Audio alteration techniques like phasers, pitch shifters, and so on have all become a major part of sound effect generators. However, one interesting take on audio alteration that produces unnatural sounds comes is the frequency shifter. This article discusses frequency shifting and provides you with a list of 6 plugins that we believe are the best frequency shifter plugins.
What Is Frequency Shifter?
Frequency Shifter is a tool that is used to either shift-up or shift-down the frequency of the incoming signal. This is done by a technique that resembles complex amplitude modulation and pitch shifting.
The difference is that Frequency shifter does not maintain the harmonic relationships between harmonics and tones of the input signal which makes sound more unnatural as opposed to pitch shifters. In contrast, frequency shifters can be implemented in an all-analog circuitry, unlike pitch shifters. In recent years, more producers have shown interest in frequency shifters led to many developers emulating them into virtual instruments or plugins.
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How does a frequency shifter work?
In a frequency shifter, each frequency is shifted either up or down by a certain level. For example +/- 2 kHz. All the frequencies are moved by the same level which results in broken harmonic relationships. This gives the track a whole new sound. The sound produced is described by many to be comparable to ring modulation.
7 Best Frequency Shifter VST Plugins Of 2020
1. TONSTURM FRQ Shift
This plugin consists of a dual-frequency shifter engine that can be precisely controlled by the user to either be linked or crossfaded into one another. Both the engines are of high quality and have a super-clean sound. Additionally, FRQ Shift is capable of performing multiple tasks like stereo enhancement, slight modulation, and many more effects that are used to create atmospheric backdrops, and so on.
- This plugin is a super-clean sounding, artifact-clear, dual-frequency shifter engine
- It is able to handle a wide range of tasks from slight modulation and stereo enhancement to a range of complex atonal effects
- Allows users to add from a pool of 4 feedback effects into the main feedback path of the frequency shifter
- Users can create tense and alive sounding patches through the creative modulation system
- FRQ Shift comes with a wide range of highly efficient presets that you can use as a starting point
Compatibility and Price:
This plugin requires Windows 7 or higher for PC and OS X 10.9 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/AU/AAX formats and only supports 64-bit systems. It comes at an official price of $129.00.
Overall, FRQ Shift by TONSTURM is an exciting approach to create spontaneous and atmospheric effects. The effect plugin aids users to immensely transform their aerial backdrops and sound effects. The presets included in this plugin alongside the modulation options make it a very powerful frequency shifter tool. It does come at a relatively more expensive price, but its features make up for it. It is made for sound designers first, and producers can use it to alter the uniformity of the overall sound.
2. MeldaProduction MFreqShifterMB
A full breakdown of what this plugin is capable of is discussed below.
- The MFreqShifterMB has 2 graphical user interfaces. The default interface has multiple predefined modes with minimum controls to allow you to quickly and easily start working. The advanced mode makes use of the second interface to provide the user with all the advanced, powerful features that this plugin offers
- This plugin offers control over 6 independent bands that are backed by 3 transparent crossover algorithms i.e. hybrid, analog, and linear phase algorithms. Users can adjust the limit and the input gains for these bands. Additionally, all bands have peak meters
- The oscillator shape is continuously adjustable
- This plugin consists of 4 global modulators each capable of modulating any parameter. You can even modulate other modulators! This allows users to sync the sound timing making it sound more interesting and natural. Each one of the 4 modulators can work as an LFO, a pitch detector, an ADSR envelope, a follower, or a combination of those
- The plugin is perfect for making effects for movies, games, etc due to the 8 channel surround sound processing
- The randomization feature enables users to randomly generate a new setting. This could serve as a starting point if you need quick inspiration
- The user interface in this plugin is straightforward, simple, and easy-to-use
- Sync to host feature allows users to automatically sync the modulators to match the project tempo
- All control parameters in this plugin are fully automatable
Compatibility and Price:
This plugin is compatible with Windows 7 or higher for PC and OS X 10.7 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX formats and supports both 32 and 64-bit systems. It is priced at $54.
The MFreqShifterMB by MeldaProductions is one of the best frequency shifter plugins that you can find in the market. It is backed up by a ton of features which widens its range of applications. In addition to that, it comes at a very cheap price which is a huge plus point.
3. PSP HertzRider
The interface consists of 2 main knobs: Left Focal Shift and Right Focal Shift through which the user can control the amount by which the frequency of the signal is shifted up or down for either side. Then you have a choice between 3 frequency sweep settings which are either 1 kHz, 3 kHz, or 10 kHz in either direction. By default, the two main knobs are linked together and so their levels are set the same. However, users can control either of them independently using the source switch on top.
Apart from the 2 main knobs, you get the LFO knobs which offer users a choice between 6 different waveforms i.e. sine, square, triangle, a smooth randomizer, saw up, and saw down. Then you have the Rate knob which controls the speed of the oscillator and allows users to set that within the range of 0.1-10 Hz. The Depth knob controls the amount of LFO that is introduced to the signal. The spread knob controls the stereo imaging of this plugin. Finally, you get the Mix knob which controls the Wet/Dry levels, and the Output knob which allows users to set the final gain level.
- 2 main non-linear knobs controlling the frequency shifting for the left and right focal. They shift in very small increments for high precision
- LFO control with 6 different waveforms
- LFO can be synced to match the project tempo
- Sidechain control to allow for a cleaner mix between the external and internal sources
- This plugin comes equipped with a good number of presets to help make frequency shifting easier for users
Compatibility and Price:
This plugin is compatible with Windows 7 or higher for PC and OS X 10.8 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX formats and supports 64-bit systems only. It is priced at $69 from PSP Audio’s official site.
The HertzRider by PSP audio is the perfect choice for users looking for a simpler approach to frequency shifting while maintaining high quality, controllability, and lower price point.
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4. Melda MTransformer
Another high-quality plugin by MeldaProductions. This time it offers a lot more than frequency shifting.
The MTransformer is a pitch shifter, frequency shifter, and horror voices generator. It is capable of being a multi-function plugin because of its distinctive spectral processor which allows you to transform the frequency in whatever way you like.
- This plugin has one of the most advanced GUIs on the market. This user interface is resizable to fit multiple windows. Its color scheme is customizable and it is GPU accelerated.
- It has a dual-user interface just like the MFreqShifterMB with a simple and cleaner interface for starters and a more advanced interface with more controls for experienced users
- A cohesive visualization engine that provides users with customizable time graphs and classic meters to display the readings for any particular parameter
- Just like the MFreqShifterMB, the MTransformer consists of 4 modulators that can work as LFO, pitch detector, ADSR envelope, a follower, randomizer, or a combination of those
- Adjustable oscillator shape technology allows for in-depth control over the shape of the oscillators resulting in a more unique sound. In addition to that, it has a harmonic mode which allows users to control the harmonics of the signal instead of the oscillator shape
- 8 channel surround processing makes this plugin perfect for producing sound effects fit for movies, video games, etc
- Randomization feature generates random settings to give you a starting point
- Automatic Gain Compensation (AGC) helps maintain the level of the overall volume of the input signal
Compatibility and Price:
The MTransformer is compatible with Windows 7 or higher for PC and OS X 10.7 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX formats and supports both 32 and 64-bit systems. It is priced at around $38 from the official sites with free-for-life updates.
This plugin by MeldaProductions is very highly recommended if you are looking for a frequency shifter. In addition to that, you get a pitch shifter and a voices generator which makes it a multi-purpose plugin. Much like any plugin by MeldaProductions, it comes with a very attractive price point making it one of the best choices for beginners especially.
5. KiloHearts Frequency Shifter
The interface of this plugin has a single parameter only which shows the frequency reading in Hz.
- 2 stereo channels which can be linked together using the route button or processed individually
- This plugin implements latency compensation technology to prevent delay
- Sync your effects to match your project’s tempo using the built-in host sync feature
- Multipass feature splits the signal into 5 different bands and allows the user to manipulate each band separately and add different effects for each band
- The interface for this plugin is probably the most straightforward and simplistic interfaces that you can find
Compatibility and Price:
This plugin is compatible with Windows 7 or higher for PC and OS X 10.7 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/AU/AAX formats and supports both 32 and 64-bit systems. It is priced at $19.
The KiloHearts Frequency Shifter plugin should be your go-to plugin if you are a user that does not need to have full control over the modulation and effects of the plugin and would just like to have a quick frequency shift effect applied to your track. Additionally, it is one of the cheapest frequency shifter plugins on the market.
6. Full Bucket’s Frequency Shifter (FREE)
Developed by Full Bucket back in 2012, the Frequency Shifter has garnered some attention for being one of the best frequency shifter plugins. On top of that, it is FREE!!
This plugin is easy-to-use and is small in size. It actually models some classic hardware phaser effects to improve the sound of the string machines.
The interface in this plugin consists of a few control knobs and sliders for users to correctly apply the effect. The first knob on the left is the LFO knob where users can choose from 4 different waveforms which are: triangle, square, saw up, and saw down as well as randomization. Next to it, you get a slider for Rate which sets the oscillation speed. In the center of the interface, you get a knob for frequency range and 2 sliders each for both Minimum and Maximum, Left and Right. This way you can set the target frequency, set the minimum frequency for both left and right channels, and the maximum frequency for both left and right channels. Finally, on the right side of the interface, you get the Mix slider for L/R which controls the Dry/Wet levels as well as the Volume slider for L/R channels which you can use to set the output gain.
- Up to 5 kHz frequency shifting
- LFO with 5 different waveforms
- Users have control of 4 frequency ranges, with 3 mix modes for maximum controllability
- This plugin has 2 stereo channels that can be linked or processed independently
This plugin requires Windows 7 or higher for PC and OS X 10.7 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/AU formats and supports both 32 and 64-bit systems.
Its price point does not take away from the fact that this is a solid plugin that offers what other paid plugins do and even more.
Frequency Shifting is an exciting technique that allows you to alter the natural state of the harmonics of your audio. Despite it being introduced in the 1950s, there is still a big room for improvement and it can only get better from here. When it comes to plugins, most plugins offer basic frequency shifting over a select-able choice of frequency bands with the option of LFO in different waveforms.
This makes choosing a plugin an easy choice. If you are looking for industry quality plugins for a cheaper price, then we recommend opting for either of the MeldaProduction plugins. However, if you are a sound engineer that prefers to have in-depth control and multiple features, then the FRQ Shift by TONSTURM should be your go-to. Finally, if you are a beginner and still haven’t made up your mind on what you require, then we highly recommend you to cop the free Frequency Shifter by Full Bucket.
Started as a rapper and songwriter back in 2015 then quickly and gradually developed his skills to become a beatmaker, music producer, sound designer and an audio engineer.