Guide to Free Audio Plugins for OS X

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On the hunt for some great free audio plugins for your Mac? If your DAW can use the AudioUnit format, also known as AU, you can take advantage of these tools. Some are totally free, some require an email address. Only a couple of them run installers – most just need to be unzipped to your Macintosh HD/Library/Audio/Plug-ins/Components to work.  Some audio samples follow – they generally start out with an element dry and then introduce the effect half way through – usually on drums or vocal.  While trying these plugins in Logic Pro 9, I didn’t experience a single crash – something which made me stay away from free plugins in the past.  It can take a bit of time to wade through the mess of plugins out there, so hopefully this can either save you some time or get you on the trail for finding your own.  Many of these were located on the KVR Audio site, using the search function.  I tried to stay away from anything that required registration or lengthy installers or installation of demos, but a few of them do require an email to get access.

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The Plugins

super destroyfx – bipolar plugin pack

http://destroyfx.smartelectronix.com/audiounits.html

Crazy mangling and sound design plugins

KResearch Plug-ins

http://www.kresearch.com/download_freeseries.html

KResearch Reverb – Another quite useful and tweakable reverb.  Looks great, sounds great – win!

kr-reverbfs-vocal

KResearch Delay – Wow!  Somewhat innovative interface, interesting sounds, dual filters.  Love this thing so far, will be returning to this one for sure.

kr-delayfs-vocal

mVerb

http://martineastwood.com/wordpress/?p=164

This fellow, Martin Eastwood (cool name!) has released the reverb code behind this effect.

Digital reverb has always been something of a dark art as there is very little information publicly available and most of the big companies releasing reverbs are very vague about the techniques they use. The only real example is Freeverb so I though I would share some code for a reverb that sounds pretty nice and is very low on CPU usage. It is based on the figure-of-eight reverb structure suggested by Dattarro, which uses a bank of allpass filters to smear the phase followed by a loop of multi tap delay lines that feedback into themselves to create echoes. I have also added another delay and a mutitap delay to act as predelay and early reflections. The early reflections still need a bit of tweaking but they do the job for the moment.

Not something you think about – that not only the code, but the actual concepts to create much of what makes up audio effects are guarded secrets, unpublished and passed around in private.

mverb

C3 Multi Band Compressor

http://www.apulsoft.ch/freeports/

Many more

MDSP Plugins

http://mdsp.smartelectronix.com/download/

AnalogDelay

Mdsp Compressor

Fire Multitap

http://mdsp.smartelectronix.com/product/fire/

This ones a tripper.  Once you figure out what all the controls do, this thing can create some texture.  Massive multitapping, almost sounds like granular synthesis.

Fire vocals:

fire

Fire drums:

fire-drums

DestroyFx Freeverb

http://destroyfx.smartelectronix.com/audiounits.html#freeverb

Freeverb – Nice little reverb unit.  Simple, but quality.  Freeze button for freezing the effect.

dreampoint-freeverb-vocals

Bram

Bram makes quite a few lovely plugins.  Here are a few of my favorites.

SupaPhaser – Lovely phaser plugin with a very pretty interface.

http://bram.smartelectronix.com/plugins.php?id=1

SupaTrigga – Auto slicer, re-arranger and reverser.  I’ve used this thing for years.  It will automatically rearrange anything running through it – autoglitchyness is the name of the game.  Unpredictable.

http://bram.smartelectronix.com/plugins.php?id=6

bram-supatrigga-drums

Cyanide – A waveshaper plugin, which is a type of distortion.  I was quite surprised by this plugin I’ve had sitting on my hard drive for quite some time.  It made some really tasty and trashy sounds.

Cyanide vocals:

bram-cyanide-vocals

Cyanide drums:

bram-cyanide-drums

Crazy Ivan – Press the randomize button, and make sure your speakers are turned down.

bram-crazyivan-drums

Sonalksis freeG channel strip

http://www.sonalksis.com/software.htm

freeG channel strip – handy in GarageBand, where there is no phase invert button.  When you’ve recorded a kick and a snare, you can flip the phase on the kick and it sometimes make a big difference in the low end.  Try it!

Soundhack Plugins

http://www.soundhack.com/freeware.php

Compander compressor/expander, distortion and more.

Compander – adds a somewhat subtle compressing sound, it was a little hard to get big nasty drum sounds out of this one.

Compander-Drums

Decimator – a bit reducer plugin, adding digital distortion for those special moments.

Soundhack-Decimate-Drums

Chebyshev – The knobs are a bit cryptic, but I like this plug quite a bit – a nice distortion. Keep your tweaking to just one or two or the sound will break up and then go silent.

Soundhack-chebyshev-Drums

PitchDelay – Another interesting plugin from the soundhacks – produces some really strange sounds.  Don’t know what I would use them for, but it was fun to play with.

Soundhack-pitchdelay-Drums

TAL Plugins

http://kunz.corrupt.ch/?Products:VST_TAL-Tube

TAL Tube – Who can’t use another distortion?  This one looks great and sounds pretty swell as well.

tal-tube-vocal

http://kunz.corrupt.ch/?Products:VST_TAL-Reverb

TAL Reverb

What a great plugin – sounds great and easy to use!  The plate reverb sound is pretty trendy now.

tal-reverb-vocal

Molot Compressor

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/21503686/MolotAU.mpkg.zip

from : http://www.gearslutz.com/board/new-product-alert/595727-molot-au-compressor-freeware.html

– sigma and alpha attack modes
– Neve 33609 like sound in sigma mode
– Fairchild 670 like sound in alpha mode
– very characterful sound
– dual mono, linked stereo, M, S and M/S modes
– up to 8x oversampling
– mid-scoop EQ for simple snare and guitars balance fix
– limiter for peaks suppressing
– almost zero latency (2 samples)

Molot AU Compressor – Placed on drums, this unit can add a bit of room to the sound, but it doesn’t have a GUI on OSX at the moment.

Molot-Drums

Gsi Watkat

http://www.genuinesoundware.com/?a=showproduct&b=36

WatKat is a digital “clone” of a Wem Watkins “Custom” Copicat. It sounds very lo-fi, noisy, irregular. When you turn it off and leave the tape loaded, the tape bends in proximity of the capstan, and this turns into a periodic pitch fall during echo playback; plus, it gets hot and the background hum gets worse in time… you should turn it off every now and then; the tape is never completely erased, and the capstan motor flutters… and it gets worse if you touch it while it’s spinning; heads tend to get dirty very soon, infact you should clean them often. This is true for the actual hardware unit, and for the digital simulation as well!

A wacked out tape delay unit.  Click around to find what does what – there’s not much to it.

gsi-watkat-vocal

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6 Comments
  1. May I suggest adding the following to your list.

    Elysia Niveau filter = Awsome hardware modelled tilt EQ from a top class company
    SPL Free Ranger = 4 band EQ also hardware modelled
    Combo Model V = Vox continental at its finest. Expertly modelled from schematics
    Combo Model F = Farfisa version,also sounds superb.
    GSi Mr Tramp 2 = Wurlitzer 200A electric piano.
    Sonimus SonEQ = Pultec/API based EQ.Sounds lovely.

    • I had considered the first two, but found the filter a bit limited – same with the free ranger. Thanks for the other suggestions, I’ll give them a look and a listen.

    • You can use envelope plugins to remove reverb tails. I haven’t heard of anything that can take the actual reverb off the signal.

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