In the video above, we showcase some of the top free plugins that will help you take your music to the next level in 2023.
From synthesizers to granular effects, these free plugins are sure to help you achieve the sound you’re searching for without breaking the bank. So, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, don’t miss out on these must-have tools for your productions.
Download the free plugins:
1. Prisma by Unplugred
Once you get over how fun this plugin looks, you’ll see it’s quite a powerful multi-band dynamic distortion plugin. Prisma offers an advanced level of spectral processing, giving users the ability to manipulate individual frequency bands in a sound. With its precise control over each band, you can tweak the sound to your liking, whether that’s boosting the bass, cutting the mids, or shaping the high frequencies.
You can truly get lost in sound design when adding the distortion modules, including hard clip, soft clip, sine fold, bitcrush, and more! This plugin is ideal for sound design, mixing, and mastering, allowing you to shape and transform sounds in ways that would otherwise seem impossible.
2. CRMBL by Unplugred
This distortion plugin has a unique and powerful “crumble” effect, which can add a gritty edge to your sounds. It’s perfect for electronic music production, adding a raw and textured character to your tracks. You can easily adjust the intensity and character of the effect, so you can achieve just the right amount of crunch for your music.
3. Zebralette 2 by u-he
This vintage-style tape delay emulation plugin is a must-have for anyone looking to add warmth and character to their productions. With various modulation options, you can create anything from classic tape-style echoes to more creative and unconventional delays. Whether you’re working on a retro-inspired track or a modern production, Zebralette 2 is a versatile plugin that can help you add depth and dimension to your sounds.
4. Rasa by Mntra Instruments
Inspired by the concepts of “essence” and “taste,” Rasa offers a sample map of four unique instruments—Orakle’s Tibetan Horn, Arca’s Mongolian Morin Khuur, Atma’s Pitched Volcanic Rocks, and UDW’s Viper Death Whistle. With 20 expertly-crafted presets, Rasa is your gateway to exploring the limitless creative possibilities of the MNDALA engine.
5. Klavir by Mntra Instruments
This piano plugin offers a realistic and authentic sound, sampled with ultra-modern ultrasonic microphones and a vintage figure-eight ribbon mic. Klavir offers 15 free presets that can help you make a pretty wide spectrum of genres, and the MNDALA 2 engine allows for unlimited exploration with intuitive controls.
6. LABS by Spitfire Audio
This free collection of various software instruments includes strings, drums, and pianos, and is perfect for anyone looking to add some new sounds to their productions. With its intuitive interface and high-quality sounds, LABS is a great way to explore new musical ideas and expand your sonic palette. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned producer, LABS is a an absolute must-have in your virtual instrument library.
7. Pitch Drift by BABY Audio
This pitch shifting and modulation plugin offers a unique “drift” effect that adds movement and character to your sounds. With its ability to adjust the speed and amount of the effect, you can create everything from subtle pitch fluctuations to full-on detuned madness. It’s especially powerful for synths to make them feel a little less digital and a little more human. Whether you’re working on electronic music or adding some extra interest to your vocal tracks, Pitch Drift is a creative tool that will help you stand out.
8. Magic Dice by BABY Audio
This randomization plugin is a fun and creative tool that can add variations and surprises to your sounds. There are 50 effects modules under the hood, and Magic Dice generates random FX chains at the press of a button. From there, you can slide the dry / wet balance to taste. Whether you’re working on electronic music, sound design, or just want to try something new, Magic Dice is a must-have for anyone looking to add some excitement to their music.
9. Magic Switch by BABY Audio
Step into the ’80s with BABY Audio’s Magic Switch, a one-button chorus effect inspired by warm and detuned synth-scapes. This unique plugin isn’t a replica of any classic design, but rather BABY Audio’s own interpretation of a perfect one-button chorus for the modern production world. The source sounds are given a radical transformation through a custom-built chorus algorithm and a series of gentle, analog-modeled low-pass filters, resulting in a wet signal with a smooth and mellow vibe.
10. Pocket Dimension by Freakshow Industries
This isn’t technically a free plugin, but they allow you to “steal” the software. The marketing of the plugin leaves the user to figure out what it does, which I actually love—so far, I’ve gathered that when you click and hold on the main part of the UI, an alien spaceship flies around a given flight path, adding a granular effect to the audio… You just have to try it yourself.
11. Dumpster Fire by Freakshow Industries
There’s distortion, delay, filtering, and resonators going on underneath Dumpster Fire’s hood (at least that’s my best guess). The two parameters that stuck out to me most were the ‘futility intensifies’ and ‘inaudible pointlessness,’ which mess with the timing of the delays.
12. Modo Bass C2 by IK Multimedia
This is technically a paid plugin, but features a free ’60s precision bass. This classic instrument, commonly known as the P-Bass, is a legendary electric bass guitar that has been the backbone of popular music for over six decades. With its simple yet effective design, it delivers a punchy, deep, and articulate tone that has been used in everything from Motown to rock and roll.
13. Bass Lane by Tone Projects
Bass Lane is a plugin designed to help you control the stereo width of your low frequencies. The unique Side Harmonics feature allows for the creation of stereo width that’s musically related to the bass, making it easier to achieve a tighter mix. Additionally, the updated user interface provides helpful stereo balance and correlation metering. By using Bass Lane, audio engineers and producers can regain control of low frequencies, resulting in a more defined and focused foundation for their mix.
14. Ample Guitar Lite II by Ample Sound
This acoustic guitar emulation plugin offers a highly realistic sound that can be customized and shaped to suit your specific needs. With a wide range of customization options, including strumming, picking, and more, Ample Guitar Lite II allows you to create a truly unique and authentic acoustic guitar sound that’s perfect for a variety of musical styles. It’s even more effective once you start processing it with some of the free distortion, delay, and reverb plugins on this list.
15. Supermassive by Valhalla
Speaking of reverbs, ValhallaSupermassive is a powerful plugin offering 18 reverb and delay modes. From fast attack and short decay to slow attack and long decay, it has a mode for every type of delay and reverb. With options like Gemini, Andromeda, Aquarius, and Scorpio, you can create anything from dense echo clouds to luscious reverbs. The new modes in version 2.5.0, Scorpio and Libra, add cross-channel feedback and filtering for a more realistic reverb decay. This is an absolute must have.
16. RetroVerse Lite by Elektronik Sound Lab
If you’re looking to add a touch of vintage to your productions, look no further than RetroVerse Lite. This retro-style vintage synth emulation plugin by Elektronik Sound Lab is perfect for producers and musicians who want to bring back the sounds of the past to their productions. I think the bass patches sound particularly good, and while the parameters for controlling the sound are basic, they definitely get the job done.
17. Scratch Pad by Patent Sounds
Another sampled instrument similar to RetroVerse Lite, this VST is perfect for lo-fi, jazz, and soul, but can be paired with any genre with the right processing. The UI has a fun notebook aesthetic that matches the vibe of the sounds. While it doesn’t have a huge library of presets, the ones that are available are all solid starting points.
18. DRIVE by UJAM
DRIVE is a free synth plugin designed for deep house and electronic music production. It simplifies the complex process of synthesis by eliminating unnecessary controls and curating sound design options to present musicians with a manageable number of useful choices. I was actually surprised with how much fun I had with this one, as the performative presets added some spontaneity and freedom when playing some of the patches.
19. Vital by Vital Audio
Vital by Vital Audio is an absolute powerhouse synth that can do wavetable synthesis (with customization controls and import features) and FM synthesis like a breeze. It also makes modulation very easy to understand via its highly visual UI.
20. Oscilloscope by OSC Audio
Get a visual representation of your audio signals in real-time with Oscilloscope by OSC Audio. This oscilloscope plugin is perfect for producers and musicians who want to get a better understanding of their audio signals and how they’re being processed. With its real-time visualization capabilities, Oscilloscope is an essential tool for anyone looking to improve their sound design skills or troubleshoot audio issues.
21. GonioMeter by Toneboosters
If you’re looking to improve the stereo field of your audio signals, look no further than GonioMeter by Toneboosters. This stereo field analysis plugin helps you visualize the stereo spread of your audio signals in real-time, allowing you to make adjustments to your audio to achieve the perfect stereo image. Whether you’re mixing music or mastering soundscapes, GonioMeter is a must-have tool for anyone looking to improve the stereo field of their audio.
22. YouLean Loudness Meter by YouLean
Get precise control over your levels with YouLean Loudness Meter. This loudness meter helps you measure and adjust the levels of your audio signals, ensuring that your audio stays within industry standards. Whether you’re producing music, mastering soundscapes, or working on audio post-production, YouLean Loudness Meter is an essential tool for anyone looking to achieve consistent and professional levels in their audio. It’s also incredibly helpful for targeting the loudness for your desired DSP (Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, etc.).
23. OTT by Xfer Records
OTT is a plugin that recreates the popular aggressive multi-band compressor setting used by many dubstep and electro producers. It features a depth control to scale the amount of compression, time control to adjust attack / release times, input and output gain controls, and a visual display of input and gain reduction across frequency bands.
24. Kilohearts Essentials by Kilohearts
Kilohearts Essentials is a comprehensive bundle of audio effects plugins designed to enhance the production quality of any project. The bundle includes over 30 different effects, from classic delays to tape stop simulations and professional-grade compressors. With so many powerful and diverse plugins included in the bundle, Kilohearts Essentials is the ultimate toolkit for music producers and sound designers.
Get free sounds on Splice:
All of the samples used in the tutorial are also free on Splice Sounds—you can find the Collections below:
- Free Sounds: Songstarters
- Free Sounds: Guitars
- Free Sounds: Topline
- Free Sounds: Trap
- Free Sounds: Hip Hop
- Free Sounds: Soul
Which of the free plugins are you most excited to try out? Are there any gems that we missed? Let us know in the comments section of the video, and subscribe to the Splice YouTube channel for more tips and tutorials.
Try industry-leading plugins for free, and then rent-to-own them until you own them outright:
January 28, 2023