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8 Best FREE Saturation VST Plugins (2021)

Best Free Saturation VST Plugins (2021) Header Image

Saturations are a vital part of the mixing process.

It can give your sounds more character, edge, and color and is a fantastic audio effect for giving your mix pleasant warmth.

But top-of-the-line saturation plugins are expensive. And why let that stop you?

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In this article, you will get a compilation of the eight best free saturation VST plugins of 2021 – perfect for taking your music to the next level.

Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

1. FerricTDS – Tape Dynamics Simulator (by Variety of Sound)

FerricTDS Tape Dynamics Simulator best free saturation plugin

Three essential tools, one plugin. The Ferric TDS Tape Dynamics Simulator is a fantastic free plugin for anyone looking to add more oomph to their sound.

Inspired by top-of-the-line tape recorders, the FerricTDS features dynamic control, limiting, and saturation – from one convenient interface.

So, what about the saturation? As expected, it sounds warm and gives round, true-to-hardware results suitable for any mix.

Today, the plugin is quite old. It even won the KVR Developer Challenge back in 2009. But as with many great things, quality holds through the times. And FerricTDS is definitely a free, top-quality saturation plugin.

Sadly, it's temporarily closed for official downloads from Variety of Sound’s website.

However, according to a recent blog update, a 64-bit version is coming soon. So stay tuned!

Keep updated on download links here.

2. Saturation Knob (by Softube)

Saturation Knob best free saturation vst plugin

The one-knob magic tool, as many would call it. The Softtube Saturation Knob is one of those saturation plugins you can't believe is free – Grammy award-winning producers even use it.

This saturation features a large saturation knob and a dial below to choose your desired type of saturation. Keep it high, neutral, or keep it low. Whatever you choose, you can perfectly saturate your sounds to suit your style of mixing.

How does it work? ‘Keep high’ keeps your high frequencies intact, making the saturation only target your lower frequencies. Neutral effects both, and ‘keep low’ leave your low frequencies as they are.

Saturation can’t get easier than that, can it?

Download free here.

3. BPB Saturator (by Bedroom Producers)

BPB Saturator best free saturation plugin

If you’re looking for a lightweight and free saturation plugin that can do both tube and tape saturation excellently – look no further. The BPB Saturator is where it’s at.

You get two different knobs for your tube distortion and tape saturation with a highly analog feel and simplistic interface. Use only one or combine the two and experience the difference.

The result is creamy, warm, and fuzzy saturation and distortion that you can use sparingly or to excess. If you’re looking for a simple bump in your sounds, try keeping both under the value ’15.’

But that’s not all. You also get two analog-simulated filters, high and low-pass. Use to shape your sound further or automate it for incredible effects.

The BPB Saturator is an awesome free saturation plugin – and a must-have for anyone with a tight budget.

Download free here.

4. Tape Cassette 2 (by Caelum Audio)

Tape Cassette 2 best free saturation vst plugin

Get all the magic sound qualities from the good old days. The Tape Cassette 2 is as simple to use as it sounds brilliant.

The main idea behind this free plugin is to emulate the warmth, noise, and character of old tape cassettes. You know, the slightly saturated, noisy sound that makes us all warm and fuzzy inside.

Tape Cassette 2 features a dedicated saturation knob, which accurately emulates tape saturation. You then have a precise low pass filter, a noise button, and two settings to get the magic tape cassette sound – wow and flutter.

If you want only a hint of retro on your sounds or want to take it to sound design extremes – the Tape Cassette 2 will help you get there.

Download free here.

5. Roth-AIR (by Rothmann)

Roth-AIR best free saturation plugin

Need more air in your mix? More crispy highs? Well, say hello to your perfect free saturation VST – Roth-AIR.

You have probably been there. No matter how hard you tweak a sound, you want it to pop out more. Something is missing, and the equalization isn’t cutting it.

That’s where Roth-AIR can help you – on all your sounds.

Apply it to any sound you want to make crispy. Dial-in your frequency, threshold and use the large AIR knob.

Voilà.

Your vocals, guitars, synth, or whatever you put it on now sound crisp, beautiful, and pops out of your speakers like glimmering crystals.

This plugin works this magic by using a combination of multiband compression and gentle saturation of your high frequencies.

The results are incredible. A must-have!

Download free here.

6. ChowTape (by Chowdhury DSP)

Chow Tape best free saturation vst plugin

Sony made a tape-recorder in the mid-1960s called TC-260. Emulating that was originally the start for the analog tape machine CHOW Tape – but today, it goes even further.

It’s a simple plugin with a smooth interface allowing you to make great-sounding and accurate tape saturation. Select your tone, emulating a vast array of reel-to-reel tape machines. Choose your bias, saturation, and drive – and you're good to go.

You also get more settings to dial in your sound, including gap, thickness, spacing, and tape speed, including different loss qualities.

Lastly, you can also choose flutter and wow effects and tune them to perfection with the depth and rate controllers.

A very solid plugin that started as a project at Stanford University.

It’s definitely worth a download.

Download free here.

7. IVGI (by Klanghelm)

IVGI best free saturation vst plugin

Sometimes, you need an excellent saturation for your master bus. And it doesn’t hurt if it’s free, right? The IVGI by Klanghelm is a simple but incredibly powerful free plugin for mastering saturation.

The leathery and beautiful interface features four main controls – drive, asym mix, output, and response.

Drive controls your level of saturation, which reacts dynamically and automatically to your input signal. The asym mix control changes the symmetry of the signal without affecting the harmonic content much at all. And the response knob lets you quickly alter the frequency dependency of your saturation.

The results?

You can use warm, thick analog saturation in a relaxed or heavily distorted way – on your master or in your mix.

Download free here.

8. SGA1566 (by Shattered Glass Audio)

SGA1566 best free saturation vst plugin

When you want authentic analog sounds in the box, you have to use accurately modeled plugins. The good news, the SGA1566 is a preamplifier that sounds as realistic as the real deal.

The SGA1566 achieves striking sound results that work well for subtle coloring to heavy overdrive and distortion with high-performance circuit simulation.

Firstly, choose the low or high CPU mode, with slightly better results on the latter. Then, choose your oversampling of up to 4x.

Then, select your gain and dial in your bass and trebles to perfection with the included EQ.

The interface is straightforward to use and allows you to make quick mixing decisions on virtually all sounds you want to add warmth and character to.

If you’re looking for a solid saturation plugin with beautiful color, definitely check out the SGA1566.

Download free here.

Summary

Saturation is a beautiful thing on both mixes and masters. Not only does it make your sound warmer and fuller, but it also gives your mixes more edge and color – especially when using saturators that emulate analog hardware.

However, it’s tempting to use saturations in excess. If we can give one tip, it’s dialing up your saturation enough to hear it and then turning it back. When you apply a tiny bit on a few or even all instruments, the results get impressive!

Now, you have eight fantastic alternatives for free saturation VST plugins. From analog tape emulators to preamps and beyond.

The good part about free plugins is that you can try them all. Download all eight and try them in your mix. You might find that one – or all of them – suits your sound perfectly.

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Thanks for reading, and see you in the next article.

Pelle Sundin
About the author
Pelle Sundin is a Swedish music producer and writer, active with his chillout project PLMTRZ. He also produces psytrance. When he's not producing, he surfs, skates, and chugs coffee.


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