7 of the coolest free plugins we discovered this month

(Image credit: Various)

Who doesn't love a free plugin? From amateur bedroom producers to big-time pop hitmakers, a penchant for free music software is the great leveller that brings us all together.

That's why here at MusicRadar HQ, we maintain a watchful eye on the world of music-making software, taking note of the latest and greatest freebies that we deem worthy of adorning your channel strips and filling up your hard drives.

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

1. Arturia Analog Lab Play 

analog lab plugin

(Image credit: Arturia)

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

Arturia's Analog Lab is a curated selection of synth emulations taken from the company's beloved V Collection, a comprehensive collection of synth plugins that recreate some of musical history's most beloved synths in software. This month, Arturia has generously gifted producers with Analog Lab Play, a free version of this popular instrument that offers 100 hand-picked synth presets from Analog Lab and Arturia's Pigments synth, accessible via a simplified interface.

2. Denise Audio Slappy

denise audio

(Image credit: Denise Audio)

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

This month, plugin developer Denise Audio joined the Baby Audio family and is celebrating by offering not one, not two, but three of its plugins to budget-conscious music-makers free of charge. Slappy is a slapback delay plugin ideal for spicing up anything from guitars and vocals to drums and synths. With controls for feedback, delay time and saturation in addition to high and low-pass filters, Slappy delivers a great-sounding delay effect reminiscent of classic '50s rock and roll.

3. Denise Audio My Crush

denise audio

(Image credit: Denise Audio)

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

Another free plugin from the generous folks at Denise Audio, My Crush offers a bite-sized version of the developer's Bite Harder plugin, a versatile bitcrusher with plenty of potential for sonic destruction. My Crush benefits from the same "crazy-sounding" bitcrushing algorithm as Bite Harder, giving us control over bitrate and sample rate along with a glitchy stutter effect that pairs nicely with the plugin's destructive sound design. 

4. Denise Audio Bad Tape

bad tape

(Image credit: Denise Audio)

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

Tape emulation plugins offer a hassle-free way to augment any mix with crackle, warmth and warble, giving us the gorgeously fuzzy sound of analogue tape without having to root around the attic for your Tascam 4-track. Denise Audio's Bad Tape does exactly that, introducing an authentic hiss, saturation and wobble to anything you choose to run through it.

5. The Crow Hill Company Attic Grand

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

The Crow Hill Company is a new music tech brand founded by Christian Henson of Spitfire Audio. Kicking things off in style, Crow Hill have offered up a free grand piano sample instrument to inaugurate its Vaults plugin, which will host a number of sample libraries yet to be announced. 

Attic Grand is a characterful piano equipped with a number of sound-sculpting capabilities; the Smash control dials in punchy compression, Echo adds delay to the signal and Hair will introduce saturation and distortion based on the sound of a British combo amp.

6. BlauKraut Charlatan 3

blaukraut plugin

(Image credit: Blaukraut)

Platforms: Windows/Linux | Formats: VST3/CLAP | Download

Charlatan is a synth that places an emphasis on both sound quality and ease-of-use; the developers tell us they've designed Charlatan to encourage experimental parameter-tweaking and creative sound design, instead of whacking on any old preset and hoping for the best. With two oscillators, two envelopes, hard sync, ring modulation and three filter types modelled on classic analogue hardware, Charlatan is a decent virtual analogue synth plugin with plenty to explore.

7. Tugrulakyuz TugSpect

Platforms: Mac/Windows | Formats: VST3 | Download

One of the quirkiest effects plugins we've stumbled upon in a long time, TugSpect uses image files to apply spectral processing to your sounds. That's right -- load in anything from a selfie to a picture of your pooch, and TugSpect will analyze the picture and use its pixel values as a template for sound transformation, employing spectral filtering that mirrors the details of the image you've chosen.

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, carefully crafting the beginnings of another project that I'll ultimately abandon to the creative graveyard that is my overstuffed hard drive.

Get over 70 FREE plugin instruments and effects… image
Get over 70 FREE plugin instruments and effects…
…with the latest issue of Computer Music magazine