From EQs and compressors to reverbs and saturators, a wide array of plugins are often used when mixing a track.
While the stock plugins available right within your DAW should never be underestimated, sometimes you might be looking for a more specialized function, or perhaps you simply want to try something new—ideally without breaking the bank. In the video above, Max Rewak shares ten free mixing plugins that you can try out today to expand your creative horizons. Join us to hear each of them in the context of a production, and learn more and download them via the links below.
10 great free mixing plugins:
One of the most iconic free mixing plugins out there, Xfer Records’ OTT is a powerful multi-band compressor. In fact, it might even feel too powerful in many use cases upon first loading it up—but try dialing down the Depth parameter, and you’ll quickly find it can allow you to shape your sounds in more subtle ways and help them stand out in your mix.
Go to 0:28 in the video to learn more about OTT and hear it in action.
Softube’s Saturation Knob is a plugin that truly embodies the concept of “less is more.” The one-knob saturator is unassuming at a glance, but can be a great tool for quickly and effectively adding some harmonic energy to your drums, basses, vocals, and more.
Go to 2:51 in the video to learn more about Saturation Knob and hear it in action.
Are you looking to achieve those delays and reverbs that sound both massive and clean at the same time? Look no further than Valhalla Supermassive. Featuring an intuitive UI and 16 constellation-inspired modes, the plugin shines at making your tracks sound truly larger than life.
Go to 4:04 in the video to learn more about Valhalla Supermassive and hear it in action.
Few mixing plugins do what UJAM’s Finisher Micro does. The plugin is a one-knob multi-effects plugin that you can use to find instant inspiration and endless sonic variety. While it might not be great for getting really precise with individual parameters, if you’re looking to explore creative possibilities that you might not come across naturally, Finisher Micro is sure to be a great addition to your toolkit.
Go to 6:25 in the video to learn more about Finisher Micro and hear it in action.
We can’t talk about free mixing plugins without touching on at least one EQ. Sonimus’ SonEQ is a solid plugin in this department that features a classic UI and all the parameters you’ll need to sculpt your sound. Its Drive knob is also a great bonus, allowing you to dial in some saturation on top of your EQ without disrupting your workflow.
Go to 7:30 in the video to learn more about SonEQ and hear it in action.
Also featured in our recent post on the best free plugins for your vocal chain, the Klanghelm DC1A compressor is a nifty tool that can address a wide array of mixing needs with just two knobs. The secret is combining them with its four modes (Deep, Relaxed, Dual Mono, and Negative), which allow you to do everything from channel-independent processing to parallel compression.
Go to 8:42 in the video to learn more about Klanghelm DC1A and hear it in action.
Short for “Delay Modulator,” DLYM is a free plugin from Imaginando that produces chorus and flanger-style effects. Despite sounding somewhat specialized, exploring its built-in preset library will give you a sense of just how versatile the plugin can be. Automating parameters like Time and Feedback can also allow you to create neat effects and transitions, as demonstrated in our tutorial.
Go to 10:58 in the video to learn more about DLYM and hear it in action.
Flux’s BitterSweet is a transient shaper that allows you to easily emphasize or attenuate the transients in your tracks. While its characterization of less transients as “Sweet” and more transients as “Bitter” may not always apply in practice, the semantics don’t distract from the fact that BitterSweet does exactly what it needs to do, extremely well.
Go to 12:50 in the video to learn more about BitterSweet and hear it in action.
If you’re looking for a wider selection of plugins to play around with, Kilohearts Essentials is a great bundle to check out. The ever-growing collection includes the basics as well as more niche units (see their Ladder Filter or Trance Gate), and you could very easily start and finish your mix using nothing but its plugins.
Go to 14:09 in the video to learn more about Kilohearts Essentials and hear a few of its plugins in action.
Last but not least, we have an honorable mention in Youlean Loudness Meter. While the pro version is technically paid, the free version also allows you to access high-quality metering features that are great for mixing as well as mastering. From true peak and loudness graphs to a loudness distribution chart and the ability to set custom alert thresholds, Youlean Loudness Meter offers everything you’ll need and then some.
Go to 15:06 in the video to learn more about Youlean Loudness Meter and see it in action.
Which plugins were your favorite?
Do you already use any of these free mixing plugins in your productions? Which ones are you most excited to try out? Let us know in the comments section of the video, and subscribe to the Splice YouTube channel for more music production tools, tips, and tutorials.
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October 21, 2022