Freeware

There is no reason to steal software. It’s unfair to the developers (often small companies run by one guy in his kitchen), not cool to the paying customers (who get screwed when the company stops supporting the software), and it’s just  wrong: IT’S STEALING. In my opinion: if you are really into being an artist, you should have your own tools and be intimate with them. They should be an investment in your vision, not something that you downloaded from some torrent site on a lark. Buy your equipment and be proud.

There is tons of freeware out there; some is great, some is terrible. There are plenty of places to search for it (dontcrack.com and KVR audio to name a couple), so i am only going to list the stuff that I have actually used enough to have an opinion on. I will add to this later as I am doing it off the top of my head right now. Check back for updates on new freeware I find (I am kind of addicted to searching, finding and trying out new freeware). I will also add some non-audio freeware later.

Amps:

here is a free tube amp sim by voxengo, sounds really nice. the link has both Intel and PPC versions:

http://www.dontcrack.com/freeware/downloads.php/id/4305/software/Tube-Amp/

Ampifikation Lite (guitar amp simulator, haven’t tried, but why turn down a free amp?)

http://www.kuassa.com/products/amplifikation-lite

Guitar Rig 4 Player:

http://www.native-instruments.com/#/en/productsproducer/guitar-rig-4-player/ 

Amplitube Free:

http://www.ikmultimedia.com/amplitubefree/features/

Synths:

Automat – sounds amazing, good for vintage analog as well as more current sounds.

http://blog.alphakanal.de/2009/06/03/automat_1-0

Particularity – a free granular synthesizer called particularity. i myself am quite fond of granular synthesis:

http://chrisjeffs.com/blog/?page_id=191

quatro 16 tone – microtonal piano/synth (this looks interesting)

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/16tone/

freealpha (nice subtractive synth)

http://www.linplug.com/Instruments/instruments.htm

Magical 8 Bit synth (works in Logic now)

http://www.ymck.net/magical8bitplug/index.html

Mr. Alias (great for noise)

http://www.thepiz.org/mralias2/

TAL Bassline (Roland SH101 emulation)

http://kunz.corrupt.ch/?Products:VST_TAL-BassLine

TAL Elec7ro (awesome synth)

http://kunz.corrupt.ch/?Products:VST_TAL-Elek7ro

TAL Uno (Juno emulation)

http://kunz.corrupt.ch/?Products:VST_TAL-U-No-62

TAL Noisemaker

http://kunz.corrupt.ch/products/tal-noisemaker

Ticky Clav (Clavinet emulation)

http://www.apulsoft.ch/freeports/

Vogue Mk2: subtractive synth with microtonal tuning

http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/34232/vogue-mk2

U-He Tyrell. Really nice synth, really CPU heavy though; don’t say I didn’t warn you:

http://tinyurl.com/3h6xceu

Cheeze Machine – A really Cheeze-y fake string sound (like an ARP Solina kind of). You can use it for classic rock stuff, but i like to use it for pads and texture.

http://www.apulsoft.ch/freeports/

Crystal – This is a classic piece of freeware, really shocked that it’s free. You can do pretty much anything with it (FM,wavetable,subtractive). It’s pretty complicated to wrap your head around, but there are a zillion pre-sets available on the website that you can use as a starting point  and some great tutorials as well. It sounds unreal, but is a HUUUGE CPU drain (when I used to use a mac mini it was rough). I generally convert the MIDI to audio immediately when using it.

http://www.greenoak.com/crystal/download.htm

Effects/Plugins

Pancake: cool panning modulation tool that lets you draw in panning curves. you can do some really subtle stuff or go nuts.

http://www.cableguys.de/

BX Cleansweep V2: this is great to throw on any track. you can do a low/high pass at the same time. low on CPU so you can throw it on every track and clean your sound up quite a bit.

http://www.brainworx-music.de/en/plugins/bx_cleansweep_v2

Analog Delay: smartelectronix makes some twisted effects; this is more on the tame side (for them). it’s kind of like a tape delay, kind of like an old analog delay pedal. like this one very much:

http://mdsp.smartelectronix.com/analog-delay/

ADT- artificial double tracking (makes you sound like John Lennon). only works on mono tracks.

Poor Plate Reverb – exactly what it says; pretty cool actually. here’s the link for both:

http://www.vacuumsound.de/plugins.html

KT Granulator (granular effects)

http://www.koen.smartelectronix.com/KTGranulator/

Soundhack Delay Trio (sick twisted delay effects). Also check out the free bundle which has a bunch of interesting plugins.

http://soundhack.henfast.com/freeware/

Soundmagic Spectral Collection (makes things sound really weird)

http://www.michaelnorris.info/soundmagicspectral/

this is a whole bunch of effects plugins that come in a bundle. there are some utilities, all of the standard bread and butter stuff (flange, chorus, eq…), I got it for the frequency shifter. They also just made an autopitch plug:

http://www.meldaproduction.com/freevstplugins/

Watkat (tape delay)

http://www.genuinesoundware.com/?a=showproduct&b=36

Valhalla FreqEcho (really great pitch shift echo – one of my all time fave pieces of freeware)

http://www.valhalladsp.com/freqecho.html

NorthPole is a free effects plug in for AudioUnit compatible applications on the Macintosh. It adds a fully programmable virtual analog synthesizer filter with resonance, envelope follower and an integrated post-filter digital delay to your audio production environment.

http://www.prosoniq.com/audio-plugins/northpole-au/

here is the TAL Dub Delay. this link is for TAL Dub 1, 2 and 3. They alll sound different from each other and I am a huge TAL fanboy.  I use these all the time. If you have garageband, you will probably want this one as nothing on GB comes close. If you have Logic, you’ll still want it as it sounds different than the Tape Delay. Browse around their site as everything they make is excellent and they should be selling the stuff. You can donate via paypal, and after using their stuff, I have a feeling you will want to help them out:

http://kunz.corrupt.ch/products/tal-dub

TAL Reverb 2 and 3. there is a UB version, don’t let the link address fool you. these are great for electronic music (love 3 on drum machines)

http://kunz.corrupt.ch/?Products:VST_TAL-Reverb

I can’t list all of the TAL stuff, just check out their website. TAL has all the bread and butter effects you’ll ever need: EQ’s, filtering plugins, phaser. flanger. chorus, bitcrushers, delays, vocoders, reverbs. the stuff sounds amazing and they should probably charge for it:

http://kunz.corrupt.ch/?Products

here is a free convolution reverb.

http://www.kvraudio.com/developer_challenge/2009/dc09_27_HybridReverb2.zip

free guitar effects unit by Overloud (they make really nice stuff):

http://www.overloud.com/th1-triode.php?ida=32&idarg=34

octave shifter, reverse sampler, and a noise gate:

http://www.audiowish.com/

SmartElectronix effects.  I love the effects these guys do. they are a collective of like minded people who do slightly weird music gear for free. poke around the whole smartelectronix site and check out all the developers:

http://mdsp.smartelectronix.com/

Livecut (glitch plug in). I have no idea how this works; just start playing with the sliders, bounce to audio and edit out the good bits.

http://mdsp.smartelectronix.com/livecut/

Bouncy (bouncing ball delay)

http://bram.smartelectronix.com/plugins.php?id=8

Ambience (fabulous reverb)

http://magnus.smartelectronix.com/#Ambience

Slim Slow Slider (nice multiband compressor). There are also other effects, synths, etc…

http://www.apulsoft.ch/freeports/

s(M)exoscope (realtime waveform display)

http://www.apulsoft.ch/freeports/

Audio Damage Rough Rider (nice compressor). I really like Audio Damage’s plug-ins. They are all really odd, yet very musical.

http://www.audiodamage.com/downloads/

Audio Damage Pulse Modulator (tremolo pedal)

http://www.audiodamage.com/downloads/

Audio Damage Fuzzplus (great for everything)

http://www.audiodamage.com/downloads/

King Dubby (dub delay).

http://www.lowcoders.fr/

zimple-gate: a noise gate designed to be used with Garageband:

http://www.piticule.com/plug-ins/zimple-gate.html

M-verb (reverb, haven’t tried yet, but have heard good things about it.)

http://martineastwood.com/wordpress/?p=169

DUY Z Room (reverb- low on CPU drain and sounds pretty nice). it has low, mid and high gain on it and I like it for synths and drum machines.

http://www.duy.com/plug-ins/zroom.html

I bought Automaton by Audio Damage, and now I see there is a freeware cellular automaton sequencer. if you like glitchy electronic stuff, check this out (mac and PC):

http://www.glitch-sequencer.com/

Auraplug  Freetortion series: (cool distortion plugs -great on drums)

http://www.auraplug.com/index.php?option=com_jdownloads&Itemid=10&task=viewcategory&catid=7

camel crusher (distortion/overdrive/filter/compressor. a classic that rocks on drums)

http://www.camelaudio.com/camelcrusher.php

A whole bunch of random effects and a few synths:

http://www.apulsoft.ch/freeports/

Blue Cat Audio has some really nice freebies: frequency analysis (you can look at 2 tracks at once to compare say your drums and your bass), phaser, chorus, gain utilities suite, flanger, stereo chorus, stereo flanger, triple EQ, peak meter, DXi manager:

http://www.bluecataudio.com/Products/Bundle_FreewarePack/

Vinyl – Simulates an old records scratches, pops and crackles. Sounds like a novelty that will only be used once, but actually pretty useful for dirtying up drum tracks if you use it really sparingly (so that you don’t actually hear the record effect):

http://www.izotope.com/products/audio/vinyl/

Airwindows has a whole lot of great stuff (some free, some not). I really like the Channel plug, which emulates different vintage mixing boards. basically a nice sounding, subtle saturation plug. They also have a nice simple wah plug. one slider that you move to create that wah-wah sound. They have some other neat stuff too in their free section (an SVT bass cab simulator, a vibrato, some EQs). Check it out.
http://www.airwindows.com/

Soundfonts:

sometimes you just need more sounds. here is a site that has free soundfonts. pretty much anything you can think of, they have it (strings, horns, guitars, drums, synths, toy instruments,….). you have to sign up first, but i have never gotten a single piece of spam. totally recommended:

http://www.sf2midi.com/

you can play soundfonts in Logic with the EXS24; if you’re on GB, you’re supposed to be able to play them, but in my experience it’s very hit or miss. i guess what i am saying is that the GB soundfont player blows (IMO), and you should just download the Bismark bs-0 sound font player. works with .sf2 (what you usually get), and DLS:

http://www.bismark.jp/bs-0/index.html

Drums:

here’s a nice sounding analog drumset. free. check it people:

http://www.analoguedrums.com/details-bm.php

drumcore free. haven’t tried this myself, but extra drumkits are always good:

http://www.sonomawireworks.com/drumcore/downloads/

here’s a boatload of free acoustic drum kits:

http://bedroomproducers.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/free-sample-shootout-2-acoustic-drums-full-kits/

Snare sounds (for EXS24 or Kontakt):

http://www.acousticsamples.net/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=5

this guy has a website with all of the free drums that he stumbles across (it’s HUUUGE):

http://downloadmydrums.com/

mini spillage (drum machine synthesis). this is a great sounding drum synth.

http://www.audiospillage.com/minispillage.php

Instruments:

free combo organ (PPC, Intel Mac and VST). it’s actually a very cool Farfisa/Jaquar style organ. you guys should grab this one.

http://www.martinic.com/combov/

sampletank 2 free: this is the full featured sampletank, but doesn’t come with the sample library/ comes with 500mb of sounds from samplemoog, miroslav, mellotrons, drum kits, horns, etc…

http://www.ikmultimedia.com/sampletankfree/features/

Kontakt Player (pretty nice free Rompler). comes with a lot of free sounds, and you can always buy more from NI.

http://www.native-instruments.com/#/en/products/producer/kontakt-player/

Ticky Clav (Clavinet emulation)

http://www.apulsoft.ch/freeports/

here’s a free grand piano, supposedly sounds really nice:

http://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=287988

Vibes (for EXS24 or Kontakt):

http://www.acousticsamples.net/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=3&products_id=6

Acoustic guitar simulator (physical modeling):

http://www.Spicyguitar.com/

Bismark JP (soundfont player):

http://www.bismark.jp/bs-0/index.html

Presets/Patches:

free and/or cheap samples and patches for Kontakt, Synplant, Alchemy, More Feedback Machine 2, Reaktor 5, iZotope plug-ins, Absynth.

http://www.patchpool.de/

some D&B presets for ES2

http://waveformless.blogspot.com/2009/06/free-dubstepdrum-n-bass-presets-for.html

ES2 presets:

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/ES2-/

Audio Apps:

Audacity (audio editor – everyone who uses GB should have this as well):

http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Wavepad – an alternative to Audacity; i tried a version of this awhile back and liked it. Decent audio editor:

http://www.dontcrack.com/freeware/downloads.php/id/4557/software/WavePad/

Misc:

Zen VST preset manager: this looks really cool. you open this up while you’re working, type what you’re looking for into the search field and it shows everything you have that fits the description. you can add tags too. too bad it’s VST only; one of the things that I don’t like in Logic is that I can’t arrange my plugins the way I want:

http://www.dontcrack.com/freeware/downloads.php/id/5743/software/Zen/

Control iTunes from any application

this will definitely come in handy. IMote is a simple interface utility that allows you to control simple iTunes actions from any application using universal keyboard commands.

http://www.macmusic.org/software/version.php/lang/en/id/14470/

here’s a bunch of really cool “manuals” someone put together for Logic 8. very nice collection (in PDF, but easier on the eyes than Apples stuff):

http://rothermich.com/Edgar/Manuals.html

Logic Wiki:

http://en.wikiaudio.org/Category:Logic

AU Notes: this is pretty cool. It allows you to open up a note pad from within your recording program. it shows up like an effect, but when you open it, you just type in all of your settings, track notes, whatever. really a handy piece of gear:

http://www.teragon.org/p/aunotes.html

SlowMP3: this will slow down songs for you to learn them, transcribe things for you, figure out chords, etc.. Looks pretty cool

http://www.dontcrack.com/freeware/downloads.php/id/5789/software/SlowMP3/

Recording Tutorials

http://www.samplecraze.com/tutorial.php

Samples 

Playground Drum Kit (in EXS24 format). I recorded a bunch of slides, steps, sand crunching underfoot, poles, etc… at the local playground I take my daughter to. The big plastic slides sound really nice:

http://www.mediafire.com/?h3h0ora2o961oq6

here are all of the free samples that are on the computer magazine discs. you can find some great stuff here:

http://www.musicradar.com/news/tech/sampleradar-free-sample-downloads-217833

enormous list of open source samples: anything you can imagine. i go crazy with this list.

http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Sound_samples

all of the Fairlight CMI synth samples (score!!!).:

http://www.emusonacid.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2815

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3 responses

  1. Billy

    This is cool stuff man. I didn’t know most of these plugins.

    Thanks for the tips.

    12/03/2009 at 12:38

  2. Chris

    Good links but whats with the moraltrain at the top there? Makes you sound like a douchebag.

    08/28/2010 at 05:05

  3. Really excellent site you’ve created here with great art, links, and blogs! Will definitely be back for more visits! Peace.

    06/24/2012 at 11:24

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