New year, new me. Or as a producer like you would say, new year – let's make some music.
What better way to kick start your studio prosperous 2020, than with some free plugins? Compiled below are the best plugins of this year, to help you create the next club-ready hit.
It's always nice to have full control over your stereo field. Especially when it's with a smooth, free, and powerful plugin, like A1StereoControl.
Crafted by Alex Hilton from Germany, this lightweight beast of a stereo expansion plugin has enough control to satisfy the most expert of producers and mixing engineers.
A1StereoControl has a simple-to-read interface, with a large "stereo width" button, which is the central knob to control the width. You can also switch between easy and expert mode, which limits or shows the more advanced stereo controls.
Making sure your lower frequencies are in mono is very important when mastering. Splattering your low-end across the stereo field makes for a loss in bass power and phasing issues.
Luckily, the plugin has a fix for that. It's called "Safe Bass" and makes sure all your lower frequencies are in the middle of the stereo field. With just a click, you've now fixed all low frequencies of your master.
With characteristics of the iconic retro synthesizer that fueled most of the 80's top hits, Roland Juno-60, this free chorus effect takes you back.
There's not too much to say about it. It sounds excellent and controls to perfection in a breeze.
With only three knobs and two buttons, you efficiently manage volume, dry/wet, and stereo width, with the choice of two types of chorus effects.
Simple and stable, the two S's of Tal-Chorus-LX.
If you need the best free distortion, look no further than CamelCrusher. The coloring plugin you can't believe is free, with a sturdy compressor and beautifully sounding low-pass filter included.
This plugin features two types of distortion that, when mixed, colors your sound in ways you couldn't imagine. CamelCrusher gives your synth sounds serious depth and edge, your guitars, and makes the sounds jump out of your speakers.
It's the perfect tool for maximizing the power of your sounds and coloring with grit at just the right places.
If you're looking to add unique and insane space and stereo width to your sound, Xfer Records Dimension Expander is a must.
The four-voice chorus with extended delay times takes advantage of phasing to further enhance the "out of the speaker" width. Two of the chorus voices are out of phase from the other two, which tickles your brain and confuses it in enjoyable ways, creating an unbeatable stereo effect.
It sounds great on pretty much anything but shines a bit extra on vocals and cleaner guitars.
Try it and find out which other instruments love this plugin.
Oh, I almost forgot.
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I got "Ableton God", what is your producer type?
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Sometimes you need to bring a sound back to life - you hear it has potential, but you know it can be so much more. Bringing back the mojo of a sound (or several) is what the exciter Thrillseeker XTC is all about.
In the stylish analog interface, you have ultimate control over the low, mid, and high end with full respective EQ bands to dial it down even further.
One of the more exciting features of the Thrillseeker XTC is the "mojo" knob. You've probably seen the Austin Powers movies; we all need and want the mythical mojo.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines mojo as "a quality that attracts people to you and makes you successful and full of energy." Switch out the "you" to "your track," there's your explanation to what the Thrillseeker XTC is all about.
I really can't explain it better. It does magic on your track and makes it sound loads better.
Who doesn't love an excellent, free bit crusher? Look no further than Krush.
Krush is all about downsampling, crushing, and driving your sound to insane levels – if you want. Hidden in this gem is a reliable filter and an LFO to manage all controls in the plugin fully.
And with the separate dry and wet dial, you can add some exciting flavors to your drum loops, for example. Just a little bit can go a long way to liven up a dull 4/4 beat.
It sounds like a bit crusher should and does everything you want, with a bit more to keep things interesting.
If you want a free bit crusher, I recommend you check this one out right now.
Another home run for Variety of Sound, this time in the reverb department. EpicVerb is as epic as the name suggests and joins our list the best free reverb out there. There, I've said it.
Whether you're after small room reverb or ambiance or looking to fill your sound space with dramatic epic hall reverbs, this won't disappoint even one bit.
EpicVerb has everything you want a reverb to have, pre-delay, reverb time, and a quick dial to select reverb or ambiance mode (the latter has a shorter reverb tail). Many more reverb options, including hall, plate, room 1 and 2, reflex and echo FX.
An equalizer also baked in the plugin, of course.
Other exciting features for EpicVerb include dials for the two most critical early room reflections, dampening, and an ability to 2x the reverb in the lower frequency areas.
And it sounds great. Slap it on just about anything to give your sound another dimension.
8. Ozone Imager
The company iZotope is the creators of the best mixing and mastering plugins in the industry. And now they're giving away an essential tool of their flagship for free, the Ozone Imager.
Ozone Imager is the go-to for when you want to have ultimate visual control over your stereo field. With the three different vectorscope meters, you see precisely how your sound plays out in your mix - crucial for correcting phase issues and creating fuller mixes.
Want your sound more centered in the mix? Drag the width slider down. Want mono? Drag it down. And for the sounds you want super wide, choose maximal width and play with the powerful stereoizer slider, to make an impact.
Included are two different stereo modes, Stereoize I, which creates a mind-boggling phasing effect, and Stereoize II for subtle enhancement. Use it at your convenience.
Thank you, iZotope, for making this free.
Thanks for reading!
About the author
Pelle Sundin is a Swedish music producer and freelance copywriter, currently active with his chillout project PLMTRZ. He also produces psychedelic trance. When he's not producing music, he surfs, skates and chugs coffee.
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