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Starship Krupa

Favorite Freeware FX Thread

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I think that a person can put together an excellent system entirely with freeware, and CbB is of course an excellent foundation.

I hope this thread will be a "virtual sticky," that is, I expect it will be bumped often enough to stay near the top.

I'm going to start listing favorite tried-and-true free plug-ins and links to where to download them. They are all ones that I have used extensively with Cakewalk, so they are safe to use in that environment. My recommendations will be only for 64-bit VST's.

This thread is intended to be of assistance to our fellow users, especially new ones, in finding good plug-ins to augment the collection that comes with Cakewalk.

I'll start with the bundles that I think every DAW user should download straightaway, whether they're on a budget or otherwise.

First is the Meldaproduction Free Bundle. This bundle of 34 plug-ins has been described as the best value in the plug-in world, and I agree wholeheartedly. The Compressor and EQ surpass most of the payware competition and wind up on most of my projects to this day, 5 years since I first downloaded the bundle. Download it, spend an evening trying out all of the FX on some material and be amazed at what Meldaproduction is letting us use for free. As a promo, it sure worked on me, I've paid to upgrade the Free Bundle and also bought licenses for other Melda plug-ins. There are utilities in here like signal and noise generators and analyzers in addition to the excellent sound processors. If you only get one of these, make it this one.

The ReaPlugs from Cockos, makers of REAPER. Six highly-configurable, very powerful effects, a compressor, multi-band compressor, EQ, delay, gate, and FFT dynamics processor, plus a couple more utilities. It may not sound   so exciting, but these are very versatile, and very configurable, much like REAPER, the DAW that is their main product. The EQ and MB compressor allow as many bands as you want, the delay as many taps as you want, etc.

Next is Voxengo's Assortment of goodies. I mostly stick with SPAN, the spectrum analyzer, and MSED, their mid-side utility, but Boogex, their amp simulator, and Stereo Touch, their stereoizer, are both excellent at what they do. I find the standard UI theme colors to be challenging on my eyes, so I tone them down  in the settings.

Blue Cat's Freeware Pack includes a good spectrum analyzer, a really nice guitar amp sim, and a good handful of modulation FX. Very attractive GUI's.

Finally, if Cakewalk didn't come with anything, or if someone just wanted or needed one each of every standard effect plug-in, The Dead Duck Free Effects Bundle has 25 essential no-frills FX, nothing fancy, just functional and easy on the eyes. Compressor, Gate, EQ, Phaser, Flanger, Chorus, Bit Crusher, Expander, Channel Strip, they're all there. I've tried them and they work. Nothing fancy about the GUI's, they're nice and attractive, no fake brushed aluminum. As for the sound, no attempts here to inject "mojo" or "vintage warmth" or anything, they do what they say they do.

If you download and install everything you can get from those five sites, you'll have in the neighborhood of  80 new plug-ins to try out.  Each of them, even Dead Duck, has unique effects and utilities that might wind up being your favorite thing or just handy to have in your plug-in bin in case you need to do a bit of attenuating or boosting or analyzing or bit crushing or whatever.

I'll be back with many more, and of course, I hope that others will jump in with great suggestions. These are just what I consider the freebie essentials, the Cheapskate's Choice.

And sure, we'll have another thread for VSTi's. Start one!

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16 hours ago, razor7music said:

Blue Cat Audio has multiple free fx plug-ins, but their entire bundle of free plug-ins can be found here.

Last time I downloaded it, it included a  decent spectrum analyzer, a really sweet guitar amp sim, and some traditional modulation FX. I find their GUI's attractive.

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15 hours ago, sping said:

I don't use AirWindows, but they have plugs for everything : http://www.airwindows.com/

AirWindows is an odd company. Most of the plug-ins, while getting raving reviews from certain people, have no GUI's and many of them are stuck in 32-bit purgatory.

The lack of GUI issue was something that gave me an excuse to delve into Cakewalk's FX Chain Preset feature, which allowed me to take the plug-in I wanted to use, De-Ess, and create my own GUI wrapper for it with a full complement of knobs and buttons. It was really quite useful and worked well and was something I don't know if I could have done in any other DAW.

Since a de-esser is something that I want to be able to tweak repeatedly rather than poking numbers at, I would have passed on trying this plug-in otherwise.

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2 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

The lack of GUI issue was something that gave me an excuse to delve into Cakewalk's FX Chain Preset feature, which allowed me to take the plug-in I wanted to use, De-Ess, and create my own GUI wrapper for it with a full complement of knobs and buttons. It was really quite useful and worked well and was something I don't know if I could have done in any other DAW.

Yeah, no GUI have kept me away. Good idea using FX chains, they have a few I want to test, De-ess one of them.

Btw I think they are all 64-bit now.

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I'll see if I can figure out how to upload  my AirWindows DeEss FX Chain so that you can try it out.

I haven't had occasion to mix vocals since setting it up, so I haven't used it much in battle. I do recall that it did a great job of removing sibilance, but it also had an effect on overall brilliance.

Good news on the 64-bit hood.

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The bundles I listed have great compressors, but they aren't long on "character" and "vintage mojo." If you want to add some coloration and character to your compression, Klanghelm offers that in heaping helpings. And they have some freeware loss leaders to get you interested.

The MJUCjr. is a variable mu compressor that emulates a "tube" compressor.

The DC1A is billed as an "effortless character comp." It has two knobs, Input and Output, and two modes, Deep and Relaxed. Character for days.

The IVGI is a saturation/distortion plug-in, I believe it emulates the kind of distortion you can get from overdriving an old console input.

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I reccomend you buy yourself a digital subscription to Computer Music magazine.  Their current issue gives you access to 90 Free plugins (some the free version with more presets or plugin features enabled). About an even split 50/50 Fx and Intruments. I subscribed via Pocketmags.

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Just to add to the point above. They (CM magazine) also do some great video tutorials on those very plugins. I've found them very useful. Food for thought anyway. Not trying to plug them :)

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Totally agree about the Klanghem stuff.  Also don't forget the TDR free plugins.  In both cases I soon upgraded to the full versions.

jdf

 

 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, jerrydf said:

Totally agree about the Klanghem stuff.  Also don't forget the TDR free plugins.  In both cases I soon upgraded to the full versions.

jdf

 

 

WARNING re Klanghelm...

The freebies are so good, you'll buy his full versions. Well, I did. Really nicely priced (DC8C @ 23€; SDRR @ 23€; MJUC @ 24€). And his meters are also excellent, with great  ballistic response.

https://klanghelm.com/contents/main.php

And how can you not like a guy who named his saturation monster SDRR (*****, Drugs, Rock & Roll)! 😎

EDIT: This forum didn't like the first word, but y'all know what it is.

Edited by John Maar
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My complaint about the Antress Modern collection is that contrary to the name, all the ones I saw were 32-bit.

The Tokyo Dawn Records freeware plug-ins  have an amazing amount of functionality, although I still haven't gotten my poor head around Proximity!

And yes, just as with Klanghelm and Meldaproduction, you will probably end up shelling out for the extra features. But the thing is, in all these cases, you aren't shelling out that much, and these developers deserve the heck out of it for putting up tools that broke folks can use without being tempted to use cracked plugs.

As a matter of fact, I don't know if the whole "cracked plugs" thing is even what it was 10 or 15 years ago, which may be down to the freeware scene. Why bother with cracked Waves or Softube or whatever and take the virus/trojan risks associated with downloading cracked software when there's so much legit stuff available for free?

There's a really inexpensive way to get access to all of the Computer Music plug-ins to date, and that's to purchase a digital single issue of the magazine, which last time I checked was about $4 at Pocketmags. There's usually enough reading material in one issue to last about a year, too. You get the plug-in that goes with the issue you buy, and then all of the plug-ins from previous issues, which to date totals around 90.

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Posted (edited)

The stuff that Native Instruments gives away for free? Just crazy. They're more about instruments than FX, so I guess we should have another thread?

And on a related topic, since it uses the Kontakt Player from NI, my favorite sampled drum plug-in, Sennheiser DrumMic'a. It really belongs in another thread, because it's an instrument, not an effect.

DrumMic'a is a Kontakt Instrument that Sennheiser released several years ago as a demonstration of the use of their microphones for recording drums. To register and download it, you need to complete the process on a German website, but it's not hard to figure out how to fill in the blanks to get your registration code.

It's very powerful,  has its own mixer, allows you to use individual outputs for each of the 8 microphones, to try different microphones for each drum and overheads, bypass the internal mixer's processing, etc. They must have spent a fortune on the thing, but it works as they intended, it's an effective demo of how their mics work on drums and I hope it has sold a lot of product over the years.

I've fooled some experienced ears with it.

Edited by Starship Krupa

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15 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

The stuff that Native Instruments gives away for free? Just crazy. They're more about instruments than FX, so I guess we should have another thread?

And on a related topic, since it uses the Kontakt Player from NI, my favorite sampled drum plug-in, Sennheiser DrumMic'a. It really belongs in another thread, because it's an instrument, not an effect.

DrumMic'a is a Kontakt Instrument that Sennheiser released several years ago as a demonstration of the use of their microphones for recording drums. To register and download it, you need to complete the process on a German website, but it's not hard to figure out how to fill in the blanks to get your registration code.

It's very powerful,  has its own mixer, allows you to use individual outputs for each of the 8 microphones, to try different microphones for each drum and overheads, bypass the internal mixer's processing, etc. They must have spent a fortune on the thing, but it works as they intended, it's an effective demo of how their mics work on drums and I hope it has sold a lot of product over the years.

I've fooled some experienced ears with it.

Super Charger - distortion - FX.

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Some of my other favorites have been already been mentioned - Blue Cat's Chorus is the first I reach for, Melda's bundle is super deep and useful, Super Charger is killer,  it still amazes me that TDR's Nova is FREE!, and Blue Cat's" Gain Suite" is ingenious - just put one on either side of an analog modeled plugin, link the gains, then dial in the sweet spot for the plugin and you're automatically gain staged.

Here are a few more...  

Acon Digital's Solo Reverb: https://reverb.com/software/effects/acon-digital/47-reverb-solo

Boz Digital:  https://www.bozdigitallabs.com/product-category/free/

Hofa 4U bundle:  https://hofa-plugins.de/en/plugins/4u/

LaGrange Delay: https://www.kvraudio.com/product/lagrange-by-ursa-dsp

Sonic Anomaly has some good ones: https://sonic.supermaailma.net/plugins

Stone Voices Ambient Reverb: http://stone-voices.ru/vst/ambient_reverb

Valhalla Free Delay: https://valhalladsp.com/shop/delay/valhalla-freq-echo/

Xfer Records OTT mb-compressor: https://xferrecords.com/freeware/

Youlean Loudness Meter: https://youlean.co/

Zynaptiq Subspace:  http://www.zynaptiq.com/subspace/

Still want more? 

Try KVR's insanely comprehensive searchable database:  https://www.kvraudio.com/plugins/effects/free/newest

So many plugins, so little time.   🙂

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