The colossal amount of free VST plugins on the web is both awesome and frustrating. There’s some really good stuff out there, but it can be difficult to sift through the not-so-good. So I thought I’d help you all out and mention a few that have becomes staples of my productions.
TAL Dub-2 Delay
TAL are extraordinarily generous with their free plugins. I could fill a page just talking about their freebies, but I’ll just talk about the one I love the most – the Dub-2. I’ve been using this for years on just about everything I do. The detuned delay preset is instant tape-saturated-warbly-goodness. If you’re into that warm Boards Of Canada-esque, lo-fi atmosphere, give this a whirl. It features an LFO that can modulate delay time and low pass filter cutoff, an analogue sounding 6dB low pass filter with resonance, a 3dB high cut filter, a gorgeous drive distortion and full MIDI mapping capabilities. Download it for yourself at tal-software.com
You’d be forgiven for thinking this is a bit of a novelty plugin, but it’s surprisingly useful. It does exactly what it says on the tin in simulating your track being played on vinyl, but gives you a whole heap of flexibility. The warp, dust, year, wear, mechanical noise and spin down parameters enable you to recreate a record in any condition with mastering technology from decades ranging from the 1930s to 2000s. If you’re wanting to make a Beatles-style track, pop this plugin on your master, roll the decade back to the 60s and see what you get. Download it at izotope.com.
Martin Lüders’ PG-8X 2.0 Synth
Lüders is an independent programmer with no affiliation to any particular company, but has released an absolutely stellar synth VST based on the sound and functionality of the vintage 1984 Roland JX-8P for free on his website. There’s a ton of synths out there that emulate vintage synths, but this is certainly the best sounding free one I’ve across. In fact, back when I owned an actual JX-8P, I would frequently get lazy and decide to just use this plugin. You can even download factory JX-8P factory presets in Sys-Ex MIDI data and load them into this plugin. As is pretty standard for emulation plugins, he’s modernised a few details - extended the polyphony out to 12 voices rather than six, and added some extra LFO and aftertouch functionality, but for the most part it remains true to the original JX-8P. If you want those classic 80s sounds, give it a crack. Check it out for yourself at sites.google.com/site/mlvst0.
Audio Assault Filter Crusher
This is a really nice and CPU friendly resonant low-pass and hi-pass filter designed to add a bit of tube-flavoured grit to your track. With default input settings and resonances set to zero, it’s actually very transparent, and so can be useful to clean up the top or bottom end of your track. Where it really shines, though, is making things dirty. Pop it on a kick drum track that’s lacking, enable the ‘crush’ button on the middle of the user interface, push the resonance up and lo-pass down to taste, and you should end up with something a fair bit angrier. Being fully MIDI mappable means it can be automated or LFO controlled, so it’s just a good sounding and simple asset to your VST collection. Download at bedroomproducersblog.com.