Freq Echo is one of the best free VST plugins you can get your hands on for adding phaser, chorus and flanger effects to your mix. Not to mention, it also doubles up as a swanky frequency shifter with analog echo emulation. 49) Softube Saturation Knob. Here’s a top 5 of free VST effects for changing the voice: 1) Azurite multi voice chorus VST. Azurite chorus VST. This great chorus can work on many type of sources: guitar, voice, etc. I can’t believe there are plugins that are free and it could be this effective. I recently wrote a guide on the best free vocal effects VST plugin, which is good if you are not planning to spend much on music production plugins, however, as soon as you want more customization or intuitive interface, you’ll find yourself contemplating on which good and affordable vocal effect plugin to buy, and that is why I created this guide.
It’s the end of the month, and your bank account is empty…
And as much as you might feel like buying that new Waves plugin…
(You’ve had your eye on it for months, right?)
It’s probably not a good idea.
But if you’re still looking to expand your plugin library, don’t worry.
Sometimes, the best things in life are free…
Here are 7 of my favorite free plugins. Each of them offers something new and unique (no boring EQs or compressors). Download them all to extend your sonic palette and ultimately, craft better-sounding tracks.
And if you’re looking to dive deeper, I also put together a list of five plugins I use on every mix. If you’re wondering which plugins I recommend, download the list below to make sure you’ve got my top tools for the job.
1. iZotope Neutrino
Neutrino is the baby brother of Neutron—iZotope’s newest channel-strip plugin. While Neutron has a number of innovative features, Neutrino spins off the best of them.
Neutrino tames undesirable resonances caused by poor room acoustics, cheap gear, and heavy-handed processing. iZotope calls the effect “spectral shaping,” and it can sound similar to gentle, low-ratio multiband compression. This can make tracks sound smoother and more polished—like sanding the rough edges off a freshly cut piece of wood. I find Neutrino particularly useful on electric guitar tracks, which often have lots of harsh resonances.
2. Voxengo SPAN
People say “don’t mix with your eyes.”
Tools that provide visual feedback, when used properly, can help you make better mixing decisions.
A spectrum analyzer is one of these tools. It plots the frequencies of sounds out on a graph, which allows you to “see” what tracks are comprised of.
SPAN is my favorite spectrum analyzer. You can control the ballistics and response of its graph, which makes it flexible enough for a wide variety of tasks. You can even route multiple tracks into SPAN and compare their frequency content.
(P.S. Voxengo has a few other free VST plugins. They’re worth checking out too, but SPAN is my favorite.)
3. Brainworx bx_solo
Bx_solo is a no-frills, stereo-imaging plugin. While it’s the least sexy of this bunch, it can still be pretty useful.
I like to add bx_solo to my mix bus. While I rarely push the stereo width past 100%, collapsing it to zero is an easy way to check for mono compatibility. The mid and side solo buttons are also useful. It’s great to have this one around—you never know when you might need it!
4. HOFA 4U Project Time
Mixing is a race against time.
The more time you spend on a mix, the more attached you become to what it sounds like. This makes it progressively harder to make good mixing decisions. Given enough time, even the worst mix will start to sound decent.
This is one reason I recommend mixing quickly and impulsively. You’ll get to the finish line faster, retain more objectivity, and ultimately, craft better mixes.
The first step towards more efficient mixing is to track how much time you spend doing it. Without this information, it’s easy to get lost in a black hole of endless tweaking.
Project Time makes this easy. Add it to a track, and it will start counting. The timer automatically stops when you close the session, and starts when you open it up again.
Keep an eye on Project Time, and you’ll train yourself to mix faster and more efficiently. It’s also an invaluable tool if you bill by the hour!
5. MeldaProduction MFreeFXBundle
MeldaProduction makes some great plugins. They’ve earned the praise of many notable engineers, including mastering guru Ian Shepard.
The MFreeFXBundle contains 30 free VST plugins. They range from workhorse tools like a compressor and EQ, to less common effects like a ring modulator, flanger, and oscilloscope.
If you’re looking to fill some holes in your plugin library, this is a great place to start.
6. Flux BitterSweet
BitterSweet is among the best transient shapers out there. It can produce results on par with studio mainstays like SPL’s Transient Designer and Waves’ Trans-X.
This simple plugin can achieve a wide variety of effects. Turn the knob to the right to add punch to drums, enhance the pluck of an acoustic guitar, or boost the consonants in a vocal performance. Turn the knob to the left to soften tracks and push them back in the soundstage.
7. iZotope Vinyl
Sometimes a little crackle is a good thing.
Vinyl will make tracks sound like they’re being played on a turntable. You can vary the intensity of the effect by controlling the volume of different types of noise, the degree of wear and tear, and the decade your sound is from. The results range from subtle filtering to Edison phonograph.
This plugin is great for special effects, like filtering down a vocal or making an intro sound tiny.
Moving Beyond Free Plugins: My Favorite Plugins
I hope these 7 free plugins help you craft tracks that sound fresh and unique.
Best Free Vst Effect Plugins
If you’re looking to dive deeper, I also put together a list of 5 plugins I use on every mix. If you’re wondering which plugins I recommend, download the list below to make sure you’ve got my top tools for the job.
Before you go—what’s your favorite free VST plugin? Share your pick in the comment section below.
Bonus: 3 More Free Plugins for Mixing
3 Free Plugins I Use in Every Mix
It’s the end of the month, and your bank account is empty… …again. Oops. And as much as you might feel like buying that new Waves plugin… (You’ve had your eye on it for months, right?) It’s probably not a good idea. But if you're still looking to expand your plugin library, don't worry. Sometimes,
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Most podcasters and info spreaders are quick to talk about the gear they recommend — me included — for getting great audio.
We know all about the ATR2100 or other mics like the Shure SM58 because they get a lot of word of mouth, but even if you have great gear that’s only one part of the puzzle.
After you record your audio, you’ll need to edit and process it. That’s what we’re talking about today:
You’re probably wondering why even the most prolific podcasters and audio content producers don’t really talk about plugins. Frankly… there’s no commission with free plugins.
My site is currently too young to have any real affiliate marketing yet, so I’m happy to talk about it!
Here’s the rundown:
Picture above (left) is the AIR Kill EQ which is a 3-band eq, and (right) the Channel Strip EQ which is a parametric eq.
Best Free Voice Vst Plugins
You probably recognize the 3-band interface of the Air Kill EQ. It has the typical Low – Mid – High options that you’re used to seeing on a mixing board. When you turn up one of these knobs — also called pots which is short for potentiometer… the more you know — you increase that specific sound. When you turn the knob down it also turns down that sound… simple enough, right? With the 3-band EQ these groups of frequencies or bands are fixed, and cannot be spread out or focused unless they have a sweep which this 3-band EQ happens to have.
So if you want less low frequency in your sound you are able to lower it by turning down the low knob. If you want more clarity you are able to turn up the high knob. It’s very straight forward.
You might be familiar with the layout of a parametric equalizer if you’ve ever played around in Garageband or other editing softwares. When using this type of EQ you are able to grab a specific point and drag it around the frequency spectrum. This allows you to select a specific frequency you want to manipulate. You can then either focus in on it, or broaden your selection by manipulating your Q — that’s a bit tough to understand in writing, so just play with it when you can. You’ll hear the difference. The Channel Strip plugin allows you to manipulate 4 different frequency points including a low frequency (LF), low mid frequency (LMF), high mid frequency (HMF), and a high frequency (HF) along with two filters.
More often than not, I will use a parametric equalizer because I love the visual representation and the extra precision.
Dyn3 Expander / Gate Pictured Above
Simplified, gates get rid of unwanted noise such as breathing, or spit smacks by clamping down — closing — when you aren’t speaking. The gate determines what is considered unwanted sound with the threshold. If the audio is quieter than the set threshold, the gate remains closed preventing any audio from passing.
This is the #1 tool I rely on for cleaning up audio when producing voiceover.
Garageband, Pro Tools, Logic Pro X, and many other softwares have this tool built in. Trust me, the gate is your friend.
For Further Learning: Audio Gates & Expanders Explained
Dyn3 Compressor / Limiter Picture Above
Compressors work to decrease your audio’s dynamic range. Why does that matter? When you’re producing audio for broadcast you want a smaller — compressed — amount of volume fluctuation, so that your listener doesn’t have to mess with their volume.
Have you ever watched a movie where all of the sudden the music comes in and you struggle to hear the dialogue? That’s a great example of too much dynamic range, and not enough compression. By keeping your audio in a tight pocket you enable your listener to hear your voice at all times whether you speak softly or are shouting.
Speaking of shouting, the compressor also helps prevent audio from reaching 0 dB and peaking. In this case, the threshold determines when to start compressing the audio. As soon as the volume is over the threshold the compressor applies its ratio. In the picture above, the ratio is 3.0:1. That means for every 3 decibels (dB) that the audio goes over the threshold, only 1 decibel will actually pass. Pretty neat, right!
For Further Learning: Compression 101: How to Use a Compressor (I apologize ahead of time… this dude’s like… really dry.)
Maxim Limiter Pictured Above
A limiter is essentially a compressor on steroids. As soon as the audio goes over the threshold it is boosted up to the ceiling or specific output that is set — that’s insanely reductive, but we’ll count it. This is used to tighten up your dynamics even more, and can really sound like crap if you overdo it. This is definitely a process that shows its price tag. Waves makes some amazing limiters, but the stock ones that come with most softwares can’t be pushed very hard without causing distortion. Note: Audacity calls their limiter a leveler.
For Further Learning: A Beginner’s Introduction to Limiters by Mo Volans – Mo is awesomely thorough in this article!
Normalize Pictured Above
You always need to normalize your audio as a final step. All it does — when the peak setting is selected — is maximize your volume based on the loudest point in your recording. Looking at the picture above, if you move the level to the left, you set the deciBels to a lower level. So if you were to set it -1 dB, then the loudest point in your audio will be -1 dB. It’s incredibly simple, but extremely powerful for adding that last little bit of polish to your audio.
These 5 plugins more than any others are the nuts and bolts of great voiceover and podcast audio. If you master them, you will deliver industry standard high quality audio every time. Plus, you will only get better with practice, and experience!
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In the meantime, drop me a comment below and share which plugins you use to knock your audio out of the park.
Till next time,
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