The best new free music-making software: unmissable freeware synths, drum machines and effects for March 2023

BLEASS Monolit

Formats: AU/VST3/AAS | Platforms: Mac/OSX/iOS | Download

Monolit is a monophonic synth with a clean, uncluttered interface that's available as a plugin to use in your DAW, or a standalone app to run on iOS. The synth is equipped with two oscillators that output continuously variable waveforms, FM capabilities, a multimode filter with slope and drive controls, built-in arpeggiator and surprisingly versatile LFO.

The synth's also capable of unison with up to 7 voices for producing those big, fat analogue-inspired sounds, and there's a dice tool for parameter randomization, helping you inject some indeterminism into your sound design.

Spitfire Audio LABS Tape Piano

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

Another month, another free delivery from the unbelievably generous folks at Spitfire Audio. This time around, they've put something together that's likely to appeal to producers working within the ever-growing lo-fi hip-hop community: the Tape Piano. A modern upright piano processed with vintage tape machines, it's got a warm, warbly and welcoming tone that's laced with nostalgia. Download on sight. 

Audiolatry Amurg Lite 

Formats: VST2/VST3/AU | Platforms: Mac/PC | Download

Amurg Lite is a stripped-down version of Audiolatry's Amurg, a virtual instrument aimed at producers crafting dreamy, lo-fi ambient music. Though Amurg only has 33 presets, compared to its big brother's 132, it's still worth a look, and is capable of laying down some pleasantly floaty sounds that can be manipulated using the onboard reverb, filter, and envelopes. 

Rob Papen RP-PN

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

Released to celebrate Papen’s 25th anniversary as a plugin maven, this creative panning effect not only enables you to record panning movements, but there’s also a tempo-based ‘spring back’ feature that will send the control ‘sphere’ back to the centre, left or right. 

It's also equipped with a Doppler FX option and - for producers like us - a so-called Lazy Mode for automated panning movements and more experimental panning effects. Thanks for thinking of us with that one, Rob.

Fabric 70 Explorer

Fabric 70 Explorer

(Image credit: Fabric 70)

Formats: VST2/VST3/AU | Platforms: Mac/PC | Download

Explorer is a 4-oscillator synth plugin that looks to give you plenty of sound-shaping options. Oscillators 1 to 3 can each access sine, triangle, sawtooth and square waveforms, while oscillator 4 is reserved for noise. 

There’s also a waveshaper, a filter section with multiple types, extensive modulation facilities (including three LFOs) and three envelopes. You don’t get any effects, but Explorer looks like it could take you to some interesting sonic places. 

Full Bucket Music the blooo

full bucket music

(Image credit: Full Bucket Music)

Formats: CLAP/VST2/VST3/AU | Platforms: Mac/PC | Download

This free synth's admittedly been around for a little while already, but Full Bucket have just re-released it in the new CLAP format, recently announced by Bitwig and u-he. That's more than enough reason to highlight this highly capable instrument, which delivers 64-voice polyphony, two oscillators that can produce four waveforms and handle ring mod and soft/hard sync, two multimode filters, three envelopes, and three LFOs. 

SampleScience Stylo Synthesis


(Image credit: SampleScience)

Formats: AU/VST3/VST3/NKI | Platforms: Mac/PC | Download

Stylo Synthesis is a virtual instrument from SampleScience that recreates the idiosyncratic sound of the Stylophone, a pocket-sized stylus-operated synthesizer manufactured by Dubreq. According to the developers, “most Stylophone plugins and libraries use very short samples that don’t reflect the unstable nature of this instrument," but this one does, capturing those "magic imperfections" that make the sound of the Stylophone so memorable. 

Valhalla Supermassive 

Valhalla DSP Supermassive

(Image credit: Valhalla DSP)

Formats: VST2/VST3/AU | Platforms: Mac/PC | Download

Okay, okay - we know, Valhalla's mind-bendingly good Supermassive reverb has already been out for two years now. BUT, there's a good reason we're including it in this month's constellation of free plugins. Valhalla are celebrating their 2-year anniversary by updating Supermassive, and the 2.0.0 version includes two all-new reverb modes, Aquarius and Pisces. 

According to Valhalla, these two modes operate using "modified feedback delay networks" that can be used for "standard delays, delays with reverb mixed in, reverb with a strong pre-delay, or weird and wild echo sounds." Anything from Valhalla is worth downloading - if you haven't checked out their other creations, we'd highly recommend it. 

Witech Bass Matrix


(Image credit: Witech)

Formats: VST3/Standalone | Platforms: Windows | Download

Do you dream of producing squelchy 303-esque bass patterns without dropping stacks on an expensive software emulator? Witech have the plugin for you. The BassMatrix is a free synth plugin that reproduces the sound of the legendary Roland TB-303. Now you can make acid house without getting burned by the price. Mac users, watch out - this one's Windows only. 

2MGT Auralis 


(Image credit: 2MGT)

Formats: Standalone | Platforms: Windows | Download

This one's a bit of an oddball. Auralis is described as an "experimental ambient tool," and as far as we can discern, it's a synthesizer and sequencer equipped with modulation and effects capabilities that make it a suitable choice for those producing ambient, New Age and experimental music. Currently, it's Windows-only, and it's not available as a plugin, so you'll have to export your creations as audio files to drop into your DAW. 

Caelum Audio Dustbin

Formats: AU/AUv3/VST3/AAX | Platforms: Mac/PC/iOS | Download

July 1st was International Joke Day, an occasion that developers Caelum Audio celebrated by putting out a particularly peculiar free plugin. Dustbin is a convolution-based effects plugin that operates using an impulse response recorded in - you guessed it - a trashcan. Dubbed the Dustbin Electroacoustic Transducer, it allows you to achieve the kind of sound that you might get from reamping your music inside of what us Brits call a wheelie bin. 

Though it's clearly intended as a bit of a wind-up, the plugin actually produces some fairly interesting lo-fi effects that could be useful for a variety of applications. Dustbin's only free for another 10 days, so download it now and decide for yourself whether it belongs in the trash. 

Matt Mullen
Tech Editor

I'm the Tech Editor for MusicRadar, working across everything from artist interviews to product news to tech tutorials. I love electronic music and I'm endlessly fascinated by the tools we use to make it. 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.

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