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Codec is a free VST/AU audio degradation plugin that gives you the sound of a dodgy internet connection

Lese Codec
(Image credit: Lese)

While many audio degradation plugins are designed to add vinyl, tape or cassette-style vibes, Lese’s Codec freebie takes a more contemporary approach: it’s based on the sound of internet compression algorithms.

Codec is basically a container that holds an ‘audio compressor’, though not the sort that’s usually associated with music production. You can use it to compress and decompress your sounds in real time.

The plugin’s ‘Loss’ system enables you to simulate the sound of a poor internet connection, which can result in lost data packets. You can decide whether you want packets to be lost completely - in which case the internal algorithm will attempt to reconstruct your sound in real time - or held and repeated, giving you a glitch effect.

There’s also a Crunch section, in which large amounts of gain can be applied to a specified frequency section, then removed once compression and decompression have been completed. The result is that the sound is kept at the same volume but has even more artifacts.

Finally, you can tweak the way Codec responds to incoming sounds. There are voice, music and low-latency modes, each of which will give you a slightly different result.

Codec is available now for PC and Mac in VST/AU formats. You can download it for free from the Lese (opens in new tab) website.

I’m the Group Content Manager for MusicRadar, specialising in all things tech. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 20 of which I’ve also spent writing about music technology. 

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