Everyone loves a free plugin. We’d bet that even the wealthiest music makers, snuggled smugly back in their cushioned studio chairs while basking in the glow of a custom M1 Mac, feel a rush of excitement when a free VST pops up on their 6K Retina display.
That’s the raison d’être of our monthly free music software roundup. It exists to serve you, the curious and financially prudent producer, in your quest for the web’s best freeware. We know you’re a busy bunch, so here we bring you the most intriguing giveaways from our regular coverage that you may have missed, plus everything else we’ve caught (and listened to) in the last 30 days.
Without further ado, let’s dive into this month’s freeware, which includes an orchestral offering from Spitfire Audio, an 8-module effects rack from IK Multimedia, and not one, but two lo-fi vibe shapers.
Platforms: Mac/PC | Formats: VST/VST3/AU/AUv3 | Download (opens in new tab)
IK Multimedia’s MixBox is a colossal modular effects pack that gives users the ability to build a complete processing chain in a single plugin. The paid version is certainly worth considering, but what we’re really here for is MixBox CS, a stripped-down version that IK is giving away absolutely free.
This should give you a taste of what MixBox has to offer as it comes with 8 starter modules (including compressor, tape delay and overdrive) that come with over 30 presets to get you started. Pro tip: IK has a ton of other free stuff, including a free version of their flagship soft synth, Syntronik 2, available on their website (opens in new tab) – just look.
Novation Bass Station and V Station
Platforms: Mac/PC | Formats: VST/AU | Download (opens in new tab)
Novation’s Bass Station and V-Station plugins were designed to emulate two of the company’s hardware synths from the ’90s/2000s, and now they’re pretty dated themselves. In fact, the company has now discontinued them as commercial products and made them available for free as “legacy” software. Keep in mind that there is no guarantee that they will be compatible with your operating system and DAW.
Bass Station was designed to create 1993 monophonic hardware of the same name in your DAW. Like the original, which was used on countless dance records in the 90s, it offers two digital oscillators and an analog filter. V-Station, on the other hand, is an emulation of the K-Station synthesizer released in 2002. It features a 3-oscillator sound engine with noise and FM functions, an arpeggiator, effects, 200 user programs and 200 factory presets.
Discover Spitfire Audio BBC Symphony Orchestra
Platforms: Mac/PC | Formats: VST3/AU/AAX | Download (opens in new tab)
Previously available for either $49 or as a free download for anyone willing to answer a questionnaire and then wait 14 days, Spitfire Audio’s BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover plugin is now free for everyone.
Designed to be an easy-to-use entry point into the world of orchestral composition, Discover features 33 instruments (these include strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion) and 47 playing techniques, all mixed into a single signal. The instrument offers simple controls and weighs just 200MB, although Spitfire claims the sound is “remarkable” nonetheless.
Platforms: Mac/PC | Formats: VST/VST3/AU | Download (opens in new tab)
The Autotest is an ancient method to test drive a final mixdown. Just get out of the house, get in the car, and bang it through your vehicle’s stereo to get a sense of what it might sound like when you made it big and your hit single was on the radio.
The only problem is that not all of us own a car. And even if they do, yes, gas is expensive these days. For these reasons and more, we’re excited that Rocket Powered Sound has developed a workaround in the form of a new free plugin (opens in new tab). Car Test does exactly what you expect, processing your mix to create a simulation of how it will sound out of a car stereo. All you have to do is load it onto your master channel, hit the big green button, and you’re gone.
Platforms: Mac/PC | Formats: VST3/AU | Download (opens in new tab)
Developed by Nathan Blair, this free synthesizer is a nifty little plugin that uses Karplus Strong synthesis, a variant of physical modeling synthesis that’s often used to emulate the sound of a plucked or bowed string, or just around Designing synthesizer sounds with a string-like character. Karp has an undeniably pleasing, springy tone – try the sound in the video above.
Mastrcode Music Substrate Subharmonic Bass Booster
Platforms: Windows | Formats: VST2/VST3 | Download (opens in new tab)
Bass sounds are notoriously difficult to design, mix and process compared to the higher frequency elements of a track. It’s particularly difficult to get an impactful, sub-heavy bass sound that doesn’t overwhelm the rest of your mix. Substrate’s new free plugin, Subharmonic Bass Booster, may be able to help you in this regard. Designed to beautify your low-end with additional sub-harmonics, it should make sub-bass frequencies more audible on weaker systems.
Ronan Fed Pneuma
Platforms: PC | Formats: VST2/VST3 | Download (opens in new tab)
Pneuma is a subtractive polyphonic synthesizer plugin that’s packed with features. Equipped with four multi-voice oscillators, a noise oscillator and two sample oscillators, it features a multi-mode filter, two LFOs and a modulation matrix for tone shaping and sound design. The real draw here is the burst effects capabilities: Pneuma comes with built-in EQ, chorus, phaser, delay, reverb, compressor, saturation and distortion. Too bad it’s not Mac compatible.
Viator DSP Vibe mechanic
Platforms: Mac/PC | Formats: VST3/AU | Download (opens in new tab)
If your tracks fall short in the vibes department, look no further than Viator DSP’s Vibe Mechanic, a new lo-fi effects plugin “designed to give you different flavors of vibe shaping.” “. Vibe Mechanic does its magic by running audio through EQ, Distortion and Reverb modules, each of which can be manipulated and controlled independently. That’s good vibes.
SR Music’s Quantize
Platforms: PC | Formats: VST3 | Download (opens in new tab)
If Vibe Mechanic wasn’t quite your vibe, check out how to get along with Quantize, another free lo-fi plugin of the vibe-giving variety. The makers promise that it can reproduce everything from classic 8-bit grit to dusty old-sampler goodness thanks to the onboard bit crusher and filter, as well as two switchable circuit modes.
Manifest Audio Mod Squad v2
Platforms: Mac/PC | Formats: Ableton only | Download (opens in new tab)
If you’re a Max for Live user, we recommend you maximize your modulation capabilities with this 15 modulator bumper pack from Manifest Audio. Designed to “bring life into your sets and compositions”, the set consists of six MIDI effects and eight audio effects, all assignable to up to eight parameter destinations, capable of probabilistic and generative ADSR envelopes, LFO generate cycles and more .