Favorite Free Plugin

Let's face it, we are musicians. We practically invented unemployment. So when we happen to find something useful or inspiring that is free - be it a virtual instrument or effect - oh boy is it a great feeling!

With LABS and BBCOS Discover, Spitfire Audio has succeeded in creating of the best free instruments out there. They have continued to be useful and inspiring even long after upgrading to professional libraries such as the Albions, Abbey Road ONE and BBC Pro.

So I was wondering: Other than LABS and BBCOS Discover of course, what is or was the most useful or inspiring free plugin you ever found?


  • Hey Chris, I agree - LABS and BBCOS Discover are so great. I also love Valhalla Supermassive - It's not only useful but can also help spark creative ideas if you use it unexpectedly. I added some wacky delay to a piano take recently and it led me in a whole new direction for my track.

  • Gigabang
    edited April 2021

    There's been some absolute gems included free with the magazine Computer Music over the years (although I guess its not entirely free if you're paying for the mag but still). The CM edition of Dune (by Synapse) gets a lot of use still to this day. I'd say it's 3rd in the list of go to synths (after Serum then FM8) as I think the filters sound stellar and it's really easy to get good sounding synths quickly from init thanks to the 'fat' feature.

    If your producing in the electronic-music domain, then Xfer's OTT is an absolute must for insane dynamic destroying multiband compression.

    For those that have gone down the proverbial rabbit-hole of virtual modular, Toybox have released an impressive amount of free blocks for NI's Reaktor that I really enjoy playing with and have been really helpful in learning the logic of modular without the expense. A lot work without limitation in NI's free Reaktor Player.

  • Labs is so so good! Every time I use it, I can't believe it's free.

    Other free plugs I've been using and enjoying recently:

    Tape Cassette 2 by Caelum - not the most flexible, but gives some nice vibe

    Fresh Air by Slate - great for some air and space, but I use very subtly, adding only 3-6%

    Mishby / Backmask / Dumpster Fire by Freakshow Industries - if you want to mangle or degrade, these are wonderful!!

    On the instruments front, I'm also a big Pianobook fan. I could probably do a whole other post about which ones I've found to be excellent, I'd guess there are about 15 that I really love and have used in projects.

  • billstokesmusic
    edited April 2021

    In the free synth category: Surge


  • I'm not sure if it counts as a plug-in, but MaxForLive has some amazing free virtual instruments, effects and utilities. It's kind of like Reaktor, but not like Reaktor, all at the same time (because of the deep integration with the Ableton Live DAW)...


    It would be remiss of me not to mention David (Dave) Hilowitz's amazing Decent Sampler, which is free as well.


    And Pianobook isn't a plug-in, but it provides free samples for plug-in sample players like Kontakt, EXS24(Sampler now), Decent Sampler, and others... (some of which are free)


    Ableton Live 10 Suite (2 licences), Max, M4L, Gen, Audacity, Nyquist, Kontakt 6 (wish I had 5), Reaktor, Focusrite Scarlett (old), plus hardware which might be politely described nowadays as being 'vintage', and a smattering of modern devices made up of melanges of software, firmware and .hardware

  • LABS for sure

  • Depending on what you'd like to do, these could help out:

    • iZotope Vinyl
    • Polyverse Music Wider
    • Valhalla Spacemodulator
    • Valhalla Supermassive (as mentioned above)
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