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My Favorite Free Plugins

Category: Tutorials Published on Tuesday, 14 October 2014 Written by Chris Zrout

I tend to be pretty thrifty in my purchasing decisions with plugins. Spending over $100 for a compressor or limiter can be quite much. Here's a list of of 4 free plugins that get the most use out of me. Since I use windows these will all be in 32-bit VST, though they may be also offered formats.


1. Limiter №6

A versatile limiter with multiple stages to shape how you want to control dynamics. All the options can be daunting at first, but if you just want simple limiting, each component may be turned on and off so you can just use the peak limiter if you want. This is my go to limiter which I place at the end of my busses. My favorite way of using it is on the drums with 1-2 db of gain reduction with the peak limiter and another 1 db gain reduction with the clipper.

The plugin was created by Vladislav Goncharov and you can download it from his site here. He also has a youtube video which I found helpful on where to start when using all the features of the limiter.

2. CamelCrusher

A stripped down version CamelPhat, it only includes two types of distortion (tube and mech), low pass filter, compressor and basic mix controls. Although limited I find that this is my favorite tool for adding warmth to sounds. A touch of tube saturation added to your drums can really add some spice.

You can get it from Camel Audio here, though you will have to give them your email address.

3. Voxengo SPAN

An information rich spectrum analyzer, I use it to monitor the RMS for mastering. Looking at it initially can be confusing as the graph defaults to a 4.5dB per octave slope. This puts higher frequencies higher up on the Y-axis and is useful when gauging the overall balance of your mix. Try changing the slope to 3dB per octave which is the balance for pink noise and is supposedly ideal for the human ear.

You can download it from from Voxengo's site here.

 4. s(M)exoscope

Kick, snare it's all in your mind.

This handy tool generates a real-time waveform on whatever channel you stick it on. I use it on my drums buss to see how the my compression and limiting are squashing the transients. It's also handy for finding errant peaks which take up headroom.

You can download it here.