Free plugins are one of the best things about being a producer in 2020. Quality music production tools have never been more accessible for the average musician. But with more freeware plugins showing up on the scene every day, knowing which ones are worth your time isn’t easy. That’s why we’re bringing you our top picks for the most useful and creative free music software every month.
In this edition—nasty filters, rare vintage synths, lo-fi vibes and more.
Today’s roundup of inspiring free plugins covers a lot of ground.
From the latest in trending lo-fi textures to experimental synthesis algorithms, there’s something in this collection for every producer.
Here are the free plugins we loved in October.
Nothing turns up the heat on the satisfying squelch of a filter like a little bit of grit.
That’s why the developers over at Bedroom Producers Blog built the BPB Dirty Filter plugin.
This combination low-pass/high-pass filter can handle all your classic filter effects, but it really shines when you turn up the drive.
The smooth but powerful saturation helps bring out all the unique resonances in the filter sweep.
The mix knob means you can use BPB Dirty Filter in parallel to animate an entire mix without completely destroying its basic character.
And with slopes as steep as 48 dB/octave, Dirty Filter lets you sculpt your sound into interesting narrow notches—perfect for sound design!
Here’s a rare synth I bet you haven’t heard of—the Yamaha CX5M.
This keyboard-shaped oddity is technically a computer. Attach a screen to the original hardware and you could access a primitive sequencer and 8 voice, 4 operator FM synth.
The console terminal format of this experimental music computer never caught on, but the same technology powered Yamaha’s massively successful DX7 keyboard.
There’s plenty of FM synths out there, so what makes this one unique? Early digital hardware is notoriously quirky.
Packing the processing power required for synthesis into a 1980s era consumer computer was no small feat.
Creative engineers had to cut corners and use workarounds to make it happen. The result is a nostalgically lo-fi FM tone that’s unlike anything else out there.
Now that otherworldly feel of vintage FM is captured perfectly in a VST—it might be just the flavor you need in your plugin folder.
FM and chorus go together like bread and butter.
That’s why the next free plugin is a unique dual LFO chorus modelled on vintage Japanese stompboxes. Use it with the CX5M or wherever you need to get your mix moving and modulating.
The unpredictable swirl of multiple LFOs can really make a boring chorus unique.
Invert the phase to widen the stereo image, turn up the feedback to mix chorus with flanging or increase the drive to add some grit.
Everyone needs a good chorus, so give this one a try!
Here’s a unique synth based on algorithmically generated wavetables.
UhhYeah Light Pad’s scientific approach to waveforms can create strange and sometimes unpredictable results.
Light Pad is the lightweight edition of UhhYou’s Cubic Pad. Both are powered by Paul Nasca’s interesting PADSynth algorithm.
The best part is that you get to manipulate the waveshapes directly using a visual editor
If you’re tired of endless emulations of old analog hardware, Light Pad could be the futuristic computer synth of your dreams.
On the other hand, if you can’t get enough of the golden age of audio tech, Caelum Audio Tape Cassette 2 will take you back to the heady days of analog.
This tape emulation gives you all the warmth, noise and subtle wow and flutter of an old cassette.
Free is the best price
Keeping up with every single free plugin takes a lot of effort. Check back in with LANDR to get an easy digest of the best new releases you need in your plugin folder.
If you’ve made it through this article you’ll know about some great new plugins you can download for free to get inspired.