Since the publication of a post on the same topic, I came across a very good YouTube channel with reviews of free plug-ins called AudioTechTV.
The author puts a lot of effort into his videos: each plugin has its own segment on the timeline (very convenient!), its brief demonstration and a mandatory download link.
In general, I strongly recommend the channel to anyone interested in the topic, and in particular these two videos, where several dozen plugins are collected:
Used in the EP “Passenger”
Well, now I will briefly recount all those virtual devices that I used in each of my projects when mixing my last EP.
MfreeFXBundle by MeldaProduction – https://www.meldaproduction.com/MFreeFXBundle
This is a free collection, which includes as many as 37 plugins!
I liked the Mcharm and MconvultionEZ reverbs the most: they are easy to set up, sound good and have a lot of presets. As well as the Autopan auto-panning device.
This developeralso has a couple of free VST instruments: a cool piano and a pack of synthesizers.
Of the minuses: to install, you need to download the client; a slightly inconvenient interface, which you need to get used to.
TDR Nova – https://www.tokyodawn.net/tdr-nova/
Multifunctional (parametric, dynamic, multiband) equalizer with built-in analyzer. Of the limitations of the free version, only the number of available equalization “points” (4 in total, but nothing prevents duplicating the plug-in on the bus twice and adding more “points” if more were needed).
In general, the plugins of this company do not need to be introduced, because they are constantly getting into the tops of all reviews. Therefore, grab free compressors of their development into the collection as well:
Combear by W.A. Production – https://www.waproduction.com/plugins/view/combear
A curious compressor with a minimum of settings (compression strength, input/output volume, wet/dry). In my opinion, it works great with the bass guitar and its low-frequency component.
Of the minuses: registration on the site is required.
EQ560 by Red Rock Sound – https://plugins4free.com/plugin/2923/
Graphic 10-band vintage equalizer from Russian developers. It’s probably a matter of taste, but it’s just convenient for me to use just such an equalizer to place instruments “on the shelves” in the mix.
Pteq-1a by Ignite Amps – https://plugins4free.com/plugin/1508/
The digital version of the device of the same name from Pultec (the piece of hardwarecosts from 4k bucks!). When it is necessary to pump up the bass or inflate the treble – there are no equal Pultec. In fact, there are a great many implementations of this equalizer in the form of Vst, but I stopped at this, because a similar version from Analog Obsession conflicted with my DAW.
In general, Ignite Amps has quite a lot of emulations of preamps, cabinets and amplifiers — and most are available for free!
A1 Stereo control by a1audio – https://a1audio.alexhilton.net/a1stereocontrol
A decent and convenient stereo expander. Very similar to the S1 stereo Imager from Waves.
SN03 & SN04-G by Sender Spike – https://plugins4free.com/plugin/3058/ , https://plugins4free.com/plugin/3049/
SN03 is a film tape emulator. Flexible setup, good sound and surprisingly low CPU consumption.
SN04-G is a compressor for buschannels. But, despite belonging to buschannels, I really liked using it on the Snare drum.
In general, I really enjoyed working with these plugins, and I think that in the future I will try out other Vsts of this developer.
Analog Obsession – https://www.patreon.com/analogobsession
I have already recommended this developer in a previous article. He regularly updates his old vst and releases new ones, focusing on emulations of vintage devices, of which there are already a very impressive number and all are available completely free of charge.
I didn’t like everything about the controls or the sound, I didn’t have time to try everything, but here is a list of those that I used most actively:
LALA – https://plugins4free.com/plugin/3221/
Optical compressor/limiter, emulation of Teletronix LA-2A. Classic!
LCF – https://plugins4free.com/plugin/2772/
Vintage Low/highpass filter. In addition to cuttinglow/high also saturates the sound with harmonics. Not for all, of course, but I had to taste it.
TuPRE – https://plugins4free.com/plugin/3219/
Tube linear amplifier with equalizer. As a rule, I used it on ambient layers, picking up some low frequencies and saturating the high ones.
LoudMax by Thomas Mundt – https://loudmax.blogspot.com/
A convenient limiter with a minimum of settings. It works well and copes with its function. But I want to find something else for the future.
Youlean Loudness Meter – https://youlean.co/youlean-loudness-meter/
A wonderful volume analyzer. It is also a fairly well-known and widespread plugin. When you need to adjust the mix to certain LUFs.
A couple of paragraphs about Cakewalk
It’s no secret that for recording and mixing ”Passenger” I used a free DAW called Cakewalk by Bandlab. And it’s more a matter of habit than anything else. I also installed Reaper, but after a cursory look at it, it became clear that I would have to learn a new software environment from scratch. And since in Cakewalk I already had some experience and spent hours studying tutorials, it was decided to stay on this DAW.
In addition to the fact that Cakewalk has full functionality, it also includes a number of really good Vst effects and tools (for example, Melodyne and Saturation Knob by Softtube).
Yes, in some places everything is done somewhat clumsily, outdated and not intuitive: you have to constantly turn to the not very well-developed manual and to search for videos on Youtube to figure out how to do this or that action. But ultimately, you learn how to work with all this and with each step you are surprised how deeply and functionally everything is implemented to facilitate and optimize work with the project.
In general, I actively used the plug-ins built into Cakewalk and the Pro-Channel function — in which I emulated the analog console path and performed primary equalization with compression.
But I absolutely do not claim that it is necessary to use Cakewalk, that it is the best DAW, and so on. No. Everyone should choose what is more familiar to him, more convenient and clearer. I don’t think I would have had a less positive work experience if I had initially chosen the same Reaper.
I think that thanks to the work on “Passenger”, I managed to prove to myself that free plugins are not useless unfinished junk, but quite applicable and high-quality tools with which you can achieve a good result. And if I were a more experienced and cool sound engineer, I could squeeze out an even more decent-sounding record.
Of course, major developersare offering more and more comfort and unimaginable features in their new expensive products. And in the free versions, you have to put up with the inconvenience, or perform a little more actions to circumvent the restrictions and achieve the desired sound. But this is a common thing when using free products.
I hope that this article will serve as inspiration for new creativity or for a technological breakthrough in yourmusical projects!