Freeware Audio Effects/Instruments


I record a lot of music. Used to be a career choice, but now it’s one of those little things I do to keep sane and blow off some steam. Having a love affair with sound means I am constantly looking for new ways to manipulate it. One of the ways I do it is with plug ins. Not having oodles of cash lying around, I love to search out and try freeware plug ins. It’s astounding to me how many talented people are putting together quality sound tools, and then releasing them for free. You can find effects, instruments, synths, tools, all kinds of stuff. I’m on a mac, but most of these are available for Windows as well. Try some of these out, if you don’t like them: throw them away. They’re free.

I know that you can find anything for free on the internet, but show some class. Don’t steal software. It’s not cool. Someone spent a lot of time putting it together, and if you steal it you’re an ass. If you and all of your buddies download a free version of Logic, eventually Apple will get tired of updating and working out bugs and such. Then I end up getting screwed, even though I have a legitimate copy. Don’t steal software. If you can’t pony up for something, then you don’t want it that badly. Buying your recording software shows a commitment to your craft.

One more thing and the lecture ends: if you download shareware and like it: make sure you send some cash. It’s rude and selfish to just take it, and totally uncalled for. These people are trusting that the people who use their stuff will do the right thing. They really believe that you will. As an example, there is a plug called GleetchLab that is a phenomenal shareware plug. you can do granular effects, spectral filtering, glitchy stuff; it’s really cool. It was a shareware program, and I read an interview with the guy who put it together and he said that 1000’s of people downloaded it and he got like 43 people to actually donate. That’s messed up. He still does it, but now you have to pay. It’s still dirt cheap and you should buy it. Here’s a song I did with it:
“Kalimba Manipulation”

I can only tell you how to install a plug in on an intel mac, but if you’re running something else Google it. On a newer mac running Leopard, you need to make sure that the plug ins you get are AU Universal Binary. You can then use them in Garageband or Logic.

Once you find something you want to try, download it. Sometimes they come with an installer. In that case just double-click and do what the installer says. But usually once you download a plug- in, you get a .zip file. On my computer they open automatically; if that doesn’t happen on yours, you should be able to double click the file and it will open. If it doesn’t get stuffit expander.

After opening the file, you will end up with something called a .component
Put the component in:
now you’re done. open up Garageband or Logic and your instrument will be there (or your effect or whatever it is)

Here are some of my favorite freeware plug-ins:

“Camel Crusher”
It’s basically like an overdrive, but you don’t generally use it like a distortion pedal. You put it on vocals and drums to warm them up. You can use it to get subtle tube style saturation, or you can go crazy and make a wall of noise. i use this one constantly

This is another plug that makes your fancy ass mac sound more like an old skool recording setup. You have to check out the Neve emulation. I like to put it on a bus and warm up the whole mix.

This is sick. It rearranges audio according to the parameters you set. Makes for really wild, glitchy, messed up sounds. Try putting a drum beat or a vocal through it. I will generally copy a track, run it through Supatrigga, and then edit out and save the really cool bits. it’s not something you want to use for the whole song (or maybe you do).

This is an emulation of the Roland SH-101 synth. Really good for basslines in electronic music, although you can do the usual analog bleeps and bloops if you automate it. TAL makes a whole bunch of really nice free plugs, so be sure and check out the rest of their website. Their Dub Delay is especially nice, as well as their phaser, flanger, Juno emulation, and bitcrusher. The phaser and the flanger don’t show up in Logic for some reason (it won’t validate them), but everything else does.

I’ll post more freebies and shareware as I run across them.

For more freeware instruments and effects, check out these sites:

Another story why you shouldn’t steal software:
I bough a $14 sampler from “Expert Sleepers” . When I got a new Mac, it wasn’t working. I sent an email and the guy who designs the software, spent his time duplicating my set up and figuring out how to make it work. It was a $14 application. You don’t want to steal from someone like that. They also make a lot of really neat toys, that are dirt cheap. Check out Augustus Loop and tell me you don’t feel like Robert Fripp.


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