We tried our best to find the free AAX Plugins of all sorts, old and new picks from all sorts of brands!
Let’s dive in:
The 30 Free AAX Plugins For Music Production 2023
1. ujam Usynth Drive
Usynth Drive is a free synthesizer, sequencer, and effect plugin by ujam.
It’s a simple-looking plugin with an intuitive interface but has excellent functionalities under the hood. The synthesizer section packs wavetable, virtual analog, FM, multi-sample synth engines, modulators like multi-mode filters, a 5-stage envelope, LFOs, a modulation matrix, and more.
Drive is great for creating House music but has good sound design options for pop, RnB, funk, retro, and many dance genres.
- Easy to use
The plugin is designed to be used by anyone, whether a beginner or a professional. It has about a hundred presets split into categories like Keys, Leads, Plucks, Pads, and Effects. However, the plugin is not as easy as it looks, but the complexity doesn’t appear in the workflow, as it stays in the synth design only.
- Simple synthesis workflow
Usynth Drive has a synthesizer section, which two knobs can control: Dark/Bright and Fast/Slow knob. Further, there are knobs like Calm Down, Scream, and More Sub. You can change the presets for the synth window by using arrows and a dice, by which you can select anything from bass sounds to pad sounds.
- Sequencer Engine
The switchable sequencer allows you to adjust the rate between quarter and 1/32nd note. You can also sync it to the BPM and key and select various patterns. Further, you can adjust the note length, swing, octave shifts, and pattern length.
- Finisher section
Finisher is a multi-effects section that consists of 60 different effect combinations that you can set at every instance of the knob. Every Finisher preset is a different configuration of different effect modules.
- Generative functions
All sections consist of the Surprise button, symbolized by the Dice icon. You get fresh Sequencer and Finisher ideas and presets when you click on them.
- Under-the-hood functionality
The knobs/controllers that appear very simple from the outside have complex functionalities hiding behind them. For example, the bright/dark knob helps you adjust the harmonic content to get even harmonics at the bright end and odd harmonics at the dark end.
- Detailed editing
Drive lets you go in-depth with your sound design by adjusting the mix of effects like a multi-band compressor, transient, chorus, and focus EQ in Finisher. You can set the intensity of the Surprise switch to range from small to big. In addition, you can adjust the delays, spreads (stereo imaging), reverb (ambiance/stadium), etc.
Drive is available in AU, AAX, and VST 2 plugin formats and requires a minimum of macOS Catalina (10.15) or Windows 10 operating systems, 8 GB of RAM, and 1.23 GB of hard disk space.
2. Audio Damage Rough Rider 3
Rough Rider 3 by Audio Damage is a great free compressor plugin with a nice warm sound.
The minimalistic UI has been updated from its previous versions to look on-brand with the most recent Audio Damage products. Audio Damage added a sidechain filter and a full bandwidth button to turn the warmth on and off. The knobs can be controlled with the mouse, but there is no type-in support.
- External & Internal Sidechain: The Rough Rider gives you the ability to work as a sidechain processor for either internal or external sources. This is great if you’re processing a bass-heavy material, but the excessive bass makes the compressor pump too hard. It’s also great if you need the processed sound to duck every time an external sound hits.
- Comprehensive Metering: The main circle at the center of the UI called Sensitivity actually controls the threshold. In it, you’ll find the gain reduction meters in yellow and the attack and release curves in light blue. This makes it extremely easy for you to understand how much compression is actually happening, which can be hard to visualize in other plugins.
- Transparency: This plugin has an extremely transparent sound when Full Bandwidth is disabled. You can easily create artifact-free compression even in extreme settings, an essential feature for the digital world.
Character & Sound:
The plugin’s standard sound is somewhat aggressive and warm due to the built-in filters. This can be desirable for many situations, but it may be distracting if you’re looking for a cleaner sound. Aware of this, Audio Damage equipped this new version of Rough Rider with the Full Bandwidth On/Off switch. The latest addition gives you the flexibility of achieving warm coloration or clean compression.
Rough Rider 3 is available as a VST, VST3, AAX, and AU plugin for Windows 8 and up, macOS 10.12 and newer, and Ubuntu 18 or later. You can also use this plugin on your iOS device. It is available for download in the App Store in AUv3 and IAA & Standalone formats. All operating systems and DAWs must be 64-bit.
3. Slate Digital FRESH AIR
Slate Digital needs no introduction to the pro audio community, and this breath of Fresh Air is possibly one of the smoothest exciters in existence.
There are only two knobs in this plugin. However, don’t let its simplicity deter you. Under the hood, it utilizes vintage exciter technology, complete with its smooth high-frequency shine. The Mid Air and High Air parameters, as the names suggest, add brightness to said frequency ranges.
We love using it on vocals, drums, synths, and even full mixes. The plugin never fails to add clarity and presence seemingly magically. And being a free plugin, there is truly nothing to lose in giving it a try.
- Easy-to-use Interface
Despite having multiple parallel processings underneath the plugin, Slate Digital nails the interface design by keeping it astonishingly minimal and elegant. If you are just getting into the world of exciters and enhancers, Fresh Air is the best place to start, without a doubt.
- Smooth Sound
The sound of Fresh Air reminds us of expensive, high-end vintage gears that use induction and capacitors to get their filters, resulting in a smooth sound. Similarly, the plugin also manages to keep the excitement process without distortion or brittleness.
Character & Sound:
According to Slate Digital, Fresh Air was modeled to have the Dolby-A NR band splitting for smooth multi-band function. As a result, the sound of this plugin is that of smooth, analog gears. Also, it doesn’t introduce any frequency dips or notches with either of the two parameters.
This plugin is available for Windows 8 or higher and macOS 10.12 through 10.14, both 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
4. Ample Bass P Lite II
Don’t worry if you don’t have a budget. We’ve got some free plugins for you. The first is Ample Bass P Lite II from Ample Sound.
The Chinese company Ample Sound, from time to time, pleases its users with free products. For example, you can get a virtual instrument based on the Martin D-41 acoustic guitar. Ample Bass P Lite II is also on the list of free plugins.
This software is based on the Fender Precision Bass. More often than not, free plugins can’t surprise you with excellent sound quality. But let’s be honest with you – this one is perfect. At least you can safely try it before you buy similar virtual instruments.
- Over 400 Bass Samples
In total, the plugin uses over four hundred bass guitar samples. It is pretty enough to provide many articulations. Namely, Hammer-Ons & Pull-Offs, Accent, and Sustain. Also, you will hear a rich fingering noise.
- Implemented technologies
The creators have introduced the Auto Buzz system, Capo Logic, Customized Parameters Control, Poly Legato, and Slide Smoother technologies. You can also combine several articulations by pressing a few key switches at the same time.
- Use Your Tabs
With the Tab Player, you can load and play guitar and bass tablature in the plugin. In addition, you can export the file from the Tab Player. This mode supports all necessary articulations as well.
The plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST2/3, AU, AAX formats, and as a standalone host.
5. Voxengo SPAN
Voxengo’s SPAN provides you an accurate frequency and loudness analysis across the entire frequency spectrum.
Not only that, the plugin gives you detailed and adjustable readings for up to 12 different routing options, including surround, mid-side, and sidechain. The Underlay button allows you to check multiple of these sources simultaneously. Also, the correlation and loudness meters ensure this analyzer is perfect for mastering.
- Underlay: If you have selected any two-channel routing option, you can use the Underlay button to visualize them on the same screen. Make sure to select contrasting colors for each channel. This process allows you to have a greater overview of problematic frequencies and channels, so you can go back to the mix and fix them.
- Settings: The tweakable settings live under the Gear icon. There you’ll find controls for the spectrum analyzer and the display separately. You can increase the range of the display to values lower than 20Hz and higher than 20kHz. Furthermore, you can change how many transients you want to see in the analyzer by setting the Average Time.
- Metering: What makes this plugin truly a mastering tool is the metering section. Besides the output levels, you’ll also be able to check the correlation, dB True Peak, dBFS, RMS, and a few more. This is essential if you want to make sure how your master’s loudness is behaving.
- Customization: You can change the color of the spectrum analyzer and the underlying inputs. The plugin offers 14 colors for you to choose from, so you can really make it your own.
Character & Sound:
By its very nature, a spectrum analyzer doesn’t modulate sound in any way. It is a tool used as a visual reference to help translate what you hear. This particular plugin also offers loudness metering in EBU R128 LUFS/LU, but it doesn’t apply any limiting. If your source material is clipping beyond unity gain, it will tell you accurately how loud it is.
This plugin is available for Windows 7 and up and macOS 10.11 and higher as a VST, AU, and AAX plugin.
6. Newfangled Audio Pendulate
Pendulate, by Newfangled Audio, is an impulsive free synth that borrows the double pendulum engine from its paid sibling.
The plugin offers an innovative synthesis method based on a double pendulum, a chaotic system governed by ordinary differential equations. In short, the plugin generates sound from a sine wave, and you can shape it with the six oscillator parameters. In addition, the Wavefolder section helps you add wave-bending harmonics to the sound, and the Low Pass Gate offers an ADSR and a smooth sound.
Here, you can set the parameters for voice and pitch on a global scale. In addition, the modulation sources within this area let you add MIDI and MPE modulation into any parameter in Pendulate’s upper half.
This section creates three modulations sources when a note is pressed. You get a full-envelope ADSR modulator, an ADR envelope, and an ASR. These slightly different shapes let you affect multiple parameters with similar intentions but exceptional results.
Lastly, we have a single LFO with five outputs in the modulation chain. Each modulation output offers a different waveform that you can use to modulate other parameters. For example, the LFO gives you sine, triangle, pulse, sawtooth, and ramp waveforms.
Sound & Usability:
While the upper half has been mostly copied from Generate, the lower half of the plugin offers limited effects and modulations. And even though that was expected, it isn’t bad for Pendulate’s users. Having more LFOs and envelopes would be nice, but this is a free plugin.
As a sample for the paid version, this plugin works marvelously, as it also borrows the user-friendly experience from Generate.
It’s absurdly easy to create modulations. You can click the circles and drag and drop the mouse into the [+] of whatever parameter you want to modulate from the bottom half.
This plugin is available for Windows 8.1 and higher and macOS 10.9 and newer in AAX, VST, and AU formats.
7. u-he 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
Choose to 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.
Triple Cheese is available for Windows 7 or higher, 32-bit and 64-bit, macOS 10.9 or higher, 64-bit, and Linux. It comes in VST2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
8. Imaginando DLYM
Imaginando DLYM is a delay modulation plugin that can dramatically change the sound.
Imaginando DLYM is a free stereo flanger effect with a characteristic sound and lets you sync the sweep rate to your host tempo. The plugin was designed to be used by electronic musicians. It can create everything from subtle reverb-like effects to extreme experimental sounds.
- Intuitive UI:
Imaginando DLYM comes with a minimalistic, easy-in-the-eye user interface made to enhance the creative workflow. It gives you two different processing modes to choose from (analog emulation and dimension style), stereo spreading, and crossover controls that make it stand out from other plugins that offer typical flanger/chorus settings.
- Presets manager:
DLYM includes as many as 20 presets and patches featuring various analog and digital chorused flanger sounds to give you a solid start point. You can also create and store your settings by clicking on the floppy disk at the top of the interface.
Supports Windows 10 and higher, Supports macOS 10.13 or higher, runs on 64 bit, and comes in VST, AU, and AAX formats.
9. Tritik Krush
Krush by Tritik is a digital bit crusher with analog-modeled resonant filters.
This plugin allows you to distort peaks like a clipper and add saturation and reduce the sample rate. Furthermore, it gives you several modulation controls so you can let your imagination fly.
- LFO: This nice addition allows you to apply tremolo effects to the distortion interestingly and peculiarly. You can use the four waveforms – sine, square, triangle, and random – to influence how the effect will blend with the unprocessed signal. You can set it to Free so that you can adjust the LFO in Hertz or sync to the session’s tempo.
- Double Parameters: Both the main and the Modulation panels offer the same controls, and they affect each other as you adjust the values. Start by setting the values for the main controls. Once you find a good sound, set your LFO and use the lower controls to start blending the other parameters’ modulation. The effects you can get out of this process are unpredictable since the plugin offers you extreme freedom to blend as you desire.
Character & Sound:
This plugin’s range is remarkable. You can add soft saturation to make it sound almost like a clipper or go crazy on the knobs and have it sound unique. Whatever you choose, you can very easily turn your tracks into lo-fi or fully distorted sounds.
This plugin is available as a VST, AU, and AAX plugin for macOS 10.7 or newer and Windows 7 or higher.
10. Heavyocity Foundations: Synth Bass (Requires Free Kontakt Player)
Heavyocity Foundations: Synth Bass is a simple dual-knob synth bass plugin.
The beauty of the plugin is its simplicity. Sometimes you just need a sound without having to dive into the sound designing aspect of it or spending hours on creating the sound. Synth Bass saves you all that time by featuring just two sound sources: bass and growl. The bass knob lets you add low-end rumble, oomph, and weight to your sound, whereas the Growl knob lets you add a more aggressive tone.
- Deep tone
The plugin lets you add more depth, richness, and solid analog characteristics to your sound by using the bass knob. Heavyocity has crafted this knob by modeling many vintage analog synthesizers that give the sounds great resolution and quality.
- Scoring applications
The aggressive tone of the Growl knob expands the applications of the synthesizer and gives it more bite and impact. It also extends its use to cinematic effects, trailer SFX, scoring, game sound design, and more. Especially with the synth being a product of Heavyocity, which specializes in cinematic sounds, it’s a great tool.
The plugin allows you to add master effects like punch, delay, and reverb, which further gives more depth to the sound, allowing you to create a space for your bass instrument, and settle it in the mix with more impact.
- Other features
You can apply GATE and arpeggio to your sound for more rhythm and movement. In addition, you can add envelope modulation and adjust the mix of both sound sources. You get ten presets to get you started with the plugin.
Heavyocity Foundations: Synth Bass is available in VST, AU, and AAX plugin formats and requires a minimum of 530 MB of hard disk space, 2 GB RAM for Windows, and 4 GB RAM for Mac. The minimum operating system requirement of the plugin is Windows 10 and macOS 10.14.
11. 2getheraudio Cheeze Machine 2
Cheese Machine 2 is a free virtual synthesizer for retro pop sounds.
It’s a simple plugin with an Oscillator section, envelope section, and effects section. In between, there’s a volume and pan slider, along with a preset browser with over 60 user-editable factory presets. It consists of two virtual analog oscillators and one sub-oscillator capable of outputting fat and warm sounds.
- Oscillator section
Here, you get access to knobs Shape, Pulse Width, Detune, Pitch, Fine, and Filter knobs, along with switches like Double, Octave, and Sub. Double is used to layer another sound with the existing sound. The Octave button changes your oscillator’s octave, and the Sub switch adds a sub-bass layer to your main sound.
- Effects section
You can add effects like Ensemble, Phaser, Vibrato, and Reverb, along with Wide and Mono switches. You can go into details and adjust the nitty-gritty of these effects. For example, you can select the right reverb algorithm and adjust its amount.
- Independent Amp and Filter Envelopes
When you turn on the Amp switch, you can adjust the ADSR sliders of the amplitude/volume, and when you turn on the filter switch, you can adjust the filter envelope.
The synth has over sixty strings, brass, bass, pads, and keyboard sounds. You can use these sounds across different genres and styles of songs. In addition, its simple interface, intuitive workflow, and CPU-lightness make it even more usable.
Cheese Machine 2 is available in AU, AAX, VST, and standalone plugin formats and requires a minimum of mac OS X 10.12 or Windows 8 operating system, 50 MB hard disk space, 1 GB RAM, and Intel Core i5, i7, 2.3GHz processors.
12. Matt Tytel Helm
Helm is a well-reviewed, popular synthesizer plugin developed by Matt Tytel and is perfect for designing deep, theatrical sounds.
The most popular feature of this plugin is its GUI, which is relatively clean and well-organized for a synthesizer of this caliber. Helm also has a very powerful engine capable of generating spectacular sounds that we don’t even get in some of the paid synthesizers. Users looking to create rhythmic sequences will be satisfied with the formant filter section and the stutter effect module. Additionally, Helm packs the necessary modulation controls and is laid out along the well-organized interface, which makes it easy to connect multiple elements of the sound engine.
- Formant and Stutter Effects
These two effects are pretty unique to this plugin. Given that this is a free plugin, some of the effects that it packs are pretty impressive. For example, the stutter effect can be used to add rhythm to your sounds, and these rhythms can be set according to 1/2 notes, 1/8 notes, and so on. The formant feature has an X-Y pad whereby the amount of effect applied can be selected from a grid.
- Free Source
Helm is not only a free plugin, but it also has an open source. This means that you can look at the code behind this plugin. Furthermore, you can alter this code to remove bugs and modify it according to your liking.
The modulation controls in Helm are laid out very neatly, and they display a waveform to the users so that the effects applied to the waveforms can be viewed in real-time.
This plugin is available in VST/AU/AAX formats and supports Windows 7 or higher for PC and Mac OS 10.9 or higher for Mac in both 32 and 64-bit systems.
13. Spitfire Audio LABS
From the giant library that is free, Spitfire LABS comes to an excellent sample-based electric guitar.
Recorded and created by guitarists Leo Wyatt, Keith Theodosiou, and Dino Pollano, LABS Electric Guitar is a collection of guitar sounds. The sounds are suitable for specific scoring styles, pop, trap, hip-hop, 80s rock, etc. And the user interface is straightforward, with only two faders.
The sounds of this plugin are pre-processed. You’ll find a chorused Fender Telecaster, pop-like Fender Stratocaster, and a darker, driven Ibanez. I would suggest using it to play melodies and arpeggios. You can’t play rhythms without a strumming engine unless you intend to keep it super simple.
All LABS instruments boast simplicity, and this one’s no different. You can adjust the amount of reverb, dynamics, and volume using the available parameters, and that’s it! However, it’s enough for adding arpeggio patterns and short riffs.
Spitfire LABS is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.10 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
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 and 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 get access to 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.
15. u-he Tyrell N6
Tyrell N6 by u-he is a great synth for creating game audio and synthwave music, which comes with 580 factory presets.
Originally, a German music publication called Amazona wanted to create an affordable analog synth based on features and ideas from their readers but did not have the resources to. Fortunately, u-he took this concept and turned their idea into a free software synthesizer, which is how the plugin came into existence.
- Drift Mode for Realness
The analog nature of the sounds on the synth comes by switching the DRIFT mode on the top-right corner of the synthesizer. That is the secret sauce that gives the synth its vintage vibe. The chorus effect at the bottom of the synth also adds to the richness and width of the sound, hence adding to the analog characteristics. In addition, the VCA Envelope also contributes to that.
- The unique sound of its self-modulating filter
Under the Filters section, there are two modulation knobs, which you can tweak to add modulations to this filter. In addition, you can use the “Mixer” window and adjust the volume sliders of its oscillators, ring modulation, and feedback.
- Great Sound Design Capabilities
Tyrell N6 consists of two oscillators, one noise generator, and a ring modulator with editable oscillator modes. On top of it, it has a dual filter related to Diva (another synth by u-he), two gated ADSRs (0ne of which is voltage controlled), two LFOs, a modulation matrix, MIDi-learn, resizeable interface, and a voltage-controlled filter.
This soft-synth by u-he is not standalone software and requires a host application. It’s available as VST and AAX in Windows and AU Vol. 2, VST 2, and AAX in MacOS. It can run on Linux, Windows 7 (or newer), and Mac OS X 10.7 (or newer). A minimum of 1 GB of RAM is required to run it.
16. Voxengo Sound Delay
Voxengo’s Sound Delay is a technical plugin for auxiliary multichannel delays.
It does not offer what you’d expect from a delay plugin. This one works mostly as a stereo enhancer. You can set the values either in samples or milliseconds with utter precision. The plugin doesn’t offer any modulations or feedback capabilities. The knobs on the interface offer slight adjustments, but you can set either the samples or milliseconds by typing on the boxes under the numbers. It accepts up to 12 seconds of delay.
- Mid/Side: The plugin offers mid/side processing. It is accessible via the routing menu up top. This feature allows you to set independent delays for the mid and side channels, thus enhancing the signal split.
- Samples: If you choose to sync the delay to samples, you can pick from the upper left corner’s presets menu. There you’ll find 32, 64, 128, etc., all the to 4096 samples. The higher you go, the most accurate the delay gets. So, for minimal delays, choose the higher values.
Character & Sound:
Even though this plugin’s sound relies heavily on the source material, it generally produces interesting stereo widening. Since it offers no feedback algorithm, it doesn’t create multiple copies that bounce around to enlarge the room. You can open up the stereo input signals’ width and achieve anything from 0.01 ms to 12 seconds of delay between the source and the processed sound.
Voxengo’s Sound Delay is available as a VST, AAX, and AU plugin for Windows XP and higher and macOS 10.11 or later.
17. Acon Digital Multiply
The Acon Digital Multiply is a chorus effect that automatically avoids comb filtering.
The extensive set of controls is not only impressive for a free tool. It also provides intense versatility to fulfill the user’s needs. You can simulate up to six identical voices that thicken up the sound and even create diffuse and modulated echoes with the Pre-Delay knob. The integrated equalizer lets you fine-tune the processed signal, while the Dry and Effect faders let you create parallel processing.
- Frequency Modulation: This section allows you to adjust the chorus parameters. Set up the Voice Count to your liking and tweak these two knobs to find the best-sounding effect. Depending on the source material, too much depth can generate a wobbly sound or even thicker results.
- Amplitude Modulation: Here, you’ll get control of volume-related modulation, creating an interesting tremolo effect. It helps widen up the sound, especially when you set the Pre-Delay at a high value. It would help if it had a sync mode, but it makes the effect sound more analog.
- Equalizer: The prominent equalizer has simple-to-use four-band controls. You can create low- and high- cuts to focus the processing within a limited frequency range. Use the other two controls to manipulate the curve within the selected region.
Character & Sound:
Overall this plugin outputs a stunning effect that is a part chorus, a part reverb. Adjusting the stereo spread can contribute to the immersive feeling you’ll get out of the plugin, while the Pre-Delay will make it sound even more breathtaking. The EQ section allows you to focus right where you want to apply the processing, while the eighteen built-in presets help give you a nice starting point.
Multiply is available for macOS 10.8 and higher and Windows 7 and up as a VST, AAX, and AU plugin.
18. u-he Zebralette
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 different 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.
Sound & Usability:
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.
19. ADHD Leveling Tool
The Leveling Tool, by ADHD, emulates classic tube hardware with a character of its own.
The plugin’s UI is straightforward, but you feel like this is a hard-hitting compressor from the first look. And although you can go pretty hard with it, it can be very smooth, too. The Attack knob allows you to act pretty fast on the transients, and even though the Release could benefit from faster options, the envelope is very satisfying.
- Drive knob: This small knob makes a huge difference. Turn it up to engage the tube saturation. It works almost as a preamp, but without the volume increase. If you turn it up, you’ll hear a very pleasing crunchy sound that can sound good on most instruments.
Character & Sound:
The secret behind this plugin’s sound is tube emulation. Whether you turn the gain or the drive knobs up, you’ll immediately feel its warmth and color. Combining both these knobs can give your signal a lot of weight, which is great for instruments like synths and vocals. The Leveling Tool sounds exceptionally amazing on Pianos, giving them bottom while the saturation cuts out some harsh highs.
Leveling Tool is available for Windows and Mac as a VST, AAX, and AU plugin.
20. TDR Nova
NOVA, by Tokyo Dawn Records, is a four-band dynamic equalizer with several applications.
You can use it as a wideband or multi-band compressor and as a Parametric or Dynamic Equalizer. You can bypass and adjust the parameters for each band. If you need to look for offending frequencies, you can also solo any of the bands. Overall, the controls are very user-friendly and mostly self-explanatory. You get sidechain control but no mid/side processing.
- Split Button: When enabled, this feature turns the selected band into an independent dynamics processor, comprising only its own bandwidth. Alternatively, if disabled, the selected band will follow the wideband settings, following the main ratio, attack, and release values. By default, Split is disabled, but you can find it above the Ratio knob with the Bell shape selected.
- Process-Quality: This is an unexpected feature for a free plugin. You can operate in three different quality modes: Eco, Precise, and Parecise+. The first is economic, a mode with its internal bandwidth at around 100 kHz. Precise is the standard quality that doubles upon Eco’s internal bandwidth. Lastly, Precise+ offers internal nonlinearity, plus the same features as Precise.
Character & Sound:
NOVA can sound a bit harsh on the upper highs when you turn up the gain. Nonetheless, its sonic versatility allows for multiple uses, whether in mixing or mastering. You can use it to give punch to weak-sounding mixes, control the low frequencies on a bass bus, or tame cymbals’ harshness. Additionally, the plugin can work in seven different modes: stereo, mono, dual mono, left, right, sum, and diff.
This plugin is available for Windows XP or superior and macOS 10.9 or newer in VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU formats.
21. Valhalla Supermassive
Supermassive is a hallucinogenic hybrid reverb-delay plugin by Valhalla.
It offers 12 algorithmic modes and high- and low-pass filters. By focusing on the delay functions, this plugin does not work exactly as a standard reverb. Density controls the perceived number of echoes on the reverb. You can also control Feedback for the delayed signals, with higher values resulting in longer decays. The name “Supermassive” is not a joke since you can set the delay up to 2 seconds after the initial impulse and modulate it to taste within any of the modes.
- Delay: The delay knob controls the modulation amount added to the reverb in one of the four modes: Millisecond, Note, Dotted, and Triplet. The Warp knob alters the delays’ length, enabling you to create any kind of echo from simple to rich and lush reverbs.
- Multiple Modes: Multiple modes and presets give various colors and tones for this reverb, which can be very useful for sound designing and creating textures. Each preset has its own attack, decay, and sustain settings, and some pair these parameters with other knobs on the GUI. Basically, this will let you create mesmerizing reverbs.
Character & Sound:
This plugin is an excellent tool for creating spacey and huge reverbs. It offers simple features that create a smooth-sounding yet extravagant reverb. The delay control settings give this plugin its unique, ethereal sound, making for an even more expressive result.
Valhalla Supermassive is available for 64-bit Windows 7 or above and macOS 10.8 or up in VST2.4, VST3, AAX, and AU formats.
22. Audiority L12X Solid State Amplifier
If you remember that little but growling transistor head from Marshall called the Lead 12, know that you can get it as an amp sim plugin entirely for free. It is the L12X Solid State Amplifier from Audiority.
Marshall created the Lead 12 Solid State Amplifier in the late 1980s. It was a small head that could surprise with the amount of gain and push cabinets up to 4×12 and could easily sound like a JCM. Now this famous amplifier is available in amp sim plugin form from Italian company Audiority.
The plugin almost wholly replicates the appearance of the actual head. The creators slightly modified the chain by adding a Contour knob to get a more scooped tone and additional Boost overdrive stage.
In addition to that – built-in Marshall cabinet impulse with Celestion V30 speakers.
- Contour control
This knob is present in most guitar amplifiers. It allows you to scoop up the mids and make your tone more biting and aggressive.
- Boost mode
If you don’t have enough power in your guitar tone, the boost button always comes to the rescue. Turn it on, and it will give you more gain.
- Cab sim
The cabinet impulse is built-in here. It sounds pretty good and was designed by Seacow Cabs. But if you want to apply your own IR, that’s not a problem since you can disable the built-in impulse at any time.
The plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.8 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST2, VST3, AU, AAX formats, and as a standalone host.
23. Techivation T-De-Esser
Techivation T-De-Esser delivers a convenient performance in a vast spectrum of implementations. While offering a powerful engine, T-De-Esser is a surprising plugin you can get for free.
The De-Esser developed by Techivation works amicably. Its low CPU usage and intuitive controls make it a straightforward tool for controlling the higher frequencies in any mix.
Its modest interface shouldn’t mean it portrays a lower execution capacity. T-De-Esser’s modern algorithms are exact at acting upon sibilant signals without compromising any natural and organic textures from the sound.
The highly modern algorithms that T-De-Esser offers will act extremely solidly to adjust the processing. The central knob, named “Processing,” is where you control their preferred values to determine the De-Esser compression. You can monitor the level by looking at the metering adjacent to the Processing knob. You can set specific numbers after double-clicking the dB value featured in the knob.
Apart from a Processing knob, Techivation’s De-Esser also features two more knobs, Intensity and Sharpness, and a frequency range display. With Intensity, the plugin’s threshold level will determine how much gain reduction the signal will get. Sharpness offers transitioning controls for the compressed and non-compressed states of the audio going through, giving you a choice on a smoother progressive compression or a more aggressive one.
- A/B Switch
T-De-Esser has a handy tool called A/B Switch. When activated, this feature will give you the possibility to switch between two different De-Esser’s behaviors. By allowing producers to compare distinct settings for sibilance compression, Techivation’s plugin allows quick and versatile de-esser performances.
This plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit and 64-bit and macOS 11.2.2 or higher 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
24. Xfer Records OTT
Hailing from the creative minds of the makers of Serum synth, the OTT is an easy-to-use multiband enhancement plugin that needs no introduction.
You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard about OTT at least once somewhere on the internet. This great freeware by Xfer is a preset multiband compressor that gives you a super-simplified interface and spectacular sound. People have used it on aggressive bass synth, leads, sound effects, drums, and sometimes even the master channel. If it sounds good, it belongs there, we say.
- Quick Results
The preset OTT uses under the hood is great at delivering results. The lows get tightened, the mids are tamed, and the highs get clearer with the fewest knob tweaks. For people who aren’t experienced, this plugin should be the easiest to get results from.
OTT is light enough on the CPU to be used multiple times in a single project. Trying it out on various instruments and vocals makes it one of the most fun plugins to use.
- Multiple Processing Modes
It has an upward compression and a downward compression mode with individual dials for controlling the amount processed.
OTT is available for Windows 64-bit and macOS X 64-bit. There are VST, AU, and AAX versions.
25. Auburns Sounds Graillon 2
The Graillon 2 is one of the market favorites when it comes to free pitch correction plugins.
This isn’t much of a surprise, considering it has a pretty unique interface and level of control. It also has some rather exciting settings than what one might typically expect. Although it’s free, you can also buy it to support the brand.
- 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. In this section, there is also a low-cut EQ to tame any unnecessary low frequencies.
- Pitch Correction
The next item in the chain is pitch correction. There are several elements 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 after all of this.
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.
26. Valhalla Space Modulator
Valhalla Space Modulator can help you create an entire atmosphere in seconds.
Valhalla’s Space Modulator has a lot to offer and is one of the best flangers available in the market. The plugin provides six different modulation modes, 11 different filter types, and an exciting Color control that lets you change the sound of your music in real-time.
The plugin comes with a great preset manager and offers a variety of excellent presets to get you started.
- Easy to use:
Valhalla Space Modulator has a knob-based interface and five different parameters: mix, rate, depth, feedback, and manual. It also includes eleven different flanging algorithms and can create unique and weird flanging sounds worth checking out. The GUI is almost the same as other Valhalla DSP releases, so you already know how it works if you have used any of these great-sounding plugins before.
- Flanging modes:
Space Modulator lets you choose between four different flanging modes. TZF+ mode (Through-Zero Flanging) will give you the sound of several delay signals added together. Doubler mode adds two detuned voices with a wide stereo spread. The Tri-mode is an antiphase triangle wave modulation. Finally, the Up mode emulates a unidirectional barber pole flanging with a slight pitch shift.
Supports Windows 7 and higher, Supports macOS 10.8 or higher, runs on 64 bit, and comes in VST2, VST3, AU, and AAX formats.
27. MeldaProduction ConvolutionEZ
Melda Production’s ConvolutionEZ is a free plugin by the same developers of MConvolutionMB.
And before we start, this is not a free version of that plugin. It’s an entirely different proposal that achieves very distant results. The ConvolutionEZ is a single-band convolution reverb with a surprisingly big impulse response library.
From basic rooms to sound-design-oriented environments, the ConvolutionEZ is an extremely versatile plugin. It covers from the most commonly found plates, different-sized rooms, and halls to box and household items simulations. All this enables you to work on virtually any project with satisfying results.
Character and Sound:
The plugin offers very few controls, which means that you’ll have to trust the sound of the samples. You can apply low- and high-pass filters and blend the input and output signals. Other than that, you can enhance the stereo widening and, when using a stereo input, you can check the balance between the mid and side channels using the Width meter.
The ConvolutionEZ is available as a VST, AU, and AAX plugin for 32- and 64-bit PCs running Windows 7 or up, and 64-bit only Macs running macOS10.9 and newer
28. BPB Dirty LA
The BPB Dirty LA compression effect plugin is now available on the Bedroom Producers Blog as a free download for Windows and macOS DAWs.
For those who appreciate the sound of classic limiting amplifiers, we present BPB Dirty LA, a free compressor effect. This plugin is aimed to achieve the same musical-sounding compression with a more streamlined process. If you ever need to saturate the signal completely, we’ve included one of their Dirt algorithms to assist you in doing it.
This compressor is not a direct software replica of any existing hardware model, but rather it draws upon the best features of numerous established hardware designs. They optimized internal algorithms and the control method to get as close as feasible.
- Peak Reduction Knob
With the Peak Reduction dial, you can adjust the threshold value and hence the degree of signal compression. Once satisfied with the compression, you can easily compare it to the dry signal by setting the Output knob to the same level.
They optimized their Dirt method to provide transparent saturation, which enhances and warms up the signal while somewhat taming the transients. It pairs nicely with the compressor and is especially useful for making the bass and drums in a track stand out.
Activating the plugin’s Dirt setting causes it to oversample internally by a factor of 4. Turning off Dirt prevents oversampling, which in turn reduces CPU use. In addition, they’ve ensured the plugin uses as little processing power as possible, so you may run numerous instances simultaneously without slowing down your projects.
This plugin is available for macOS 10.10 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 8 or higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST/RTAS/AU/AAX formats and supports 32 and 64 bit systems.
29. Voxengo Marvel GEQ
Get the traditional graphic EQing with one of Voxengo’s top-rated plugins.
Marvel GEQ is a linear phase graphic equalizer with 12 different bands with a gain range from -12 dB to 12 dB. The processing of this plugin is very productive and provides a transparent and natural sound. Additionally, it comes with a wide range of mixing modes and presets that help you address your objectives precisely.
- Routing modes
The plugin allows you to work with different routing configurations to access each channel adequately without the fear of modifying the wrong channels. It includes Left/Right, Mid/Side processing, 5.1 Surround, and 7.1 Surround for those who love the immersive sound. Every time you select a different routing mode, the controls below the bands will change.
- EQ groups
At the bottom left, you will find a set of buttons that allow you to change between the different channels of the routing configuration you choose. If you’re working on Mid/Side mode, you can select the channel you want to modify, and the faders will only affect your selection.
If you need to see the faders of two channels at the same time, you can click the channel you want to see in the background with the “Underlay” selectors, and the background channel faders will be in an orange color behind the white faders of the channel that you’re working on. That way, you can see the differences and compare the EQ modifications to help you make better decisions.
This plugin is available for Windows XP or higher and macOS 10.11 or higher, 32-bit and 64-bit for Windows, and 64-bit only for macOS. It comes in VST 2/3, AAX, and AU formats.
30. Klanghelm IVGI 2
An exciting plugin that reacts dynamically to the input signal, delivering a natural saturation or dense distortion in no time.
This is the second version of the IVGI plugin by Klanghelm – by the way, you can use the original and this second version at the same time if you’d like to -, equipped with the same controls but a renewed algorithm. This freeware software has many parameters to set while retaining a compact and pleasant visual interface.
A dedicated “Trim” knob controls the input level, the “Drive” knob deals with the saturation, and the “Output” knob sets the post-circuit volume. These three settings should get you into saturation territory, but a dedicated “Response” knob will also help you tame the frequencies on your signal.
At last, the “Relaxed” switch will bring a variation of the original IVGI algorithm, so you have one more sound profile character to choose from.
IVGI 2 has a great control dedicated to the crosstalk effect. This used to happen in vintage units quite often. Essentially, the signal from one track can be leaked to another, like a bass going into the drums. Modern software can’t replicate this, so controls like “X-Talk” are an excellent addition to achieve a more old-school and vintage-oriented color in your productions. Of course, you can disable it by setting the knob at zero.
- Asym Mix
This is a kind of transparency tool to make your distortion signal as clear as possible. At 0 value, you’ll have symmetric saturation, with a strong compression character; if you turn it up to 10, an asymmetric distortion with a more clean and transparent profile will be brought up. This can be a good way of getting a notable distorted effect without grainy or fuzzy aspects.
- VU meter modes
There are three options available: the “In” deals with the volume of the “Trim” knob, the “Out” monitors the “Output” control, and the “Out-In” option will display the RMS difference between both input and output. It’s an excellent way to properly gain stage your track with a simple visual tool.
This plugin runs in macOS in 32 or 64-bit and Windows in 32 or 64-bit. It comes in VST, VST3, AAX, and AU plugin formats.
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.