7 of the coolest free plugins we discovered this month

(Image credit: Various)

Who doesn't love a free plugin? From humble bedroom beatmakers to big-time pop producers, an appreciation of quality free music software is the great leveller that unites us all.

That's why here at MusicRadar HQ, we maintain a watchful eye over the online music production world, regularly seeking out the most exciting freebies with which to line your channel strips and stuff your hard drives. 

Here, we present a monthly round-up of this month's discoveries. Without further ado, let's dive into some free plugins...

1. Polyverse Filtron


(Image credit: Polyverse)

Platforms: Mac/Windows | Formats: VST2/VST3/AU/AAX | Download

Everybody needs a decent filter plugin in their arsenal. While the majority of modern DAWs will come equipped with at least a basic, bread-and-butter filter, it's worth experimenting with other options, as each plugin will vary in the character of its sound and the features it offers. 

Polyverse's Filtron hits the mark in both of those areas, delivering a respectable sound and an impressive feature set for a free plugin: built around a 12dB state-variable filter capable of low, band and high-pass filtering, Filtron can self-oscillate with a resonance dial that goes all the way to 11. Also notable is a tweakable post-filter overdrive and 'fat-sounding' saturator. There's no LFO onboard, but you can hook Filtron up with external CV signals to modulate it using other software or gear. 

2. Freakshow Industries Mishby


(Image credit: Freakshow Industries)

Platforms: Mac/Windows | Formats: VST2/VST3/AU/AAX | Download

Freakshow Industries consistently blows us away with its plugin releases, all of which share a laudably creative sci-fi/horror aesthetic and are aimed towards glitchy, distorted and downright strange sounds. 

Mishby is billed as "the little tape machine that couldn't", and while Freakshow doesn't explain exactly what it does (that's kind of their thing) it seems to be a lo-fi processor that can degrade the sound and warp the speed of incoming audio, introduce noise to the signal, and even chop up sounds into probabilistic granular patterns.

All of Freakshow's plugins, though not 'free', are made available to 'steal' on a pay-what-you-can basis from its website. We suggest paying for them if you can, though. These guys deserve it.  

3. Full Bucket Music Ny

Full Bucket Music Ny

(Image credit: Full Bucket Music)

Platforms: Mac/Windows | Formats: VST/AU/CLAP | Download

Full Bucket Music is continuing its run of lesser-known Korg synth emulations with the release of Ny. It’s a reboot of the Lambda ES-50 Polyphonic Ensemble from 1979, a preset machine that offered two categories of sounds.

First up, there were the Percussive tones - electric piano, clav, piano and ‘harmonics’ - while the so-called Ensemble sounds covered brass, organ, choir and string patches. Ny promises to emulate the original hardware pretty closely, but ups the polyphony from 48 to 64 voices. You also get an emulation of the original analogue chorus effect.

4. u-he Zebralette


(Image credit: u-he)

Platforms: Mac/Windows/Linux | Formats: VST/AU/CLAP | Download

This is an oldie but a goodie. u-he's Zebra 2 is one of the most highly regarded soft synths going, and Zebralette will give you a taste of that synth's capabilities, carving out one of Zebra's oscillators to serve up on its own. That might not sound like much, but Zebralette is actually a seriously capable synth that's packed with features, including advanced waveform editing, 24 spectral effects, and a raft of modulation options. It runs on Linux, too, which is always a bonus.

5. Ohm Force legacy plugins


(Image credit: Ohmforce)

Platforms: Mac/Windows | Formats: VST/AU/AAX | Download

Software developer Ohm Force has announced that it will be discontinuing several of its most popular plugins. As a result, the legacy versions of eight Ohm Force plugins have been made available for free.

All plugins have been updated and will work on recent Mac and Windows systems, but they aren't compatible with Apple Silicon Macs. As they're now classed as legacy plugins, the software won't be updated as time goes on and you won't be able to receive support if you run into any problems. The full list of free plugins includes the Ohmicide distortion, Quad Frohmage filter, Symptohm synthesizer and more.

6. Analog Obsession KolinMB


(Image credit: Analog Obsession)

Platforms: Mac/Windows | Formats: VST3/AU/AAX | Download

Analog Obsession's Kolin compressor plugin emulates the classic Collins 26U limiting amplifier, and the developers have recently updated Kolin to become KolinMB, a multi-band version of the original plugin that lets you process three frequency bands separately, with dedicated compressor controls for each band. Analog Obsession describes it as "the most colorful multi-band compressor": we describe it as an absolute steal.

7. Airwindows


(Image credit: Airwindows)

Platforms: Mac/Windows | Formats: VST3/AU | Download

This colossal goldmine of free software is made up of a variety of powerful mixing and effects plugins: 307, to be exact. Inside, there's everything from compressors to distortion pluginsdelays to sub-bass generatorsamp simulators to pitchshifterstape emulators to chorus pluginsreverbs to lo-fi processorsEQs to auto-pans... need we go on?

While the full bundle of 300+ plugins might be a lot to get acquainted with, Airwindows has put together a starter kit that collects 17 of the plugins likely to be most useful to those starting out. Though all Airwindows plugins are available to download for free, developer Chris Johnson runs a Patreon page that supports his work.

Matt Mullen
Tech Features Editor

I'm the Tech Features Editor for MusicRadar, working on everything from artist interviews to tech tutorials. I've been writing about (and making) electronic music for over a decade, and when I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard or a piano, carefully crafting the beginnings of another project that I'll ultimately abandon to the creative graveyard that is my over-stuffed hard drive.

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