In this article, we will explore the top 20 free plugins for Linux in 2023, showcasing a variety of synthesizers, effects processors, virtual instruments, and more.
Linux has become a powerful platform for audio production, offering a diverse range of free plugins that can elevate your music production game. The Linux audio ecosystem has seen remarkable growth and innovation thanks to the efforts of talented developers and a passionate community of musicians and sound engineers.
As a result, the availability of high-quality plugins for Linux has expanded in the last few years, enabling users to create professional-grade music and audio projects without expensive proprietary software. However, there’s still a long way to go, as most of the major plugin bundles, like Waves, FabFilter, Kontakt, Izotope, etc., are unavailable on Linux.
However, many independent developers and companies consistently work towards making high-quality plugins available for Linux. Besides the unavailability of plugins, the OS is great for music production due to its stable performance, efficiency, low latency, open-source software philosophy, extensive plugin support (including LV2, LADSPA, and VST), customization, and flexibility.
The plugins this article will discuss have been carefully curated to provide you with exceptional sound quality and versatile functionality free of charge. Within this compilation of free plugins, you will discover powerful tools designed to meet diverse audio production needs.
Top 20 FREE Plugins For Linux 2023
1. Matt Tytel Helm (Made By the Creator of Vital)
Helm is a great subtractive soft-synth to create all EDM genres, which comes with 200 presets.
It has two oscillators with interesting waveshapes and 32-voice polyphony and is connected via a mod knob, which is a great way to alter the timbre of the oscillators. In addition, it has switchable modules, a filter, a filter envelope, two mono LFOs, one poly LFO, a modulation envelope, and a step sequencer.
- Four oscillators.
Helm includes two main oscillators that come with a wide range of shapes. There’s a mod knob between them so that you can blend them. The knob can be modulated for some extra control. There are also sub and noise oscillators that offer further sound design control. A mixer helps blend all these oscillators and can also be modulated.
- Powerful dedicated formant filter.
Helm includes a feature that’s not usually found in free synths: a formant filter. The formant filter has an X/Y pad to help you visualize the filtering, and sounds excellent. It’s particularly useful for creating Dubstep’s signature wobble sounds. You can modulate its parameters through the LFOs provided for some genre-accurate sounds.
- Multiple modulation sources.
Helm includes multiple modulators, like two LFOs, a Poly LFO, amplitude and filter envelopes, a modulation envelope, a step sequencer, and keyboard modulation knobs like aftertouch, note, velocity, random, pitch wheel, and mod wheel. Each of these modulators has the Helm logo included in its interface. By clicking on it, sliders appear underneath each parameter that can be modulated, and by dragging them, you can set up modulation settings. It’s a very easy and clean interface.
- Functional effects.
Helm includes four effects: delay, reverb, distortion, and stutter. All of the effects parameters can be modulated for extra control. The stutter effect is especially eye-catching since it’s not usually featured in software synthesizers. It is excellent for creating glitchy sounds or adding moments of unpredictability to your patches.
Helm is available on GNU/Linux, Mac OSX, and Windows, in LV2, VST, VST3, and AU formats, or as a standalone synthesizer.
Helm is an excellent free synth. The oscillators and effects are great, and their true power lies in features like the stutter effect, formant filter, and modulation system. The fact that it’s free makes it even more appealing since you can customize and redistribute it. I’d suggest this plugin to every beginner producer looking to start Dubstep music production.
2. Tunefish 4
Tunefish 4 is a virtual analog synthesizer by Braincontrol.
- Hybrid oscillator
Tunefish 4 has a single oscillator, which may seem limited, but capable of additive and wavetable synthesis. The oscillator is polyphonic with 16 voices, and apart from the usual controls, it offers interesting features like dampness, harmonics, noise frequency, and noise bandwidth.
- Multiple effects
Overall, there are seven effects inside Tunefish 4: flanger, reverb, delay, EQ, distortion, chorus, and formant. They can all be stacked in the effects stack column, hosting ten effect modules simultaneously. You can run multiple instances of the same effects for some interesting sonic variation.
- Filters and Modulation
Offering filters, such as low-pass, high-pass, band-pass, and notch filters, can help shape the sound and add character to the output. It also includes a versatile modulation matrix, linking two ADSRs (Attack-Decay-Sustain-Release envelopes) and two LFOs (Low-Frequency Oscillators) to control various parameters.
- Polyphony and Unison Mode
With its polyphonic capabilities, the plugin allows multiple notes to be played simultaneously. Furthermore, it features a Unison mode, enabling the stacking of voices to create thick, detuned, and powerful sounds.
- Presets and Soundbanks
The plugin has preset sounds and starting points for you to explore and tweak. Additionally, you can download or create custom soundbanks to expand the range of available sounds.
- Additive/Wavetable Synthesis
The plugin employs an additive synthesis-based wavetable generator. This technique allows you to create complex sounds by combining and modulating simple waveforms, offering many sonic possibilities.
- Small File Size and CPU Efficiency
Designed to be compact and efficient, Tunefish aims to fit into about 10kb of compressed machine code without compromising audio quality, making it resource-friendly even on less powerful systems.
Tunefish 4 is available on Windows 7 or higher, macOS 10.9 or higher, and Linux 16.04 in VST, VST3, and AU formats.
Tunefish 4 is a solid-free synthesizer. Its single oscillator provides enough parameters to inspire new sounds, the modulation system is easy to use, and the effects steal the show. It is a good choice for those looking for a new instrument to refresh their sound design process.
3. Graillon 2
The Graillon 2 is a prominent favorite among pitch correction plugins in the market, and for a good reason.
As a free tool, it has managed to captivate producers with its exceptional features and a distinctive interface that sets it apart from other offerings. It provides scale options, ensuring the pitch correction process conforms to a specific musical scale. This feature prevents potential pitch clashes and ensures a harmonically coherent result.
Furthermore, you can adjust the pitch correction to balance natural-sounding vocals and an intentionally processed effect perfectly.
- Detect Section
The initial section of the plugin handles the detection of audio, quantization, and bit-crushing. This is a somewhat surprising trio of controls but a combination that can achieve some interesting sounds.
- Harmonics and Modulation
Choose between ring modulation and pitch-shift modulation before you explore the various settings that work with it. This section also has a low-cut EQ to tame any unnecessary low frequencies.
- Pitch Correction
The next item in the chain is pitch correction. Several elements are involved here, and a fair amount of control over them. These include pitch shifting, formant control, scale, amount of correction, and more. Finally, you can adjust the dry/wet to balance it into the mix afterward.
- Real-Time Processing
Graillon 2 excels in real-time processing, making it ideal for live performances and studio recording scenarios. The ability to process vocals instantaneously enables singers to hear the pitch-corrected output while singing, facilitating better intonation and performance.
- Automation and MIDI Control
With automation and MIDI control support, the plugin empowers you to automate various parameters or control them externally using MIDI controllers. This level of automation flexibility enhances creative possibilities and workflow efficiency during mixing and production.
This plugin is available for Windows (32/64 bit), macOS (32/64 bit), and Linux (32/64 bit). It comes in ST, AAX, AU, and LV2 formats.
Graillon 2 goes beyond conventional pitch correction plugins by offering diverse features. From its unique Detect Section to extensive harmonics and modulation options, powerful pitch correction capabilities, and real-time processing capabilities, the plugin caters to experimental sound designers and those seeking polished vocal corrections.
With automation support and a user-friendly interface, Graillon 2 remains a versatile and invaluable tool for enhancing vocal performances and pushing creative boundaries in music production. It has a unique character and a load of tricks up its sleeve for experimental results.
4. Surge XT
The Surge XT is among 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 as 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.
The TAL-Vocoder is a free 11-band vocoder plugin with an envelope follower for each band.
Its algorithm is optimized for vocal processing and includes intelligent consonant identifiers designed to make speech clearer. The plugin has some analog-modeled components and a few all-digital algorithms, making it a modern plugin with a vintage soul.
The plugin sounds exceptionally great, probably making it the best free vocoder plugin. Its 11-bands, carrier modulators and a Harmonic knob add subtle harmonics to the sound, making it fuller. The Chorus effect is also handy, and the Polyphony capabilities are simply stunning.
- Carrier Controls
The basic timbre is created by any of the four generators in the Carrier section. You can use any one of the four or a combination of them. You’ll find Pulse and Saw waves, a Sub oscillator, and a noise generator there. These will use a VCO as the carrier for the Vocoder sound. Alternatively, you can use the left channel as the carrier by clicking the Input Mode button on the other side of the GUI.
- 11 Bands
The Vocoder section gives you faders for all eleven bands, which you can individually mix in volume. This lets you shape the sound and achieve classic or futuristic-sounding robotic voices. You’ll find ESS Volume responsible for giving back definitions to unintelligible vocals, among the other parameters.
On your way out of the plugin, you’ll find the Chorus button, which gives the 11 bands the final blend and make the overall sound even more vintage. This is reminiscent of eighties synthesizers and is very useful in several situations, including choosing to play the plugin like a synth.
- External Synth or Instrument Integration
Graillon 2’s versatile design seamlessly integrates with external synthesizers or instruments. Using the left channel as the carrier, you can route any external audio source through the vocoder, transforming it into a vocoder-controlled instrument. This opens up exciting possibilities for vocal manipulation and creative collaborations between vocalists and instrumentalists.
- MIDI Triggering and Automation
Graillon 2 supports MIDI triggering and automation for various parameters, enabling you to modulate the vocoder effect in real time. This feature is particularly useful for live performances, allowing performers to dynamically control the vocoder output and create captivating vocal effects on the fly.
- Efficient CPU Performance
Despite its comprehensive feature set, Graillon 2 is designed with efficient CPU performance in mind. This ensures that you can enjoy the full range of functionalities without experiencing significant strain on your computer’s resources, making it a reliable tool for studio sessions and live performances.
This plugin is available in VST and AU formats for Mac, Linux, and PC.
The TAL-Vocoder is a surprisingly versatile vocoder plugin that delivers professional results for free. Its carrier controls, 11-band vocoder section, chorus effect, and integration capabilities make it a versatile and powerful vocoder plugin.
Whether you aim to achieve classic vocoder sounds or explore new and futuristic vocal effects, Graillon 2 delivers with precision and flexibility. Additionally, its MIDI triggering, automation support, and CPU efficiency enhance its appeal as a go-to tool for musicians, producers, and performers seeking to elevate their vocal productions and live performances.
Podolski is a free and simple virtual analog synthesizer by u-he.
It consists of one oscillator, filter, envelope, and arpeggiator/sequencer, which contributes to its uncomplicated and streamlined workflow, makes it easy to use, and doesn’t load the system much. In addition, it has over 300 factory presets consisting of diverse and versatile sounds, from which you can select high-quality pre-made patches.
- Synth Engine
The envelope modes in the plugin include ADSR/HDSR or linear/exponential, with sustain with a rise/fall control. In addition, oscillators can generate sawtooth, triangle, or pulse width modulation waves, with up to 16 voices of polyphony that you can play in mono, legato, or arpeggiator modes.
- Multi-mode Filters
The filters can be lowpass, bandpass, or highpass, with drive and FM controls that can thicken up the sound and create more movement. That can create the required G-Funk movements and textures.
- Modulation and Effects
Podolski offers a modulation matrix, enabling you to assign modulators (such as LFOs and envelopes) to control different parameters. This modulation flexibility allows dynamic sound changes over time, adding movement and expressiveness to the synthesized sounds.
- Resizable User Interface
You get a resizable user interface, making it adaptable to different screen sizes and workflows. This feature ensures a smooth user experience and easy integration into various digital audio workstations (DAWs) and setups.
Podolski is available only in AUv2, VST2, and VST3 versions and requires Windows 7 or newer, Mac OS X 10.9 or newer, or a Linux system.
The plugin is extremely light on the CPU, and you can load up multiple instances without loading up the system. Its simplification is its beauty and can be easily tweaked to create West Coast chords, synth leads, and bass lines. The VCA-based envelope contributes to its warm analog sound. The editable arpeggiator gives you interesting ways to create new groovy sounds.
7. TAL – Noisemaker
NoiseMaker is a virtual analog synthesizer, which is great for dubstep-style wobble sounds.
It consists of two main oscillators, for which you can adjust the waveform, tune, fine pitch, phase, and pulse width or frequency modulation. Due to the FM knob, this plugin’s texture makes it great for dubstep sounds, whether the wobble bass sounds or the harsh & hard-hitting leads.
- User-friendly GUI
The synth has a colorful, attractive interface with a straightforward layout and signal flow. Everything you need is right on the screen with tweakable controls.
- Expansive effects
The plugin allows you to add effects like chorus, crush (distortion), reverb, and delay. You can do detailed editing and in-depth tweaking of these effects and shape your sounds flexibly.
There are two LFOs with adjustable rates, amounts, and phases. In addition, you can choose the waveform and destination of the modulations and switch on Trigger and tempo-synchronization switches. You can also adjust the ADSR, velocity sensitivity, etc.
You can access up to 4x oversampled filters and the following bands: 24 dB LP, 18 dB LP, 12 dB LP, 6 dB LP, 12 dB HP, 12 dB BP, and Notch. Further, you can adjust the filter’s cutoff frequency, resonance, key, and envelope.
NoiseMaker is available in AU, AAX, VST, and VST3 plugin formats and is compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems. Its minimum operating system requirement is Windows 7, Mac OS X 10.9, and Ubuntu 18.
Noisemaker by TAL is light on the CPU and has a good-quality output. It has 256 presets that you can browse through and get started with. Its FM synth engine can cover multiple genres, making it great for grittier and more aggressive sounds. In addition, the JUNO-inspired chorus gives a great retro feel and stereo-imaging to the sounds.
8. 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.
Zebralette, by u-he, is a free, miniaturized version of a paid synth, the Zebra2, that keeps some of its goodies.
The plugin offers an oscillator, one envelope, 16 voices of polyphony, 2 LFOs, and three built-in effects. Additionally, you can use MIDI interfaces to control most of the plugin’s parameters. Zebralette was developed to work as a learning interface for the Zebra2, but it turned out to be a great synth on its own, thanks to its robust oscillator.
The heart of Zebralette’s sound is the thorough Zebra2 Oscillator, which gives you all the expected controls, including 1, 2, 4, and 11 unison voices. The wavetables are shaped in the Wave Editor, and you can save your modifications by clicking the Presets button.
- Wave Editor
The big graph-like panel in the middle of the oscillator area allows you to create and edit up to sixteen wavetables in four modes. There are two Morph Modes and two Blend Modes, each with distinctive build characteristics that add versatility to your oscillator. You can use the Wave knob to change and blend the wavetables.
- Morph Modes
These are handle-oriented shapers. In GeoMorph mode, you can add up to 32 handles to adjust the curvature to taste. In SpectroMorph, you’re not handling the waveforms but the harmonic spectrum. There are 1023 harmonics spread logarithmically across 10 octaves, and when all handles are at the same level, you get a sawtooth wave.
- Blend Modes
GeoBlend, the first mode, depicts the waveform, but each cycle is represented by 128 vertical bars. Thus, when you turn the Wave button, the waves are cross-faded. The next mode is SpectroBlend, in which the harmonic spectrum is depicted by 128 bipolar bars, which show the in-phase and anti-phase harmonics.
- Presets range
Zebralette’s sound is shockingly interesting for a single oscillator synth, and with 300 presets, it’s also easy to get started with. The simplified interface makes for an easy-to-learn plugin, and the phaser and delay effects further its versatility. Moreover, adding the MSEG to this free plugin is astounding, making it possible to achieve crazier-than-normal sounds with this simple tool.
This plugin is available for macOS 10.9 and newer, Linux, and Windows 7 or higher in VST, AAX, and AU formats.
U-he’s Zebralette is not a flexible plugin, but it offers enough control for you to bend it to your will and come up with unusual sounds of your own. It’s a beginner-friendly plugin that deserves a place in your toolbox.
10. Triple Cheese
Apply some cheesy sounds to your track with the Triple Cheese.
U-he wanted to bring a new way of making synths by removing all classic frequency modulations. They achieved that by having you tweak different comb filters to get the sound you want. The Triple Cheese features exciting options, such as a delay-based effect and a Vibrato that gives your waves a “human-voice” characteristic.
- Comb filters
U-he decided to base their synth production on a new method. The comb filter can create 3 unique sounds, either by having a new wave for each or following the previous output signal. Each oscillator has several knobs to tweak the sound wave to your liking.
- Delay-Based Effect
Apply a delay effect to your synth, and tweak it with the Speed, Mod, Feedback, Damp, and Mix knobs. The damp and mix knobs determine the “wetness” of the signal, while knobs such as the feedback and mod determine the effect’s strength and duration.
The Triple Cheese offers an excellent vibrato effect that typically appears on human vocals to add to your synth. You can choose in what waveform the vibrato applies to the synth and determine the effect rate and the effect’s strength.
- ADSR Envelope Controls
For each envelope you add to the oscillator sounds, you can use sliders to tweak how they change the sound. You have the classic Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release sliders and a Velocity knob to control the strength of the envelope.
11. Digital Suburban Dexed
A multi-platform and multi-format synthesizer plugin modeled after the classic DX 7.
The first free option to emulate vintage gear is from Digital Suburban. Their Dexed plugin aims to recreate the intrinsic aspect of this iconic synthesizer with extended possibilities and different plugin formats that can be relevant to almost all kinds of users and producers.
- DX 7 tool
Although this plugin can be used independently, Dexed is also a great tool for a genuine Yamaha DX 7, incrementing its sonority and acting as an expansion of the instrument as a patch editor or SysEx manager. You can even use the original Mark I cartridge in it, but other models are currently not supported.
- Great control
144 DX 7 parameters in Dexed can be fully automatable inside your DAW, all distributed in a single panel for easier visualization. These are nice parameters to be included, but the possibility to automate them freely gives unprecedented freedom when creating new sounds.
- VU meter
To ensure an operator is active, you’ve got to check the VU meters. Each operator has dedicated metering that ensures which is active and which isn’t. Even so, this can be a simple feature. When working with multiple controls and knobs, it can be easier to have a nice visualization tool to get by.
Seeing a virtual instrument brought to so many different interfaces is not common. You can run it in multiple operating systems, but the nice thing is that there are different formats to enjoy Dexed, with particular attention to the uncommon LV2 plugin format.
This plugin is available for macOS 10.11 or higher (64-bit only), Ubuntu Linux (64-bit only), and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST3, LV2, and AU plugin formats.
The cool thing about Dexed is that it’s not only a recreation of some vintage synth; you can use it to increment the sound of the original gear it was supposed to recreate. Of course, you can still use it, but the expanded possibilities are awesome. You can edit patches, load and save SysEx programs, and more. The visual integration is nice and sober, perfect for anyone used to dealing with these instruments.
12. Chow Tape Model
CHOW Tape Model is an analog tape machine physical model implemented as an audio plugin.
It is based on the Sony TC-260 and was initially developed as part of a class project for Music 420 at Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). The physical model used for CHOW Tape Model was described in a paper presented at the 2019 DAFx conference, showcasing its research focus on developing physics-based models of analog tape emulation.
- Complete Control
For the tape effect you want, you can adjust parameters like Bias, Saturation, and Drive. In addition, you can also add and adjust Wow and Flutter effects on the plugin. Further, there are many tabs like Loss, Degrade, Chew, Comp, Tone, etc., for which you can adjust the controls and create tape fx of your choice.
- Analog Tape Machine Physical Model
Based on a physical model of an analog tape machine, the plugin was initially intended to emulate the Sony TC-260 tape machine. However, the algorithm was later improved to provide a more flexible simulation of various analog reel-to-reel machines, expanding its capabilities to model various tape machines.
- Authentic Tape Saturation
Praised for providing authentic tape saturation, CHOW Tape Model is known for imparting a vintage warmth and character to audio signals, similar to recordings made on analog tape machines.
The plugin’s algorithm offers flexibility, simulating many lo-fi reel-to-reel tape machines. This versatility enables you to achieve different vintage tape effects and tones, making it suitable for various musical styles and genres.
CHOW Tape Model is a reel-to-reel tape emulation effect and is available in various plugin formats, including VST, VST3, AU, LV2, and a standalone plugin.
Overall, the CHOW Tape Model plugin is a highly regarded free tape saturation plugin, perfect for those looking to add a touch of vintage warmth and character to their digital audio recordings. Its research-based approach to physical modeling sets it apart and makes it a valuable tool for producers and audio engineers.
Argotlunar by Michael Ourednik is a multi-fx, delay, filter, time-stretcher, and a granulizer plugin.
Argotlunar is designed specifically as a real-time delay-line granulator. It does an interesting job of creating an exciting sound design from an audio stream. In this granulizer, you can control the duration, panning, delay, amplitude, glissando, pitch, envelope, and filter of the grains. The grains are then mixed together and sent for output.
- Grain control
Argotlunar operates in real-time and functions as a granulator, breaking the incoming audio stream into short grains. Each grain can have random settings for various parameters, including amplitude, panning, duration, delay, pitch, glissando, filter, and envelope. These settings allow for intricate and detailed control over the sound. In addition, it can play up to 20 grains simultaneously, offering extensive possibilities for sound layering and texture creation.
- Feedback Functionality
The output of all grains is mixed and can be fed back into the main input, enabling you to create chaotic, densely layered, and distorted sounds.
- Synchronization with Host Tempo
Time-related parameters can be synced to the host tempo, making it easier to achieve rhythmic and pulsing textures synchronizing with the project’s tempo.
- Quantization of Pitch Parameters & Correlation of Parameters
Pitch-related parameters can be quantized, allowing for harmonic and melodic effects and adding musicality to the granular synthesis process. Many parameters in the plugin can be correlated, allowing for complex and interrelated sound manipulations. For example, filter cutoff can be correlated with pitch, resulting in higher cutoffs for higher-pitched grains and vice versa.
- Filter and Envelope
The plugin features a 12dB state variable filter, which offers high-pass, band-pass, low-pass, and notch filter types. Additionally, it includes a parabolic grain amplitude envelope.
Argotlunar is available for both Windows and Linux operating systems as VST plugins. Additionally, it is also available as an Audio Unit (AU) plugin on macOS.
Argotlunar is a powerful tool for sound designers, producers, and experimental musicians who want to explore unique and surreal audio transformations through real-time granular synthesis. Its capabilities and flexibility make it valuable to any creative audio processing toolkit.
Digits by Extent of the Jam is a phase-distortion synthesizer inspired by the Casio SZ series.
It has a classic digital/8-bit aesthetic with an Oscillator section, a Mix section, an LFO section, an Amplitude envelope, effects, filter, envelope, resonance, map, and control sections. It has great tweakability and scope for detailed editing and sound design.
- Detailed Sound Design
The oscillator lets you select both sound sources’ waveshape and skewness (waveshape) and has a Duty Cycle knob. Similarly, there are three LFOs, each with tweakable controls like Delay, Rate, Repeat, Waveshape, Shaper, Amplitude, Pitch, and Width.
The amplitude envelope lets you adjust the attack, decay, release, sustain, and fade time, along with another parameter called the R. Scale. Further, the Shape Envelope window allows you to adjust the envelope/ADSR along with controllers like Shape min, shape max, etc.
You can add three effects: reverb, chorus, and bitcrusher. Reverb allows you to add space and ambiance to your sounds, whereas chorus allows you to add subtle movement and stereo width. Lastly, bitcrusher allows you to add distortion and alter the harmonic content of the sound.
- Vintage aesthetic & user-friendly interface
The plugin has an attractive 8-bit feel and looks to it, which could be a great inspiration if you’re creating that kind of music. In addition, its well-laid-out design and easily tweakable/automatable parameters let you operate the synth quite easily.
The plugin is available in VST and AU plugin formats and is compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems.
The minimal interface and expansive collection of 70 preset covering pads, leads, bass, and stab sounds make Digits an easy-to-use and simple synthesizer. You can create anything from aggressive leads, and bass sounds to lush pads. However, the synth is especially great for 8-bit and video game sounds.
Stochas is an experimental midi tool with a myriad of possibilities.
This plugin is a step sequencer that also happens to have a chord workflow. However, we will be talking about the sequencer a little as well. Stochas also works by starting with a scale. The plugin will apply the scale’s notes to the keys of the step sequencer.
Next, you can start adding notes on the step sequencer as desired. The exciting thing about this plugin is that it can also trigger notes based on probability. So, if you have two notes layered simultaneously, you can tell Stochas to play only one, choosing randomly. You can also have multiple chains of notes playing based on probability.
- Detailed Features
Every feature in this plugin has many options for total flexibility. For example, you could even use this plugin to program drums after you set up the note mappings. And with probability-based programming, your drums or melodies will never sound monotonous.
A single instance of Stochas supports up to four individual patterns with its own time signature, step count, and playback speed. It can create interesting melodies and rhythms that are highly dynamic, especially for laidback-style music. We recommend trying it out on trap and hip-hop melodies.
- Themeable Interface
There are multiple themes available for this plugin, so you can customize its look the way you like it.
- Chord page
The Chord page of this plugin contains various chord shapes, including triads like major and minor to advanced shapes. You can drag and drop one of those shapes into the step sequencer, and Stochas will attempt to place it appropriately within the chosen scale. If any notes are incompatible, it will simply delete those notes.
- Deep programming capabilities
Apart from its step sequencer, the plugin also has many other features like multiple midi channels, multiple patterns, velocity and groove modifiers, etc. Exploring everything in this plugin can be a tremendous amount of fun and a source of creativity at all times.
Stochas is available for Windows 32-bit and 64-bit, macOS 64-bit, and Linux 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST and AU formats.
With so many features comes overcomplexity, and Stochas does suffer a little in that regard. If you prefer simplicity, this plugin offers the opposite. However, if you are adventurous and like to experiment with music, we recommend playing around with this plugin — perhaps it could be the ultimate source of inspiration for you.
16. Chow Kick
Based on creative physical modeling of old drum machine circuits, ChowDSP brings this unique kick drum synthesizer.
Chow Kick offers practical parameters for adjusting the overall body, tone, and fundamental frequencies within two simple sections that allow you to control and monitor your synthesized kick drum entirely.
Besides the factory controls of Chow Kick, you can extend its functionalities as it’s open-source software. So if you know how to code and have some knowledge of DSP, you have a good starting point to create the kick drum plugin of your dreams.
- Pulse shaper
Within the pulse shaper section, you can find a set of parameters to generate a synthetic pulse whenever the kick drum is triggered. Here, you can modify the width and maximum amplitude of the generated pulse. Then, you can modify envelope parameters like decay and sustain. Lastly, you can set the number of polyphonic voices the kick synthesizer uses with the bottom left “Voices” control, which can benefit kicks with long decay.
- Sound-shaping Parameters
You can add a character with unique parameters: the “Damping” knob controls the global feedback or decay time around the filter. Then, the “Tight” knob is a simplified compressor that lowers the filter’s resonance as the amplitude increases. Next to it, there’s the “Bounce” knob that controls the pitch modulation of the kick drum. Lastly, you will find the “Tone” knob that either accentuates or dampens your kick drum’s high frequencies.
- Resonant Filter with Nonlinear Modes
ChowKick utilizes a resonant filter with several nonlinear modes. This filter is essential for shaping the kick drum sound’s body and tonal characteristics. The nonlinear modes introduce various tonalities and harmonics, enabling sound designers to craft unique and diverse kick drum sounds.
- MIDI Note Tuning
One of the notable features of ChowKick is its ability to be “tuned” with incoming MIDI notes. You can control the pitch of the kick drum by sending MIDI notes to the plugin. This functionality allows for easy integration of the kick drum with other elements in the song and helps match the kick drum to the composition’s key.
This plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher, macOS X 10.12 or higher, and Linux, 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3, LV2, and AU plugin formats.
If you’re looking for a flexible and distinctive way to achieve a good-sounding kick drum, Chow Kick is your go-to. Thanks to its circuit modeling, ChowDSP succeeded in emulating an analog drum machine.
Plugins with this potential are often pricy or don’t deliver good enough results, but Chow Kick puts itself as one of the best kick drum synthesizers, and it doesn’t cost a penny. Its fully adjustable parameters and wide range of possibilities make it an excellent pick for sound designers.
With a simple GUI, the GSnap by GVST is a free auto-tune effect that offers subtle or extreme modulations.
Developed by Graham Yeadon, the plugin allows you to correct the pitch of vocals and create special vocal effects, such as the well-known T-Pain or Cher robot-voice effect, by applying extreme settings. However, GSnap’s algorithm suits simpler, more extended notes with steady transitions instead of choppy melodic rap vocals.
This section allows you to determine the parameters of when and how the automatic pitch correction kicks in. You can set the threshold in cents and change the amount of pitch correction. A higher amount of correction will result in the reduction of vibrato. Similarly, you can adjust the attack and release to control the smoothness of the processing.
The detection section lets you change the minimum and maximum frequencies detected. Typically, you want to stay somewhere that provides the best results, which depends on your audio material. However, try 60 Hz (minimum) and 800 Hz (maximum) as a general guide. It should detect the fundamental frequencies well while keeping the formant separated. Likewise, you can adjust an input gate, which avoids random detection caused by recording noise. And the speed parameter changes how fast the plugins detect pitch changes.
The vertical keyboard on the left of the parameter lets you select the notes of your key/scale. Furthermore, you can also see a live graph displaying the input notes (red) and output notes (green). And you can make pitch bends, add vibrato, change vibrato speed, and customize the reference pitch in the MIDI section.
- MIDI Control Mode
GSnap offers a MIDI control mode, which enables you to fit a vocal recording to a new melody. In this mode, the plugin can snap the pitch to specific MIDI notes in real time while playing a MIDI controller or following a pre-programmed MIDI sequence.
- Friendly User Interface
The plugin features a user-friendly interface with 12 knobs controlling all its parameters. These knobs are labeled to indicate their functions, and each has a user-editable readout below for precise adjustments.
GSnap is available for Windows XP or higher 32-bit and 64-bit, macOS 10 or higher 64-bit, and Linux 32-bit or 64-bit. It comes in VST 2 format.
To summarise, GSnap has gained popularity among music producers and audio enthusiasts for its simple yet powerful pitch-correction capabilities, and it has become a valuable tool in many creative audio projects.
18. Chow Phaser
The Chow Phaser plugin is an open-source digital phase effect plugin inspired by the Schulte Compact Phasing ‘A.’
It is the legendary analog phaser that was popular in the ’70s. Such music legends are used as Ritchie Blackmore, John Lord, Tangerine Dream, and Pink Floyd. With its simple interface consisting of three tabs and nine knobs, you can easily add phase effects to your guitars, vocals, synths, etc., and create interesting effects.
- Mono & Stereo
The plugin has both versions, Mono and Stereo. In Mono, a mono signal will be generated as a stereo signal at the output. In turn, the Stereo version handles the left and right channels separately.
- Multiply the LFO
There is also a separate checkbox that allows you to multiply the frequency of the LFO by 10. You can do this separately for the right and left channels in Stereo mode.
- Drive, Dirt & Thrash
You will have three knobs with which you can add different styles of non-linear processing. For example, use Drive to give more saturation to your effect.
- Parameter Controls
Various parameter controls are provided in the plugin to shape the phaser effect according to your preferences. Key parameter knobs include “feedback” and “modulation,” allowing you to control the processing done by each phaser stage. Additionally, the plugin features knobs for “depth,” “frequency,” “skew,” and “stages,” enabling further customization of the effect.
- LFO and Modulation
The plugin utilizes an LFO (Low-Frequency Oscillator) for the modulation process, allowing you to control the speed and depth of the phaser effect. The LFO frequency can be multiplied by 10 using the “10x” parameter for more dramatic modulation.
Being an open-source plugin, the Chow Phaser allows you to explore and modify its code for educational and customization purposes. This fosters a collaborative environment for audio enthusiasts and developers to contribute to its development and improvement.
The plugin is available for Windows 7, macOS 10.12 or higher (M1 not supported), and Linux. It comes in VST/3 and AU formats.
Chow Phaser is an excellent free plugin with which you can experiment with adding phaser effects. It was inspired by the famous Schulte Compact Phasing ‘A’ unit, on which more than one generation of musicians grew up. This software will give you plenty of possibilities and settings, even though you can separately affect the phaser in the right and left channels.
19. Socalabs Oscilloscope
SocaLabs Oscilloscope is a fantastic monitoring tool carefully developed for enhancing your workflow as a producer.
Oscilloscope comes with a small amount of easy-to-use controls that can lead any producer to start monitoring their signals in no time. Its fully resizeable and dark-themed interface makes it very comfortable for the eyes.
- Trigger Level
SocaLabs Oscilloscope comes with a “Trigger Level” knob that allows you to adjust to a threshold for what the oscilloscope shows. Working together with the “Trigger Mode” selector, you can choose to display what is either above or below the threshold value. If you want to analyze a kick drum, you can adjust this knob to display the signal every time the plugin detects the first hit of the kick drum and somehow syncs to the tempo.
You can have independent control of the positioning in the y-axis for the left and right channels. With the offset knobs, you can adjust the signal placements as separated signals in the display (one on top of the other) or overlapped layers. All this with different display colors for visual comfort.
- Updated Interface
The plugin has undergone a UI revamp with the release of version 1.1.0, providing you with a visually appealing and user-friendly interface to work with.
- Stereo Analysis
With its thorough stereo analysis, the plugin offers visualization of waveforms for both left and right channels, allowing you to monitor the phase and behavior of stereo signals in real time.
This plugin is available for Windows, Linux, and macOS X, all 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3 and AU formats.
People at SocaLabs have done a fantastic job putting this oscillator together. Its zero cost and attractive interface make it more delightful. It has some limitations compared to other competitors. Still, with the correct use of its intuitive seven controls, SocaLabs Oscillator can get the stereo signal image in just one place for better dynamic control on the mix or sound design.
The TICK Metronome is a professional open-source metronome designed to provide musicians and audio producers with a versatile and customizable tool for timing and rhythm.
It is a professional-grade metronome that has been used on stage for performances. It was specifically developed to address the limitations of some DAWs that might not support custom routing or sounds for their internal metronome. This makes TICK a reliable choice for musicians and audio engineers who require precise timing and rhythm during their music production and live performances.
- Customizable Sound
One of the standout features of TICK is its ability to offer full customization of the metronome sounds. You can choose precisely how their metronome sounds, and they even have the ability to make basic edits to the sounds within the TICK interface. Additionally, TICK allows you to import your own metronome sounds, trim them to perfection, and set individual sound levels, providing a highly personalized experience.
- Low Pass Filter
TICK comes equipped with a simple Low-Pass Filter, which is particularly useful when tracking music. The filter helps reduce the harshness of the metronome sound and minimizes any potential audio bleeding, enabling musicians to start tracking quickly and with better precision.
- Continuous Development
As an open-source project developed by an individual in their spare time, TICK promises the potential for ongoing improvement and the addition of new features. This commitment to continuous development ensures that TICK remains relevant and responsive to the needs of its users.
It is available as a standalone application and a plugin for various platforms, including Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux. As of the provided date, it supports multiple audio plugin formats, including AAX, Audio Unit (AUv3 on iOS), VST2, and VST3.
The TICK Metronome stands out as a versatile and professional metronome tool that caters to musicians, producers, and performers alike. Its customizability, portability, and cross-platform support make it a valuable asset for timing and rhythm control in music production, recording sessions, and live performances.
Best Paid Plugins for Linux
1. u-he Diva
Diva, a legendary analog-style synth plugin by u-he, sounds similar to real analog synths.
Overall, Diva is an easy plugin to navigate. The plugin gives you five different types of oscillators, four kinds of high-pass filters, five main filter options, and three types of envelopes. You’ll find LFOs, the effects, and the available controls in the lower panels, such as sync, pan, and tuning.
Additionally, there are individual menus for modifications, trimmers, scope, and presets.
Each of the five types offers a slightly different GUI, which can be confusing. Other than that, they all sound incredible. For example, in the Voltage Controlled Oscillation area, the plugin gives you three options. A CPU-hungry Triple VCO with FM controls, a multi-wave Dual VCO with PWM, and a CPU-friendly Dual VCO Eco with ring modulation. In addition to those, you get a DCO, a single oscillator with a flexible sub-OSC, and a Digital oscillator, which offers several types of waveforms.
The heart of Diva is its filters. U-he has modeled all five units after a more significant number of classic hardware and, though the controls are similar, each has its unique flavor. For instance, VCF | BITE adds beautiful resonance by increasing the oscillator volume by 10%.
- Oscillator Voice Detune
Voltage oscillator synths detune slightly due to component wear, creating a natural effect that is almost like a soft chorus. To simulate this, u-he went above and beyond and gave us the Oscillator Voice Detune panel. You can access it by clicking the Trimmers section at the GUI’s bottom. There are three knobs for each of Diva’s voices, and you can fine-tune them to find your sound. Additionally, you get a “Detune Amt” knob below in the same panel, which controls the global detune. In high values, the same note will sound highly different if you play it twice.
The plugin gives you over 1200 presets, making life a lot easier, especially if you don’t have time to design your patches. Additionally, it’s easy to search for the right presets through tags or text. You can look up categories, features, or the character of the desired sound.
This plugin is available for macOS 10.7 or newer and Windows 7 or higher in VST, AU, and AAX formats.
Built as an all-analog solution for your synth needs, u-he’s Diva lets you grasp the sound of the original hardware for a thin slice of their prices. Unlike the originals, though, you can replace the modules and combine them to taste, just to remind you that you’re in the digital realm. Overall, Diva is a great-sounding plugin with a special place in your collection.
2. AVA Mastering EQ
The AVA Mastering EQ by Harrison Consoles is a powerful audio plugin designed specifically for the task of mastering mixes.
It offers a range of advanced features that cater to the precise tonal adjustments required during the final stage of music production. The AVA Mastering EQ is purpose-built for mastering tasks, allowing engineers to make subtle or significant tonal changes to the mix while retaining the overall harmonic balance of the audio elements.
- Transparent EQ
Mastering EQ is designed in such a way that any adjustments you make to adjacent frequency bands result in a smooth, flat curve across the band edges rather than creating discrete humps and valleys. This feature contributes to the plugin’s ability to deliver effortless, smooth, and transparent results typical of the “Harrison” sound.
- 31 Control Bands
With a total of 31 control bands, the plugin covers a frequency range from 20Hz to 20kHz. These control bands are spaced in increments of 1/3 octave, providing a high degree of control over the audio spectrum for precision equalization.
- Effortless Mouse Control
The plugin is intuitively controlled using a mouse. You can easily adjust the EQ settings and create smooth curves to achieve the desired tonal changes by clicking and dragging across the frequency spectrum. The Shift button can apply natural smoothing to the curve, and right-clicking and dragging allow for easy erasing of existing adjustments.
- Flexible GUI and Spectrum Analyzer
AVA Mastering EQ features a user-friendly GUI allowing engineers to draw accurate EQ curves quickly. Additionally, it incorporates a spectrum analyzer that displays the frequency graph or a scrolling display with brightness representing intensity. This real-time visual feedback helps guide decision-making during the mastering process.
The AVA Mastering EQ is available as a versatile audio plugin compatible with multiple operating systems and plugin formats. It can be used on Mac, Windows, and Linux systems in AAX, AU, VST, and VST3 formats.
In conclusion, the AVA Mastering EQ by Harrison Consoles is a top-notch mastering EQ plugin with features tailor-made for precise tonal adjustments in the final stages of music production. Its unique curve shape, effortless mouse control, and real-time spectrum analysis make it indispensable for mastering engineers seeking professional and transparent results.
What if we told you you could get a really aggressive, diabolical amp sim at a very affordable price? That’s exactly what the Hellbeast from Audio Assault is.
Audio Assault is a Mexican company that produces affordable amp sim plugins, effects, IR loaders, and packs. The software on their website is available at a lower price than the more significant players on the market. They generally have plugins based on famous guitar heads such as EVH and Revv. It’s worth noting that the design of the software itself is pretty good.
As for Hellbeast, this is the second version of this plugin available from Audio Assault. This guitar head has three channels. The first is high gain based on the famous Randall Satan amp. Crunchy channel based on the Fortin Natas amplifier – is the second one.
And the third channel is just a clean one. The plugin has all the necessary functionality to prepare the sound for your mixes. You can experiment with IRs, boost your tone, and add effects.
In addition to the head, you have three stompboxes at your disposal, through which you can refine your tone. Noise Gate, Boost, which can push the lows and tops, and Drive. The last one acts similarly to the Tube Screamer, enhances the amp’s front end, gives it more saturation, and helps control the muddiness in the low end. It will be indispensable for use in more modern genres of metal.
- Dual IR Loader
One of the main features of the new plugin version is that the IR loader here is now double. You can blend the default cabs here or on your own. There is also a function for moving the microphone over the speaker in the loader. In addition – a high and low pass filter, a pan, and a level knob.
- FX Rack
A 9-bend graphic EQ is available in this section of the plugin. It will be an excellent tool to tailor the sound even after the amp. In addition, there are Delays with mile-second settings, BPM sync, Feedback, Width, and Mix knobs. Also, you can add Reverb to your sound with size, decay, tone, pre-delay, and mix settings.
The plugin is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux, all 64-bit only. It comes in VST, VS3, AU, RTAS, and AAX formats.
Hellbeast would be a great solution if you want to try an amp sim plugin but are not on a big budget to afford top-of-the-line plugins. Audio Assault has prepared everything you need for a complete guitar rig, along with Double IR Loader, effects, and more. In short, it’s decent software for its price.
This virtual guitar head will be the perfect solution for fans of the heaviest metal. But still, it has the versatility to achieve other guitar tones as well.
4. u-he Hive 2
U-he launched Hive as a soft-synth with a synthesizer architecture similar to Sylenth and Spire, adding their twist & innovation to this incredible software.
Years later, in 2015, they launched Hive 2, with some upgrades and improvements, including the wavetable functionality. It has two main oscillators on which a standard waveform or a wavetable can be loaded, with up to 16 unison voices, two sub-oscillators, three different synth engines, and, most importantly, low CPU usage. Yes, the plugin is light on CPU, given its vast functionality.
- Extensive Synth Engine
You can choose from three different synth engines: Clean, Normal, and Dirty, each of which varies in its internal circuitry, envelope, oversampling, and detuning algorithms, and the choice of models of filters that are used. All these differences bring about a change in the fundamental characteristic of the sound.
- Huge Sound Bank
With about 2300 presets from categories like basses, poly leads, mono leads, keys, pads, plucks, etc., the plugin packs a versatile range of sounds for different genres and purposes. You can also save and organize your presets by adding their tags (bright, dark, clean, phat, etc.), features (mono, poly, chord, etc.), and categories. A browser can search the presets by their names and navigate through them.
- Good-quality Sound Generators
The two main oscillators in the Hive2 can generate the following waveforms: saw, square, sine, triangle, half pulse, and narrow pulse, along with pink and white noise are of high resolution. You can also load up a wavetable and choose a waveform from that table. In addition, you can load up your wavetables by saving the WAV file of that audio in the same directory as others. Wavetables can be further edited by changing their phase, position, how they are looped, etc.
- Immense scope for Programming & Processing
There’s a dedicated display section for the Arpeggiator and Sequence called as “Arp/Seq” section. In the sequencer, you can load up to sixteen steps and add settings like Gate, Transpose, velocity, and Mod. You can use the Mod value to assign modulating destinations to the Mod matrix. Two function generators sync the ADSR and adjust its curve as exponential or logarithmic.
For modulation, you can drag and drop any parameters with a crosshair symbol next to the destination of your choice. In addition, Hive 2 also allows you to quantize your signals using the scale quantizer. Further, there’s an X/Y pad also available for modulation.
The effects in the u-he are compressor, distortion, chorus, phaser, equalizer, delay, and reverb, and they can be used in any sort that you like. In addition, the effects section has an aesthetic, colorful display that is pleasing to the eyes. Lastly, the Scope (short form for Oscilloscope) section allows you to see the movement of your waveforms by simply dragging and dropping them onto it.
- Advanced Interpolation algorithms
Hive provides four different algorithms for interpolating between the frames: switch (sudden jumps between frames), crossfade (smooth interpolation between waveform magnitudes), spectral (smoothly interpolates between waveform magnitudes and phase), and zero phases (like spectral, but phase adjusts each partial to zero first).
- Structured visual display
You get a fairly organized structure of the subtractive synthesis process, with everything loaded on a single window, easily switchable tabs and sections like fx, scope, seq/arp, etc., and laid out amps and LFOs and their knobs and sliders. The signals are also easy to route with an easily understandable signal flow.
The minimum OS requirement for the Hive 2 is a Mac OS X 10.7, a Windows 7+, or Linux. It is available in AU, VST2, VST3, AAX (Pro Tools 10.3.7+), and NKS with 32-bit and 64-bit versions).
However, the latest version of Avid’s toolkit for building AAX plugins is not compatible with the Apple SDK needed to build plugins for Apple’s new ARM/M1 processors. Therefore, the updated AAX versions are not compatible with macOS, Intel CPUs, and Apple M1.
The best part about Hive 2 is its low CPU usage, its wide range of scope in its overall functionality, and its well-thought-out GUI. Also, the official manual for the plugin released by u-he is well-made and informative.
There’s a lot that you can do with the plugin, and if you may not understand the process of synthesis and sound design, there is a huge library of presets arranged based on various categories and styles you could choose from.
Vital is a spectral warping wavetable synth available in free and paid versions.
It comes with three wavetable oscillators, each equipped with the classic controls you’d expect, such as pitch, level, pan, phase, and unison. All three oscillators have spectral and traditional warp controls, offering unlimited sound design possibilities.
Another great feature inside Vital’s oscillators is the “text to wavetable” function, where you can type words and render them into a wavetable. It’s a fun feature to play with that can develop some interesting-sounding wavetables.
- Spectral Warping
Vital’s main highlight is its spectral oscillator warping, allowing you to manipulate the harmonics of wavetables to create unique and diverse timbres. It allows stretch, shift, smear, and skew harmonics across the spectrum, enabling you to explore new sonic territories from simple source waveforms.
- Wavetable Creation
The synthesizer offers multiple ways to create custom wavetables. You can turn their own samples into wavetables using features like pitch-splice or vocode wavetable converter. Furthermore, Vital has a built-in wavetable editor that allows you to design wavetables from scratch. Surprisingly, it even allows generating wavetables from text, offering unprecedented creativity.
- Visual Synthesizer
Vital’s interface is visually engaging, providing animated controls, filter responses, waveforms, smooth LFOs, oscilloscopes, spectrograms, and more. All animations run at 60 frames per second and are GPU-optimized, ensuring a seamless user experience while focusing on sound design.
- Modulation Workflow
The synth boasts an optimized drag-and-drop modulation workflow, making it effortless to modulate controls. Before committing to a modulation, you get a preview of the effect, allowing them to experiment freely without affecting the original sound negatively.
- Extensive Sound Design Tools
Vital provides various tools for sound design, including custom LFO shapes, snappy envelopes, and randomized modulation sources like Perlin, noise, and sample & hold. This wide array of tools enables you to create intricate and evolving sounds easily.
- Free Version and Paid Add-ons
Available in both free and paid versions, the plugin’s free version includes all the core functionality needed to create powerful sounds. In contrast, the paid editions offer additional presets and wavetables for more creative options.
Vital supports various platforms, including Windows, Mac, and Ubuntu, and it functions as a VST3, VST, AU, and LV2 plugin, making it compatible with most major digital audio workstations.
In summary, Vital is a feature-rich and visually engaging wavetable synthesizer that stands out for its powerful spectral warping capabilities, user-friendly interface, and extensive sound design tools.
6. Waves Harmony
More Info & Price (Trial Available)
The best vocal harmonies can be naturally created inside this awesome plugin.
Waves is well-known for producing high-quality plugins and audio software, which come in a variety of versions and choices to suit a wide range of applications. However, any plugin that may improve the sound aspects or make the workflow easier is appreciated, and Waves Harmony is just like that. This useful voice harmony generator has a simple and beautiful UI with clear controls that are entertaining to experiment with in the recording studio or on stage.
- Eight voices
Vocal Harmony is an excellent engine with eight separate voices, allowing for everything from a basic doubled-melody to a complicated and rich vocal arrangement for all these eight voices. This is critical and works flawlessly, with a true sound character like what actual vocalists would deliver.
- Pitch correction
As predicted, this plugin makes pitch adjustments quickly and simply. You may freely change and vary the pitch of every note, either by accident or by personal desire, with relative indicators on the screen. Feel free to correct any lines or simply repair one erroneous note as quickly as possible.
- Harmony Generator
The powerful engine hidden within Vocal Harmony is ideal not just for duplicating a vocal but also for sparking your creativity. The harmony generator may create immediate ideas based on current musical scales, giving your phrases and musical ideas even more authenticity.
- Formant shift
This type of vocal plugin typically includes a “formant” preset, which allows you to mimic the actions a human lip makes when talking or singing. Of course, there are other factors to consider when giving a genuine aural experience, but being able to modify how a singer’s lips react to a given phrase adds realism to this replication.
- Built-in effects
Although you can always add post-effects to anything you make, having the most significant aspects related to vocal harmony provided in this package is really useful. A separate “Delay” fader controls the effect’s feedback, while an extra “Filter” fader allows you to easily sweep over the frequencies in your music.
- MIDI controlled
One of the finest features of virtual instruments or effects such as Vocal Harmony is the ability to connect a MIDI device and play whatever you want. This plugin has complete MIDI compatibility from Waves, which may be quite handy for getting your vocals done correctly with the help of a keyboard, for example.
- Eight voices
This plugin is available for macOS 10.15.7, 11.6.5, and 12.4 (64-bit only) and Windows 10 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST, VST3, AAX, and AU plugin formats.
Vocal correction software is difficult to use. It’s difficult to create a decent algorithm that sounds nice to the ears, but Waves has achieved it with Vocal Harmony. This fantastic plugin has a wonderful UI design that makes pitch correction and other modifications as simple as possible, with obvious buttons that change your results with the slightest touch.
Unfortunately, due to the high-processing nature of the effect, Vocal Harmony can have a substantial impact on CPU utilization, even when it works flawlessly.
All plugins discussed above showcase the capabilities of open-source development and the dedication of talented creators in the music production community.
Tunefish 4 is a high-performance virtual analog synthesizer, delivering warm and vintage tones with efficient processing even on lower-spec machines. Next, Graillon 2 impresses with its pitch correction features, allowing you to achieve harmonically coherent and natural-sounding vocals. Surge XT takes a unique approach to synthesis, offering six oscillators and abundant modulation possibilities.
The TAL-Vocoder is a top-notch vocoder plugin, providing clear and intelligible speech processing with analog-modeled components. Podolski stands out as a simple yet powerful virtual analog synthesizer with a vast array of factory presets for quick and easy sound selection.
Zebralette, a miniaturized version of Zebra2 with a robust oscillator and MIDI control capabilities; and Triple Cheese, which offers unconventional sound design options through comb filters.
Moreover, the list encompasses a variety of other innovative tools, such as the vintage gear emulation Dexed, the physics-based analog tape model CHOW Tape Model, the real-time delay-line granulator Argotlunar, and the phase-distortion synthesizer Digits.
For those seeking experimental and unique MIDI capabilities, Stochas provides probability-based sequencing and chord workflows. Chow Kick, an open-source kick drum synthesizer, allows customization and extension through coding, while GVST G Snap offers subtle and extreme auto-tune effects.
The collection also includes Chow Phaser, inspired by the legendary analog phaser of the ’70s, and Socalabs Oscilloscope, a monitoring tool designed to enhance producers’ workflows. Finally, TICK Metronome caters to musicians and audio producers, delivering precise timing and rhythm in music production and live performances.
These plugins, developed with dedication and expertise, exemplify the thriving open-source music software ecosystem available for Linux users. I hope the article helps. Thank you for reading.
Shaurya Bhatia, is an Indian Music Producer, Composer, Rapper & Performer, who goes by the stage name MC SNUB, and is also 1/2 of the Indian pop music duo, called “babyface”. A certified Audio Engineer & Music Producer, and a practicing musician & rapper for more than 6 years, Shaurya has worked on projects of various genres and has also been a teaching faculty at Spin Gurus DJ Academy.