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Starship Krupa

Favorite Freeware FX Thread

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28 minutes ago, Starship Krupa said:

while not sounding exactly like a spring, will probably be useful for when I want that sound and don't feel like hooking up my old handmade spring reverb box.

Spring reverb...

CbB includes one.

It is part of the multi-effects suite called TH3 along with a lot of other effects with fairly flexible routing options.

I suspect it is easily overlooked being hidden in an amp sim.

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Posted (edited)

Impulse Responses: Who Knew?

tl;dr: NadIR and The Acoustic IR Database

I've learned a lot -- and saved a lot of money -- from @Starship Krupa's Favorite Freeware FX Thread, and from the many contributors to it. I feel a little guilty at taking and never giving here, but I just don't seem to find anything out there that you guys haven't already found and reported (or in some cases, discarded). But here's my story:

I have a Gibson J-160E that I bought at a Third Street pawn shop (San Francisco) in 1968. If you saw the movie "A Hard Days Night" you'll know the instrument. It's the acoustic/electric that John Lennon plays in the movie. When reporters later asked him to comment on the Hard Days Night tour he replied (paraphrasing) "It was good, but I lost me jumbo." The J-160E is not a jumbo (sorry John), but it is in fact the guitar that was stolen on that tour. Because of when and where I acquired mine, it's even money that it is, in fact, John's lost guitar. Yes, I know, some guy in San Diego claims he has the actual guitar, and a perfectly legible sales receipt from the Liverpool music store where John and George bought their 2 guitars 60 years ago. But there are enough twists and turns to the story that I will choose to believe that mine is the real one. I really don't think there's any way to know.

But the main thing about this guitar is, it sucks. It has a very heavy top, to keep it from resonating too much and feeding back when you plug it in. This makes it a terrible acoustic guitar, because it doesn't resonate much. And as an electric guitar, it plays like an acoustic guitar. Which would be fine if it were a great acoustic, but (see above) it's not. It does have a real pickup on it, which may or may not be a P-90 or a P-100, which would be fine if it were a good electric guitar, but it's not.

Still, it's the only acoustic I have, since I have had my own problems over the years with thieves and numbskulls. So whenever I need some acoustic strumming on a track, I dust off the old girl, mess around for a half hour with mic placement, and end up fiddling with chorus and EQ and finally burying it in the track, hoping no one will notice how bad it sounds.

Until I discovered impulse responses. I vaguely understand that when I use an amp sim with a virtual speaker cabinet, someone has modeled that speaker cabinet. Turns out, the modeling is in the form of an impulse response. In Guitar Rig, TH3 and many other sims, you don't have to know this. You click on pictures of speaker cabinets until you find one that sounds right, and badabing. IRs are also the driving force behind convolution reverbs, but that's a different story. Anyway, I got curious about IRs one day, and started googling around, and here's the thing I'd like to contribute to the Favorite Freeware FX Thread: acoustic guitar IRs.

OK, these are not, strictly speaking, effects, but the effect they have had on my old Gibson is amazing to me. People have been recording impulse responses from great-sounding guitars, and with a little free software, I can add an IR to my recorded guitar in Cakewalk, and it comes out sounding like a vintage, perfectly set up Martin D-28! Or any of hundreds of other beautiful and great-sounding guitars. How long has this been going on? It's like I've been transported back to 1969 and given the chance not to buy this stupid J-160E.

You need an IR loader, and that would be NadIR, linked at the very beginning. It's free from Ignite amps, but it comes attached to their Emissary amp sim, so you have to also get that, which is OK, especially if you're into metal. Both are free, so you can't lose. (Personally I prefer Ignite's Anvil amp -- you have to scroll down to find The Anvil.) I've never used anything like NadIR before, and it felt a little like being at the controls of an alien spaceship, but if you try a few things, you'll figure it out, or you'll crash on a moon of Jupiter. It comes with a few speaker cabinet IRs that you can use if you want to hitch 'em up to the Emissary amp, but you really need to try some acoustic guitar IRs, and you can search from among hundreds of them using the handy Acoustic Guitar IR Database (also linked at the top). I think all the IRs are free, but I didn't look at every one of them.

A little googling will reveal lots more places to get IRs. I've only used them in a very conservative way, to make one acoustic guitar sound a lot like a different acoustic guitar. I have a feeling IRs can also be used in extreme ways, and everything in between. The only drawback will be that you'll never get anything done, as you check out what your voice sounds like in the train station, or your snare drum at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

 

Edited by Larry Jones
clarity
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I know this is not free, but for any free fx hound who has been using (or hasn't been using) the Meldaproduction MFreeFX Bundle, they are running one of their 60% off all bundles promotions, which includes the upgrade to the FreeFX Bundle.

The last time Meldaproduction ran this promo I gifted two friends with this upgrade and the price came to $7 with the first-timer benefits.

This how you do it: sign up for the newsletter, which gives you €10 credits. Then at checkout, apply a referral code (mine is MELDA1923165) to take 20% off the price. Apply your €10, and it brings the cost down around $7. For this you add some really nice features (access to the Preset Exchange and Styles are worth the small amount, but you also get access to their deeper features as well). This applies to any of their bundles, of course, but I figure first-timers are more likely to be doing the FreeFX upgrade.

The Sonitus FX that come with Cakewalk sound good, but their UI's are tiny and looking kinda dated (they also can't be used in other DAW's due to being DXi). These are good replacements. 37 plug-ins for $7 is the best deal I can think of.

(Also, for existing users, go to your My Licenses page and check out what your personal bundle prices are. You might be as surprised as I was to see how much you can get for little money)

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And now (I don't know when they added this to be honest!) let you select what plugins you install in that bundle, it really is a no brainer!

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An added plus: all the free fx are feature-limited versions of their paid counterparts, so it's a great way to experiment and see which ones you might be interested in upgrading to the full version. I've bought a few Melda products as a direct result of using their free versions and liking them.

(OK, I admit I've purchased more than just a few Melda products, ~40 of them at last count. It's quality stuff and very nicely priced when they go on sale, with a random selection of 4 of them half-price every week.)

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1 hour ago, bitflipper said:

An added plus: all the free fx are feature-limited versions of their paid counterparts, so it's a great way to experiment and see which ones you might be interested in upgrading to the full version. I've bought a few Melda products as a direct result of using their free versions and liking them.

(OK, I admit I've purchased more than just a few Melda products, ~40 of them at last count. It's quality stuff and very nicely priced when they go on sale, with a random selection of 4 of them half-price every week.)

It's a successful business model, that loss-leader. It's one of the things I really respect about the way Vojtech runs the business. Some of those 37 plug-ins are the best I've seen in their categories. MComb is a favorite, MAutopan, MPhaser as well. MAnalyzer is, IMO, better than the Voxengo SPAN that is so popular (and rightly so). I use MStereoscope on my drum overhead bus on every single project that has drums. The test tone and noise generators, where else can you find those? The newest one, MTuner, isn't just a polyphonic tuner, it's a pitch-to-MIDI converter. He added a tap tempo to MMetronome after I asked in the forum. All of these can be used in their free versions.

I had my great compression breakthrough with the stock version of MCompressor, which still has my favorite visual display of how the compressor is set and what it's doing to the sound. My friend showed me the 3dB/3dB recipe for beginners: to make a vocal "pop," set a sharp knee compressor at 4:1 so that it's reducing gain an average of 3dB. Then use a parametric EQ to sweep for the "honk" frequency, and cut that by 3dB. Highpass it around 200Hz, and suddenly I could crank my lead vocal without having it sound like a school auditorium PA. I use them whenever I'm teaching someone how to use basic processors.

Give me the FreeFX bundle and I'll happily mix anything that was reasonably well-recorded.

Suggestion: spend a little time going through the available styles. The stock one is a "light" style that I don't care for. They're skinnable like Cakewalk is.

Here's my MCompressor with some tweaking of the color scheme:

image.png.fd17d43eaaa2e3d3b0b35a71f7c9bdbc.png

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Posted (edited)

Melda is probably the BEST freeware FX suite available!!!

I also have the paid version (free promo) of MSpectralDelay. Lots of sound design potential there!

 

Edited by abacab

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24 minutes ago, abacab said:

Melda is probably the BEST freeware FX suite available!!!

I also have the paid version of MSpectralDelay. Lots of sound design potential there!

I can't think of another one that is as comprehensive and useful.

I got MSpectralDelay as a loyalty gift from Meldaproduction when it first came out, and while it sure seems like it can do a lot, I've yet to get my head around what it does. Is it like a Glitchmachines or Freakshow Industries effect where you're not supposed to be entirely in control of it? Throw it on, start twisting the knobs and see what happens? It has similar controls to Unfiltered Audio Fault. or maybe SpecOps, but while I can get pretty quick results with those, it's not so for MSpectralDelay. It's the one I point to when I make the case that Meldaproduction's documentation (and sometimes ad copy) is not informative enough.

Vojtech's standard retort is that it's not his job to explain how a compressor works, but I contend that it might be part of his job to explain what a "spectral delay" does. Just a simple "try it on X material with X settings while adjusting parameters Y and Z" would be so welcome. My head can only get so far imagining what something is capable of, with stuff that goes that far off the beaten path, I need more guidance.

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Some of the Melda plugins haven't turned out to be as useful as I'd anticipated. Spectral Delay is one of them, along with MMultibandChorus and that multiband autopanner, forget what it's called. And speaking of compressors, MModernCompressor was frustratingly unintuitive, and even after figuring out the UI was ultimately just another compressor.

However, the good ones more than make up for the few disappointments. MDynamicEQ and MSpectralDynamics are surgical life savers.

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13 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

I can't think of another one that is as comprehensive and useful.

I got MSpectralDelay as a loyalty gift from Meldaproduction when it first came out, and while it sure seems like it can do a lot, I've yet to get my head around what it does. Is it like a Glitchmachines or Freakshow Industries effect where you're not supposed to be entirely in control of it? Throw it on, start twisting the knobs and see what happens?

Basically yep, throw it on, and start twisting knobs. Happy accidents! And yes, I would categorize it as a special effect like Glitchmachines, or even Blackhole or Shimmerverb. Creative destruction. Have you ever just looped a drum pattern and listened to the mayhem that these type of processors can do to a drum track, especially when the attack transients are removed?

It's probably not going to be of much use to someone who is just trying to lay down some real nice real instrument tracks, such as guitar, bass, and drums, etc.

But it might be worthwhile if you are designing ambient or cinematic soundscapes, with a desire to turn ordinary sounds into something else, and not necessarily something already in your head that you were expecting!

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5 hours ago, bitflipper said:

Some of the Melda plugins haven't turned out to be as useful as I'd anticipated. Spectral Delay is one of them, along with MMultibandChorus and that multiband autopanner, forget what it's called. And speaking of compressors, MModernCompressor was frustratingly unintuitive, and even after figuring out the UI was ultimately just another compressor.

I hear ya about the "MB" thing. I understand its potential, but in practice, I've not been able to make use of it, no matter how many video tutorials I watch.

LOL MModernCompressor! The first non FreeFX plug-in I bought, and the one that gets the least love from either the users or Meldaproduction. I rode that thing like a rented mule until I figured out the advantage it has that none of their others do: front-facing access to multiple detector modes, including my favorite, psychoacoustic.

I have MSpectralDynamicsle, which lacks the noise sampling feature, and I want that. Fortunately, Vojtech has mentioned that he would like to add that to the LE version.

Per the actual topic here, ReaFir, is a pretty amazing surgical tool (and FREE). You can sample a section of audio and then apply reduction to that spectrum, also gate or compress individual frequencies or ranges by drawing your own freehand curves. I use it to clean up camcorder audio.

3 hours ago, abacab said:

Have you ever just looped a drum pattern and listened to the mayhem that these type of processors can do to a drum track, especially when the attack transients are removed?

Oh yes I have. I'm a drummer and I like to loop my own playing and then destroy it. The first plug-in I did this with was MComb, which is one of the hidden monsters in the Free bundle. Play to a click, then sync MComb to the tempo and it's hectically Reznoresque. I have almost all of the Glitchmachines and Unfiltered Audio processors and love to tempo sync drum processing.

I also like to do the ambient soundscape thing, I have all 3 of the Freakshow Industries (also free if you know the trick, but I chose to pay for them) processors.

This reminds me....

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

Oh yes I have. I'm a drummer and I like to loop my own playing and then destroy it.

Another good plugin to destroy a track with is one from our fine friends at A.A.S., Objeq Delay (I got a free promo). :)

Edited by abacab
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23 minutes ago, abacab said:

Another good plugin to destroy a track with is one from our fine friends at A.A.S., Objeq Delay. :)

Oh! I've got that but haven't played with it yet!  👍

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I, too, got Objeq Delay in that PluginBoutique giveaway. My advice: play with it. 😄 I know that MTurboDelay seems like it's the last delay anyone would need to buy, but Objeq Delay leverages the A|A|S physical modeling technology in unique ways. It's not just for demolition, of course, despite abacab's and my destructive tendencies.

It's funny, A|A|S' plug-ins are some of my favorites (I have many soundpacks and all of the Sessions) but the only ones I've ever paid for were part of a Humble Bundle, so pennies on the dollar. I did do a service to the user community by sending them a detailed polite request email about their installers' behavior, spewing VST2's into every folder with the string "VST" in the name, 32-bit VST3's, AAX plug-ins, ad nauseum. And they've since cleaned up their act. I like to think my note helped inspire that.

OB Freeware FX content: get on A|A|S mailing list. They often give out free soundpacks around the Winter holidays.

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Almost a whole page discussing commercial software in a freeware thread.

 

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In freeware FX news, today we have a couple from Fuse Audio Labs, the VREV-666 Spring Reverb and RS-W2395C Baxandall EQ. Yay spring reverb, it's like spring reverb Spring lately.

Also, for Glitchmachines fans, Fracture has been updated to v 1.3 with a new UI similar to Convex, and new presets. It's also VST3, so you can keep v 1.2 around for legacy projects. I don't think they have the same plug-in identifier as after I installed 1.3, 1.2 still appeared in my fx lists.

The new Fracture has a more intuitive layout, so it's easier to understand what effect the controls have. There's still plenty of the stochastic uncertainty that's part of what Glitchmachines are about. Cheers to them for giving a freebie such a nice upgrade.

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9 minutes ago, scook said:

Almost a whole page discussing commercial software in a freeware thread.

Well, I'm sensitive to topic adherence myself, so I try to make sure to mention something free in every post. ReaFir, various bits of the Melda free bundle, annual freebies from A|A|S, Pluginboutique giveaways, Freakshow Industries' "steal this plug-in."

I'm fine with comparing commercial FX to freebies and talking about how we use freeware FX. I think it's helpful to hip freeware searchers to the fact that certain dealers and manufacturers run regular giveaways of payware products, or that commonly used freeware suites can be upgraded for very little money. These developers do a lot of work to provide us with loss leaders to pique interest in their commercial stuff, so I don't think it's off limits to mention their other products.

Besides, it keeps the thread near the top.

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, scook said:

Almost a whole page discussing commercial software in a freeware thread.

 

Seems that you missed the point.

 

Edited by abacab

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