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Old 02-21-2010, 03:25 AM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Netherlands
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Default Going all freeware (well... almost)

Note: I ran into the post-size limit so the actual list has been broken up over a few posts below.

I have collected a lot of free plugins over the last few years and because of that I made almost no real music. Back in the days when I had only a few (hardware) synths and fx-gear (a long time ago) I was composing and tracking almost daily. I really want to (need to) get back to that state of productivity.

So I started cleaning out my plugin folders. I have hundreds of instruments and the same amount of FX-plugs. I want to bring it back to just a few for each category. I also made the decision to go for freeware as much as possible as I try to get rid of copy protected stuff. I like to have my whole studio on a portable drive without the need to reinstall key-files and such to get things working on another or a new computer.

I have a fair amount of commercial plugins, stuff I bought and things I got for keeps for writing online reviews. There is some real good stuff in there, hard to let go of it. But as there is a lot of very impressive free stuff available it is also fun to try and match these commercial plugs with free alternatives.

I'm going to document my search for the ultimate free plugin set here. I hope some of you can use my suggestions. Also recommendations are very welcome.

Below is my current list of selected plugins. I'm updating this post (and the others below it) as I go. I'll try to give download links as much as possible but there may be a few plugins that are no longer available for download.

This list is constantly under construction so you might want to bookmark this topic

--- Bread and Butter Synths ---

These are my main 'go to' synths. Fairly easy to program with a broad sound spectrum.

- Synth1: the all-time mother of all VST-synths for me -
(grab over 10.000 patches for Synth1 here: - Thanks to EvilDragon)
- Tyrell N6: pure U-He quality for free -
- TAL Noisemaker: another very good sounding synth -
- Tunefish 3/4: Additive wavetable synthesizer, great sound and extremely low CPU -
- Ragnarok: for obvious reasons this is pretty much my main go-to synth -

--- 32bit only ---

- Oatmeal: still very impressive -
- polyIblit: great anti-aliased oscillators and semi-modular with many options, old but still very good -

--- Vintage synthesizer emulations ---

Sometimes you want a close emulation of vintage synth hardware, to get that 'back then' vibe. Listed here are the ones that are actually very close sound-wise to their originals.

- OBXD: a pretty faithful recreation of the Oberheim synths (it's a mix of several Oberheims so to speak) -
- Dexed: one of the best DX7 emulations around, does read DX7 sysex files -
- Mono/Fury: great Korg Mono/Poly emulation by Full Bucket -
- PG8X: very close emulation of the Roland JX8P, sysex compatible with the real thing -
- Nabla: Pretty close emulation of a Korg Delta string synthesizer -
- The deputy MarkII: very nice emulation of a 70's/80's string synthesizer -

--- 32bit only ---

- SQ8L: great emulation of the ESQ1/SQ80 synths -

--- Textures and Pads ---

A few 'big machines' for those modern swirly pads and stuff like that. Mostly very digital sounding.

- Surge: the absolute must-have free synth, a complete beast -
- Atlantis: another big 3 osc monster, recently made available as 64bit -

--- 32bit only ---

- INTRO by Boris.K: incredible deep synth -
- EVM UltraSonique : wavetable synth with step-sequencer -

--- Real instrument emulations and stuff ---

I'm a prog-addict so I need some vintage sound stuff every now and then.

- NubiLE (with SpinnerLE): one of the best free B3-emulations -
- Rumpelrausch Crazy Diamonds: nice string machine -
- MrTramp2: Fantastic sounding Wurlitzer piano, used to be payware -
- FabBass: very good sounding Hofner Violin Bass guitar emulation -

Note: for those who want NubiPlus with the full Nubi FX versions, it's officially freeware:

--- Samplers (including drums) ---

You need these to play al the great free samples that are floating around the web.

- TX16Wx: the new contender for ShortCircuit, in very active development -
- ShortCircuit 1.1.2: the absolute workhorse of free samplers -
- sfz+: one of the most functional soundfont players, now free -
- Majken's Grizzly: Drum-machine that has some deep features -
- LoopaZoid: just need to trigger some samples, with reverse -
- SoftDrum LTD: if you need choke-groups, velocity layers, multi-outs -

--- Drum synth & percussion ---

Some additional mojo to add to your rythms. And of course for non-sampled drumsounds.

- Drumatic 3: simply the best free drumsynth -
- EXD-80: a serious contender to Drumatic -

--- Bassline synths ---

Just in addition to the 'bread and butter' synths above (that have some great basses in them), to quickly whip up a nice bassline.

- EVM Bassline: nice set of basic bass-sounds -
- Odo B-station 2: much more versatile than other TB303 emulators -

--- Guitar emulations ---

I like guitar sounds for my music but I don't have access to a (good) guitar player. So these are the best plugins (for me) to substitute that.

- Spicy Guitar: commercial NOW FREEWARE, this one has a functional strummer -
- Revitar: another previous commercial one, very nice sounding, also has a (simple) strummer -
- Suburban Guitarist: very flexible and expressive -
- DSK ElektriK GuitarZ: Guitar synth for more distorted mayhem -
- String Thing 2: Accoustic emulation, lots of options -

--- Romplers ---

Having one or two big samplepack-players will round of your arsenal nicely.

- ProteusVX: Just about the best free sample-package around, used to be commercial -

Scroll down for the other parts of the list (Effects and the Runner-up list).

Last edited by technogremlin; Today at 02:19 AM.
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