Plugins of practicality
Some of the best free software out there is aimed not at generating or processing sounds, but aiding the process of making music.
This selection of plugins may not be as glamorous as a new synthesizer or compressor, but each and every one is a must-try!
For more on making music with freeware, check out the March 2015 issue of Computer Music (CM214). Also be sure to browse our round-ups of the best free plugin synths, free mixing plugins, free sampler plugins and free creative effect plugins.
Span is a free spectrum analysis plugin that's designed to let you see exactly what’s going on in your tracks, frequency-wise.
Superb for mixing and mastering, you can use it to locate conflicting frequencies between tracks or to match the frequencies of your mixes to commercial tracks that you admire.
Expert Sleepers Clocker and Latency Fixer
Clocker provides MIDI clock signals for outputting to your external hardware, giving you independent control over said hardware’s clock rate, while Latency Fixer reports latency to the host, enabling any DAW with latency compensation to adjust its timing accordingly. Ideal for DAWs that don’t compensate for the latency introduced by hardware processors.
A feature-packed oscilloscope that gives graphical representations of your signals - an awesome audio-monitoring tool!
Beyerdynamic Virtual Studio
Check your mix with this one. It’s a plugin designed to be used in conjunction with headphones to simulate different speakers in various listening environments.
Among this trio of useful MIDI-centric plugins are ::ENV2MIDI::, which analyses the level of incoming audio and spits out MIDI CC data mimicking that curve - sort of a MIDI envelope follower - and. ::MIDICCMAP::, a MIDI CC re-mapper that can be set up to act as a proxy for MIDI learn or hardware controller boxes that lack presets, with the caveat that it only maps one controller.
Blue Cat Audio Gain Suite
A collection of tools designed to give you control over the volume of any audio track. They’re useful for their many automation features, mid/side ability and interconnectivity.