The Best Free VST / AU Plugins 2015

Best Free VST/AU Plugins 2015

 

A couple of years back I did a large review of the best free VST / AU plugins around at the time (in my opinion). It’s time to revise, because a lot has happened since then.

The purpose of this post is not to list all free plugins. Quite the contrary – I am only listing the ones that I think are the best of the best.

I’ve put in a ton of research to this and tested these plugins in real situations and real projects.

If you master this collection of plugins properly, you will have a very powerful set of tools at your disposal. So please spend the time getting to know the plugins and read the manuals.

 

A few notes before we begin:

  1. I’ve only decided to accept plugins that are available for both PC and Mac and in 64 bit AU/VST formats. There are a lot of great PC/Mac only plugins out there, and I know many small developers simply can’t afford to create and support versions for different platforms. My apologies – but I wanted to make sure this post works for everybody.
  2. All of these plugins are free, but some may require for you to register on the developers website before you can download. I can safely assure that in these cases it will be worth the trouble.
  3. I have tested these plugins on a Mac running OSX 10.8.5 and Ableton Live 9. If something isn’t working for you, please contact the plugin developer directly for assistance (because I won’t be able to help you with tech issues).

 

If you enjoy this article, I will appreciate your help if you shared it via Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or whatever way is most convenient to you.

A lot of work goes into making of this blog, and the best thanks you can give me is to share the stuff you like with your peers. Many thanks.

Let’s get to it!

 


 




 

AAS Swatches

Swatches is a sample-based sound player. There is no control over the sound. What makes it special is the quality of the 128 sounds it comes with. Very, very good and usable sounds!

Download here

 

Acon Digital Multiply

A great sounding spatial effect with tons of flexibility. Especially great for subtle stereo enhancement stuff. Dave Pensado mentioned to me he uses this. Need I say more?

Download here

 

Acustica Audio Nebula 3 Free

Nebula 3 Free sounds fantastic. There is a bit of a learning curve and they haven’t exactly made it very easy to download (you have to “buy” it via their shopping cart even though it doesn’t cost anything).

But I have to stress again, some of the programs inside thing are sounding amazing.

Download here

 

Audio Assault Head Crusher Free

This is a no-frills analogue modeled saturation plugin. It sounds very good and has a surprising amount of control over the sound. I wish it had a wet/dry control though!

Download here

 

Blue Cat’s Freeware Pack

This is a good pack of free plugins. For me the highlights are the spectrum analyzer, flanger and chorus plugins.

Download here

 

BOZ Digital Labs Bark of Dog

This plugin is a pretty obvious copy of the UAD Little Labs Voice of God plugin. It’s a resonant filter for beefing up bass. It will cause you a bowel movement.

Download here

 

Brainworx BX_Cleansweep v2

Sometimes you just need a clean, simple and gentle highpass/lowpass filter. Cleansweep is just that. The filters are derived from Brainworx’s BX_Digital mastering EQ. This means they will interfere with the quality of your sound as little as possible.

Download here

 




 

Flux Bittersweet V3

Bittersweet is an extremely useful transient shaping plugin. If you’re not making good use of transient shaping, you are missing out on a lot.

Download here

 

Klanghelm IVGI

A lovely saturation plugin, capable of subtle effects that can work on your master bus. Don’t worry, you can crank it up harder too.

Download here

 

Klanghelm DC1A

A very nice sounding and simple compression plugin. There’s not much control, so the results depend very much on the material. But let me tell you – when it works it sounds great!

Download here

 

LVC Toned

Toned is an analog modeled tone shaping plugin. It’s intended for mastering and therefore quite subtle.

However with more heavy handed settings I did get pretty good results when coloring things inside the mix too.

Download here

 

Magnus @ Smartelectronics Ambience

I’ve used this reverb plugin a LOT. It blends well in the mix. It is great for subtle ambience but also for huge unreal reverbs.

A couple of tips: Try automating the time and hold controls. I love it!

Someone reported to me having had phase issues with this plugin. I’ve never had that problem with the 64 bit Mac version, but you might want to be careful and see if that happens on your system.

Download here

 

Melda Production MFreeEffectsBundle

This is a huge pack of 24 free plugins in total. Don’t let the somewhat rugged looks of these plugins fool you: this pack has quite a few useful goodies inside.

I especially like the effects that produce distortion – they are all pretty unique sounding to my ear. Great for subtle coloration or something more hardcore.

Most of these plugins have a good amount of well designed presets to browse too.

My favorite plugins in this bundle are:

  • MFreqShifter
  • MComb
  • MLimiter (try overdriving it and check all the different characters too)
  • MNoiseGenerator (try the white noise envelope follower preset!)
  • MOscillator (perfect little plugin for generating all kinds of test tones)
  • MStereoExpander (this one is capable of very sophisticated stuff)
  • MVibrato
  • MWaveShaper

Download here

 

Musical Entropy Guitar Gadgets

This is a fun looking plugin that hides inside several guitar pedal emulations. These are not only usable for guitarists though – they are great effects for anyone who likes to experiment with sound.

The highlight for me is definitely the Larsenator algorithm – rather hefty feedback madness!

Download here

 




 

Ohm Force Frohmage

Ohm Force are known for their unique sounding creations and this plugin is no exception. It’s made for experimentation and automation. Go wild.

Download here

 

Ohm Force Symptohm Melohman PE

One of the best sounding synth plugins out there! Not a whole lot to tweak but the presets are great.

Download

 

Softube Saturation Knob

If I had to choose a single saturation plugin out of all the ones featured here, it would be this. Absolute world class sound from this Swedish company.

Download here

 

Sonalksis FreeG

The FreeG is a simple but very well executed plugin. It’s a long volume control fader. What’s the advantage of using this over the channel faders in most DAWs? Precision and great metering.

Download here

 

Sonimus SonEQ

These guys know how to make good sounding plugins. This is their pultec-style EQ. You can (and should) also use it for saturation by driving it harder.

Download here

 

TAL Chorus LX

A very fat, analog-modeled chorus. I’ve used this a lot in my productions in the past year.

Download here

 

TDR Feedback Compressor II

A compressor plugin with great forward thinking functionality. This is suitable to use in the mix on individual tracks. For Tokyo Dawn’s newer mastering compressor, see below for Kotelnikov.

Make sure to read the manual.

Download here

 

TDR Kotelnikov

This is Tokyo Dawn’s newer compressor plugin. It’s a mastering compressor that incorporates some of the concepts from their earlier Feedback Compressor II plugin.

Impeccable design and sound quality.

Once again, please do read the extremely informative and well written manual to understand the concepts behind the plugin.

Download here

 

TDR VOS SlickEQ

This is an EQ with state-of-the-art sound quality and interface. The plugin is a collaboration between two extremely talented software developers – Tokyo Dawn Labs and Variety of Sound.

Read the manual to get the most out of it.

Download here

 

Thomas Mundt Loudmax

This is a very clean sounding, simple, lookahead brickwall limiter plugin. And it does a very good job (despite of it’s name, please don’t push it too loud)!

Download here

 

U-He Tyrell N6 V3

This free synth plugin sounds very good! That’s all you need to know. Grab it!

Download here

 

U-He Zebralette

Zebralette is a fun and unconventional synth that produces some very interesting sounds.

Download here

 

Valhalla FreqEcho

In the past year Valhalla has become one of my favorite software companies. This is a great sounding little plugin. If you like to go far and beyond, this is your ticket.

Download here

 

Voxengo OldSkoolVerb

This reverb plugin can do some cool and unusual stuff. Behind the Mode button you will find some interesting algorithms!

Download here

 

Voxengo Tube Amp

Tube saturation modeling. Good for subtle fattening tasks.

Download here

 

Voxengo Span

A fabulous spectrum analyzer that also comes with loudness meter and stereo meters. Very customizable.

Download here

 

Voxengo Stereo Touch

This is a classic and very useful stereo widening effect with a good amount of control. You can use it for widening stereo tracks or creating stereo tracks out of mono material.

If you don’t already have a plugin that does that, this is a great choice.

Download here

 


 

There it is – enjoy the plugins!

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit, Digg, forums or whatever way you prefer.

A lot of work goes into making this blog happen. The best thanks you can give me is to share the articles you like. It is massively appreciated.

 

Finally, if you don’t want to miss any future posts, I suggest entering your email below to subscribe.

Thank you!

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  • Nikolay Malanin

    Extremely helpful article. Thank you!

  • alex brusten

    i’ve been using flux bittersweet V3 for 3 4 months now, and it’s a perfect and simple tool for managing transients! i am glad that you are also listed here
    By the way, nice article, unique resource center here @resound:disqus HQ 😀

    • Yes it’s a great plugin and got me out of many sticky situations!

      Thanks for the feedback Alex.

  • Bob

    You da man!!! thanks!!!

  • Lynden

    My favorite emails every time… Thanks dude.

  • Great stuff. Thanks Ilpo.

  • Garil

    + Thanks man!

  • Alexander Waters

    This is great! Has certainly opened the world of plugins for me. However, the Voxengo plugins say demo on it, does this actually affect anything?

    • Great!

      Sounds like you have accidentally downloaded a demo of a different plugin. It’s very easy to do that Voxengo’s website.

      When you go to the plugin download page on Voxengo, the download links for the actual free plugin are at the top of the page. There are other download links in the middle of the page but if you look closely, you’ll notice those are actually for a demo of a different plugin.

      • Alexander Waters

        Thanks that helps 😛

  • Joe Sa Sa

    Hey bato loco U¨up!!! some…algo de tecniks, tricks & so on, o que…te posteo algunos tips? Aka tirando rola desde Baja…México rollings every nigth sin pachekadas.

  • No se te ocurra hablarme en Aleman porque te rayo.

  • OG

    Thank you for making a difference

  • Kewoni AudioElements Berkley

    Awesome! I also recommend some of these plugins.

  • Jaimie Pangan

    this is awesome! thank you very much!!

  • Bruce

    Thank you for creating this…I appreciate. All the best with your creations.

  • SL

    Really appreciate this. Will definitely look into these 🙂

  • Scott Finnell

    Have you tried, Widemouth? This is a really great simple stereo widener. Just thought it was something to add. It’s also free. I use it all the time.

    • Nope – thanks for the tip. I tried googling it though and couldn’t find it!

  • Jason Charles-Nelson

    For those who don’t have thousands of pounds lying around to splash out on Waves. Thanks for this!!!

    I’ve had Melda Production for a while now – absolutely fab for panning/bandpass etc

    Gonna look into all the rest!

  • Jonas Nilsson

    A really promising open source synthisizer is Helm. If you haven’t tried it, I advice you do. If you can help with the development in any way, I advice you do that too.

    Here’s a little track I made using a few instances of Helm the day I discovered it:

    https://soundcloud.com/jonas-nilsson-750114717/straight-out-of-helm