If you need good mixing software but don’t have the money to buy the expensive ones, go no further. This article will show you the 20 Best Free Mixing Plugins For Musicians 2022.
Let’s face the truth: many popular mixing plugins are quite expensive. Yes, you can find them at sales and get them at more or less reasonable prices. But what if you’re a beginner and don’t have the necessary budget for software? In that case, we’ve prepared a list of 20 mixing plugins you can use for free.
The list is universal. It means that these products can be used by both electronic music producers and mix engineers working with rock and metal. Just find what you like best and learn how to use it firsthand.
20 Best FREE Mixing Plugins 2022 (Various Types)
1. Slate Digital Fresh Air (Vintage Exciter)
Fresh Air from Slate Digital will help add clarity and brilliance to your vocals and mixes without harshness.
We often want to take the blanket away from our mixes, giving them more presence and spark. For many years this was possible thanks to exciters, special studio units that added content in the upper frequencies. The good news is that now you can achieve this for free.
Slate Digital’s Fresh Air plugin will help you do just that. It’s a dynamic processor that affects the mid and high frequencies, bringing them to life by adding air. The great thing about this software is that it’s as simple as possible since you’ll only have the two main knobs. So let’s take a closer look at it.
- A Simple Operation
It won’t take long to learn this plugin – there are only two knobs with which the main control is performed. In particular, these are Mid Air and High Air. Adjust them and listen to how the clarity level changes. By the way, you can also link and control them simultaneously.
- Trim Control
By processing the mid and high frequencies, your signal can get hotter. Therefore, you will need to balance it with the previous level. To do this, the plugin developers implemented a special Trim knob, essentially a regulator of the output signal.
- Simple Metering
Despite its minimalistic design, the plugin has a modern-looking Meter at the top of the window. It will give you a clear view of what’s going on with your signal. Also, press the Power button to bypass the plugin and compare the level with the previous one.
- Based On Vintage Exciter Technology
The developers of the Fresh Air plugin claim that it is based on Vintage Exciter Technology. It is what allows it to add brilliance and shimmer. Also, several parallel processes are implemented here, which should help bring clarity to the sound.
Slate Digital Fresh Air is available for Windows 8 or higher and macOS 10.13 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Fresh Air is a great plugin for adding presence to your sound. The best part is that you can use it on vocals and other instruments and mix buses. In addition, it’s unusually easy to use. The software especially comes in handy for pop vocals, but you can also use it for any other genre, including metal.
2. Valhalla Super Massive (Pro Delay/Reverb)
Valhalla’s Super Massive is a delay and reverb plugin that will surprise you with its versatility.
Adding spaciness is standard practice in almost any music production, be it EDM, pop, or rock. The two main effects that make this possible are delay and reverb. What if we told you you could get both of them in one plugin?
Such is the software Super Massive from the famous company Valhalla, which specializes in effects plugins. Advanced settings here help you sharpen the effect as you like.
In addition to all this, you also get an array of presets. It will be useful if you don’t want to spend much time with the settings and want to get the more or less ready sound of the effect.
But the real cherry on the cake here is the presence of mods. They all feature different attacks, decay, and density. So, you can find an option that suits your creative situation.
- Delay & Warp Control
As we said before, all the settings will be at your fingertips. In particular, the two central knobs are Delay and Warp. The first one is responsible for the length of the longest delay and can be adjusted both in milliseconds and based on BPM and notes. The Warp parameter helps to affect the delays in feedback.
- Adjust Mix and Width
On the left side of the window, you will see two controls, Mix and Width. The first adjusts the ratio of dry and wet signals. Therefore, you will be able to determine how much effect you want. The second is responsible for the width of the effect in the stereo picture.
- Sharpen Your Effect Even More
You will find more plugin settings on the right side of the window. In particular, there are Feedback, Density, MOD, and Depth. And, of course, the EQ section at the very end, which is High and Low Pass Filters.
- 16 Different Modes
The number of different mods in the plugin is mind-blowing. There are options with fast, medium, and long attacks. The same goes for decay and density. In general, there are both short delays and very long reverbs and echoes.
- Vast Number Of Presets
As for the presets, there are also quite a huge number of them. You will find all possible reverbs based on different sizes. Also among the options are different delays, mods, and SFX.
Valhalla Super Massive is available for Windows and macOS, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
If you learn how to use the Valhalla Super Massive plugin well, new possibilities will open up in your music production. In addition, you’ll be able to get sound effects that you haven’t heard before. All these thanks to a huge number of mods and advanced settings. Overall, it’s a great software for musicians and sound designers alike.
3. Integraudio & Sixth Sample Deelay (Delay, Reverb, Granular FX, Sound Design Tool)
Deelay is a wonderful plugin from Integraudio and Sixth Sample that will surprise you with its many features.
There are stock delay plugins in almost every DAW. But sooner or later, the time may come when their functionality is not enough for you, especially if you want to look for a new sound or are engaged in sound design. In this case, the Deelay plugin will be especially useful. And the good news is that it’s completely free.
The number of different presets here is simply mind-boggling. All of them have a very different sounds. So you can glide through them until you find what you need.
One of the main features of this software is the presence of different types of distortion. Such a variety will be difficult to find even in the well-known paid plugins.
And, of course, the different types of mods. The Deelay plugin has as many as 5 of them. That’s enough for you to get the sound you want. Let’s now look at the features in more detail.
- Balanced Control Layout
When you first look at the settings of this plugin, they may seem a bit complicated to you. But in fact, everything is well-balanced here. For example, in the center, you’ll have the basic parameters that are responsible for the effect’s operation, like the Delay Time, Ping-Pong and Mono switches, and the Ducking settings. You’ll have Feedback, Spread, Lo, and Hi Cut Filters on the sides.
- 5 Different Modes of Operation
The mod choice will be fundamental to the operation of the delay. The plugin will give you options such as Normal, Reverse Forward, Pure Reversed, Chaos, and Reversed Chaos. For example, Reverse Forward can produce an inverted echo every second, and Pure Reversed every time. As for Chaos, it changes every echo’s pitch interval.
- 11 Shades of Distortion
The number of Distortion types here is also quite extensive. These include Saturation, Asymmetrical, Clip, Tube, Rectify, Crackly, Lightning, Amp, Bumpy, Razor, and Pixelated. Each one sounds appropriate to its name. So, for example, if we say Lightning, you get harshness and white noise. And Tube will give the effect of tube amplifiers.
- Extensive Number of Presets
If you don’t want to bother with the settings, you can always choose from many presets. The plugin team created them. For example, they are divided here into subgroups Color, Design, Non Delay, Normal Delay, and Reverb. Of course, you will also have the opportunity to save your custom presets.
- Additional Unique Features
The plugin also has many other unique features that make it very versatile. In particular, you can control Echo Offset and Deff Quality. In addition, you can apply a distortion before the output itself. And, of course, there is a separate Randomize button that gives you a random set of settings every time.
Deelay is available for Windows 8.1 and higher (both 32 and 64-bit) and macOS 10.9 and higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST3 and AU formats.
Deelay by Integraudio & Sixth Sample is one of those plugins that is hard to believe that they are free. You get a huge number of different features that help you achieve a unique sound of delay and reverb. And it’s all thanks to the advanced settings, different operation modes, and lots of types of distortion.
4. Analog Obsession FRANK 2 (Analog EQ)
The FRANK 2 plugin from Analog Obsession is a tonal shaping EQ that is based on well-known studio hardware equalizers.
The tonal shaping equalizer would be a great tool to give some color and expressiveness to your instruments. It is exactly the plugin of the famous company Analog Obsession, which creates its software based on analog gear. All products are free, but you can support the developer on Patreon.
Overall, there are three bands of EQ, Low and High Pass filters. So by the plugin’s name, you can understand that it is a kind of Frankenstein. And it is not strange because each parameter is taken from a separate studio equalizer, whether API, Neve, or Pultec. So let’s take a closer look at the plugin.
- High and Low Pass Filters
The two Low and High Pass filter knobs are located on both sides of the window. The first is based on the Helios and allows you to cut from 0 to 15 dB at 50 hertz. The second one is a Pultec-style high-frequency attenuator, allowing you to go from zero to 10 decibels.
- Adjust The Lows
As for the low frequencies, you will have two whole knobs at your fingertips. The first is a boost, and the second is an attenuator. Their frequency of action is 60 hertz. In general, they are based on Pultec units.
- Mid Control
The black knob on the gray background will be responsible for the mid frequencies. You will be able to cut and boost up to 15 decibels. Most likely, this setting is based on API hardware.
- Add Some Highs
And, of course, the knob on the green background will help you remove or add high frequencies. It’s a shelf. At least you can tell that from the little icon above the knob. Here the creators took the Neve units as the basis.
- Input and Output Knobs
Notably, the plugin allows you to drive more signal into it thanks to the Input control. So you can add more harmonics to it. There is also an Output knob, which helps balance the signal’s outcome.
Analog Obsession FRANK 2 is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher. It comes in VST/3 and AU formats.
The FRANK 2 plugin can be your to-go equalizer for working with any instrument. It can be vocals, guitars, bass, and drums. Yes, the plugin is a kind of Frankenstein, but that’s how it’s designed to give you a unique sound. So experiment with it to see for yourself.
5. Analog Obsession Room041 (Reverb)
The Room041 plugin by Analog Obsession gives you room reverb and plenty of tonal shaping options.
If you need to add spatiality to your tracks, namely room, the next item on our list might do the trick. It is Room041, the first reverb plugin created by Analog Obsession. It is not modeled from any unit, but you will find here settings of one of the famous plate reverbs.
Overall, you get enough settings for the reverb effect itself, but a few extra features are packed here. For example, you’ll be able to add saturation as well as tonal shaping thanks to the Post EQ section. And now about all of it in more detail.
- Sharpen Your Reverb
There are three knobs for setting the reverb itself. In particular, these are Pre Delay and Decay. Thanks to them, you can adjust the tail and the character. There is also a Stereo Separation control, which is responsible for the transition from mono to stereo.
- Preamp Section
It’s something you don’t always see in reverb plugins. Room041 has a separate preamp section. Here you will have the Drive control, which will help you to add saturation. You also get a High Pass Filter range of 20 to 100Hz.
- Add Some EQ
It is also noteworthy that this plugin has a Post EQ section. So you will be able to influence the frequency spectrum of your effect. In general, there is a Low knob ranging from 20 Hz to 2k Hz and a High from 200 Hz to 20k Hz. Both parameters you can cut or boost by 24 dB.
- Be Dry or Wet
And, of course, you will have a separate section to adjust the ratio of the dry and wet signals. These are the two Dry and Wet knobs, which are located in the upper right corner of the plugin window. So, for example, if Wet is turned to full and Dry to a minimum, you will get the maximum affected signal.
Analog Obsession Room041 is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher. It comes in VST/3 and AU formats.
Analog Obsession Room041 is an excellent plugin that will give you a quality sounding room reverb. It has everything you need to get the effect you want and also sharpen its tonal features. You can use this software on any instrument, but it will sound the coolest on drums, guitar, and vocals.
6. iZotope Vocal Doubler (Vocal Enhancer)
If you need an easy-to-use solution to enhance vocals, iZotope’s Vocal Doubler plugin may be a good option.
Recording vocal doubles is standard practice in music production. It helps enhance the vocals and gives them more width. But what if you don’t have these tracks pre-recorded? In that case, software like doubler can easily achieve this effect.
Such is the Vocal Doubler plugin from the company iZotope. And the good news is that you can get it completely free. Its main advantage is that it is as easy to use as possible because you will only have a few controls. So let’s take a look at what’s here.
- Add Some Separation
Separation control will determine the variation between the original and processed signals. At the same time, it will add more width to the stereo picture. In addition, you can control this parameter thanks to the main center slider.
- Choose The Variation
In turn, the Variation control, which is second, will do pitch variation. Use both of these parameters to delay the doubled vocals from the original, as well as to choose the desired pitch.
- Effect Only Button
If you want to hear only the doubler effect, you can click Effect Only. It will exclude the sound of the original vocal, and you will only hear the doubled one. Use this if your plugin is on a separate send.
- Doubling Amount
And, of course, the Amount knob will help you determine the relationship between the dry and wet signals. So, for example, you can use it if you don’t want too obvious dubbing effect, but just a bit to get the desired atmosphere.
iZotope Vocal Doubler is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.8.5 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST2/3, AAX and AU formats.
iZotope’s Vocal Doubler is an extremely easy-to-use software that quickly provides width to your vocal tracks. You can use it to add dimension to choruses or to highlight individual phrases on verses. It’s perfect for voice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try it on other instruments.
7. Analog Obsession Distox (Multi-Mode Distortion)
Analog Obsession’s Distox plugin will help you add grit to guitars, drums, and other instruments.
A slight addition of saturation or distortion is a major technique to make tracks a little more expressive and audible in the mix. On the other hand, smashing instruments with the distortion can also be a good creative idea. It is exactly what is possible thanks to the next item on our list.
It is Distox by Analog Obsession, which is a multi-mode distortion plugin. You get as many as seven distortion mods here and all the settings you need to bring this into the mix at its best. Also deserving of special praise is the plugin’s rack-unit design. Let’s break it down in more detail.
- 7 Distortion Types
In the plugin’s center, you will switch between seven types of distortion. They are all based on tubes and an op-amp circuit. In total, there are three op-amps and four tubes.
- Adjustable In and Out
You will also be able to drive more signal into the plugin thanks to the In knob and thus get more saturation and distortion. On the other hand, you will be able to balance the output signal with the Out knob.
- Mix The Right Amount
Of course, in this kind of plugin, you can’t do without a separate Mix control. It allows you to adjust the ratio between distorted and clean signals. It will be useful if you do not want all 100% of the effect.
- High & Low Pass Filters
Also, the developers have put Low and High Pass Filters here. The first goes from 20 kHz to 10 kHz and the second from 20 Hz to 2 kHz. So, for example, you can use this to make distortion apply only to a specific frequency range.
Analog Obsession Distox is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher. It comes in VST/3 and AU formats.
Analog Obsession’s Distox is a great emulation of the distortion that op-amps and tubes provide. For example, you can use this for a guitar to add some crunch. On the other hand, it might be a good idea to crush drum room tracks with this software. It can be used however you want if you need to get grit in your sound.
8. UJAM Finisher Micro (Multi Effect)
UJAM’s Finisher Micro helps you quickly apply the effect and get a little extra inspiration.
Imagine a situation where you feel that a certain instrument needs to add an effect, but you don’t know which one. It can happen especially with beginners. However, UJAM has created a free plugin to help you quickly and easily solve this problem.
This software is called Finisher Micro and is essentially a multi-effect plugin. You get 25 different effect chain Modes and the Amount knob, thanks to which you can determine exactly how much effect you need. The plugin is very simple and interesting. Let’s talk about it more substantially.
- Select The Desired Effect
At the bottom of the window, you will see the Mode knob, which allows you to choose the desired effect. In general, there are 25 of them, and their names are self-explanatory. For example, there is Infinity, SpaceGrinder, Old Radio, Rotor Cab, Flanger, Vibrato, Chorus, and many others.
- Choose The Proper Amount
When you select the desired effect, you can use the Amount knob to adjust its value. By the way, it will also affect the way the effects work. For example, they will be faster or simply more expressive.
- Input And Output Adjustment
The last controls in the set are the In and Out sliders. With the last one, you can balance how much signal comes out of the plugin. And the first one allows you to send a larger amount to the plugin.
UJAM Finisher Micro is available for Windows 8 or higher and macOS 10.12 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST, AAX and AU 2 formats.
Thanks to UJAM’s Finisher Micro plugin, you can quickly find the effect you want. There are many of them here, and they all sound pretty good. This software will be a great solution to provide your mixes with ear candy. In addition, it’s extremely easy to use.
9. Analog Obsession BUSTERse (SSL Compressor)
Analog Obsession’s BUSTERse plugin can be your main tool for “gluing” mixes.
Now, what do you use the bus compressor for anyway? First, it allows you to shape transients, and second, to get the effect of “gluing” the mix as a whole. The SSL Bus Compressor is a very popular equipment for this, which was part of the console. But now, there are enough plugins that emulate its operation.
Such is the free software BUSTERse from Analog Obsession. Its main feature is that, in addition to the compressor settings, it has many additional features that will help you affect the character and dynamics even more. Let’s now try to take them all apart.
- Familiar Compressor Settings
If you already have experience with SSL-style compressors, then the set of basic settings will not discourage you. In particular, there is the usual Auto Release, Ratio from 1.5 to 10, Attack from 0.1 to 30 milliseconds, Make-Up Gain, and Threshold control.
- Dry/Wet Control
Unlike many paid plugins, the developers have also implemented the Mix knob, which implies selecting the ratio of Dry and Wet signals. This parameter can be very helpful if, for example, you want to do a parallel compression for drums.
- Additional Mods
At the top right of the plugin window, you will get three buttons that are responsible for mods. In particular, the first Main will work like the usual bypass. Also, here is the Turbo, which will bring the plugin to work more similarly to the original unit. And in addition, there is an Xformer mode to get more saturation.
- Sidechain Filter
The Sidechain section makes your work with the plugin most exciting. You can use it to influence how the compressor perceives frequencies. For example, there is a High Pass Filter here and two Mid and HF knobs.
- Transients Shaping
On top of that, the Sidechain section has another set of TR controls to help you influence the transients a bit more. For example, you will find a Tilt control that will boost the high frequencies and cut the lows, or vice versa. In addition, there are also separate Mix and Boost knobs.
Analog Obsession BUSTERse is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher. It comes in VST/3 and AU formats.
Analog Obsession’s BUSTERse plugin may seem a bit complicated at first. But if you learn how to use it, it can become a powerful tool for bus compression. This software will allow you to “glue” the mix and influence the transients in the best way. And the fact that it’s free is wonderful.
10. Imaginando DLYM (Chorus/Flanger/Delay Modulator)
Imaginando’s DLYM plugin can be your main tool for getting light and extreme sounding effects.
DLYM from the Portuguese company Imaginando is quite powerful free software. You can get extra width by applying it to all kinds of instruments. In general, there are chorus, flanger, and delay effects.
As for the settings, they are quite straightforward. You’ll have the basic effect controls, a choice between two modes of operation, and a few more features. So let’s try to analyze what’s hidden here.
- Choose Your Waveform
DLYM provides a choice of waveforms. To be more specific, its waveform is used in modulation. In particular, there are Triangle, Sawtooth, Square, Sine, Sample & Hold, and Filtered Sample & Hold options.
- Usual Effect Settings
There is also a set of standard settings, without which it is difficult to imagine any effect plugin. For example, this is Time to control the length of the delay. In addition, you will find Feedback, Rate, and Depth controls.
- Spread It Across The Picture
The developers also put a separate Spread knob here. It is designed to help you get a wider stereo picture of the effect. So you get mono on the left and full stereo on the right.
- Crossover Function
In addition to this, the plugin also has a Crossover function. It is a High-Pass Filter that helps you remove certain frequencies from the effect. Thus, in the left position, it will be flat. Turn it clockwise to remove low frequencies and beyond.
- A Lot Of Presets
And, of course, the plugin has enough ready-made presets. There are subtle effects and quite destructive ones. Overall, there are more than twenty of them. So you can find options like 8-bit Flicker, Alien Invasion, Changing Flange, Faster Phaser, and many others.
Imaginando DLYM is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.13 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST, AU, AUv3, and AAX formats.
It is an easy yet powerful plugin that gives you great-sounding delay, chorus, and flanger effects. That’s how we can characterize Imaginando’s DLYM in a few words. There are enough settings to get the sound you want and a number of ready-made presets. This plugin can also run on devices like iPhones or iPad, as it supports the AUv3 format.
11. Analog Obsession VariMoon (VariMu Compressor)
Analog Obsession’s VariMoon plugin will give you the character of the famous tube compressor.
The tube or variable mu compressors are some of the most expensive audio equipment. They provide smooth compression and enough harmonic distortion. In general, they are most often used as tools for mastering or drum buses. And now, we will look at one of the emulations of this hardware.
The VariMoon plugin is based on the famous Vari-Mu compressor and limiter. But in addition, the creators have laid here a few more features. For example, you can change the release, ratio, dry and wet balance, and apply a sidechain. Now about all of this in more detail.
- 6 Release Positions
The attack of this compressor is fixed at 10 ms. But as for the release, you will be able to change it thanks to a separate switch. There are four fixed positions, 0.3, 0.8, 2.0, and 5.0, and two automatic 2/10 and 0.3/10/25.
- DC Threshold
In addition, you will also have a Ratio selection switch. It is called DC Threshold. Here you can apply very little compression and limiting or quite extreme. The range is from 2:1 to 10:1.
- AC Threshold
As for the AC Threshold knob, this will be your usual threshold control. Use it to determine when the compression needs to kick in. In general, the range here is 50 decibels.
- In, Out, and Mix
Small metal knobs help you balance the signal. For example, with the In knob, you can send more signal to the plugin and get more harmonics. And, of course, balance with Out. In addition, there is a Mix knob, which will be useful for parallel compression.
- Sidechain Section
The Sidechain section is located under the VU Meter. In particular, there is a button for the external sidechain and High Pass Filter. The latter works in the range of 20 to 500 hertz. Thus, you can remove low information from the compression.
Analog Obsession VariMoon is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher. It comes in VST/3 and AU formats.
Analog Obsession VariMoon is a great plugin best suited for material with slow transients. For example, you can use it for vocals, bass guitar, drums, or mix bus. The sound can become a little fatter and more expressive thanks to this software. At least you’ll have a full arsenal of options to provide that.
12. Caelum Audio Tape Cassette 2 (Saturation/Tape Emulation)
Caelum Audio’s Tape Cassette 2 might be handy for producers who make lo-fi music.
We all remember that warm cassette sound from our childhood. But, remarkably, now we can achieve it directly in our DAW to create lo-fi music. Caelum Audio’s Tape Cassette 2 plugin will help you do just that.
Tape Cassette 2 is a fairly simple plugin with some great features. Thus, you will have full control over creating your custom tape sound because you can adjust almost all of its components, right down to the noise. So let’s see what the creators have hidden under the hood.
- Add Some Saturation
In this plugin, you can adjust the saturation level yourself. A separate knob on the left side of the window is responsible for this. By adding harmonics, you get a crisper and more expressive sound.
- Adjustable Low-Pass Filter
You will also be able to apply a Low-Pass Filter – there is a separate control for this. Its operating range is from 5 to 22 kHz. Use this to filter out unwanted frequencies.
- Give It Some Noise
Another great feature here is the ability to add noise. By the way, it’s the sampled noise from the Type 1 tape. Again, use the special knob to adjust its level. It should provide the proper atmosphere.
- Wow & Flutter Controls
The two Wow and Flutter knobs also help give your sound the right cassette effect. The first is a wobbler, and the second gives a distortion effect. It would be ideal for lo-fi.
- IR and Auto-Gain
On top of all this, you will also be able to apply an IR of the Type 1 Cassette. This switch is located at the top. In addition, there is also an Auto-Gain mode, so you don’t have to balance the output yourself.
Caelum Audio Tape Cassette 2 is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.11 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST3, AU, AUv3, and AAX formats.
Caelum Audio’s Tape Cassette 2 plugin will give you plenty of options to give your sound an authentic cassette atmosphere. It has all the required features, including noise, saturation, and special effects. The plugin is easy to use and especially suitable for producers making lo-fi music.
13. Analog Obsession LOADED (Channel Strip)
Analog Obsession’s LOADED plugin gives you everything you need to mix almost any instrument, especially vocals.
Using a channel strip plugin is always great because you have all the main tools for mixing a particular instrument at your fingertips. Think of it as a console that allows you to process an individual track from start to finish. That’s exactly what the plugin called LOADED will give you.
It emulates five studio units of the 500 format and one general. Here you get Preamp, De-Esser, Gate, Compressor, and EQ. The last one in the chain will be a module where you can control the input and output signals. Let’s break it all down in more detail.
- Preamplifier Section
The Preamp section will be the first in your chain. Here you will be able to add Gain and, therefore, more harmonics. In addition, here you will find the High-Pass Filter and the Treble and Bass Boost. In addition, you get the XFMR button, which emulates the operation of transformers.
- Add Some De-Essing
When you compress vocals, you get a more expressive hissing sound, which can cut the ear. De-Esser is precisely designed to soften them. As for the plugin, you’ll have a Threshold, Release, and Mix knob. In addition, there are two modes, Band and Soft.
- Gate Unwanted Sounds
A cool bonus here is the presence of the Gate. Thanks to it, you can mute the sound up to a certain threshold. It can be useful for vocals, guitar, and drums. This section also includes Threshold, Release, and Mix controls.
- EQ Section
As for the equalizer, it is similar to other channel strips. In particular, you can boost and cut by 15 dB the high frequencies at 10 kHz. The same goes for the lows; here, it’s at 100 hertz. In addition, you will have two bands for High Mids and Low Mids.
- Add Compression
And, of course, you will have a separate compressor. Here you get a Ratio range of 1.5 to 20 and a Threshold down to -60 decibels. There are also Auto-Release and Quick Attack buttons and Sidechain functions. In addition, the compressor has a Mix knob.
Analog Obsession VariMoon is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher. It comes in VST/3 and AU formats.
Analog Obsession LOADED is a great choice to get the channel strip plugin flavor of the hardware. You can use this software to mix each of your tracks since everything you need will be at your fingertips. Especially this software is good for those who work on live recordings.
14. TriTik Crush (Bitcrusher)
TriTik’s Krush plugin is a great audio destructive tool to help make your beats more expressive and aggressive.
Bitcrusher is a popular sound effect that involves applying a distortion by lowering the resolution of the audio signal. It allows you to achieve a somewhat warm sound. On the other hand, it can become somewhat harsh. However, providing an aggressive sound is common, especially for beats or other percussive elements.
The free Krush plugin from TriTik is just the thing to help you achieve this effect. Despite the usual bitcrusher settings, you will also get many additional ones, including modulation and filter parameters. Let’s analyze them one by one.
- Add Some Drive
The Drive control will be the first in your set of settings. It provides transformer-based distortion and saturation. At least it sounds like the effect of analog hardware. Add this to make the signal more expressive.
- Crush & DWSP
You also get the two more standard bitcrusher parameters here: Crush and DWSP. The first will reduce your bitrate, and the second will reduce the sample rate. So that gives you a traditional bitcrush sound.
- Filter Section
The Filter Section is easy enough to use since nothing is extraordinary here. You will get Low and High Pass Filters with two knobs responsible for adjustable frequency and resonance.
- Apply Some Modulations
Notably, the Krush plugin also gives you the ability to modulate distortion. In particular, you can adjust the LFO rate time or synchronize it with the project. In addition, there are four different shapes of modulation and settings: Drive, Crush, DWSP, Freq, and Res.
- Dry/Wet Control
And, of course, the developers of the plugin have not left you without the settings of the ratio of Dry and Wet signals. You will see them in the right part of the window. Thus, you can get a completely affected signal or hide it under the original one.
TriTik Krush is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.6 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST/3, AU, and AAX formats.
The TriTik Krush plugin can give you a nostalgic bitcrusher effect and take it beyond the usual sound. Here you can get both quite minor effects and pretty bizarre creative solutions. Krush is suitable for beats, but you can also use it for any other instrument that needs distortion.
15. Analog Obsession LALA (Inspired By Teletronix LA2A)
The LALA plugin from Analog Obsession gives you smooth compression that’s great for vocals and bass guitar.
The LA2A-type compressors are among the most popular studio units. They provide smooth compression with a slow attack, which is ideal for processing vocals and bass guitars. Through years of digital music production, dozens of plugins have been created that emulate their operation. And now we’re going to talk about a free one.
It is another Analog Obsession product called LALA. You will immediately see by its design that it is a reference to the original LA2A compressor by Teletronix. You will have the same main Gain and Peak Reduction knobs and additional features. We’ll talk about them below.
- Extremely Simple Operation
As with other similar plugins, you get an extremely simple operation. It comes down to only two knobs, Peak Reduction and Gain. With the first, you can select the amount of compression, and the second helps you balance the output signal.
- Sidechain Section
On the left side of the plugin, you will see some additional features. For example, there is a High Pass Filter from 20 to 500 hertz. You can also adjust the compressor’s sensitivity to medium and high frequencies, thanks to the corresponding knobs. And, of course, there is an External Sidechain button.
- Adjust The Balance
If you want to use this plugin for parallel vocal compression, you will have the option to do so. That’s because the developers have implemented here the Mix function, which is not present even in some similar paid plugins. So use it to find a proper balance.
- Three Nice-Looking Skins
Another cool thing about this plugin is that it has three skins. Specifically, these are White, Vintage, and Modern. It’s not a big deal, but it’s nice. Choose the one that pleases your eye the most.
Analog Obsession LALA is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher. It comes in VST/3 and AU formats.
Analog Obsession’s LALA is an unusually straightforward plugin that helps you get smooth and musical compression. However, the settings on the left side of the window may be a bit confusing if you are a beginner. You can even leave them untouched, using only the two main knobs. But, overall, the plugin can easily compete with paid products regarding sound quality.
16. Analog Obsession LOADES (De-Esser)
Thanks to Analog Obsession’s LOADES plugin, you can easily get rid of annoying hisses and esses on vocals and cymbals.
We already mentioned the de-esser as part of the LOADED plugin from Analog Obsession above. But the cool thing is that you can also get this software separately. The developers have created a different version of the de-esser called LOADES, and we can say that the plugin is quite effective.
It also looks like the units of the 500 rack series, but there are only two sections. In the first one, you will have a full set of de-essing settings, and in the second one, you will find general parameters. Let’s take a look at what this plugin can do.
- Set Up The Threshold
The Threshold knob will be the main one when working with this plugin. You will use it to select the amount of de-essing. You will notice quite drastic results after 12 decibels of reduction.
- Use Shelf or Band
By default, the upper-frequency reduction here is in the form of a shelf. But you can switch this mode to the band and get a more narrow performance character. A separate Band knob helps with this.
- Make It Softer
If you think the de-essing is too muffled, you can make it sound more expressive. For this purpose, the plugin’s creators have put the Soft function here. Click this button to see which option suits you best.
- Release Control
Another very useful feature here is the Release knob. Its range is from 1 to 500 milliseconds. Thanks to this parameter, you can adjust how fast the plugin releases hissing and essing sounds. But, again, tweak this based on the material.
- Mix, Input & Output
The plugin also has other vital controls to help you operate it better. In particular, this is the Mix knob for dry and wet balance. In addition, on the right side, you will see the Input and Output controls.
Analog Obsession LOADES is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher. It comes in VST/3 and AU formats.
The LOADES plugin is a wonderful software that gets rid of annoying high frequencies naturally. There are enough controls to make it work the way you want it to. We don’t know exactly what frequency range this de-esser affects, but we have to admit that it works quite perfectly.
17. Surreal Machines Crack (Transient Shaper/Clipper/Maximizer)
The Crack plugin from Surreal Machines might be a great option if you need a simple transient shaper.
If you are faced with a situation where your drums lack punch and definition, the transient shaper plugin may be the solution. Thanks to this software, you can personally control the attack and sustain and make the material fit your creative situation as much as possible.
The free Crack plugin from Surreal Machines can help you with this perfectly. It is very easy to use and has only four knobs. Also, you will be able to change the nature of the dynamics, which is also awesome as on freeware.
- Add or Reduce Attack
With the Attack control, you can make the transients more expressive and thus get punchiness. And vice versa – if you need to soften them, turn the knob back. It works well on percussive material.
- Sustain Control
As for the Sustain regulator, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Use it to extend the sound of this or that instrument. It also works great on drums, but on other instruments, too.
- Change The Dynamics
The Dynamics section is the most interesting part of this plugin. That’s because the developers have put several options here that you can apply to your material and thereby change the dynamics. In particular, these options are Thru, Clip, Limiter, and Maximizer. You’ll also have an Amount knob here.
- Dry/Wet Regulator
Last in the Crack plugin’s settings chain is the Dry/Wet control. If you don’t want 100 percent of the plugin’s effect, you can always let this go in parallel and make it less noticeable.
Surreal Machines Crack is available for Windows and macOS. It comes in VST and AU formats.
Crack is a great free plugin from Surreal Machines to help make your beat or live drums better. You will have control over attack, sustain, and dynamics and the ability to adjust the balance between dry and wet signals. By the way, this company also has a paid version called Impact, with many different settings.
18. Analog Obsession BLENDEQ (Dual-Circuit EQ)
BLENDEQ by Analog Obsession is a plugin in which you get a combination of two legendary hardware equalizers.
It’s no secret that different hardware studio units have different sounds. It is what makes them unique and appropriate for a particular situation. And this applies not only to preamps and compressors but also to equalizers. Fortunately, Analog Obsession has created a plugin in which you can blend two flavors of gear.
The main thing about this plugin is that in addition to the usual EQ bands, you will also have blendable knobs. So you can either go for a specific one or get them 50/50. The same goes for the Input signal. So let’s talk about that in more detail.
- 4-Band EQ
In total, you get four EQ bands. Specifically, there are Low from 35 to 220 Hz, two Mid controls from 0.36 to 7.2 kHz, and High from 5 to 15 kHz. You can boost or cut each of them with separate knobs.
- Blendable Knobs
You will have a separate red Blend knob for each of the bands. So you can get the Neve sound on the left and the API sound on the right. Or leave them in the 50/50 position to get a unique sound.
- Drive Your Input
As for the Input knob, there is also a mixing option. So, if you twist it to the left, you’ll get harmonics characteristic of Neve hardware. And vice versa, you will get an API flavor to the right. There is also a separate Output control.
- Use The Filters
In addition to all of this, you will also have High and Low Pass Filters. These controls are located on both sides at the bottom of the plugin window. HPF goes from 20 to 650 hertz, and LPF from 8 to 20 kilohertz.
Analog Obsession BLENDEQ is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher. It comes in VST/3 and AU formats.
Analog Obsession BLENDEQ is a great plugin for getting the best out of two analog equalizer emulations. The N option will give you a smoother sound, and the A option will give you punchy transients. At first, the large number of knobs might confuse you, but once you figure out how to use them, everything becomes easy and simple. The plugin is suitable for both individual instruments and program material.
19. Chow Tape Model (Tape Emulation)
The Chow Tape Model plugin from Chowdhury DSP will give you the warmth of tape and the ability to achieve a crazy sound.
We all know that tape saturation is an important part of music production, especially if you want to get some warmth and breathe life into your tracks. And all this will be quite possible, thanks to the free plugin Chow Tape Model.
In general, you will have full control over many parameters of the virtual tape machine. Thus, the plugin allows you to recreate your unique version and get the sound just the way you want. All in all, you can either get very subtle effects or achieve unconventional, creative solutions.
- Gain And Filters
The first section of this plugin’s settings is pretty straightforward. Here you get the Gain section with Input, Dry/Wet, and Output settings. Then, if you click on the Filters tab, you will see two Low and High Cut knobs.
- Adjust The Tone
As for the second section, things get more interesting. For example, in the Tape tab, you will have a Bias control to affect the quality of the tape. There are also Saturation and Drive knobs. In turn, in the Tone tab, you will find the Bass and Treble settings.
- Loss, Degrade & CHEW Section
The Loss, Degrade and CHEW Section will be responsible for the behavior of the tape player. In particular, you will have control over parameters such as Gap, Thickness, and Speed. In addition, you will be able to provide the sound of old tape that degrades and gets chewed up.
- Mess Up Your Sound
At the end of the settings chain, you will see two boxes Flutter and Wow. Thanks to them, you can get weird effects, most suitable for lo-fi music. Each tab will have Rate, Depth, and other settings.
- Oversampling And Hysteresis Mode
On top of that, you will be able to change the oversampling, which will affect the quality of the signal. But be careful because this can affect the CPU load. Apart from that, you will also have several Hysteresis mods, which will also provide different sound quality of the virtual tape.
Chow Tape Model is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. It comes in VST/3, AU, AUv3, CLAP, LV2, AAX formats, and as a standalone host.
Chow Tape Model is a powerful film emulation plugin, and it’s pretty hard to believe we can get it for free. It has incredible settings and will help you sharpen the sound of your virtual tape machine in the best way possible. In addition, there’s a Tip Jar button in the right corner where you can thank the developer.
20. Chow Phaser (Phaser)
The Chow Phaser plugin will help bring more excitement and movement to your tracks.
Phaser is one of the quite long-standing and popular audio effects. It involves creating a copy of an audio signal somewhat out of phase. Their amplitudes interact with each other to create a motion effect. It is what makes it possible to get a more exciting sound.
Now we look at another free plugin from Chowdhury DSP called Chow Phaser. It has sufficient settings and can work in mono and stereo. In the latter case, you will be able to set different parameters for both channels and thus get more depth and width.
- Full Control Over The Effect
You will have ample opportunity to sharpen the sound of the phaser to suit this or that creative situation. For example, there are Depth, Feedback, Modulation, and Skew controls. With these parameters, you can choose exactly how you want your phasing to go.
- Add Some Dirt
Also, the developer did not leave us without the ability to influence the character and color of the effect itself. In this case, you can use the knobs on the plugin window’s right side. For example, you can add saturation with the Drive control and make it dirtier with Dirt and Thrash.
- Use Mono or Stereo
Another notable feature of this software is that you can use it in Mono and Stereo modes. In the second case, you will have a mirror set of settings for both channels. Adjust them differently to get as much width in the stereo picture as possible.
- It’s Resizable
A nice bonus is that the plugin window is resizable. So you can resize it to make it more convenient for your eyes. By the way, depending on this, the size of the knobs will also change.
Chow Phaser is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. It comes in VST/3, AU, CLAP, LV2, and AAX formats.
Chow Phaser might be a great option if you want a free phaser plugin. It has everything you need to set up your sound quickly and get the desired results. You will be able to apply this to both mono and stereo material. Plus, the plugin is resizable.
1. Voxengo SPAN (Frequency/Spectrum Analyzer)
Voxengo’s SPAN plugin can serve as a wonderful frequency spectrum analyzer.
We all know how important it is to mix with our ears, not our eyes. But still, in some scenarios, visual analyzers can help you. For example, to see what’s happening with frequencies you can’t hear. It’s also useful for comparing your material with a reference.
Such a plugin is exactly the SPAN from Voxengo. And it is the kind of plugin that is hard to believe is free. You will have a visual interpretation of the frequency spectrum and all the necessary settings to display it as conveniently as possible. So let’s talk about that in more detail.
- Detailed Metering
At the bottom of the window of this plugin, you will get the most detailed metering of your audio. In particular, it will display the RMS, Max Crest Factor, True Pick, and Correlation Meter here. You can remove this information if it bothers you with the Hide Meters And Stats button.
- Solo The Necessary Frequencies
If you press Control or Command on your Mac and then click and drag, you will enter Solo mode. That way, you can glide through the frequency spectrum and listen to bands of frequencies individually. By the way, you can make the band narrower or wider if you use scrolling.
- Mid-Side Spectrum Analyzer
It is noteworthy that you can analyze the overall stereo picture and switch to Mid-Side mode. You will find this feature in the presets. Thus, the plugin will display the information in the middle in one color and on the sides in another color.
- Change Block Size
If your spectrum looks like many spikes, you can make it smoother. Go to the settings and find the Block Size section. You can change the resolution so that you only see the overall trend, not the peaks and harmonics.
- Change The Display Range
Another useful feature is that you can change the Display Range. You will also find this option as separate controls in the settings. Thus, you can expand the spectrum and see information in your mix, for example, below 20 hertz.
Voxengo SPAN is available for Windows XP or higher (both 32 and 64-bit) and macOS 10.11 or higher. It comes in VST, AU, and AAX formats.
Voxengo’s SPAN plugin will help you explore the frequency spectrum of individual instruments or a mix in detail. It has all the necessary meters and presets that help you look at the picture from different perspectives. It’s quite light on the CPU and will be a great addition to any DAW.
2. Alex Hilton A1StereoControl (Stereo Imager/Widening)
A1StereoControl plugin will help you provide a wider stereo picture during mixing or mastering.
Stereo widening plugins are quite popular in music production. Some professionals advise not using them, relying only on panning instruments. But others like to use such software to get a slightly wider stereo picture. Now we will talk about one such plugin, which is free.
It is A1StereoControl by Alex Hilton, which you can download from the website of the same name. It has simple and expert controls and many other interesting features that will provide you with better monitoring. Let’s break it all down.
- Keep It Simple
You can control the width of the stereo picture without complicating your life. Thanks to only two knobs in the center Pan and Stereo Width, it will be possible. Use the first to direct the signal to the left or right channel and the second to make it wider.
- Expert Mode
If you want full control over widening parameters, you can enter Expert Mode. Use the special button on the left side of the window to do this. Here you will have additional options to influence Pan Law, select Balance or Dual Pan, as well as Linear, Logarithmic, or Sin/Cos modes.
- Safe Bass Function
During stereo widening, this effect mustn’t affect the low frequencies, which remain in mono. The good news is that you will have a Safe Bass knob to ensure this. Here you can select the crossover frequency up to which plugin will not apply the widening.
- Monitoring Features
You will also have several chips at your disposal that will provide detailed monitoring of the stereo picture. For example, you can mute mids or sides. In addition, you can swap left and right channels, invert the phase, or listen to everything in mono.
Alex Hilton A1StereoControl is available for Windows and macOS, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST2, AU, and AAX formats.
If you have never tried the stereo widening technique, you can safely try it with the A1StereoControl plugin. At least you don’t need to invest any money. It has all the necessary settings, both simple and expert level. In addition, you get several monitoring features. By the way, you can donate some tips to the creator of this software on his site.
3. Xfer OTT (Multiband Dynamics Compressor)
Xfer’s OTT allows you to completely reshape the sound of individual instruments, buses, and mixes.
OTT is a separate preset from Ableton in the form of the Multiband Upward and Downward Compressor. Fortunately, Xfer created a separate plugin so that users of other DAWs could use this software. And that is what we are going to talk about now.
As you may have already understood from the first paragraph, you can apply both traditional and upward compression. Moreover, you can do this for three different frequency ranges. So let’s see how it works here.
- 3-Band Multicompressor
Generally, three bands can be compressed here: High, Mid, and Low. You will see three compression indicators in the center of the plugin window and knobs next to them. These controls will be your Make-Up Gain.
- Set Depth And Time
At the top of the plugin, you will see the Depth and Time knobs. The first will provide the ability to adjust the compression depth, and the second will provide the attack and release time. Adjust them accordingly to the result you want to achieve.
- Upward & Downward Compression
The knobs at the bottom of the plugin will be your compression ratio controls. Thus, the Dnwd control will apply more traditional compression. As for Upwd, this can be thought of as reverse-compression or expander to some extent.
- Balance Your Gain
If you feel that your input signal is too weak, you can boost it thanks to the corresponding knob at the top of the window. And, of course, you will have an Out Gain knob to bring the output signal to a suitable level.
Xfer OTT is available for Windows and macOS. It comes in VST, AU, and AAX formats.
The Xfer OTT plugin can be a powerful tool to reshape your sound. You can change its character by applying different compression to individual frequency ranges. The software is great for individual instruments as well as whole mixes.
As you can see, you can assemble a whole arsenal of mixing plugins without spending a lot of money. It is true for EDM producers as well as for rock and metal producers. At the end of this post, we want to give you some recommendations on what plugins you should pay special attention to.
Check out the plugin under number 15 -- Analog Obsession LALA if you need a good analog compressor emulation. We can also recommend other compressors of this brand – 9 BUSTERse and 11 VariMoon.
As for effects, a great plugin is #2 Valhalla Super Massive and #3 Integraudio & Sixth Sample Deelay. Also, check out #8 UJAM Finisher Micro if you don’t want to mess around with the effects settings.
Well, other good software you should try in your mixing, we can name number 1 Slate Digital Fresh Air and bonus items on our list: Alex Hilton A1StereoControl and Xfer OTT.
Remember, the most important thing is not what plugin you have but how well you know how to use it. Find some software that you like the most and use it regularly. That way, you’ll know their peculiarities inside out. Have fun mixing!
Ilarion Ivanenko is a remote mixing and mastering engineer from Ukraine, a musician with more than 15 years of experience. Specializes in rock, metal, progressive and the other genres. He can’t imagine his life without music, as it is the biggest passion in his life