Download 23 free plugins or create and submit your own to win a cash prize in KVR's Developer Challenge 2023

(Image credit: Witchpig)

KVR Audio is an online community for music tech fans, producers and developers. They've provided a space for people to discover and discuss music and audio software for over two decades. 

The KVR Audio Developer Challenge is a public competition open to anyone who develops plugins or music-making software. The challenge asks participants to create and release a brand new plugin, application or sound library to the public for free; KVR members then vote on the entries and five cash prizes funded by the KVR community are awarded to the winners. 

Even if you're not a software developer, the upshot is that the competition sees a bumper pack of free plugins released for budget-conscious producers to download and enjoy. This year is no different, with 23 entries listed on KVR so far, taking in a brilliantly broad range of music-making tools. 

The most unusual of these is undoubtedly Alien Step Mutha, a multi-effects sequencer plugin from Witch Pig. Offering bitcrusher, chorus, distortion, flanger, modulation, saturation and tremolo, the plugin's interface is populated by a group of baby aliens that represent the steps in the sequencer; clicking the mother alien opens up a set of eyeballs (knobs, to you and me) that dial in the plugin's parameters. Alien Step Mutha's weird vibes are compounded by the developer's choice of preset names; we were particularly taken with 'Alien Sex Fiend'.

Another highlight is Roundels, a sequencer plugin from developer XiiixxiQ. This "Euclidean, non-linear, polymetric, polyrhythmic and morphable" step sequencer is one of the more offbeat sequencing tools we've come across in a while. Utilizing a variety of mathematical functions to generate complex and evolving melodic and rhythmic patterns, Roundels "frees your sequences from being tied to the conventional timeline of a DAW's sequencer". 

Elsewhere in this year's selection is Samplur PROGATE, a trance gate plugin with additional onboard effects, MONSTER OctaChord, a handy chord and ornament generator, and Solaris, a reverb plugin that's said to produce "enchanting textures and transcendental atmospheres". 

This year is the ninth edition of the KVR Developer Challenge, and the first took place in 2006. Previous iterations of the contest have seen a ton of quality software released for free, as highlighted in the following list put together by KVR. 

"2021 gave us WhispAir by Full Bucket Music, GR-8 by Phuturetone, Virtuosity Drums by Versilian Studios, and FKFX Influx by FKFX. 2018 delivered gems such as ProF.E.T. by Ignite Amps, Deducktion by Dead Duck Software and MPS by Full Bucket Music. We had Youlean Loudness MeterLagrange by Ursa DSP and Spaceship Delay from Musical Entropy in 2016Multiply by Acon Digital, Nova-67P by vladg/sound and Emissary by Ignite Amps in 2014, and so it goes on..."

Find out more and browse this year's entries on KVR Audio's website.

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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