide variety of effects, like filters, reverbs, delays, etc. For example, the reverb category includes effects like HQ reverb, spring reverb, and shimmer. The delay effects include phasers, flangers, and other time-based effects.
The most advanced feature of Graindad is its Harvester system which allows you to modulate all twelve controls simultaneously, allowing for complex modulations and effects.
Graindad is available in Audio Unit, VST2, VST3, AAX, and Standalone plugin formats and requires a minimum of macOS 10.12 or Windows 7 operating system.
The possibilities with this great granular plugin are infinite. However, due to its unfamiliar workflow, it may be a bit strange at first, but it is fun once you get hold of it. In addition, the creative output you can derive from the plugin is limitless.
It’s just great for randomizing percussions. Resample it, slice it and find the best bits to fit in your composition – great practice for advanced DnB production.
Devious Machines Infiltrator 2
Infiltrator is a creative multi-effect sequencer designed by Devious Machines. Its aimed at adding interest to your sequences and sparing new ideas by layering and sequencing effects.
The concept of sequencing effect patterns is not new in electronic music. This is how you have to move and work within your arrangements if you wish to add excitement to your productions and stand out as a producer. Infiltrator comes with 54 unique effects to choose from, and the order in which you arrange and set them up will help you achieve a unique signature sound. They can achieve some unique glitch sounds.
- A vast amount of effect choices
As we said, the infiltrator comes equipped with 54 effects. Some of them are pitch-shifting, FM, delay, reverb, looper, repeater, distortion, and numerous modeled filters. The filter choices are particularly exquisite, with options like comb filters, Model-20, Ladder, and 101-style filters available. You can have ten effects running simultaneously in your chain with multiple instances of the same effect running on different settings. Each effect comes with a dedicated interface with enough controls to allow for huge sound design potential.
When it comes to presets, it’s common for effects plugins that pack a punch elsewhere to fall short. This could be because some people view the use of presets as lazy. But we consider it presets to be a crucial demonstration of a plugin’s capabilities. Infiltrators 750 presets already quite a lot, but v2 more than doubles that number.
It’s an insane amount, but at least they’re organized into categories and subcategories. To jumpstart your imagination, check out the Sound Design folder, where you’ll find patches like Faller Robo 4 Bar and Inertia. Presets like Bit Meddler, Future Announcement, and Slick Shifter are just a few examples of the incredible variety of sounds you can create with this plugin.
- Distortion Module
A new “Degrade” setting has been added to the Distort module for all distortion fanatics. The degrading vibe of this loud and destructive processor becomes apparent at around 30%. Concerning reverb, everything has been rolled into a single module with three different settings (Reverb, LoFi, and the brand-new Void). An ‘infinite’-like effect is achieved at the highest settings, and the sound is textured overall.
- Master Section
An improved Master section with drive and compression is included in Infiltrator 2, and the same type of compressor controlled by a single knob is now available as a standalone module. The Master tab has a bass bypass option (40Hz to 1kHz), effectively disables all processing for frequencies below the specified threshold.
- Time Manipulation Modules
The modules that can alter past events are the most original additions. It’s great because of how simple it is to create tape slow-downs and reversals and how Stretch and Varispeed cover most speed ranges and spectrum. You now have many options for adjusting how your music is played back in time, with this new effect and others like the stuttering Looper.
This plugin is available for macOS 10.10 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST/RTAS/AU/AAX formats and supports 32 and 64 bit systems.
Infiltrator is an excellent creative tool to have when producing glitches and stutters. It can spice up your chord progressions, melodies, or even drum sequences. The effects are of the highest quality, and the interface is pretty and easy to learn. There’s not much to criticize here; it’s a multi-effects beast of a plugin!
Unfiltered Audio Sandman Pro
Sandman Pro is an advanced delay plugin designed by Unfiltered Audio. It’s the advanced version of the original Sandman plugin.
With seven different delay modes, unique controls, and the ability to achieve an insanely wide range of sonic results, Sandman Pro is easily one of the most advanced and versatile delay plugins I’ve encountered on the market.
- Seven delay modes
Sandman Pro has seven distinct delay modes that can achieve vastly different results. Classic tape is a straightforward tape delay emulation, while modern instant uses granular philosophies to create delays that change time with no clicks or artifacts. Pitch shifter uses vintage micro delays to alter the pitch of the delay sound, glitch shifter creates swirling echoes and sonic explosions, and multi-tap is a 16-tap delay that works similarly to modern instant.The reverse mode creates smooth reverb delay effects that play backward, and no echo is a mode where the input control is directly built into the sleep buffer. At this point, you may wonder what sleep buffer is, so let’s explain it.
- Sleep buffer
Sleep buffer is the heart of Sandman Pro’s delay functions. It’s a freeze delay buffer that allows you to control and tweak it deeply. Sleep buffer is an insanely useful and inspiring feature. It allows you to create complex textures and ambiances out of any sound, which you can’t get using conventional delay plugins. You can also modulate the frozen delay loop, adding even more sound design flexibility and interest.
Sandman Pro could stop at these features but takes things a step further. You can modulate any of these features and, more importantly, the sleep buffer controls, something that makes Sandman an insane sound design tool. In addition, each parameter inside Sandman Pro has an in/out port that allows you to connect it to any other parameter, much like how you would set up a modular synth. Finally, the LFOs further help diversify the modulation options you get.
Sandman Pro is available on Windows 7 to 10 and macOS 10.8 to 10.11 in VST, VST3, and AU formats.
Sandman Pro is one of the most sophisticated and complex delays in the market. Sophisticated and complex is how we often describe sound design in good electronic music, which means this plugin is perfect for it. The delay modes can help you achieve any delay style, and the sleep buffer can transform any sound into complex, evolving textures.
The simple and stylish interface makes sure that you can easily access all of these perks, while the myriad of onboard presets designed by revered artists and producers will be enough to get you started and inspire you.
Output PORTAL (Granulizer 2 With Glitchiness/Stuttering in Mind)
More Info & Price
With the help of granular synthesis, you can modify any audio input to its limits and create glitchy sounds.
Granular synthesis consists of a sound processing method in which an audio sample is divided into multiple fragments called “grains.” These grains allow you to synthesize new sounds and rhythmic patterns to your taste, and of course, the possibilities are endless.
Output PORTAL does exactly this, but expanding its functionality to multiple audio input sources is its best feature about it.
- XY Control
The big, rounded “XY Control” located on the lower side of the main screen has a distinct, elegant design, offering a clear visualization of the granular parameters you may want to set. A smaller circle tells you the current settings, and you can tweak it around to adjust the “Pitch” (Y) and “Movement” (X) values.
There are seven built-in effects to be used freely. You can select between “Stereo Delay,” “Distortion,” “Filter,” “Chorus,” “Phaser,” “Reverb,” and “Bit Reducer,” each with specific parameters such as “Size” and “Width” to be seamlessly adjusted.
Presets not only provide instant, good sounds but also are a good way to start exploring a particular effect. Granular synthesis may not be the most intuitive tool to be used, so it’s nice to count on over 250 factory presets that can be altered to your taste while also offering instant playability.
Also, in the preset menu, you will find a dedicated “Glitch” section with 19 presets.
- Grain controls
These controls are responsible for most of PORTAL’s sound processing adjustments. You can set values for “STRETCH,” “PITCH,” “SPEED,” “REVERSE,” “DENSITY,” “GRAIN SIZE,” “TIME,” “SHAPE,” “PAN,” “OFFSET,” and “FEEDBACK” controls, and they all interfere with how each grain will behave according to others.
The “Modulation” section housed in the “Advanced Page” consists of two assignable envelopes, displayed in an elegant and simple graphic that showcases the wave shapes. For instance, in the “Sine Wave” selection, you’ll find a perfect sine wave in bright yellow color, and you can select a particular node and freely adjust it. These kinds of adjustments will make your modulation sound very uniquely, tailored for whatever input signal you’re modifying.
- XY Control
This plugin is available for macOS 10.9 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST, AAX, and AU plugin formats.
Synthesizers are great for achieving nice textures and new soundscapes, independently of the type of synthesis involved. Granular synthesis, in particular, deals with small divisions of an audio sample, and modifying it by these small pieces can be useful for a more detailed alteration in its sonority.
In PORTAL, you can choose the input signal – line, MIDI, other plugins, vocals, you name it! – to be modified, and the software will do the rest. All commands are easy to adjust and to be read upon, which can be inviting even for producers not so familiar with granular synthesis to play around with it.
Cableguys Timeshaper 2
Timeshaper 2 is a glitching effect processor by Cableguys. It’s capable of a myriad of different effects that glitch up the sound, like reversing, stutter, tape-stop, scratching, and others.
Timeshaper is a time-based modulation plugin that can achieve multiple effects to add unpredictability to your sound and achieve Glitch-appropriate sounds. Timeshaper moves the position of an imaginary ‘playhead‘ applied to the incoming signal to achieve these effects.
In the heart of Timeshaper 2 is a low-frequency oscillator. It can be locked to the host’s tempo and has a range of 1/28 to 32 bars. In addition, the user can choose to run the oscillator in Hertz, with a possible range of 20Hz – 5.24kHz. These frequencies are capable of some psychedelic results and inventive sounds.
- Curve editor
The main window is the curve editor. This is where the user can draw the amount of time offset. The idea is that the lines you draw determine which part of the incoming signal will repeat over which beat. You will quickly understand how this works if you lay down a simple drum pattern with just snares and hi-hats.Finally, the step mode is ideal for creating stutters and repeater effects. Things become unpredictable and exciting once you introduce lines and curves in the curve editor. This way, you can achieve speeding or slowing of the pitch, scratch effects, and tape-stop effects.
- Multiband processor
You can run up to three frequency bands within an instance of Timeshaper 2. Each band can essentially run its own unique LFO pattern, and the crossover controls in the band editor window allow you to define up to three frequency bands. Therefore, each band can run as a unique instance of Timeshaper, which opens up a whole new world of sonic possibilities.
Timeshaper 2 is available on Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher in VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU formats.
Timeshaper 2 is a creative audio warping plugin that perfectly generates glitch sounds. It can achieve a variety of different time-related effects to add interest and, in some cases, completely reshape the incoming signal. So if you need a creative tool to inspire and equip you with creative sound design tools, look no further.
Glitchmachines Cataract 2
Cataract 2 is a sample slicer plugin designed by Glitchmachines.
Glitchmachines is known for designing experimental and extreme-sounding plugins. Cataract is another addition to their plugin collection that further showcases that. Cataract is a segment slicer with FX modules, a dedicated sequencer, and many controls that help intensify the experimental nature of this plugin. As the company’s name suggests, Cataract is excellent for Glitch sounds that stand out.
- Scanner modules
In the center of Cataract’s interface lie two scanner modules that contain two sample slots. The scanners are synced to the DAW’s clock and dynamically scan segments of up to four samples. They then distribute these segments in time and manipulate them. You can tweak and modulate even the most minor details of the scanners with dedicated slots and scanner sequencers, and LFOs.
- FX module
Glitchmachines added a powerful FX module that pushes the sound even further. It includes a delay, a crusher, a ring modulator, a chorus, a phaser, a formant filter, and a multi-mode filter. In addition, the FX module has a dedicated sequencer that adds depth and complexity to these effects.
Cataract includes a global parameter sequencer that can modulate almost all parameters. This can provide an overwhelmingly large amount of options, so if you’re ever in doubt, feel free to search through the presets included.
Cataract is available on Windows 8 or higher and macOS 10.12 or higher in 34-bit VST3 or AU formats.
Cataract is an experimental sample slicer effect plugin like no other. Like all of Glitchmachines’ products, the sound can get pretty intense and extreme, so use it with caution. The amount of sonic flexibility is vast and, at times, overwhelming, so I wouldn’t recommend this to a beginner producer. However, if you’re an experienced producer who needs a new powerful sound design toy, this could be an exciting solution.
Audio Damage Replicant 2
Replicant 2 is a beat slicer and repeater plugin by Audio Damage. It’s the new version of the Replicant plugin and has many new features that can generate insanely creative glitches.
Replicant 2 aims to add interest and complexity to your musical phrases with various tempo-based effects. In addition, you can split the incoming audio into buffer chunks and loop it and some other nifty tricks to add stereo width and interest to your sounds.
The main effect of the original Replicant plugin was the repeater. In version 2, it’s even more evolved. The repeater is tempo-based and can go as fast as 1/128th note. You can set the random loop amount for more unpredictability and even engage triplet notes. Finally, you can control the number of repetitions, the randomness of the repetitions, and their direction.
The new effect in Replicant 2 is the stutter effect. It adds more subdivisions for even glitchier sounds and can go as fast as 1/16384th note. You can control the pitch of the subdivisions and their randomness. The scatter control makes the stutter effect even more fun.
- Creative effects
You can push the boundaries of what Replicant 2 can be by using it in even more creative ways. It can serve as a simple delay plugin and an advanced planning tool. For example, you can set the stereo width of the incoming signal, the panning position, and the speed by which it’ll be modulated to create surround effects. A built-in filter also helps you shape the sound and add even more sonic sculpting opportunities.
Replicant 2 is available on Windows 8 or higher and macOS 10.8 or higher in VST, VST3, AAX, and AU formats.
Replicant 2 is a straightforward beat repeater and slicer effect plugin capable of some cool creative effects. It can add interest to simple melodic or rhythmic phrases, and it generates glitch sounds that can fit any genre. The fast subdivisions that its capable of can turn any sound into glitch heaven.
Audio Damage Quanta (Granulizer With Glitchiness in Mind)
Quanta is a hybrid synthesizer by Audio Damage. Its primary synthesis mode is granular.
Granular synthesis can be scary for many new producers to approach. It just feels very technical, and a luxury only advanced producers can afford. Audio Damage addresses this issue by creating Quanta, a hybrid granular synthesizer that makes granular synthesis more approachable. Having said that, Quanta is a highly advanced and versatile synth that experienced sound designers and producers can also find pleasure in.
- Granular engine
Quanta has three sound sources: the granulator, the analog oscillator, and the noise oscillator. The granulator is the main focus of the synth and works as a granular sample player into which you can drag and drop any sample you wish. It accepts WAV, AIF, OGG, FLAC, or MP3 files. Once you load a sample, it will be chopped up in real-time into grains.
You can control the position of the grains, and the length and tone controls let you decide the number of grains generated per second and the playback speed of each grain. It’s all made easy for the user to understand and experiment with. The overall sound is dreamy and evocative since Quanta is dedicated to creating pads, textures, and ambiance sounds that can capture any listener.
- Creative features
One of the most fun features of Quanta is the random knob which affects the grains’ position and direction. This creates evolving synth patches that feel organic and addictive to listen to. Additionally, even if you don’t have a sample loaded in Quanta, the analog and noise oscillators can be routed through the granulator, which adds unparalleled sound design possibilities.
- Filters and modulation
The granulator and oscillator signals meet at the filter section, where we get a pair of two or four multi-mode filters that can be arranged in series or parallel. The interface makes setting them up easy, and they sound exquisite. Quanta’s modulation system is flexible and allows 14 source signals to be assigned to 36 target parameters.Once you tweak a parameter, it will appear on top of the modulation matrix, making setting it up easy. Overall, Quanta includes flexible envelope generators, flexible LFOs, a sample and hold module, a randomizer, and MIDI controls like velocity, mod wheel, and note.
IMANU is using Quanta from 2:22:00:
Quanta is available on Windows 8.1 or higher, macOS 10.12 or higher, iOS 11 or higher, and Linux Ubuntu 18 or higher, in VST, VST3, AAX, AU, IAA, and standalone formats, 64-bit only.
Quanta is one of the easiest granular synthesizers to use. What’s more important is that it maintains high-quality integrity and doesn’t sacrifice sound versatility over ease of use. The sound is evocative and sophisticated, and every parameter is well thought out. I highly recommend it to any producer looking to enter the world of granular synthesis or to experienced producers who need a new point of view when it comes to granular synthesis.
Illformed Glitch 2
Glitch is a multi-effect plugin by Illformed that’s very popular in the Glitch music scene. The newest version includes macOS compatibility and a cleaner interface.
The original Glitch was a free plugin that became insanely popular in the Glitch and Complextro music scene. It was dedicated to transforming mundane patterns and phrases into complex, evolving, glitchy sequences, but was also used in any electronic music genre that required Glitch sounds.
The new Glitch 2 can trigger all of the effects simultaneously while also remaining faithful to all that made the original so memorable.
- Nine effects
In Glitch 2, you have nine effects to play with. The effects are staples like reverb and delay and glitch essentials like stutter, retrigger reverser and shuffler. Each effect has its own color, which makes setting them up much easier, and can be sequenced in scenes. The user sets the number of beats and bars per scene, so you can have short repeating phrases or longer ones that evolve. Each effect module comes with a multi-mode resonant filter, a mix knob, and a pan knob.
- Advanced sequencing
You can sequence each effect individually since they all have their own sequencer lane. This allows for sequencing options that the original Glitch couldn’t, like activating multiple effects simultaneously. In addition, the sequencer’s grid makes setting up your patterns all the easier.
- Unblock your creativity
Each one of the effects in Glitch 2 comes with a randomize button that completely resets its settings. This is an excellent tool to have when feeling blocked creatively. Additionally, a randomized feature affects the plugin as a whole, meaning it resets every plugin parameter and shuffles the sequencer, which provides another lifeline to your creativity.
Glitch 2 is available on Windows 7 or higher, macOS 10.11 or higher, and Linux Ubuntu 16 or higher in VST2 and AU formats.
Glitch 2 is the successor of the king of Glitch plugins, and it mostly delivers. While some of the effects have fewer features than the original, lack MIDI learning for live performance, and fail to include presets, Glitch 2 does the job by providing plenty of creative effects to glitch up and flavor your sequences.
iZotope Stutter Edit 2
Stutter Edit 2 is a stutter effect by iZotope. It’s the newest version of the original Stutter Edit, released in 2011.
The original version was an influential tool in electronic music, especially in the Complextro scene, and iZotope delivers an evolution of it in Stutter Edit 2. This plugin can create stutters, shuffle audio, mangle your sounds, present them in a completely new shape, and create unique and inspiring glitchy sounds.
- Multiple effects
Stutter Edit’s heart lies in the stutter and buffer modules, which dictate how the plugin captures and triggers incoming audio. Plenty of parameters is included here that help you shape the timing, length, and placement of stutters and glitches. Below these main modules lie 11 more effects to further process and mangle your sound. Choices like chorus, comb, flanger, tape stop, delay, and lo-fi are at your disposal. The comb filter stands out since it’s capable of some weird, leftfield-style pitched effects that completely reshape your sounds.
If all of the above isn’t enough, iZotope includes a modulation system in Stutter Edit 2. LFOs are included, which are titled “Time Variant Modifiers.” There is a curve editor in which you design the shape of the LFO, and you can then assign it to any of the effects on board.
- Perfect for live performance
The overall processes inside Stutter Edit 2 are called Gestures, and they all function as effect presets. There are plenty of them stored in the library and are fun to play with. When you load one, you’ll realize that effects are laid out as MIDI notes on your keyboard. The idea is that you can easily trigger different effects in the same Gesture by simply triggering a MIDI note, which makes live performance with Stutter Edit 2 amusing and accessible.
Stutter Edit 2 is available on Windows 8 – 10 and macOS 10.13.6 – 11 in VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU formats.
Stutter Edit 2 offers plenty of creative effects and tools to inspire and flesh out your Glitch ideas. The effects, especially the comb filter and reverb, sound great, and the way the entire workflow is built to complement live performance is inspiring. There’s a free trial version available, so I’d say give it a try and see how it can fit into your workflow.
Sugar Bytes Turnado
Turnado is a multi-effect plugin by Sugar Bytes.
Turnado is the personification of madness shaped as an effects plugin. It has 24 distinct effects and can achieve sounds in 10 seconds that are way more complex than you could achieve without it if you were tweaking individual effects for hours.
- 24 effects
Turnado has 24 creative effects that add life and nuance to your sequences. They are grouped by colors that comment on their function. For example, delays are yellow, frequency shifting effects are grey, and filters are orange. Some of the most eye-catching effects are the vowel filter, pitch delay, freeze reverb, reactor, and ring modulator. The options are countless, and each effect serves an entirely different purpose than the others, meaning you can play with Turnado for months and still not go through all the possible effect combinations.
Plenty of control
Each effect has one master knob that disables the effect when turned all the way down. As you raise it, the overall effect amount rises too. If you wish to finetune an effect, you can open its setup window and go through its unique parameters. Additionally, Turnado offers a Dictator feature that can control all eight available effect knobs. It’s essentially a macro knob on steroids.
Turnado goes into madness territory by including two LFOs and an envelope follower. These can be assigned to any effect and create even more variation. The sound design possibilities are endless.
Turnado is available on Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher in VST, RTAS, and AU formats.
Turnado is a beast of a multi-effect plugin. The sound design possibilities are endless because of the 24 effects and the modulation system. In addition, the effects are so fundamentally different from each other that they will keep you inspired for a long time. Overall, an excellent tool for creating glitches, complex patterns, and advanced effect sequences.
Best FREE Glitch Plugins 2023
1. Glitchmachines Fracture
Fracture is a buffer, delay, and granular effect plugin by Glitchmachines.
Glitchmachines makes some of my favorite and most experimental plugins, and Fracture is no exception. It also has an advanced version which includes a patch bay on the bottom to connect and modulate parameters in a modular style. This free version is more than enough to convert anyone into a Glitchmachines fan.
- Multiple effects
Fracture includes a multi-mode filter, a delay, and a buffer engine. You can set the size of the buffer, the number of repeats, and the ratio of repetitions, while the delay comes with usual time and feedback controls. Things get interesting once you start modulating these parameters through the LFOs to create evolving effects. Finally, each of these effects can run in time with the host DAW or freely.
Fracture includes three LFOs to modulate all of the effects included and add interest to your sound. This is where Fracture truly shines since it can achieve chaotic sounds with relative ease.
Fracture includes 110 presets designed by household names like Ivo Ivanov, Thomas Hennebert, and Alex Retsis. The presets showcase the full range of Fracture, with glitchy IDM sounds, smooth ambient pads, and mad effect sounds.
Fracture is available on Windows Vista or higher and macOS 10.7 or higher in VST and AU formats.
Fracture is a free effect that can add insane complexity to any sound. Anything can be turned into chaotic glitch madness or ambient beauty with a few tweaks. The presets sound incredible and can inspire at all times, and the overall workflow is easy and clean.
2. Glitchmachines Hysteresis
Another plugin by Glitchmachines is Hysteresis, a delay plugin on steroids.
The way Hysteresis works is unlike most delays. Firstly, the signal is sent through a delay engine, then through various other effects for more processing, a second delay, and then fed back into the original delay engine’s input. The result is a sonic range of unparalleled quality.
- Unique sound
Once the signal is fed through the first delay, it’s then sent into the stutter engine. Here you can chop up the audio and set the speed and size of the repeats. The signal is then sent to a filter module for sculpting and a second delay. This delay is under the hood, and you can’t see or alter it. The signal is then fed back into the original delay, achieving a dirty and gritty sound. Furthermore, all the effects are stereo.
The delay engine is the heart of Hysteresis. It can be synced to the host DAW or run freely in ms. You can adjust the feedback without delay, but be conscious that the feedback will affect the signal twice. Therefore, high feedback values will always sound way more extreme than conventional delay plugins. That’s why there’s a panic button on the output panel. Finally, a stereo separation parameter can achieve subtle stereo effects or chaotic left and right split effects.
- Stutter and filter
The stutter engine is more than just a stutter effect since it acts as a simple granular module. You can create granular-like effects by looping slices of the incoming audio and altering their size and speed. In addition, the filter module comes with a mod fx knob, meaning you can modulate the filter’s values to add movement and interest.
Hysteresis is available on Windows 8 or higher and macOS 10.12 or higher in VST3 and AU formats.
Hysteresis is one of the most unique and insane delay plugins you can find on the market. The fact that it’s free makes having it a no-brainer. If you are a producer looking for a creative tool to inspire and transform your ideas into complex and often chaotic gems, Hysteresis is the way.
3. Elcobit Ovalizer (Mac Only)
Ovalizer is a glitch sound generator by Elcobit.
You can load WAV files in Ovalizer, and it’ll introduce glitch noises similar to the ones you’d get on damaged compact disks.
- Instant glitch
Ovalizer is extremely easy to use, and you can glitch up any sound you can imagine. You can set the amount and feedback of glitches, the cutoff value of the built-in filter, and its resonance. It all works through a buffer that chops up slices of the incoming audio and layers it in micro-loops that sound like glitches.
It’s really easy to load in any sound, but it’s even easier to export a processed sound. This is extremely useful if you wish to create sample packs and have neatly organized sound effects in folders.
Ovalizer is available on macOS 10 only in VST format.
Ovalizer is a straightforward and easy glitch plugin. It can generate sounds from scratch or affect samples you load in. If you are a music producer working on a Mac computer, you should definitely try it.
4. 2Rule Filter (Glitch Filter)
2Rule is a free filter plugin. It’s a Moog-style filter that’s designed explicitly for Glitch sounds.
2Rule is based on the iconic self-resonant Moog filter and works in various modes. However, it achieves a unique character and stands out from similar filter plugins due to some cool features.
- Glitch sound
2Rule achieves a glitchy sound through a unique feature called Scrambler. Its central control is a beat knob, and its job is to trigger randomly filtered signals based on the beat value. This can achieve a choppy sound that’s either rhythmic or abstract. The wet and dry knobs allow for parallel processing.
The filter sounds phenomenal, and the resonance is especially pleasing. It can run on lowpass, highpass, and bandpass mode. You can modulate the filter through the onboard LFO or envelope. The LFO is particularly fun to play with since it sounds incredibly inspiring on high values.
- Extra toys
There’s a bit crusher distortion module included for crushing the signal and creating glitch-essential distorted sounds. The bypass and volume knobs are always welcomed on a synth like this which can get chaotic quickly, and there is a randomized switch for creating new patches.
2Rule is available on Windows and macOS in VST, VST3, and AU formats.
2Rule is an inspiring filter plugin that can add movement and taste to any sound. It’s very complementary to Glitch sounds and artefacts, and can be an insane tool in the arsenal of a Glitch music producer.
5. Ugo Audio Disturbance (Win Only)
Disturbance is a beat slicer and repeater effect by Ugo Audio.
Although initially intended as a tool to mangle and shuffle drumbeats, Ugo Audio says Disturbance can be used on melodic elements too. The overall sound complements Glitch music and adds evolving nuances to sounds.
- More than a slicer
Disturbance works similarly to a slicer but in more advanced ways. It chops up a loop or pattern in 64 equal parts and then sequences their playback. The thing that makes this interesting is the absence of beat detection, meaning the loop points are entirely free form. As a result, you can create drum fills, melodic phrases, and other bits of recycled audio that feel loose and abstract.
Disturbance includes a few more effects to complement its primary function and add even more flavor. You can sequence the filtering, distortion, pitch-shifting, and slice length. Furthermore, you can randomize playback parameters and adjust dual delays. You can even map to MIDI pitch shifting that is not sequenced, creating inspiring live performance patches.
- Creativity beast
Disturbance can be anything you want it to be. It can provide subtle rhythmic and sonic variation to your loops or completely mangle and repackage them into new musical phrases. By adjusting the endpoints of the sequencer, you can create odd time signature loops or polyrhythms, so the sky is the limit.
Disturbance is available on Windows only in VST format.
Disturbance is a very inspiring glitch plugin. It can transform simple loops and patterns into rhythmic chaos or provide simple variations to your sequences. The way it’s designed, and its workflow perfectly complement glitch sounds, so I’d definitely recommend it to any music producers looking for a good Glitch plugin.
Image-Line Gross Beat (Win Only)
Gross Beat is a volume and pitch manipulation effect plugin by Image-Line.
Created as a native FL Studio plugin, Gross Beat has gained immense popularity in electronic music production because of its ease of use and functionality. It can achieve stutters, gate effects, and pitch modulation effects.
- Pitch and volume manipulation
Gross Beat is a turntable emulator since it attempts to recreate classic effects created on a turntable while DJing. Scratches, tape stops, spin downs, and shuffling are all included as presets and are easy to recreate from scratch. The main interface consists mainly of the envelope mapping window where you can shape the curve of the envelope. In addition, you can choose between time or volume functionalities.
Stutters and gates
Gross Beat produces gate and stutter effects through the volume function in its simplest form. You can shape stutters on-beat by creating rectangles on the grid or turning the snap off and designing free-form stutters and volume shapes.
This effect is a solid live performance tool. The volume and time processors have 36 slots which you can trigger with MIDI notes. In addition, each of these slots can hold different settings for time or volume envelopes, so you essentially get 36 different effects to play with laid across your keyboard.
Gross Beat is available on Windows and macOS as an FL studio native plugin.
Gross Beat is a familiar and straightforward tool to use if you need fundamental pitch and volume shifting effects. If you are an FL studio user, you already know how useful and convenient it can be.
Polyverse I wish
I wish by Polyvverse is a pitch-freezing plugin capable of producing multiple effects.
So whatever audio you input in the plugin freezes it in time and pitch, be it a vocal, drum, noise, or anything. You can further manipulate and modulate the pitch-frozen audio to create musical and interesting effects. Hence, you can use it as a great multi-fx plugin, which doubles up as a synthesizer.
I wish is the only pitch freezer plugin out there. In addition, it allows for modulations and manipulations that are unique to the plugin and cannot be emulated or recreated by anything else. The possibilities are endless, as whatever you input and tweak results in your output.
The plugin has various applications, such as creating robotic vocal effects, stutter effects, musical and rhythmic effects, etc. Further, you can use it as a wavetable synth and a polyphonic synth, allowing you to create music from anything.
Available in AAX, VST, VST3, and AU plugin formats, I wish requires a macOS X 10.9 (or later) or Windows 7 (or later) operating system.
The plugin has some great features; the more you use it, the deeper it gets. It’s a must-have multi-fx for sound designers, as it can inspire fresh sonics and spark creativity from anything. Artists like Infected Mushrooms used the plugin in their album “Converting Vegetarians 2” and other projects.
United Plugins Mirror (Delay with Glitchiness in Mind)
Mirror is a reverse negative delay effect plugin by United Plugins.
Mirror achieves a unique effect by playing the reversed delay before the dry signal, something that’s achieved by reporting a fake latency to the DAW.
- Reverse sound
Mirror is all about creating new rhythms and adding interest to your patterns by reversing chunks of audio. You can use it on your snare track to create ghost snares that add flavor to your song or even the entire drum bus to glitch up your drums and add more variation to your pattern.
Mirror also includes a reverb engine that records the incoming audio into a buffer and reverses it. It then plays the reverb signal before the original dry signal, which can be a fantastic way of creating build-ups or transitioning into new sections of a song.
- Precise control
The trim control enables you to finetune the timing of the reverse signal so that it hits at the exact moment you intend. There’s also a lowpass and highpass filter section at the bottom of the interface to carve out unwanted frequencies. These parameters can be automated, which provides plenty of sonic flexibility. Finally, Mirror can work conventionally when you disable the negative delay, meaning the reverse signal will play after the dry signal.
Mirror is available on Windows and macOS in VST, AAX, and AU formats.
Mirror is a creative tool for adding rhythmic complexity and sonic variation to your patterns and loops. The idea of a negative delay is a smart one that reinvents the overused reversed effect. Although it can take a bit of a toll on your DAW and CPU with its latency calculation, Mirror achieves an excellent, unique effect.
Glitch sound design requires rhythmic intellect and perfect arrangement sensibilities. Unfortunately, it can be hard to get all three, so you’ll need all the tools you can get to create compelling Glitch sounds.
This list is intended to help you find your voice as a music producer. The plugins mentioned cover everything from drumbeat slicing and shuffling to multi-effect processing and Glitch-appropriate synthesis. Use it to find the plugins that suit your workflow and maybe to inspire new production techniques and ideas.
Alvinos Zavlis is an artist/producer from Cyprus based in Bristol, UK. With three albums under his belt and plenty of singles, his catalogue covers a wide range of sounds, from hip hop and trip hop to IDM and experimental electronic styles, all fused together to create unique blends of sounds. He works as a freelance mixing and mastering engineer in Bristol for artists of all styles.