20 Best 32-Bit Plugins (Effects & Instruments)
1. BPB Dirty LA (LA-2A Style Comp)
The BPB Dirty LA compression effect plugin is now available on the Bedroom Producers Blog as a free download for Windows and macOS DAWs.
For those who appreciate the sound of classic limiting amplifiers, we present BPB Dirty LA, a free compressor effect. This plugin is aimed to achieve the same musical-sounding compression with a more streamlined process. If you ever need to saturate the signal completely, we’ve included one of their Dirt algorithms to assist you in doing it.
This compressor is not a direct software replica of any existing hardware model, but rather it draws upon the best features of numerous established hardware designs. They optimized internal algorithms and the control method to get as close as feasible.
- Peak Reduction Knob
With the Peak Reduction dial, you can adjust the threshold value and hence the degree of signal compression. Once satisfied with the compression, you can easily compare it to the dry signal by setting the Output knob to the same level.
They optimized their Dirt method to provide transparent saturation, which enhances and warms up the signal while somewhat taming the transients. It pairs nicely with the compressor and is especially useful for making the bass and drums in a track stand out.
Activating the plugin’s Dirt setting causes it to oversample internally by a factor of 4. Turning off Dirt prevents oversampling, which in turn reduces CPU use. In addition, they’ve ensured the plugin uses as little processing power as possible, so you may run numerous instances simultaneously without slowing down your projects.
This plugin is available for macOS 10.10 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 8 or higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST/RTAS/AU/AAX formats and supports 32 and 64 bit systems.
It’s a flexible plugin that you may use in various ways to suit your requirements, including as a parallel compressor and mix glue on the master bus. With Dirty LA’s default settings, you receive a fast attack time and a moderate compression ratio; however, switching to limiting mode will increase both of these values. It’s free, which is always nice, and it uses very little CPU, even when oversampled four times.
2. Surge XT (Most Advanced & Versatile)
The Surge XT is one of the best and most advanced open-source subtractive synthesizers.
It has a unique interface and signal flow. It operates under two scenes, with three oscillators in each scene, resulting in a total of 6 oscillators, with 64 voices of polyphony. In addition, it’s a modulation-heavy plugin with eight macros, six LFOs, two envelope generators, and other modulators.
- Easily Adjustable signal flow
Under the Filter Configuration windows, you can set how and in order the filters are applied to the sound. There are eight different types of configurations that you can set, with three serial, two dual, a stereo, a ring, and wide types. You can also map it to the controller or key and add automation lanes. By default, it’s set to Wide, as it’s stereo and will allow you to get the best results out of unison voices.
- Scene Modes for layering and splitting the sounds
The Scene modes decide how the scenes can be used together, whether layered or split. Single mode allows you to play only the selected scene simultaneously, whereas Key Split allows you to play different scenes on different keyboard parts. The third mode, Channel Split, will split the scenes to be played by the midi channel. Lastly, the dual mode will allow you to play both scenes together.
- Wide Oscillator Section
Three oscillators per scene can be mixed, soloed, muted, and even multiplied or cross-fed into each other. In addition, the oscillators can be key tracked or retriggered, and we can change their pitch up to three octaves above and blow. Further, their pitch, shape, pitch range, width, sync, unison detune, and unison voices can be changed and edited.
Further, you can choose the oscillator type from an insane number of options, including classic (saw and square), modern (triangle, sine, saw, and square), wavetable, window, FM, String, twist, Noise, and more.
- Huge scope of modulations
The modulation matrix is located right at the bottom of the GUI. Here, we can use the MACROS to control multiple parameters simultaneously with a simple drag-and-drop option. Almost every knob and slider in the interface can be modulated using the macros, and you can also rename the modulators as per your taste. However, the modulators in the plugin have so much depth and options that it could take a while to explore the software completely.
In Windows, the Surge XT is available as a 32 and 64-bit VST and CLAP plugin, which demands Windows 7 (or later versions), at least 4 GBs of RAM, and Pentium 4/Athlon 64 or above CPU. To use the 64-bit version on Windows, you require a CPU supporting the x64 (AMD64/EM64T) instruction set.
For macOS, the plugin is available in 64-bit Audio Unit (AU), VST3, and CLAP versions, which requires a Mac OS X 10.11 or newer, a 64-bit x86 Intel or ARM Apple Silicon CPU, and at least 4GB of RAM. On Linux, Surge is available as a 64-bit VST3 and CLAP in the form of a deb and RPM package.
The developer and management team has done a great job with Surge XT. It gives paid synthesizers a run for their money, given the limitless possibilities of sound design and synthesis that one can explore.
There are absolutely no downsides to having this plugin in your toolkit. It’s also CPU-friendly and extremely versatile.
3. Analog Obsession VariMoon (Vari-Mu)
VariMoon is, you guessed it, an emulation of a vari-mu compressor.
Analog Obsession has been making emulated plugins for a while. And VariMoon is modeled after the legendary Fairchild 660 compressor. It features an easy-to-use interface with deep component emulation to deliver authentic sound. However, the interface differs by a good deal.
VariMoon has a fixed attack of 10 ms with six positions for the release, including two auto modes. Before talking more about VariMoon’s features, we would like to point out another Analog Obsession’s bus compressor BUSTERse, a great free stereo compressor with EQ and side-chain.
UPDATE: We noticed that this plugin is causing FL Studio to crash. We used it with 3 various projects. Once we removed plugin, project loaded correctly.
- Variable Input
As a vari-mu compressor, variable input is what it’s all about. So, the first knob, Input Attenuation, lets you set the input drive from -18 to +18 dB. You can use it to drive the internal circuit and get saturation. In addition, it also features a high-pass filter labeled HPF that has a range of 20 Hz to 500 Hz.
A feature that plugins of this nature don’t provide is a separate threshold. However, VariMoon employs a ratio control (DC Threshold) and an actual threshold (AC Threshold) with a range of 50 dB. It’s crucial if you want clean compression without a driven input.
Finally, the Analog Obsession logo lets you enable a 4x oversampling to help you avoid aliasing caused by the saturation. However, since the plugin is relatively modest when it comes to saturation, you can get away without oversampling in most cases to save CPU.
VariMoon is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit and 64-bit and macOS 10.9 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3 and AU formats.
If you are after an analog-sounding compressor with plenty of features, look no further from VariMoon. The relatively fast attack makes it more of a clipping compressor than a gluing compressor, though. So, you will benefit from using it on vocals, instruments, and drum stems if you are looking to reduce harsh transients.
4. MT Power Drum Kit 2
MT Power Drum Kit 2 is the most feature-rich free drum plugin available.
This plugin stands out because of its comprehensiveness and exemplary user interface. MT Power Drum Kit 2 contains a single excellently sampled drum kit appropriate for rock and pop music. Also, the drum recording is pre-processed to stand out in a mix.
- Groove Library
The plugin features a midi groove library containing thousands of professionally performed grooves. There are intros, variations, fills, and endings neatly organized in folders. Furthermore, the browser’s Composer section lets you build an entire drum arrangement, which you can drag and drop into your DAW.
MT Power Drum Kit 2 has a built-in mixer where you can control the level and panning of each instrument. Furthermore, you can activate a compressor at the bottom of each channel and adjust it with an Amount knob. For further processing, the plugin supports multi-out to your DAW.
The plugin has even more surprisingly thought-out features often limited to paid plugins. First, you can assign midi mappings to make recording easier. Second, it supports e-kit features like hi-hat pedal CC# and a choke note for each cymbal. Not to mention the UI is resizable.
- Multi-Out Support
To further enhance flexibility in mixing and processing, MT Power Drum Kit 2 supports multi-out to your DAW. This means you can assign individual drum sounds to separate audio outputs within your DAW, allowing for more advanced processing and mixing capabilities. Multi-out support is particularly beneficial for producers who want to apply distinct effects and EQ to each drum element, creating a more polished and professional sound.
- MIDI Mapping for Enhanced Recording
The plugin offers MIDI mapping capabilities, enabling you to assign custom MIDI mappings to specific drum elements. This feature enhances the recording experience, allowing you to play and record drum parts using your MIDI controller in a way that feels most natural and intuitive to you. Custom MIDI mappings can be especially valuable for drummers who prefer a specific layout on their electronic drum kits, making the recording process smoother and more efficient.
- E-Kit Features Integration
For electronic drum kit (e-kit) users, MT Power Drum Kit 2 integrates e-kit features like hi-hat pedal CC# and cymbal choke notes. These features offer an authentic and expressive drumming experience, mirroring the capabilities of a physical drum set. The ability to trigger realistic hi-hat nuances and cymbal choke effects add depth and realism to your drum performances.
- Resizable User Interface
You get a resizable UI that ensures it can adapt to different screen sizes and resolutions, accommodating various display setups and personal preferences. Whether working on a large monitor or a smaller laptop screen, the resizable UI ensures you can optimize the plugin’s visual presentation, making it easier to navigate and control during your music production sessions.
The plugin is available for Windows XP or higher and macOS 10.5 or higher, 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST 2 and AU formats.
If you are after an acoustic drum plugin available for free, MT Power Drum Kit 2 is your best bet. It’s well-recorded, looks fabulous, and is fun to perform. And even if you don’t like the pre-processed sound of the plugin, it’s still highly useful for the massive midi grooves library.
5. Sound Magic Piano One (Piano)
Piano One is one of the best free piano plugins, especially if you are a pop musician.
This plugin features a deeply sampled Yamaha C7 concert grand piano. Over the audio samples, Piano One also utilizes a hybrid modeling engine to offer even more playability. However, since this is a free version of Sound Magic’s Neo Piano, some features are limited.
The limitations aren’t debilitating, though. The modeling engine’s sympathetic resonance feature is missing, and the piano samples are limited to 18 seconds. Neither should create any issues unless you intend to use the piano in a professional solo performance.
- Piano Tweaks
The plugin features overtone controls from the Harmonics section. You can shift the harmonic frequencies or change their level. Similarly, the Tone section lets you control the low and the high frequencies, and the Lid fader adds a low-pass filter to simulate the piano lid position. Furthermore, you can change the amount of hammer dampness, dynamic range, release amount, and so on.
- Built-in Reverb
Piano One has a dedicated reverb section, where you can adjust its parameters. It’s a relatively simple digital reverb, but it offers all the critical parameters. So, it’s fine for mixing with other instruments. If you are playing the piano solo, though, I’d suggest trying an outboard convolution reverb.
Piano One has a Perspective section to mix between the player and the audience’s perspective. I found that a blend between the two can result in a wider stereo space. And similarly, the Noises section features pedal, string, and hammer-off noise generators, which can add to the realism of your performance.
The following video by Kenny Gioia demonstrates the sound of Piano One. If you are using REAPER, the video also shows how to load the plugin in your DAW:
The plugin is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10 or higher, both 32-bit or 64-bit. It comes in VST 2 and AU formats.
Sound Magic Piano One is the free version of their paid Neo Piano plugin. And that means you will get premium-sounding samples but with somewhat limited features.
However, I don’t think the limitations are problematic; you’ll be hard-pressed to find similar quality for free elsewhere. Overall, I think it’s a worthy download.
6. Infected Sounds LITTL3-S25 (Moog-Inspired – Great For Bass, Leads & Plucks)
LITTL3-S25 is a free synthesizer with two oscillators and one sub-oscillator.
It is an 8-voice polyphonic synthesizer with sixteen waveforms with modulations/morphing and seven expansive effect modules to enhance your sounds. In addition, you get access to a ladder filter, four LFOs, three envelopes for pitch, filter, and amplitude, and syncable modulations to sculpt your sonics.
- Simple workflow
The plugin has the following windows: Presets, Pitch, Modulation, Oscillators, Mix, Filter, Envelopes, and Output. Each window allows you to go in-depth into your sound sculpting, covering each step in subtractive synthesis.
- Creative filters
The filters are warm, responsive, and smooth, allowing you to add vowel effects to your sound. You can change the slope, adjust the resonance, add harmonics, and change the filter’s envelope mix amount and level.
- Sound sources
There are two oscillators and one sub-oscillator so that you can adjust the exact frequency, octave, and waveform for the main oscillators and just the waveform and amount of the sub-oscillator. You can also mix in noise (white, pink, etc.) as a sound source.
- Expansive modulations
You can add LFO to the pitch and envelope and adjust its rate, source, waveform, and wave amount. You can sync the LFO to the session’s tempo and apply the LFO to just the second oscillator.
The plugin is available only for windows in 32/64bit VST/VST2/VST3 plugin formats and doesn’t work with Logic Pro and Pro Tools, but it is compatible with FL Studio, Abelton, Studio One, Cubase, etc.
Everything from the interface and the workflow in the virtual synthesizer is pretty sorted out, with about a hundred sounds to get you started with the LITTL3-S25. The preset collection is great and the synth also sounds good! It has a warm tone and is great for Moog-type sounds. Too bad it’s not available for macOS.
7. Bassprofessor MarkII (Bass Guitar Enhancer)
With the Bassprofessor MarkII plugin from Sonic Anomaly, you can take your bass DI and make it sound like it was recorded with an amp.
Recording a bass DI is a regular practice in music production. The point is that this signal is ideal for the extraction of low-end. But that’s only half the battle. To achieve the full bass sound, you need to add a track from the amp to the top. Not a problem if you don’t have this equipment, because you can use an emulation.
Bassprofessor MarkII is a bass amp sim and enhancer that you can use entirely for free. But, unfortunately, this only applies to Windows users. However, this plugin has all the necessary settings to add drive to the bass line, fill it with sub information, or make it more expressive and cut through the mix. You’ll have as many as seven bands with which to sculpt a bass sound to your liking.
- Control Your Low-End Frequencies
The three bands will refer to the control of the three main areas of low information. These faders are called Sub Bass, Lo Bass, and Hi Bass. Adjust them to get the sound you want.
- Add Some Fullness
This fader helps you make the bass track fuller because it adjusts the midrange frequencies. But be careful because it can also add some muddiness to your sound.
- Adjust the Articulation
With the Atric control, you can add more detail to your bass sound. It makes the attack more expressive, which will also be especially useful in mixing.
- Be Aggressive and Bright
The last two faders are called Presence and Treble. Dive into experimenting with them to make your sound more aggressive or vice versa softer. Treble controls the high frequencies, which will help you achieve more brightness.
- Dirt Control
After you’ve worked on the frequency spectrum of your bass, add some dirt to it. You will see the corresponding control on the right. It is what will add the level of distortion to your signal.
The plugin is available for Windows, both 32 and 64-bit. It comes in VST format.
With the free Bassprofessor MarkII plugin, you get a lot of power in shaping your bass tone. You’ll have complete control over bass, midrange, and treble and tune your distortion level. Still, it’s worth remembering that this amp sim is only available to Windows users and is provided in a single VST format.
8. Variety Of Sound Thrillseeker XTC (Exciter)
The Thrillseeker XTC is a three-band exciter that promises to mimic an analog signal chain.
The plugin consists of five bypassable areas: The three EQ bands, the saturation, and the output. The frequency knobs on the EQ modules let you sweep through the frequencies. Each band has a volume knob that can add up to 10dB of gain at an extensive fixed Q. The LOW and AIR sections generate shelf-like equalization.
- MOJO: This appropriately named knob increases harmonic distortion while rolling out a bit of the high-end. It sounds subtle, but it actually makes a huge difference when it’s all the way up. You’ll miss it if you bypass it.
- DRIVE: This button increases the lows and mids by about 5dB when turned all the way up. This ensures that the user doesn’t overdo the effect, which can be undesirable in some situations. For a saturation-like effect, You should combine it with the MOJO knob.
Character & Sound:
At first glance, the UI gives you the impression that the plugin will provide extreme sonic enhancement. That is not the case, though. The effect sounds very subtle, which is good because that makes it useful for mastering and mixing. Even so, we wouldn’t complain if it offered a little extra edge to the sound.
This is a Windows-only plugin available as a 32-bit VST, although it is bridgeable to 64-bit systems.
The Thrillseeker XTC by Variety of Sound, although subtle, is a very capable plugin. It does deliver the warmth it promises, and the 3-band EQ is an excellent addition. Overall, this is a nice exciter to have in your toolbox if you’re on Windows.
9. Techivation T-De-Esser (De-Esser)
Techivation T-De-Esser delivers a convenient performance in a vast spectrum of implementations. While offering a powerful engine, T-De-Esser is a surprising plugin you can get for free.
The De-Esser developed by Techivation works amicably. Its low CPU usage and intuitive controls make it a straightforward tool for controlling the higher frequencies in any mix.
Its modest interface shouldn’t mean it portrays a lower execution capacity. T-De-Esser’s modern algorithms are exact at acting upon sibilant signals without compromising any natural and organic textures from the sound.
The highly modern algorithms that T-De-Esser offers will act extremely solidly to adjust the processing. The central knob, named “Processing,” is where you control their preferred values to determine the De-Esser compression. You can monitor the level by looking at the metering adjacent to the Processing knob. You can set specific numbers after double-clicking the dB value featured in the knob.
Apart from a Processing knob, Techivation’s De-Esser also features two more knobs, Intensity and Sharpness, and a frequency range display. With Intensity, the plugin’s threshold level will determine how much gain reduction the signal will get. Sharpness offers transitioning controls for the compressed and non-compressed states of the audio going through, giving you a choice on a smoother progressive compression or a more aggressive one.
- A/B Switch
T-De-Esser has a handy tool called A/B Switch. When activated, this feature will give you the possibility to switch between two different De-Esser’s behaviors. By allowing producers to compare distinct settings for sibilance compression, Techivation’s plugin allows quick and versatile de-esser performances.
This plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit and 64-bit and macOS 11.2.2 or higher 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
T-De-Esser is highly optimal for producers in a fast-paced production. Deeply intuitive, the de-esser by Techivation will deliver excellent sibilance compression while being completely CPU-friendly. You can adjust the excitingly customizable interface for many different sizes within this on-budget de-esser.
10. Newfangled Audio Pendulate (For Bass & Sub)
Pendulate is a refreshingly different synth plugin by Newfangled Audio, and it’s free! It uses a brand new oscillator technology that features a double-pendulum-oscillator to create sounds unlike any others heard on synths of the past.
Pendulate is marketed as a chaotic monosynth, and we believe that name is well deserved. You can also get a FREE pack full of 100 lead, bass & subbass presets for Pendulate HERE.
- Innovative Oscillator
Just like a double pendulum, Pendulate’s chaotic oscillator has two legs, named chaos amount and chaos shape. When the chaos amount is set to 0, the oscillator plays a sinewave, and when increased up to 100, the chaotic oscillator will be fully heard. As you increase the chaos shape, more overtones are added, shaping the oscillator’s sound and giving it gritty noises and more color. The animate control pleasingly detunes the oscillator, and the two sub oscillators add lower frequencies in the mix.
- Wavefolder for gritty sounds
Pendulate is equipped with its own wavefolder modeled after the one found in the Bucla 259 complex oscillator. This one sounds astonishing, especially considering that it comes at no cost. A waveform is a type of distortion that folds the waveform onto itself, creating large amounts of harmonics. You can create bright, growly basses or warmer gritty tones due to the waveform’s cutoff knob that lets you further control the number of harmonics that pass through.
- Unlimited modulation options
Every parameter in Pendulate can be modulated by any combination of the modulation outputs in the mod section. Specifically, up to 325 modulation points for you to experiment with, all in a single panel. The modulation setup process works and looks like a semi-modular synth, with cables appearing when connecting two modulation points. The interface is clean, and the graphic representation of the oscillator is unique and eye-catching, making the modulation process all the more enjoyable.
Pendulate is available on Windows 8 and higher, 32/64-bit (AAX, VST2, VST3) and Mac OS 10.11 and higher, 64-bit only (AAX, AU, VST2, VST3)
Pendulate is a one-of-a-kind synthesizer. It uses a new oscillator technology based on the physics of a doubled pendulum and can create unique, unheard-of sounds. The fact that it’s free makes it all the more appealing.
It’s perfect for those seeking new ways to practice synthesis and hunt new sounds, but also for new sound enthusiasts that wish to learn synthesis in a different, more experimental way.
11. Analog Obsession Britpressor (Channel Compressor)
Get the sound of the Beatles and early Pink Floyd with this plugin.
Britpressor is an emulation of the classic British channel compressor that was the sound of many hit albums from the 60s and beyond. The plugin is actually a part of a three-plugins bundle called BritBundle, which includes a preamp/filter, a compressor, and a complete channel.
The plugin features a limiter as well as a compressor. However, it doesn’t function well as a mastering limiter. Instead, it is much more preferable for clipping off drum busses or instrument tracks to keep everything under control. The second needle meter shows its gain reduction.
- Built-in Preamp
The built-in preamp gives the plugin its warm sound. Furthermore, you can also drive the input using the three-band EQ provided. If you enjoy warm, saturated sounds, you can control which part of your frequency spectrum gets more treatment with ease.
- External Side-Chain
In addition to everything else, it also features an external side-chain input, which is well known for ducking your synths or bass when the kick hits. Note that you can use the EQ we mentioned earlier to adjust the level of detected frequencies too.
Bitpressor is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit and 64-bit and macOS 10.9 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3 and AU formats.
Using channel plugins is a great way to save time. If you don’t own one yet, the BritBundle is a great starting point. Further, with Bitpressor’s 4x oversampling capability, you will always get pristine quality. Not to mention the handy mix knob for easy NY/parallel compression.
The Bedroom Compressor is a great free variant that can easily rival other free compressors on the market, and it’s a great alternative if you are on a tighter budget. The plugin only features six knobs for adjustments, it’s great for beginners, but it can get the job done even for experienced professionals.
The attack speed and high-pass filter settings are great additions that allow you to determine what exact sound you want to end up with. The compressor has an on/off button, allowing you to quickly compare the before and after sound.
12. Klanghelm IVGI 2
An exciting plugin that reacts dynamically to the input signal, delivering a natural saturation or dense distortion in no time.
This is the second version of the IVGI plugin by Klanghelm – by the way, you can use the original and this second version at the same time if you’d like to -, equipped with the same controls but a renewed algorithm. This freeware software has many parameters to set while retaining a compact and pleasant visual interface.
A dedicated “Trim” knob controls the input level, the “Drive” knob deals with the saturation, and the “Output” knob sets the post-circuit volume. These three settings should get you into saturation territory, but a dedicated “Response” knob will also help you tame the frequencies on your signal.
At last, the “Relaxed” switch will bring a variation of the original IVGI algorithm, so you have one more sound profile character to choose from.
IVGI 2 has a great control dedicated to the crosstalk effect. This used to happen in vintage units quite often. Essentially, the signal from one track can be leaked to another, like a bass going into the drums. Modern software can’t replicate this, so controls like “X-Talk” are an excellent addition to achieve a more old-school and vintage-oriented color in your productions. Of course, you can disable it by setting the knob at zero.
- Asym Mix
This is a kind of transparency tool to make your distortion signal as clear as possible. At 0 value, you’ll have symmetric saturation, with a strong compression character; if you turn it up to 10, an asymmetric distortion with a more clean and transparent profile will be brought up. This can be a good way of getting a notable distorted effect without grainy or fuzzy aspects.
- VU meter modes
There are three options available: the “In” deals with the volume of the “Trim” knob, the “Out” monitors the “Output” control, and the “Out-In” option will display the RMS difference between both input and output. It’s an excellent way to properly gain stage your track with a simple visual tool.
This plugin runs in macOS in 32 or 64-bit and Windows in 32 or 64-bit. It comes in VST, VST3, AAX, and AU plugin formats.
With quite a few nice features, IVGI 2 is a pleasant update from its predecessor. It has functions, like the crosstalk and the asymmetrical distortion, that are not usually included on freeware plugins and can be extremely useful. There are few controls, which is good because it focuses on what the plugin is supposed to, without much hard work on the process.
13. Tritik Krush
When the pro version is too much for you, go with Tritik Krush, a free alternative for producers of any skill level.
Almost everything you want from a Bitcrusher plugin is available in the Tritik Krush. Featuring the same simple knobs and detailed information of the Pro version, this plugin will surely help when you need to alter your sample. It has much-needed simple features such as a resizable interface, sample rate reduction, and more advanced ones like the in-depth wave modulation system.
- Sample Rate Reduction
A simple way to shape your sound, sample rate reduction allows you to crush the audio signal by lowering the sample rate gradually. You can use this excellent feature for lo-fi beats and chill tracks.
- Modulation Depth
The modulation system in the Krush plugin allows you to apply an interesting LFO to the bitcrushing effect. Parameters such as drive, crush, and downsampling gives new changes to your already altered audio signal. Choose the wave type, set the wave’s rate, and see what you can come up with.
- Preset System
Try out different presets if you are out of ideas, or save your custom preset with the fantastic file-based system for later use. You can then later access the custom presets through a menu system or the preset browser.
Krush is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.6 or higher, both 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
The plugin is simple, yet it has some great features that get the job done exceptionally well. The tempo-synced modulation and the incredible sounding resonant filters are an excellent addition to the plugin. I recommend this plugin for anyone who loves minimalistic, highly usable programs.
14. Vladg Sound Limiter №6 (Limiter)
VladG Sound’s Limiter №6 is a free option to another plugin on this list: TDR’s Limiter 6 GE.
VladG’s Limiter Nº6 is a transparent plugin with a great application for mastering. It eliminates the need for more plugins in the signal chain, although it doesn’t offer as many possibilities as TDR’s. You get several parameters, as well as modes, that bring up different flavors to this plugin.
- Five Modules:
A complete compressor with Gain, Ratio, Attack, Release, Dry Mix, and Stereo/Mid-Side options.
- Peak Limiter
A capable peak limiter with five types and four modes, versatile and suitable for most musical genres.
- High-Frequency Limiter
Strong de-esser with a simple threshold knob.
A great addition to the signal chain, this clipper offers three modes and an upsampling option for better clarity. You can bring soft or hard distortion to your mix and still sound harmonic.
This is no more than an output limiter in which you can set the ceiling for the whole chain. Also, you can compensate for the increased gain added by the previous steps. You control the output in ISPs (inter-sample peaks) with a soft-clipping option.
- Classic VUs
Limiter Nº6 provides the user with classic VUs with multiple needles for Mid-Side Gain reduction metering. It lacks a metering section, though. Whether in LUFs, RMS, or True Peak EBU, you need another plugin to measure your output information.
You can change the order between the compressor and the limiter at the compressor’s upper right corner. This changes the signal flow to limit first and increases the overall volume with the compressor afterward.
Character & Sound:
Overall, this is a very clean-sounding plugin, with little to no added distortion. If all parameters are at zero, it will add no coloration whatsoever. That’s great for mastering since it lets you focus on the limiting and compression you’re adding to the track.
VladG’s Limiter Nº6 is available for 32 and 64-bit Mac and Windows computers, as VST2 and AU formats.
An impressive plugin like this for free is almost too good to be true. This is an essential tool for serious mastering, especially for producers and engineers working exclusively in the box. The Limiter 6 is versatile and eliminates the need for more plugins in the chain, helping you focus your attention on a single interface.
15. s(M)exoscope oscilloscope 5
S(M)exoscope oscilloscope is the result of hard-working engineers all around the globe wanting to make a versatile and accessible tool for producers and synthesis enthusiasts.
The fact that s(M)exoscope oscilloscope has a small set of controls is not an obstacle. Its features make it feel like working with analog signals in a simplified way. With the commands that this analyzer offers, you will have everything you need to customize your signal display.
- Display controls
Two knobs allow you to set the oscilloscope display. The “Amp” knob controls the amplitude of the waveform, so if your signal level is too low, you might want to turn this up a bit for better visualization. The “Time” knob controls the number of pixels in each sample, meaning that the lower you set this, the finer the resolution of your waveform.
Sometimes signals can have a DC offset which makes the signal hard to visualize in an oscilloscope. With the DC-Kill toggle activated, you will remove the DC offset and center the signal in your current view.
- Retrigger modes
S(M)exoscope oscilloscope has four different retrigger modes that determine how often it erases the display and starts drawing again. The free mode is the default, meaning that the display only erases when the waveform reaches the end of the display area. With the rising mode, the retrigger happens when the signal peak rises past the level set by the left fader or the value set by the “Retrigger Threshold” knob. The falling mode works identically, but when the signal peak is below these levels. Lastly, the internal mode retriggers the display at a frequency set by the “Internal Trig Speed” knob.
- Analysis tool
You can use this tool to have detailed information on the waveform. By clicking anywhere on display, you will place a marker. It will calculate amplitude in linear and decibel scales, length from the beginning of the display to the marker in samples and time, and selection frequency assuming this selection is one cycle in length. This feature can be helpful to measure the decay of a percussive element or the frequency of a sample tone.
This plugin is available for Windows and macOS X, both 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3 formats.
Sound designers and producers can enjoy the diversity of display options that s(M)exoscope has to offer. Its features make it feel like a pocket version of an actual oscilloscope with some exciting additions. With controls like retrigger modes and the analysis tool, s(M)exoscope oscilloscope can adapt to any input signal and provide precise information on the plugins’ influence on the signal.
16. Voxengo Stereo Touch
Voxengo Stereo Touch runs an exclusive coding method to make mono tracks perform organically well in stereo environments.
The manufacturer’s recommendation is to avoid using this plugin on tracks with highly out-of-balance transients. The plugin performs well in basses, guitars, acoustic guitars, and voices.
Without double-tracking, Stereo Touch expands the spatial feeling with fidelity to the sources. Surprise the mix with massive spaces and even provide a “surround” sensation.
The plugin has an intuitive group of knobs that allows you to shape and control the signal’s character. A Delay 1 knob sets the first delay’s time, using the D1 Gain to adjust its loudness. If you enable the second delay, the Delay 2 knob adjusts its time while using the D2 Gain to adjust its loudness. Both HP Filter and LP Filter work intuitively to change the high-pass and low-pass filters, respectively.
The plugin’s interface is user-friendly. The knobs position themselves in a productive sequence, allowing for quick setup. You can also adjust the Out Gain effectively in a single panel. Furthermore, the interface also offers handy switches for allowing a Delay 2 and a D2 PH INV button, which enables phase inversion on the second delay. You can also toggle the HPF and LPF quickly at their respective switches.
This plugin is available for Windows XP or higher 32-bit and 64-bit and macOS 10.11 or higher 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Voxengo Stereo Touch acts friendly towards both the CPU and you. The light and swift plugin offers a total of eight knobs that shapes the fundamental characteristics of the stereo image. Furthermore, any mono signal going through Stereo Touch will receive spatial enlargement without any phasing issues, maintaining the natural textures of the original recording.
17. MaxSynths DR-910 (Drum Machine)
As the name suggests, DR-910 is a Roland TR-909 drum machine emulation.
The plugin attempts to recreate the original unit’s sounds by emulating each sound section (kick, snare, tom, hi-hat, and cymbal) individually. The result is a delightfully close reproduction. Furthermore, it adds to the legacy by including effects to make mixing easier.
- Mixing Effects
The DR-910 includes a reverb, compressor, and a Lo-Fi effect. Each channel has an individual send control for the reverb, whereas the compressor is tailored to work with drums. And the Lo-Fi effect includes three modes for convenience. Overall, they offer enough for in-the-box mixing.
- Four Outputs
The plugin includes four outputs for external mixing. They come in handy in real-world uses. Not only that, you can assign one of the outputs for the reverb channel as well. So, you can process the wet reverb signal alone with EQs or other effect plugins to achieve cleaner mixes.
The plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit only. It comes in VST 2 format.
If you are a fan of the Roland TR-909 drum machine, you will enjoy this plugin. It captures the long-standing classic used in pop, hip-hop, electro, and many other genres. The multi-out feature also provides much more flexibility than one would expect.
18. Fuse Audio Labs VREV-666 (Spring Reverb)
Inspired by an old 1960s circuit, this spring reverb brings the clarity, richness, and vibe that only a genuine vintage unit could offer.
This is not the most realistic or accurate recreation of a unit, and that’s just fine. Any sound input – an instrument, vocal line, or drum kit recording – will sound charismatic and vibrant, with just as few as four controls to be adjusted overall. It gets a characteristic of its own, and that’s when this plugin shines.
- It’s on the knobs
You have a mix stage, a pre-delay control with the possibility to go up to 150 milliseconds, an EQ capable of shaping out the tone of the spring section on the low-frequency range, and a dedicated limiter that helps tame the peaks on the spring tank. That’s as much as controlling as you’d get. The rest is up to you.
- Friendly packaging
Without much luxury, this is a pretty interface. It gets the woody, vintage feel of a genuine reverb unit from the 1960s. You can dial in the parameters like in an old gear: you better trust your ears over what you see on the screen.
- It’s on the knobs
This plugin runs in macOS 10.12 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (32 and 64-bit). It comes in VST2, VST3, AU, and AAX plugin formats.
Instead of spending many dollars on a unit worthy of big recording studios, this free plugin is a must-have in your DAW and will assist you just as any other similar recreation would.
The good thing is that it ends up being a great sounding tool on its own, capable of achieving perfect sound and identity on each nuance of the reverb. Nothing like a genuine unit, but very close to it.
19. Sonic Anomaly Transpire (Transient Shaper)
With only four knobs, Transpire is Sonic Anomaly’s intuitive take on transient shaping.
Although mysterious at first sight, the UI is very straightforward. The two upper knobs are the transient controls, while the two lower control the dynamics. You also get two meters up top. The one on the left indicates how dull or sharp the attack is. The one on the right shows how short or long the decay is. In between the meters, there’s a clip indicator.
- Sensitivity: the knob on the lower-left corner controls the plugin’s accuracy towards smaller transients. If you turn it all the way up, the plugin will attack all transients with similar intensity. In the middle, tall and medium-sized peaks get processed. Lower sensitivity is best for non-percussive instruments because it doesn’t have to process as many transients.
Character & Sound:
Transpire is a clean-sounding plugin overall. The only feature that can add subtle coloration is the output clipper. You don’t need to turn the attack up too much before you can see the clip light on. It rounds out the sound’s spikes without heavy distortion, even though it’s a hard clipper.
Transpire is a Windows-only VST plugin that works in 32- and 64-bit machines.
This simple yet capable tool is a great free transient shaper. If you’re on Windows and trying to make the budget, but you desperately need a transient shaper, this should be your go-to. Sonic Anomaly’s done a great job creating a reliable, CPU-friendly plugin that solves your transient problems.
20. MeldaProduction ConvolutionEZ (Convolution Reverb)
Melda Production’s ConvolutionEZ is a free plugin by the same developers of MConvolutionMB.
And before we start, this is not a free version of that plugin. It’s an entirely different proposal that achieves very distant results. The ConvolutionEZ is a single-band convolution reverb with a surprisingly big impulse response library.
From basic rooms to sound-design-oriented environments, the ConvolutionEZ is an extremely versatile plugin. It covers from the most commonly found plates, different-sized rooms, and halls to box and household items simulations. All this enables you to work on virtually any project with satisfying results.
Character and Sound:
The plugin offers very few controls, which means that you’ll have to trust the sound of the samples. You can apply low- and high-pass filters and blend the input and output signals. Other than that, you can enhance the stereo widening and, when using a stereo input, you can check the balance between the mid and side channels using the Width meter.
The ConvolutionEZ is available as a VST, AU, and AAX plugin for 32- and 64-bit PCs running Windows 7 or up, and 64-bit only Macs running macOS10.9 and newer
The second Melda Productions plugin on this list is a freeware that can hardly live up in versatility to its paid cousin. Even so, it’s a great way to enter the Melda ecosystem and use your own IRs or the plugin’s vast library. The ConvolutionEZ is a nice addition to your collection if you need interesting and unique IRs to work with.
AlexHilton A1 TriggerGate
Either if it’s a chopped synth sequence or noise gating, A1 TriggerGate can manage it.
A1 TriggerGate delivers the popular rhythmic gate effect on many Psytrance synths in a straightforward and intuitive interface. The plugin features a pattern sequencer of four steps where you can adjust different note gains and lengths for giving more movement to the melodic or harmonic sections on your track. Additionally, the plugin adjusts itself to your project’s BPM, so you don’t have to worry about leaks in other steps or out-of-sync problems.
The magic of A1 TriggerGate is thanks to its pattern sequencer, where you can set up to four steps with 1/16 notes when using the Normal Mode and three steps with 1/8T notes when using the Triplet mode. The top toggle corresponds to the steps’ volume, and the bottom corresponds to the length. You can experiment with different lengths on each step and see what exciting sequences come out of that.
- Gate envelope
At the bottom left, you have an envelope graph with the corresponding knobs for its attack, hold, decay, sustain, and release. This envelope alters the behavior of the gating effect and subsequently modifies the sound’s motion. Some chord progressions can have an appealing feel by setting a long decay.
- Global effects
When you press the “Expert Mode” button, you can use a series of effects to add more character to your audio. Once you activate this mode, you’ll have access to a low-pass filter, distortion, and delay. These effects are straightforward, and each one has only two controls to modify them, but having these additions is highly appreciated. If you need to bypass all the effects, click the “Global FX Off” button at the top right.
If you feel short of ideas, you can use the randomizer accessible when the “Expert Mode” is active. You’ll see three buttons with the letter R on them, but each one randomizes different things. The top one randomizes the volumes of the notes in the sequences, and the one at the bottom randomizes the lengths, but if you prefer to randomize both parameters, click the R button at the left.
This plugin is available for Windows XP or higher and macOS 10.6 or higher, both 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST 2, AAX, and AU formats.
The functioning of a sequencer is one of the most fun and easiest ways to produce music, and AlexHilton offers that workflow to give motion to basslines, leads, and chord progressions with a simple set of controls. It’s amazing how a series of volume and note length modifications can turn a simple synth into a head-tilting rhythmic sequence and the ability to do so with just a few clicks.
Blue Cat’s Flanger
Blue Cat’s Flanger is a versatile free plugin that can go from harsh and metallic to smooth and soft.
Blue Cat Audio’s Flanger is a free VST plugin capable of producing various effects, from subtle to extreme. It’s a great-sounding plugin with a variety of modulation options and an intuitive user interface. It is a unique plugin with two different modes: the first mode resembles a traditional stereo flanger, whereas the second mode turns the plugin into a powerful frequency-modulation tool.
While many of the plugins on Blue Cat Audio’s website are aimed at more advanced users, Flanger is one of the few plugins they offer that is great for beginners.
- Customizable UI:
Provides the users with an opportunity to change the plugin’s skin, adjust transparency, and activate/deactivate it at will. Also, when the plugin is fed with silence, it smoothly shuts down any processing and optimizes your DAW’s CPU usage.
- Simple and effective:
Despite the simpleness shown in Blue Cat’s Flanger user interface, the plugin gives us many possibilities to use it freely. It has complete midi control and automation support that includes midi learn and advanced response control. You can also switch between triangle or sine LFO shape and bypass with absolute silence.
Supports Windows 7 and higher, Supports macOS 10.7 or higher, runs on 32 and 64 bit, and comes in VST2, VST3, AU, and AAX formats.
The main advantage of the Blue Cat Audio’s Flanger is its versatility. You can use it for simple flanging effects. Still, it can also emulate the most popular vintage flangers (and many other effect boxes) thanks to its variable mode section that allows you to select the flanger type.
The user interface of Flanger is very easy to use, thanks to the large interactive knobs that provide direct control over the parameters. A “randomize” button, with its associated knob, helps you explore new sonic textures.
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