5 absolutely free tools for soundtracking

Tyrell N6 plugin week
(Image credit: u-he)

PLUGIN WEEK 2023: Those who write and produce for picture have an experience quite unlike others in music production. 

Whether you’re soundtracking sci-fi blockbusters, historical epics, subtle character dramas, or even the immersive music of an interactive video game world, your relationship with the emotion of the visuals is a crucial consideration that your compositions need to work in synergy with. 

There’s also been a move away from that type of big, John Williams-esque score, as increasing numbers of soundtracks harness sound-effect-like textures to create more delicate movement and impacts. Some of these free goodies will certainly help you out in that regard. 

1. u-he Tyrell N6


(Image credit: u-he)

With a name that evokes the futuristic cityscape of Blade Runner, Tyrell N6 originated as a magazine’s collaborative idea to build a new hardware synth, the project was abandoned and this software version was released for free instead. Sonically, it’s pretty staggering, with a superb interface. It’d be totally fit to sit at the heart of your soundtrack mix.  

2. AudioSpillage MiniSpillage


(Image credit: Valhalla)

As a film composer, you’ll often be called upon to inject a gradual build of rhythmic tension, minimal pulses or massive climactic impacts into your score. MiniSpillage is a solid free route to programming the perfect percussion track. With three fully editable drum pads, the drums can be synthetically treated in a range of tonally different ways.   

3. Brain Control TuneFish4


(Image credit: Valhalla)

It’s a certainty that you’ll need a couple of synths at your disposal, at the very least. Tunefish 4 has a great reputation for generating mammoth tones via its spline-based oscillator. It features a huge range of stackable effects, two LFOs and ADSRs as well as a sick noise generator. This is a fully-featured virtual analogue synth, freely available.   

4. Valhalla Freq Echo


(Image credit: Valhalla)

Quickly establishing themselves as one of the plugin world’s de facto shining lights, Valhalla DSP’s wares have been truly extraordinary. Freq Echo marked the beginning of their story. Though it’s labelled a delay, Freq Echo is a much more versatile creative effect than you might think, working as an equally effective chorus or vibrato. It’s just incredibly inspiring to work with. 

5. FreeSound.org

We promised we’d include some noteworthy free services as well as freeware, and for soundtrack creators (or sound designers) a repository of royalty-free sound effects, uploaded by a fertile community of noise-makers is worth knowing about. Brush up on the site’s FAQ before downloading, but once you’re au fait with how it all works, there are multitudes of audio nuggets here to play with. 

If free sound effects are what you're after, make sure to check out the BBC's archive of over 33,000 of them, or head over to SampleRadar

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