The Best Free Synth Plugins
Matt Tytel Vital
It features 3 full customisable oscillators with multiple different stock wavetables, 2 filters and endless modulation capabilities. Great if you’re wanting an option that opens you up to the entire world of synthesis at no cost.
Digital Suburban Dexed
It features 6 operators and functions basically like the original Yamaha DX7 – the world’s first digital FM synthesizer. So if you like those cheesy bells, warbly pads and plucky basslines, Dexed could be your go-to.
Hvoya Audio Ribs
I’m a huge fan of sample-based and granular synthesis. The textures and sounds you can get are just impossible to get with regular subtractive, wavetable or FM.
Ribs is a great because it’s half synth, half FX unit. You can drag in audio or turn on the FX mode when on an existing audio track. You’ve also got endless modulation options and lots more.
The Best Free EQ & Filter Plugins
Dynamic EQ has always been a paid-plugin-only realm. Until Nova came out.
Not only does it allow you to perform dynamic EQ (a la Pro-Q 3), but is had 4 bands and a great interface with plenty of customization options.
Ignite Amps P-Teq X
When this first came out, I couldn’t believe how they managed to accurately model the MQ5, PEQ1A, and HL3C EQs, all of which are classics.
And now you can get them all for free in one VST plugin. How neat! If you’re looking to color your mix with a classic EQ, look no further.
If your low-end is lacking presence in the sub range, sometimes you might want to layer in a sub.
Or, you could just use bx_subfilter, which allows you to accurately dial in the perfect amount of sub frequencies.
The Best Free Compressor Plugins
Audio Damage Rough Rider 3
This plugin got me well acquainted with parallel compression. Because without dialing back that dry/wet mix, it sounds brutal.
Rough Rider is not designed to be subtle, and the pumping effects are extreme. So if you’re after insane compression, don’t sleep on this.
Xfer Records OTT
OTT is one of those effects that has truly shaped music production forever, thanks to its extreme compression sonics.
It’s a multiband compressor (modeled off the OTT preset in Ableton Live’s Multiband Dynamics) with both upwards and downwards compression, giving it any sound a very ‘squashed’ feel. Simple dial in the ‘depth’ and you can blend to taste.
Kotelnikov solves the unique problem of master buss compression. It helps tame transients and dynamics in a transparent way, giving it a very natural sound.
This makes it great as a pre-limiting compressor, as it helps to control the mix before the limiter does all the hard work, allowing you to get a silky smooth yet well-balanced master.
IVGI is one of the best saturation plugins for controlled buss saturation. I like to drive it a little bit and tweak the knobs to taste.
Sounds great on bass, drums, instruments or even the whole mix.