Let’s start off with this amazing free bundle by Kilohearts - it includes 30 free plugins including everything you might need from EQ, to delay, distortion, and even some unique processing like formant shifters, reversers, and a trance gate. Additionally, when loaded in a DAW they have a super small footprint.
Let’s take a listen to the EQ, Distortion, and Flanging plugins being used on a mix.
DTM Hacker is offering their plugins for free on Gumgoad - including their Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Transient Shaper, and Vibrato plugins, all of which have a great interface and are easy to use. I like the transient shaper in particular which lets you affect the attack and release’s gain and timing.
Let’s take a listen to flanger and phaser, and definitely check out some of their other free or optionally paid-for plugins.
Baby Audio just released this new Pitchdrift plugin - at lower time and depth settings it has a really pleasant effect, similar to tape wobble and modulation; but you can also increase both to create really interesting and creative processing. Baby Audio also offers 3 other free plugins.
A free delay with included ducker, a stereo image modulator that’s from their VHS plugin, and a delay/reverb combo that can be randomized.
Let’s take a listen to this new Pitchdrift plugin.
BlendEQ is interesting, it’s basically 2 6 filter EQs housed in one plugin - these 2 EQs can also be blended, resulting in really unique curves. By clicking the Analog Obsession text we can turn on oversampling, and by clicking the BlendEQ text we can affect the band’s blend values at once.
Lastly, we can cause overdrive distortion by increasing the input and reducing the output.
Let’s take a listen.
RareSE has been one of my favorite Pultec emulations for a while now, and the developer just re-coded the entire plugin, so this gives me an excuse to cover it again. In short, we get 2 Pultec EQs, one for the left and one for the right channel.
What’s great is that the processing can be switched to mid and side, giving us the ability to affect or stereo image - which is something I still haven’t seen in other Pultec emulations.
Let’s take a listen to the plugin.
DReverb is definitely the best-sounding free reverb plugin I’ve come across, and it also has an insanely long RT60 option of 100 seconds - something I’ve never seen in another plugin. It offers wet/dry, pre-delay and diffusion, parallel input filtering, frequency crossovers, basic EQ, and stereo width.
Lastly, there’s an Excursion section but I couldn’t find a manual, nor do I really understand what this does, so if you do know please let me know in the comments.
Let’s take a listen and test out the 100-second decay time.
BPB has made it a habit of combining saturation with other popular forms of processing, and I think this LA2A compressor, saturator combo is their best yet. At lower settings, we can achieve a few dB of attenuation with program-dependent timing, as well as some mild distortion.
That said, I think this plugin is best suited for heavy compression and distortion, but used in parallel with the mix dial.
Let’s take a listen to it.
Although this free version is a bit limited in its functionality, the subtle sound of this transient shaper is great - you can increase the middle dial to increase the impact of transients, or reduce it to cause compression. For an aggressive sound, try increasing the input into the processor.
Let’s take a listen to it on some drums.
Although most engineers use fully parametric EQs now, having 32 bands to finely control the response isn’t too common. I personally like how minute the amplitude changes are, that we can choose between 6 or 12dB slopes, and the optional linear phase processing and/or oversampling.
Lastly, it comes with more than 60 great presets, and even works as a stand-alone application outside of a DAW.
Let’s take a listen to it on a mix.
Last up we have a great plugin I’ve covered before, but I definitely think it deserves more attention - BYOD includes 43 free plugins, all available within a routing matrix. It’s designed for guitar effects, but honestly, some of the plugins work great for other applications.
Let’s take a listen to some of the processors geared toward mixes instead of guitars.