Old 02-21-2010, 03:25 AM   #1
technogremlin
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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 - http://www.vst4free.com/free_vst.php?id=245
(grab over 10.000 patches for Synth1 here: http://www.mediafire.com/download/4v...h1_Patches.rar - Thanks to EvilDragon)
- Tyrell N6: pure U-He quality for free - https://www.amazona.de/freeware-synth-tyrell-n6-v3-03/
- TAL Noisemaker: another very good sounding synth - https://tal-software.com/products/tal-noisemaker
- Tunefish 3/4: Additive wavetable synthesizer, great sound and extremely low CPU - http://www.tunefish-synth.com/?action=about
- Ragnarok: for obvious reasons this is pretty much my main go-to synth - http://www.fullbucket.de/music/ragnarok.html

--- 32bit only ---

- Oatmeal: still very impressive - http://www.best-free-vst.com/download.php?p=Oatmeal
- polyIblit: great anti-aliased oscillators and semi-modular with many options, old but still very good - http://www.vst4free.com/free_vst.php?id=241

--- 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) - https://obxd.wordpress.com/
- Dexed: one of the best DX7 emulations around, does read DX7 sysex files - https://github.com/asb2m10/dexed
- Mono/Fury: great Korg Mono/Poly emulation by Full Bucket - http://www.fullbucket.de/music/monofury.html
- PG8X: very close emulation of the Roland JX8P, sysex compatible with the real thing - https://sites.google.com/site/mlvst0/
- Nabla: Pretty close emulation of a Korg Delta string synthesizer - http://www.fullbucket.de/music/nabla.html
- The deputy MarkII: very nice emulation of a 70's/80's string synthesizer - http://www.fullbucket.de/music/deputy.html

--- 32bit only ---

- SQ8L: great emulation of the ESQ1/SQ80 synths - http://www.buchty.net/ensoniq/#sq8l

--- 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 - https://surge-synthesizer.github.io
- Atlantis: another big 3 osc monster, recently made available as 64bit - http://jeremyevers.com/atlantis

--- 32bit only ---

- INTRO by Boris.K: incredible deep synth - http://www.vst4free.com/free_vst.php...n=INTRO&id=324
- EVM UltraSonique : wavetable synth with step-sequencer - http://www.vst4free.com/free_vst.php...sonique&id=430

--- 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 - http://www.kaosaudio.com/nubi-le-drawbar-organ-vsti/
- Rumpelrausch Crazy Diamonds: nice string machine - http://untermkittel.de/rumpelrausch/?PLUGINS
- MrTramp2: Fantastic sounding Wurlitzer piano, used to be payware - http://www.genuinesoundware.com/?a=showproduct&b=40
- FabBass: very good sounding Hofner Violin Bass guitar emulation - http://www.vst4free.com/free_vst.php...abBass&id=2127

Note: for those who want NubiPlus with the full Nubi FX versions, it's officially freeware: http://fastfileshare.homelinux.com/i...h=mUOhS9cQ1t4e

--- 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 - http://www.tx16wx.com/
- ShortCircuit 1.1.2: the absolute workhorse of free samplers - http://www.vemberaudio.se/shortcircuit.php
- sfz+: one of the most functional soundfont players, now free - http://www.cakewalk.com/products/SFZ/
- Majken's Grizzly: Drum-machine that has some deep features - http://www.majken.se/index.php?optio...&id=6&Itemid=9
- LoopaZoid: just need to trigger some samples, with reverse - http://www.espace-cubase.org/include...Zoid.zip&id=29
- SoftDrum LTD: if you need choke-groups, velocity layers, multi-outs - http://rekkerd.org/fretted-synth/

--- 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 - http://www.e-phonic.com/plugins/drumatic3.php
- EXD-80: a serious contender to Drumatic - http://www.thirdharmonic.net/exd80-free-vst-drum-synth/

--- 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 - http://www.vst4free.com/free_vst.php...assline&id=191
- Odo B-station 2: much more versatile than other TB303 emulators - http://www.vst4free.com/free_vst.php...ATION_2&id=438

--- 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 - http://www.spicyguitar.com/
- Revitar: another previous commercial one, very nice sounding, also has a (simple) strummer - http://www.vst4free.com/free_vst.php?id=1348
- Suburban Guitarist: very flexible and expressive - http://www.gregjazz.com/download/Sub...aristBeta2.rar
- DSK ElektriK GuitarZ: Guitar synth for more distorted mayhem - http://www.dskmusic.com/dsk-electrik-guitarz/
- String Thing 2: Accoustic emulation, lots of options - http://www.simple-media.co.uk/music/...m#stringthing2

--- 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 - http://en.audiofanzine.com/partner/a.proteusvx.html

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

Last edited by technogremlin; 10-07-2019 at 08:19 AM.
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Old 02-28-2010, 04:36 AM   #2
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OK, the story continues...

Have been playing around testing all my guitar emulation plugins: so far I have DSK akoustik guitarz, DSK elektrik guitarz, DVS guitar, milkguitar, Plucked String (commercial, Synapse Audio), E-phonic Solostring, SpicyGuitar, String Theory, String Thing 2, Suburban Guitarist and SuperRiffGuitar.

So far I'm going for Suburban Guitarist and DSK elektrik Guitarz for the distorted stuff and String Thing 2 for the acoustic guitar emulation. I will add those to the OP with download links

Does anyone know if Reaper has a midi-plugin for strumming... or some free vst-plug for this?
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Old 02-28-2010, 07:45 AM   #3
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midiStrum by Insert Piz Here, it's part of their midi suite.
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Old 02-28-2010, 08:02 AM   #4
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Ah like this thread will definitely try the oatmeal stuff
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Old 02-28-2010, 11:07 AM   #5
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Default the BIG! free reverb test

Today I set out to select a few reverbs from the big list I have and bring it down to a functional selection. This was way more work then I anticipated but fun nevertheless... took me several hours A/B-ing all the reverbs with a clean drumloop and a dry vocal track.

I also took the CPU-load for each plugin into consideration. Below I'm mentioning CPU-load for each reverb so to put that in perspective take a look at my signature for my hardware specs. Also keep in mind that 'sound' is largely a subjective thing so my 'taste' in plugins might not be yours... your milage may vary and all such... well, you get my drift

--- the test results ---

RoomMachine 844: Gave some nice coloring on vocals but to muddy sounding on drums. [4% CPU]

Classic Reverb: Gave some colouring on vocals and a usefull back-fill on drums, sounded mediocre overall [3.7% CPU]

Epic Reverb: Very clean and airy sounding on both vocals and drums but at a price (high CPU-load), very usefull as a buss-reverb and for 'gelling' during mastering [11.2% CPU]

Freeverb: Usefull colouring on both vocals and drums, very useful for channel-fx especially because it's very low CPU-load (quality switch lowers load while still sounding rather good) [3% - 1.8% CPU]

Glaceverb: Gave me scattering echoes in the tail, because of that not nice on vocals but surprisingly usable on drums [4.9% CPU]

Karma reverb: sounded cheap and dull on both vocals and drums, and no low CPU-load to even it out [5.8% CPU]

Antress Flashverb: With only three controls quite hard to use (no presets bundle either), to basic for vocals but gave some nice air to the drums [7.7% CPU]

Breebaard's Omniverb: Added some clean space to the vocals, gave a coloured sound to the drums [2.7% CPU]

Sweet Boy Reverb: Gives a very useful clean and airy sound to both vocals and drums at the lowest CPU-load of them all [1.9% CPU]

Wurr Audio reverb: sounded dull and useless for serious mixing for both vocals and drums [4.4% CPU]

Antress Spacer: Sounded OK-ish on the vocals but is absolutely FAT! on drums (need that 80's booming drums, this is it) [7% CPU]

Anwida reverb: a long time favorite, sound clean with a nice ambiance on both vocals and drums but very little control over the sound [3.1% CPU]

Ambience: not really freeware but I tested it anyway, sounds absolutely stunning on everything with loads of control over the sound but is a CPU-hog [10.3% CPU] NOTE: it has a CPU-load setting but below 6% CPU it sounds absolutely TERRIBLE

TAL Reverb: very nice and characteristic sounding (Plate) on both vocals and drums but at a price [9% CPU]

Reverbering: Somewhat useful on drums but GREAT sounding small rooms on vocals, and low CPU to boot [2.9% CPU]

--- My selection ---

The main go-to reverbs:

1. EpicVerb: My new favorite. I will use this mainly for finalizing a mix.
2. Freeverb: Nice colouring and low CPU, my main reverb for inserts

The additional reverbs for specific applications:

3. Roommachine 844: has a nice character to it, especially for vocals
4. Nusofting Reverbering: specifically small rooms for vocals
5. Antress Spacer: FAT drums !!!

... and the runner-up:

6. Sweet Boy reverb: clean sounding with just 1.9% CPU I can stick this in a mix anywhere I need it.

Going to add my selection with download links to the OP later tonight
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Old 02-28-2010, 01:08 PM   #6
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Reverb stuff with download links added to the OP, also did a bit of formatting to the OP so it's more readable
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Old 03-01-2010, 02:09 PM   #7
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I'm surprised you didn't test Mo 'Verb. A bit CPU heavy too, but one of the best free algo verbs IMO.
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Old 03-01-2010, 02:32 PM   #8
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Cerendir, I didn't have it but I came across it last night. Wasn't looking to add even more reverbs to the list but going on your 'say so' I'll check this one out

However, as it is not realy freeware it won't make it to my 'selection', same as Ambience... great verb but not realy freeware and I want to be strict on that issue.

By the way, testing free reverbs proved quite a job, makes me a bit afraid to do this for compressors .... but will do as I'm learning heaps of stuff in the process.
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Old 03-01-2010, 02:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by technogremlin View Post
However, as it is not realy freeware it won't make it to my 'selection', same as Ambience... great verb but not realy freeware and I want to be strict on that issue.
Right, it's donationware. I forgot about that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by technogremlin View Post
By the way, testing free reverbs proved quite a job, makes me a bit afraid to do this for compressors .... but will do as I'm learning heaps of stuff in the process.
Oh I know, been there myself. As I do a lot of orchestral stuff I've been on the quest for the best free verb for some time, and I believe I've tried virtually all of them at one point or another. My go-to reverb is epicVerb which is indeed awesome but I find the controls less than straightforward. In terms of sound quality it's top notch though, with Mo' Verb or possibly the buggy Freeverb3 NVerb as a close second. Omniverb is great when you need something CPU-frugal for inserts. I've used Glaceverb occasionally but the parameters are very unorthodox and it's hard dialling in a useable sound.

This is a very interesting thread. I'm looking forward to see what free compressors you will favor. You do realize that it'll take a year or so to test them all, right?
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Old 07-20-2010, 01:47 AM   #10
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Brilliant thread!Thanks for all the hard work!!
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Old 08-17-2011, 08:55 PM   #11
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Default Farfisa Emulation (Combo Model F)

This new entry from Martinic (Combo Model V) just HAS to be on any list worth anything



Download - http://www.martinic.com/combof/downloads/
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Old 08-19-2011, 05:10 AM   #12
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http://varietyofsound.wordpress.com/...cing-baxtereq/
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Old 06-27-2012, 04:35 PM   #13
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Interesting thread. I really like the idea of going all freeware.

I have a few suggestions under the compressor category. These are some of my favorite comps, free or otherwise.

jscompshaper - great for that SSL gluey sound. This one often goes on busses in my projects.

Molot - A really, really good mojo comp. This one is used in almost all of my projects.
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:04 AM   #14
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Default TAL-NoiseMaker v3 is out.

One of my all-time favorite freebies keeps getting better.

http://kunz.corrupt.ch/?Products:VST_TAL-NoiseMaker
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Old 03-02-2010, 03:38 PM   #15
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That sfz+ Sampler looks great!! I'm gonna start using that for sure. I already use z3ta, and it looks the same. I've always struggled with samplers... i love the ones in Reason, but outside of that I havn't found an easy, low CPU sampler. I hate shortcircuit & kontakt is a CPU hog. sfz+ looks dope!
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Old 03-02-2010, 03:44 PM   #16
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Stepbeater would be so great if it just had some swing/shuffle/groove options!

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Old 03-26-2010, 03:15 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by technogremlin View Post
I have collected a lot of free plugins over the last few years and because of that I made almost no real music.
haha i know what thats like, but i more had the inclination that if i payed for all my software i could be limited enough that i would be forced to work with what i had and get back to making music instead of messing with software and trying to get it to work properly. ive been doing that for a couple years now it seems like and have really started to miss writing songs!!! but i cant afford any of the plugins i would be inclined to use... not that that stops me... yea but sometimes infinite possibilities can be a bad thing.
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Old 04-20-2010, 12:08 PM   #18
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for the Misc section, check out:
CHORD SPACE:
http://www.chordspace.com/ChordSpaceindex.htm
plug in before a VST, click to play chords for composition

LEMONSTRUM:
http://www.mildonstudios.com/m2/page2.aspx
strums your keys/notes like a guitar
v1 used to be freeware, it will be back soon
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Old 04-20-2010, 02:40 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arkima View Post
http://www.meldaproduction.com/freevstplugins/

There's a: Compressor,EQ,Ring Modulator, Flanger, Analyzer,Phaser, Limiter,Wave Shaper, Auto Pan, Vibrato, Tremolo, Stereo Expander... nice ui too..
Thanks for the tip, I'll check them out

Quote:
Originally Posted by wwjd View Post
for the Misc section, check out:
CHORD SPACE:
http://www.chordspace.com/ChordSpaceindex.htm
plug in before a VST, click to play chords for composition

LEMONSTRUM:
http://www.mildonstudios.com/m2/page2.aspx
strums your keys/notes like a guitar
v1 used to be freeware, it will be back soon
Have them both Chordspace will definately show up in the list (I have some more of that kind of things). Lemonstrum so far didn't float my boat; it does some nice strumming but it is very limited as far as I could see (I do have the free version).
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Old 04-23-2010, 11:04 AM   #20
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If u tested them, I'm curious for your opinion about.
To me they sound good, I also changed the Compressive Pro with the Modern Compressor to compare and sound kinda equal, but ... that's just me.
The delay sound great on drums, but maybe to reverbish?
And.. the others from the list on the first post are super, so I don't know if they match that.
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Old 04-23-2010, 11:57 AM   #21
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been using endorphin quite a bit in the last few days. man, oh man... one of the best compressors out there. loving my freeware studio!! will post some track snippets of what i have been up to in a few days...

...i hope you all like pretty dark dub influenced techno
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Old 04-24-2010, 03:18 PM   #22
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For chorus I find the Blue Cat free very useful as well as the much more involved charsiesis. Both have been rock solid for me
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Old 04-24-2010, 04:17 PM   #23
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The fact that H.G. Fortune synths haven't been mentioned in this thread is nothing short of blasphemy.
If you need ambient soundscapes or pads that evolve for centuries then there is no better.
A poor mans Omnisphere so to speak.
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Old 05-05-2010, 08:30 AM   #24
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Good list. Tagging it for later read.
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Old 05-05-2010, 10:04 AM   #25
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another freeware synth i forgot about...





an 8 oscillator monster with over 6000 parameters!!! it's called universal by Robin Holmes. he also makes a freeware DAW called macaw. his website:

http://code.google.com/p/macaw/

i did play around with it a long time ago - may have another play!
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Old 05-29-2010, 09:00 AM   #26
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Still follow this thread tho.
Great one! Great how you only select the best ones.
Beside I use some other suggestions given here.
My favo is ODsay.
And Reaper is just great, had to say that. :-)

Is there any way to conclude the verbs on page 1 can do better then Mo Verb?
That's cuz I use it a lot now. But maybe it's not listed, cuz it's not a full / free version.
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Old 06-28-2010, 10:19 AM   #27
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Hey here's a good one I just found a couple days ago. Called "Dirtbag". Great for organ sounds, especially dirty ones. It was one of the highest rated free VSTI's on KVR, but none of the links worked. I finally found a re-up somewhere...anyway, here's the link:

http://www.gersic.com/plugins/upload...rtbag-1.86.zip
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Old 06-28-2010, 10:57 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiam View Post
Hey here's a good one I just found a couple days ago. Called "Dirtbag". Great for organ sounds, especially dirty ones.
Sorry to say but I'm already sorted on Organs (check the first few posts on the starting page of this topic ). I remember Dirtbag being quite popular, he had another popular plugin called Rotopuker. But for organ-sounds I like a good emulation more and then build my sound with FX like distortion, cab-emus and leslie plugins.

Just about the best free Hammond emu is NubiPlus together with Spinner and VFX: http://rekkerd.org/nubi-plus-vfx-and-spinner-now-free/

I still have NubiLE and SpinnerLE listed in the OP, but as NubiPlus is REALLY free now I'll update the list (and my own setup ).
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Old 07-02-2010, 01:59 PM   #29
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hey techno, you could fill in the empty parts (compressors, vocals, exciters etc) with what you will be testing in the future. that way new viewers would fine at least something there. Then after testing to narrow down your faves, drop the others off or into the runners up section. What do ya think?
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Old 07-02-2010, 10:12 PM   #30
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Totally agree with WWJD here... in fact some people can help you narrow down your list too so that you don't have to test all the compressors, etc..

It takes helluva time, I know cause I tried quite a few things from your first thread.
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Old 07-03-2010, 08:49 AM   #31
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I'm surprised there has been no mention of Zynaddsubfx yet...

http://zynaddsubfx.sourceforge.net/
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Old 07-03-2010, 08:52 AM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicMan74 View Post
I'm surprised there has been no mention of Zynaddsubfx yet...

http://zynaddsubfx.sourceforge.net/
That's because I'm not looking for a big modular synth (it has been discussed that Oatmeal is close to the perfect balance between the amount of controls and what can be achieved with it).

However, if other people here also vote for Zynaddsubfx then I'll gladly add it to the runner-up list
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Old 07-03-2010, 10:50 AM   #33
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I'm surprised there has been no mention of Zynaddsubfx yet...

http://zynaddsubfx.sourceforge.net/
The demos sounded ok. I tried it, it talked about a dummy window to open other windows, tried loading banks, never got it working at all. It's probably over my head anyway
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Old 07-03-2010, 02:10 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicMan74 View Post
I'm surprised there has been no mention of Zynaddsubfx yet...

http://zynaddsubfx.sourceforge.net/
i have never found it to be anywhere near stable enough to be useful (on windows), which is a crying shame as it sounds heavenly.
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Old 07-04-2010, 02:01 PM   #35
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Great job, Technogremlin! Looks you there is a lot of ground to cover!
Could add BROADCAST to the MASTERING TOOLS section as it is more than just a 3 band comp: has ambience/stereo, side chaining, limiting and "density"
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Old 07-14-2010, 07:26 AM   #36
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Technogremlin, Epicverb is a useless reverb in classical music recording. I think either AMBIENCE or nothing
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Old 07-14-2010, 08:55 AM   #37
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I did some search without many success, any ideas about a free Echoplex vst?

Thanks
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Old 08-06-2010, 03:54 PM   #38
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I notice your amp sims and distortion section is still under construction. Surely you have not forgotten about Juicy77 and TS' Secret, both from BTE Audio, both freeware.

Also (not sure where this would fit... reverb maybe?) try PSP PianoVerb. Not just for pianos, a light touch on the main mix is nice.
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Old 08-06-2010, 05:53 PM   #39
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first up: comparo tween freeware UNO62 and UHE ACE payware softsynth.

Before I say anything, I would like to stress none of this was done scientifically. Just a guy mucking about. And also, the interface, features, controls and feel is much more "professional" on ACE than the free UNO62. Not that that makes it SOUND any better, I am just mentioning it.

That said, I swear on a stack of bibles, it is the SAME initial wave!! I even put it up on a graph here. There is a slight difference in tone between them and I mean THE VERY SLIGHTEST difference. It's not that one if fat and the other thin, they sound the same, just slightly different tone. I had to roll off the high end on the UNO to match the ACE VSTi, just a little bit. You could hear it was brighter also, and see it in the graph. The graph shows it rolled off. So I panned one left and the other right and they sounded practically identical. This was on the very basic plain init patch on both. Where it goes from there could be miles apart and depend on the programming. No doubt the ACE has a lot more features and abilities to allow more advanced sounds to come out. But the UNO holds it's own on the very basic sound it creates.
You can try this same test yourself since UNO62 is free and ACE has a DEMO that adds a lil static here and there, but otherwise sounds fully funtional. Going through some presets on ACE, it was harder for the UNO to keep up or sound the same, with the better programming and more VCOs coming from ACE. Still, freeware did an amazing job! ACE has some really good sounds and beefy bass. But UNO was BARELY behind. and I beleive regular people would never notice a difference if both programmed the same.

Next up, I took on POLY-ANA, another highly rated analog soft synth. UNO62 once again sounded VERY tonally similar to it, so I used it as a compison. Again, UNO62 held it's own sound wise, but Poly-Ana had just the slightest edge to sounding more "analog" then UNO, and that could be because of it's vastly superior programming set, built in effects, and my ineptness at quickly making programs on UNO. Either way, the freebie help up VERY WELL, and it definitely tells me freeware is on par with the pay stuff. Maybe just lacking some features here or there.

Finally messed with DA HORNET (Wasp remake) is it sounded just dany. Had some fun just mucking around with it.

I'm sitting next to an Alesis A6 Andromeda and was thinking about booting it up and comparing to REAL analog, but I got stuff to do elsewhere. Maybe another day for that. But my past experience with a direct comparison of my A6 and "REALITY" soft synth, well, the softsynth had more beef on the very basic comparison I did. Again, the A6 has WAY more cool features and abilities, but when it comes to the bread and butter basics of synths....

SOFT SYNTHS ARE THERE. They HAVE arrived!
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Old 08-09-2010, 01:16 PM   #40
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Damn your on PC, bummer because that boot EQ looks awesome but im on osx...
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