The world of free VST plugins is huge and can be a bit overwhelming. You can download and install them all, but which ones are really worth downloading?
I have used many free plugins over the past years and decided to post my personal favorites. They are in a random order so make sure you check them all.
TDR Nova is a parallel dynamic equalizer with an easy to use interface. The analyzer shows you exactly what your changes are doing. Besides the 4 bands it also has a low pass filter, a high pass filter and you can apply compression on each band separately or on the total output.
Tokyo Dawn Records also provides a paid version called the Gentleman’s Edition with more bands and more options. The free version already offers a lot and is definitely a must have.
The A1StereoControl plugin allows you to expand or limit the stereo width of your single mixer channels or the master output. The plugin has a clear and clean interface so even starting producers can work with this plugin with ease.
The Safe Bass mode deserves a special notification. In this mode all the bass frequencies below an adjustable frequency are set to mono. This makes it an ideal plugin for mastering tracks that you want to use in clubs.
Brainworx Cleansweep V2
The Cleansweep V2 of Brainworx is a nice plugin to clean up your mix. Every song needs its filters and the Cleansweep is one of the best free filter plugins out there. It allows you to set the knobs exactly how you want with your mouse wheel or you can just type in the exact value you want.
So, if you are looking for a great and free filter plugin, search no more.
Flux BitterSweet V3
Transient designers are very commonly used plugins for drums. The BitterSweet V3 plugin of Flux is one of the best free transient designers you will find. To amplify the transients amplitude turn the big knob to bitter. If you want to decrease the transients amplitude simply turn it to the sweet side.
The plugin has three different processing modes.
* Main: using a regular stereo signal scheme for the processing.
* Center: processing the Mid channel only, very efficient for snare and kick drums.
* Stereo: processing the Side channel only, very efficient for panned rhythmic/transient instruments.
The Sonimus SonEQ is the second EQ of this list. This one is a three band EQ, low mid and high. And it has a high pass and low pass filter. It also has a pre-amp section with a bass booster.
The input, output and drive knobs give you some nice saturation control. A higher level of the input control provides more saturation while the output control can be used to compensate the output level.
There are many vinyl type plugins but iZotope’s Vinyl is my favorite. It can give your tracks that vinyl feel you are looking for. Especially useful if you want to create some old school Hip Hop tracks.
Download this free plugin and play with the slides and knobs to see what kind of feel you can create for your track. You will not be disappointed!
Illformed is providing their older plugins as a package for free. This package includes Glitch 1.3, Crusher, Stretch and TapeStop. TapeStop being my favorite one.
This plugin gives you a tape stop effect to apply on a single source or the master output. You can adjust the stopping speed with the slowdown knob and when the trigger knob gets above 0.50 it will trigger the tape stop. A nice plugin to have some fun with and to generate some crazy sounds!
Ohm Force Frohmage
Ohm Force’s Frohmage is not just a lowpass filter. It combines filtering with some other great features like distortion and delay. This way you can make some amazing filter sweeps but also heavily distort the sounds. Applying delay on each band will give you the opportunity to create some unique phaser effects.
Download this plugin at the Ohm Force website to see what it can do for your productions.
Camel Audio CamelCrusher
One of the best free plugins is the Camel Audio CamelCrusher. It provides three easy to use effects that can be blended together to suit your desires. The distortion has two types that can be mixed together. The filter is a warm souding lowpass filter and the compressor lets you phatten your sounds with just one knob.
If you download this plugin there are presets included but you can also adjust the settings yourself or simply hit the randomize button.
Of course the list is not complete without a reverb plugin. And this is easily one of the best free plugins you can find, the Sanford Reverb. It is out there since 2009, but free since 2015.
This plugin comes with great presets but feel free to play with the knobs for some amazing results. When I started using this plugin I especially loved the early reflections and freeze mode. With these two features you can create your own unique reverbs for all kinds of purposes and genres. Definitely check out the website of Leslie Sanford for this plugin.
Note: This reverb plugin is also featured in our list of 5 best free reverb plugins!