Audio Damage has been in the plugin game for two decades now, and it’s fair to say that it’s played it pretty well. The company’s synths and effects have consistently scored highly in our reviews, so you might wonder why it’s just announced that it’s making 33 of its products available for free.
There are some real zingers to choose from, including the Phosphor and Basic synths, the Mangleverb reverb, the Bitcom bitcrusher, the Filterstation filter, the PanStation auto-panner, the Discord 3 pitchshifter, the Automaton buffer effect, the Kombinat multiband distortion and the Axon ‘neural network’ drum machine.
The company says that there are several reasons why it’s taking this seemingly radical step, starting with the fact that it will save it from having to provide support (you’re on your own when you use these plugins, basically).
In a blog post (opens in new tab), Audio Damage explains: “The vast majority (like 90-95%) of our support email is people needing to get at the legacy versions from their pre-2016 Audio Damage accounts. This goes in cycles, but whenever Apple or Microsoft introduce a significant change to their respective platforms, hundreds or thousands of old customers come out of the woodwork looking for a 20-year-old installer.
“Since most of those products aren’t even in this post-2016 Shopify store, we end up sending Dropbox links to the installers over and over again. Just having these products out in the open will solve that issue.”
There’s also the issue of piracy: “Most of these installers are readily available in ‘cracked’ form, and someone that wants to use one of them is putting their computer (and thus their creative life) at risk of malware due to the nature of pirated software,” explains Audio Damage. “Having ‘blessed’ installers readily available from the source ensures that nobody will ever be punished for simply wanting to use one of our old products,” it reasons.
Why not simply update these products, though? Audio Damage has an answer for that, too, arguing that to do so wouldn’t make business sense. “In many cases the code libraries on which [the products] are based simply no longer exist and hence updating them would entail rewriting them almost in their entirety.
“As the saying goes, time is money, and the time we'd spend on such an endeavour would cost us more than we'd recoup in sales - particularly since the plugin market is now much, much larger than it was when these products were originally conceived.”
So, the upshot of all this is that you now have access to 33 previously paid-for plugins for free, though there may be a bit of trial and error involved to find the ones that will work on your system.
“If you write us asking why an installer built for OS X 10.4 won’t work on a modern M1 MacBook Pro running Monterey, the answer is ‘because Apple’, and we simply don’t have the time to write that over and over again so we won’t respond at all,” warns Audio Damage.
Don’t take that to mean that the plugins won’t work on newer systems, though as AD also says: “Most, if not all, of the Windows products will work in a DAW that is capable of hosting both 32- and 64-bit plugins, and many of the more recent products will work in Rosetta 2 on an M1 Mac. However, the further back in time you go, the less likely the plugin will work at all, on either system.”
You can download the free legacy plugins on the Audio Damage (opens in new tab) website.