5 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 unites us all.

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 lining your channel strips and clogging up your hard drives.

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

1. iZotope Neutron 4 Elements


(Image credit: iZotope)

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

iZotope's Neutron 4 is a well-regarded mixing tool and channel strip plugin that utilizes AI-powered technology to assist you with a whole host of applications, including compression, EQ, transient shaping and distortion.

The Elements version of the software offers a stripped-back take on the plugin with reduced functionality for a reduced price, typically around $50. For a limited time, though, you can grab Neutron 4 Elements for free over at Plugin Boutique. 

2. Behringer Vintage

Behringer Vintage

(Image credit: Behringer)

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

It’s been a protracted birth - first we thought it was available; then we were told that it wasn’t - but Behringer has now finally released Vintage, its free VST synth.

Vintage offers two oscillators with hard sync and a choice of waveforms (sine, square, saw, noise and sub-oscillator), two 12/24 dB filters that can be switched between low-, high- and band-pass as well as notch and formant modes (plus filter envelopes), and a noise generator.

There are also two amp modules with an ADSR envelope, and dual LFOs. All of which is said to combine to produce a “legendary tone” that gives you the “soul of vintage synthesizers”.

3. Lotus Sound Audio Ocean Plate

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

Plate reverbs are a hardware effect unit that makes use of a thin metal sheet, or plate, to imitate the way sound reverberates in a space. Real plate reverbs will set you back a pretty penny, but fortunately, plenty of excellent software emulations exist, including this free plugin from Lotus Sound Audio. 

Ocean Plate captures the lush brightness and shimmer you'd expect from a plate reverb while giving you precise control over sound-shaping with its onboard EQ.

4. Cardinal 

Platforms: macOS/Windows/Linux | Formats: AU/AAX/VST3/VST2/CLAP/LV2 | Download

If you've ever been tempted to experiment with modular synthesis but you don't have the (often considerable) funds required by such a venture, this could be the next best thing. 

Cardinal is a free virtual modular synthesizer plugin based on the VCV Rack platform, which is also available in a free version with one key difference: you can't run it in your DAW as a plugin. Cardinal lets you do just that, giving you access to over a thousand virtual open-source modules from a long list of independent developers inside your chosen production environment.

5. Freakshow Industries Pocket Dimension

pocket dimension

(Image credit: Freakshow Industries)

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

Freakshow Industries is one of our favourite plugin developers, devising brilliantly strange plugins that are truly unlike anything else we've seen before. 

Pocket Dimension is billed as an "XY-style granular time portal", and that's about the most straightforward description you'll get from its makers, who like to shroud the real functions of their software in cryptic riddles straight out of a twisted sci-fi horror movie.

As far as we can tell, Pocket Dimension is a granular effect that freezes, replays and manipulates incoming grains of sound to create complex textures from incoming source audio. There's three bafflingly-named parameters (Void, Dose and Secret) which can be controlled in unison through the XY grid, or modulated using the plugin's "sigil-based" modulation section. That's all we'll say, as much of the joy of Freakshow's plugins comes from not quite knowing exactly what they're doing. 

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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