In music production, plugins are software add-ons which expand the capabilities of your DAW; these could be virtual instruments and creative effects, EQ and compressor, or tools that make editing a lot more manageable.
This rolling list keeps you up to date on the newest plugins as they’re announced – as well as some interesting ones you might have missed – so check back regularly for the latest virtual instruments, effects, mixing plugins and more.
Latest virtual instruments, effects and mixing plugins
(Last update: 22 May 2023)
Capitol Mastering Compressor by Universal Audio
Universal Audio has launched the Capitol Mastering Compressor plugin, replicating the renowned CM5511 tube mastering compressor used by Capitol Studios. Previously deemed “unattainable” due to its rarity (only four exist), the plugin offers an authentic emulation. The CM5511 has been employed on numerous iconic records by labels like Capitol, Motown, and Geffen, as well as modern works by artists such as Black Sabbath, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez.
Inspired by the Fairchild 670 and Gates Sta-Level tube limiters, the UAD Capitol Mastering Compressor is a meticulous emulation with independent controls for left and right channels, offering dual mono, side-chain link, and mid-side configuration options. It also includes modern enhancements like Mono Fold, input signal saturation, side-chain filtering, and comprehensive metering.
Find out more information at uaudio.com
Objekt by Reason Studios
Reason Studios has unveiled the Objekt modelling synthesizer, designed to generate distinctive customisable acoustic sounds. The software synth aims to emulate the feel of acoustic instruments, replicating bells, mallets, percussion, stringed instruments, natural textures, organic pads, and more with remarkable authenticity.
With over 500 preloaded patches, Objekt offers dynamic and lifelike sound and includes a powerful randomiser for instant variation and inspiration. Priced at $99, the synth can be purchased for a discounted price of $79 until May 25. It is available on the Reason website and comes as part of Reason+ subscription or can be bought separately, requiring Reason 10.1 or later.
Find out more about Objekt by Reason at reasonstudios.com
Novachord and Solovox by Cherry Audio
Cherry Audio has introduced the Novachord + Solovox collection, virtual instruments that pay tribute to vintage Hammond synths. Mark Barton, an award-winning DSP designer, collaborated with Cherry Audio to revive these rare and expensive classics using virtual synthesis.
The Novachord, known for its presence in songs like We’ll Meet Again, is faithfully emulated with 32 polyphonic voices, original tone settings, envelope options, vibrato control, and integrated reverb effects. The Solovox, a monophonic mini keyboard, offers combinable switches for different voices, tone settings, glide and vibrato control, a mute function, and integrated reverb effects. Cherry Audio’s Novachord + Solovox package is a nostalgic homage to synthesizer pioneers.
Buy both for just $39 now at store.cherryaudio.com
Techivation has introduced M-Clarity, the second product in their new M series of audio plug-ins. This dynamic resonance suppressor plug-in utilises spectral shaping technology to enhance the tonal balance and clarity of audio.
By targeting and reducing problematic frequency components, M-Clarity effectively addresses issues like harshness, muddiness, and boxiness in sound, making it a valuable tool for audio mixing, mastering, and editing tasks. With a sleek and contemporary Graphic User Interface (GUI), M-Clarity offers practicality and seamlessly integrates into the toolkit of music and audio professionals.
Check it out at techivation.com
Augmented BRASS by Arturia
Arturia has expanded its Augmented product line with the introduction of Augmented BRASS, a hybrid brass plug-in designed to appeal to both brass enthusiasts and synth lovers.
By combining samples of solo performances, ensembles of varying sizes, synthesized sounds, and processed combinations, Augmented BRASS offers a familiar yet innovative approach to brass sound design. While similar sound design techniques have been popular in scores, compositions, and other libraries and plug-ins, the advantage of Augmented BRASS lies in its user-friendly editing capabilities. Unlike some libraries that require complex sample engines or unfamiliar interfaces, Augmented BRASS allows for easy customization without sacrificing sound quality, reducing the reliance on presets.
Model 80 by Softube
Softube has introduced the Model 80 synthesizer, a five-voice synth inspired by Sequential’s Prophet 5. The new model offers workflow enhancements such as Voice Pan Spread, Quantize Filter Cutoff, and modulation options for modern productions. It includes a Voice Mod section with Invert Voice Mod feature and five modules for Softube Modular.
The virtual instrument retains the original factory presets from the 1980s synth, providing access to a bank of presets used by artists like Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Radiohead.
It costs, for a limited time, $99 but will jump back up to its original price of $159 once the intro sale is over. Find out more about the Model 80 by Softube at softube.com.
BA-1 by BABY Audio
Baby Audio has introduced the BA-1, its first soft synth based on the 80s Yamaha CS01 analogue monosynth. The BA-1 retains the original’s unique appearance and gritty sound while incorporating new features. It has two oscillators with an X-Fade slider and an FM-based oscillator, offering a wider range of sounds.
The plugin also features an effects chain modelled on 1980s rack hardware, including a guitar-pedal-like overdrive, and cheap digital rack units for reverb, chorus, and delay effects. Other features include a Sidechain with Internal and External routing modes, a ‘Re-Gen’ button for creating new patches, and a resizable interface with a retro look.
The BA-1 is currently available for $49, with a free trial on babyaud.io.
Rev LX-24 by Arturia
Rev LX-24 by Arturia is a digital reverb plugin that brings a retro ambience box to life. With its famous spacious algorithms, the plugin offers real-feeling space and cave-depth atmosphere, adding subtle sparkling textures to your mixes. It’s been updated and optimized for DAW production, providing subtle spaces to huge atmospheres, endless canyon reflections, crisp ambient clouds, or small room bounciness. Rev LX-24 works with any sound, providing the missing magic on vocal tracks, the vital spaciousness on drums, and the epic long decays on synth melodies.
The advanced view of Rev LX-24 offers upgraded features such as colorful visual editing and sidechain-like effects, providing a totally different side to reverb. It is a clean, musical, and definitive reverb that brings any instrument to life, making your mixes bloom with vintage digital sound that refuses to get old. Whether you need to add subtle space or create huge atmosphere, Rev LX-24 is a must-have for any producer or sound engineer. Pricing for Rev LX-24 has not been disclosed.
Right now, you can buy Rev LX-24 for an introductory cost of $69. Find out more information at arturia.com.
Superplate reverb by Soundtoys
Soundtoys has released the Superplate, a plate reverb plugin for macOS and Windows that includes five different algorithms and several parameters for reverb tweaking. The plugin has a new drawable EQ with built-in filters and two bell curves, as well as an auto-decay feature that functions like a compressor turning down decay time. The Superplate plugin is available as an additional purchase for all Effect Rack 5 users and part of the Soundtoys 5 bundle, which includes 22 audio effects. The Soundtoys 5.4 update will integrate SuperPlate into Effect Rack with a new suite of presets.
The Superplate plugin has Soundtoys’ signature infinity decay time functionality, pre-delay options, a modulator, and lowpass & highpass filter. It also features a recovery time alongside stereo modulation for the entire reverb, allowing users to work in mono or stereo.
Pricing for Superplate has not been disclosed. Find out more information at soundtoys.com.
Mach1 Spatial System by Mach1 & GPU Audio
Mach1 and GPU Audio have developed Mach1, an accelerated open platform for multichannel and spatial audio production. The cross-platform workflow, currently available as an early-stage demo, features transparent spatial audio mixing, flexible multi-channel and spatial audio outputs, and continuous multichannel master file recording. Mach1 also offers aggregated head-tracking input, better spatial/3D visual aid, and an open-source playback tool for sharing mixes. The Mach1 Spatial is 100% transparent, with no additional filtering or signal-altering processing required to simulate spatial audio, according to the manufacturers. The accompanying Mach1 Spatial System Pro-Tier paid plugins are designed to take advantage of GPU processing for audio and further enhance the Mach1 Spatial System workflow.
The CEO of Mach1, Jacqueline Bosnjak, emphasises that spatial audio is not just a processing effect or feature, but a new medium. She believes that the company’s tools will enable spatial audio to reach its full potential as a new medium where artists and engineers have full creative control. The Mach1 Spatial System workflow and the accompanying plugins are aimed at democratising access to existing products in the market and giving users access to flexible spatial and multichannel audio mixing for emerging audio mediums.
The Mach1 spatial system is available for $99. For more information, visit the GPU.Audio website.
EZkeys 2 by Toontrack
Toontrack has announced the launch of EZkeys 2, a virtual piano software that offers a wide range of groundbreaking features and 800 new MIDI patterns. It allows musicians to add piano tracks to their projects with ease, featuring grand, upright, and electric pianos. The software has been re-designed and offers tools like Bandmate, Suggest Chords, Songwriting Scales, and Tap2Find. The new Grid Editor enables users to create and edit piano parts within the plugin itself. EZkeys 2 is available for €179 and will be released on May 16, 2023. Upgrades for existing EZkeys users are available for €99.
EZkeys 2 is supported on both Windows and Macs and can work as a standalone or plugin within your DAW.
It’s available for €179 and will be released on May 16, 2023. Existing EZkeys users can upgrade for €99, or pre-order their upgrade before the release date for €79. More information can be found at toontrack.com.
SubGen by Solid State Logic
Solid State Logic has launched SubGen, a sub-bass synthesizer plug-in for music producers. The plug-in uses a bass synthesis algorithm to generate a bipolar waveform one octave lower than the source material. SubGen includes an interactive interface with controls for gain, stereo width, and frequency for each of its four synthesis bands. It also has a built-in global filter control and compressor.
SubGen is available in various formats through the SSL Complete subscription, starting at $14.99 per month. It can also be purchased outright for $79.99 or through the rent-to-own plan.
A 14-day free trial of SubGen is available on the Solid State Logic website, SolidStateLogic.com.
M-Loudener by Techivation
M-Loudener by Techivation is made to amplify the sound’s loudness without compromising the quality or dynamic range. It’s particularly useful for audio mastering and individual track mixing, allowing for increased punchiness and power without losing clarity. The M-Loudener features a new GUI design inspired by the Techivation T series but with a contemporary twist. It’s user-friendly and adaptable, making it a valuable tool for music and audio professionals alike.
The features on the plugin include sound effect drive, softener and smoother modes, up to 8X oversampling, input/output peak meters, mid/side control, dry/wet mix, and presets.
You can download M-Loudener for $45 for limited time only before it goes up to $90. Check it out at techivation.com.
Phasor by UVI
Phasor is a versatile studio tool designed to provide music producers with a range of modulation, filtering, and distortion effects. Its unique multimode design and customizable parametric LFO offer buttery stereo field enhancement, rhythmic patterns with adjustable LFO waveshape and swing, and specialized effects utilizing min and max frequency range, feedback, and drive.
With an easy-to-use interface, Phasor delivers exceptional sound quality across a wide range of sweet spots. If you’re looking to elevate your sound and add creative effects to your music, Phasor is a powerful and dynamic tool worth considering.
Phasor by UVI is $29 until 1 April. Check it out at uvi.net.
FactorSynth 3 Sound Deconstructor by Anemond
Factorsynth 3 is a distinctive sound deconstruction tool that utilizes a machine learning algorithm to break down audio samples into individual elements. These pieces can be rearranged and remixed in endless ways to create complex textures, melodic variations, hybrid sounds, and more, opening up a world of new sonic possibilities.
It extracts intriguing sound elements with a degree of structure, such as notes, drum hits, or melodic motifs, and is “agnostic” to the type of mix it observes. Unlike deep learning systems, Factorsynth does not require pre-training with large databases, making it an ideal choice for sound design workflows that prioritize interpretability and the ability to work with little data.
Find out more and download FactorSynth 3 for €80 at anemond.net.
Mercury 6 Jupiter-6 emulation by Cherry Audio
Cherry Audio‘s Mercury-6 is a virtual instrument that emulates and enhances the classic 1980s Roland Jupiter-6 analog polyphonic synthesizer. With modern upgrades, such as velocity sensitivity and extended polyphony, the recreation boasts over 500 presets, improved split mode, and a layer mode capable of stacking two sounds simultaneously with per-layer stereo panning, detuning, and sustain.
The panel control lets users navigate between the layers and exchange settings between lower and upper layers. At $69 (launching at $49), Mercury-6 is an excellent tool for sound design, electronic music, and scoring, with firepower and versatility for a wide range of musicians and composers.
Check it out at cherryaudio.com.
BB N73 Neve 1073 emulation by KIT Plugins
KIT Plugins and Blackbird Studio have partnered to launch BBN73, a Neve 1073 emulation modelled after the Nashville studio’s legendary gear.
In our review of BB N73, we praised the features on the plugin that couldn’t exist on the hardware, such as being able to link the input gain and output level with continuous gain adjustments and being able to revert to the stepped-gain setting of the original.
Check out our review of BB N73 and download the plugin for $150 (or intro price of $75) at kitplugins.com.
Flex Beat by AKAI Pro and AIR
Akai Pro and AIR have jointly launched Flex Beat, a new plugin software for music production that allows for easy and intuitive beat chopping, DJ-style scratches, and various effects. The software includes a preset library of categorized effects that can be loaded onto the grid of 16 performance pads displayed on the graphical user interface (GUI).
The pads can be triggered through MIDI or by clicking on them within the plugin, and have different modes such as One Shot, Loop, and Hold, along with wet/dry mix control. Users can also edit the plugin’s effects through the Grid Editor panel and save custom presets.
Flex Beat is available right now at an intro price of £41. Check it out at airmusictech.com.
Minimonsta2 by GForce Software
GForce Software‘s brilliant Minimoog emulation plugin is back in town for round two. The first Minimonsta really was just what it claimed to be – a Minimoog with even more bite. More functionality takes the synth to new heights that the classic Roland hardware original simply could not.
The synth gives you a lovely warm analogue style sound. It has a dual voice mode for creating complex and layered sounds, a powerful arpeggiator, and a flexible modulation matrix for controlling parameters such as pitch, filter cutoff, and resonance. So, what’s new with Minimonsta2? The previous patch morphing’s been removed, the interface is now resizable, woth three different looks. There’s also an additional filter that doesn’t lose the low end when you crank it right up. There are loads more features you can discover, however.
Find out more and download it for £49.99 at gforcesoftware.com.
Cluster Delay by Minimal Audio
Cluster Delay is a versatile plugin that features a variety of delay modes, including stereo, ping-pong, and filtered, allowing you to create unique and complex delay effects.
With its intuitive interface, you can easily adjust parameters such as feedback, time, and modulation, to tailor your sound to your specific needs. The plugin also offers advanced features like ducking, MIDI sync, and tempo subdivision, giving you even more control over your sound.
Cluster Delay is available to buy for $49 at minimal.audio.com.
Percussion Factory Creative Rhythm Designer by UVI
Percussion Factory is a new, incredible looking and sounding rhythm designer that – although we haven’t used it – we predict to be well worth the $99 price tag. It provides you with a wealth of percussive samples and then gives you the option to slot these into 500 hand-crafted presets in the style of rhythms from around the world. Or, of course, you can just make up your own drum sequence.
What looks exciting though is the UX in Percussion Factory. It looks well made, giving you multiple pages and visual aides to create your sequence, and there are pages where you can dive deep into your drum sequence and control a variety of effects. Or, if you’re lazy, just click randomize and you’ll probably be making a banger in no time anyway.
Buy Percussion Factory Creative Rhythm Designer by UVI for $99 at uvi.net.
Retronaut lo-fi modulation effect by JMG Sound
The new Retronaut multi-effect plugin by JMG Sound is a “lo-fi nostalgia machine”, the brand says. It aims to give your tracks a sense of lo-fi 80’s nostalgia through degrading, crunch, reverb, chorus and more, echoing the feel of old analogue gear, combining bucket brigade chips, tape cassettes and vintage choruses. You can use it on drums to give them a fat, distorted sound or on synths to make them sound instantly rich.
Retronaut is made up of several sections: degrade for aging your sound with Dirt, Dust and Flutter controls. There’s a modulation section, a Diverge section which gives you control over each voice indepently, and LFO and VCF sections.
Retronaut is available to download for an intro price of $26 at unitedplugins.com, before it goes back up to its original price of $95.
Zen Delay by Erica Synth and Ninja Tune
We all love a beautiful modern hardware delay, don’t we? Well, a hardware delay made by Erica Synths in collaboration with record label Ninja Tune, the Zen Delay, has been transformed into plugin form. Zen Delay features five delay modes, a filter with drive and resonance, and modulation controls.
The characterful and warm effect plugin, according to Erica Synths, is not just an emulation of its hardware original but an addition to it. There’s time modulation, cutoff modulation, but also Digital Mode which features sample rate, bit rate and noise controls, which can result in crunchy, lo-fi effects.
Zen Delay is currently available for an intro price of €99. Check it out at ericasynths.lv.
data.train sample mangler by Dillon Bastan
data.train is a Max For Live device that uses mathematics to shape your sound through a mathematical operator grid. A good experimental option for “rhythmic effects, glitchy/chaotic/stuttering sounds, ambient/generative soundscapes, pretty effects, or adding a bit of weirdness to your sound”, the plugin focuses on modulation of sample playback and effects through a modulation grid made up of operators which take away or add, multiply or divide the amount of a parameter you’re controlling. These parameters can be anything from loop size to pitch modulation.
Bastan says on his site: “by changing the operators in a chain of events and the source of their right-hand operand, you can create complex to harmonic oscillations that can be evolving over time or repeating rhythms.”
Data.train is available to buy for $15 at dillonbastan.gumroad.com.
Twin 3 by Fabfilter
Fabfilter‘s Twin 3 plugin was launched on Tuesday. It’s a soft synth including analogue-modelled oscillators, award-winning filters and a range of new effects. You can take sound design to the next level thanks to the plugin’s advanced controls and intuitive layout, or simply use one of the many presets to get a massive sound instantly.
What’s changed since the Twin 2? Well, there’s a re-designed and much-improved interface, revamped oscillators, new Filter Freq/Peak offset knobs and that brand new effects section.
Fabfilter Twin 3 is $129. Find out more information and download it at fabfilter.com.
KSHMR Reverb by KSHMR and WA Productions
EDM producer and plugin creator KSHMR has once again teamed up with WA Productions to add the new KSHMR Reverb to his catalogue of effects plugins. What sets this apart from other digital reverbs is its simplifying focus on shaping your reverb with ducking and gating without causing a headache. KSHMR has essentially taken tried and tested reverb shaping techniques that manually take a while to implement and turned them into single-knob controls.
Use the controls in the Volume Manager, Tone Manager and Special FX area to shape your reverb. For example, applying a full duck means the reverb is compressed and will appear suddenly after the main sound has finished. A fade-in duck means the reverb will fade in steadily after the initial transient strikes. There’s also a cool reverse mode, a tonal reset and soft transient which works really well on sharp, plucky sounds.
Download the reverb for $19.99 at waproduction.com.
Scatter granular cloud generator by Soundghost
Scatter creates a beautiful effect and, as put by the brand, promises to “scatter your sound”, achieving “magical textures” and “scattered soundscapes”.
As you insert audio into the Scatter plugin, it creates individual recorded loops, referred to as grains, which, as you can hear in the video above, fill the space and float around the original audio. Scatter then offers in-depth control over the size, pitch and shape of these grains in an easy-to-use interface.
Scatter is available for an intro price of £39 – 20% less than the original listed £49. Buy it at soundghost.net.
AMEK Mastering Compressor by Plugin Alliance
Intelligent compression is what’s promised on the new AMEK mastering compressor by Plugin Alliance. It’s a model of the original AMEK hardware compressor, giving you in-depth compression control over your sound so that you can subtly glue everything together and have your sounds working in tandem.
True RMS detectors respond to changes in signal energy in a natural logarithmic way. Also, three detector circuits – slow, fast and peak, give incredibly accurate control over the compression for each aspect of the signal. Plus, a new Brainworx-designed detector graph shows all of the slight changes that are happening to your waveform.
The AMEK Mastering Compressor is $149.99. Check it out at plugin-alliance.com.
Surge XT modular synth by Surge
Familiar with VCV Rack? It’s a plugin that acts as a modular rack to which you can add virtual Eurorack modules. Surge XT is a free, open-source series of modules compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux in the VCV Rack library that can be set up and connected on VCV Rack to create patches.
Each module is both stereo and polyphonic and the collection has 11 oscillators including virtual analogue, FM, wavetable and physical modelling. There are 20 effects with direct access to the original presets found in Surge XT, a filter module with 33 filter types from classic analog modelling to advanced digital effects, a multimode waveshaper, plus mixing and utility tools. There’s also a multimode LFO/sequencer and envelope.
Surge XT is free. Find out more information about it at surge-syntheszier.github.io.
ChopMonster by Chop Audio
ChopMonster is a new auto-generative audio loop slicer and randomizer plugin developed by Chop Audio. It was built by multi-platinum, award-winning producer Felix Snow (Katy Perry, SZA, Selena Gomez, Young Thug, Lil Uzi Vert, etc.), and does an excellent job of quickly and easily chucking your melodies, vocals or drums into random patterns.
The best use case for this plugin, in our opinion, is on pop vocals over energetic EDM-style beats. You can chop up an audio phrase/loop and randomize the order of those chops to “induce mistakes”, the company says. If you’re looking for inspiration on your patterns, this plugin will switch things up and put you in a fresh direction.
ChopMonster is $10 per month. Check it out at chopaudio.com.
Frost channel strip by Acustica Audio
Acustica Audio has launched a channel strip plugin called Frost that the brand boasts as being an all-in-one solution, including three processing modules, a British-style four-band EQ section, a Dynamic section and Pre/Clipper/Saturator section.
Frost utilises the brand’s recently launched Hyper compression technology which, while its previous engine limited Acustica’s compressors to specific attack, release, and look-ahead times partly because of the high CPU consumption, are 12 to 16 times faster, making them more accurate and at a fraction of the CPU.
Acustica Audio’s Frost channel strip plugin is available now to download for €139 at acustica-audio.com.
Carbonizator by Davide Carbone
Carbonizator is a new collaborative project from Davide Carbon, Domenico Cipriani, a developer, and Pasquale Ascione, who is a graphic designer. It adds harmonic distortion to your recording or sample with some raw, lo-fi results.
The plugin has three valvular processors developed from scratch, with each valvular processor corresponding to a different wave-shaping technique. The three central tubes let you select the desired valvular processor, while the two kno0bs labelled Distortion and Intensity control the power of distortion.
Check the $14.99 Carbonizator out on Davide Carbone’s Bandcamp.
Swole by Okay Audio
If Sausage Fattener by Dada Life makes your audio fatter, then Swole by Okay Audio injects it with steroids. It’s a lot of fun and so easy to use with its silly single control knob in the centre taking you from ‘weedy’ to ‘SWOLE’. The plugin beefs up your sound using a combination of compression, saturation and limiting. Reverb and stereo width manipulation can also be toggled on and off.
The two parameters on either side let you adjust the gain of the input and the output, so the end result is as large sounding as you want.
Buy it now for $24.99 at okayaudio.co.uk.
Supermodal by Polyverse
Supermodal is an advanced filter plugin that uses hundreds of filters to recreate resonating modes. There is a low pass filter, band pass, high pass, self resonance and overdrive. You can set the filter to any of the plugin’s 27 modes, with range from the “musical to the mangled” Polyverse says.
Using Supermodal, you can emulate instruments such as a bell or a piano or simply take you sound to wild, experimental places. There are many exciting modulation features on this plugin and we simply can’t wait to have a go ourselves.
Check it out and buy Supermodal by Polyverse for $99 at polyversemusic.com.
PSP 285 by PSP Audioware
PSP 285 is the new semi-modular delay effects plugin by PSP Audioware. Dubbed “the ultimate creative semi-modular delay machine”, it takes the popular PSP 86 plugin by the brand and applies to a modular setup.
It’s a stereo delay on which the left and right channels can be processed independently with reverb and modulation. Each channel has pre-delay and continuous delay time control of up to 10 seconds. You can also experiment with a range of timbres using the delay plugin’s cross-channel feedback feature.
Buy it for $99 at pspaudioware.com.
SimuLathe Ref by Tokyo Dawn Labs
SimuLathe Ref is a new educational reference plugin made by Tokyo Dawn Labs with the intention of giving producers an insight into the vinyl disk mastering process. It shows how audio can be transferred to the grooves on a vinyl record, offering a precise virtual disk cutting lathe, several turntable pickup models and loads of metering and analysis.
SimuLathe Ref is available for €150 at tokyodawn.net.
Pitch Drift by BABY Audio
Pitch Drift’s slogan is “when everything is in tune… nothing stands out”. Its maker, BABY Audio, also says, “Pitch Drift makes it fast and easy to break the spell of digital pitch perfection and get your tracks to vibrate a little more.” Essentially, it’s a simple one knob plugin that adds a pitch shift to your sound, giving it some added character. The plugin is powered by the clever Drift algorithm that features on BABY Audio’s VHS plugin.
It’s free! Check it out at babyaud.io.
MS-20 Filter by Arturia
We love the iconic Korg MS-20 and the filter on it is beautiful. Well, Arturia has no created the MS-20 Filter plugin which, as you might have guessed, is an emulation of the synth’s filter effect. It has taken advantage of the brand’s True Analogue Emulation technology to model the iconic synth’s filter section. It will be available for download for free until 2 January, as a holiday treat.
It’s free! Go get MS-20 Filter at arturia.com.
Klevgrand‘s Tomofon lets you import an audio sample and turn into a synth sound. While many wavetable audio synths like this convert audio into a small number of waves, this createas a more accurate representation of the audio by turning into thousands of waves. In our review, we said, “It’s exciting to see just how far from the source you can get, making it perfect for those working in more experimental genres of music or doing sound design.”
Check it out at klevgrand.com.
Limited Edition T-Compressor M compressor by Techivation
Techivation continues its run of brilliant, easy-to-use processing plugins with T-Compressor M. But hang on – hasn’t Techivation already released a compressor plugin? NO! This is the new, limited edition T-Compressor M. A bit like an iPhone Plus or a Range Rover Sport.
What’s the difference here? Well, according to the brand, the idea behind it is to “include additional controls and a more pro-desired workflow” than the original. You can now find fully adjustable attack, release, ratio, and knee settings as well as a different interface in places.
Only 5,000 licenses are available for the T-Compressor M and it costs $78 to download. Find out more information at techivation.com.
2022: Virtual instruments, effects and mixing plugins
VISION 4X visual analyser by Excite Audio & NOSIA
Excite Audio has launched VISION 4X, an analyser plugin that gives you a detailed analysis of any audio file that you import. The plugin was made in collaboration with NOSIA (which kind of looks like VISION backwards), an electronic music trio that wanted to combine two of their favorite analyser plugins.
VISION 4X hones in on the details of the low-end, with NOISIA insisting that this is the element of a mix that you “really need to be in control of because they can ruin your mix easily”. It lets you see your sound through a spectogram, bar graph, waveform and phase correlation meter. Each of its separate analysers can be brought out into their own windows and adjusted in size, too, making for a streamlined workflow.
VISION 4X by Excite Audio and NOISIA is available to buy for an intro price of $49. The full price will be $89. Check it out at excite-audio.com.
Roast Beef distortion plugin by Caelum Audio
It’s the holidays and, as you might have guessed, Caelum Audio has released a Christmas-themed distortion plugin add-on called Roast Beef, which is part of its full Beef plugin. “Make sure all your tracks are driving home for Christmas with 35db overdrive boost,” is what the brand tells us. It also says we can give the gift of “meaty bass” by “beefing up” our low end. In our review of the full version, we said that the distortion plugin “brings individuality to widely overused drum samples”.
Roast Beef is festively free until 19 December. Check it out at caelumaudio.com.
The Spirit vocal effects chain by Cradle
Louis Bell and Cradle, who teamed to create the hyped God Particle plugin have returned with a sleek new effects chain for vocals. The Spirit is centered around vocal processing with an EQ, two reverbs, a doubler effects, a gain rider for tonal consistency, and a Character effect with compression and focus controls.
Presets to get you started come included, and you can create your own to save right inside the plugin. Bell is best-known for his work with Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, Post Malone and Camilla Cabello so there’s a pop mixing vocal chain you can trust.
The Spirit is available for $79 (usually $119) until 4 December. There’s also a five-day trial available on cradle.app.
Lil Tube by Waves
The first in Waves’ new line of Magma custom-modelled plugins is Lil Tube, a saturator that promises to add ‘instant bigness’ and analogue warmth to your tracks with little CPU usage.
Its controls are incredibly simple, with a sensitivity switch to select between Soft, Normal and High saturation levels; a Drive knob for dialling in saturation, and an Output control. Learn more on the Waves website, and hear it in action below:
Aperture: Cassette Symphony by Spitfire Audio
Spitfire’s Aperture: Cassette Symphony is a sample library packed with the sounds of a full symphony orchestra resampled through 200 cassette players at Assumption Studios – that’s done with over 800 tapes of orchestral material passing through 15 speakers.
The full suite of orchestral instruments are found here, from strings to woodwinds, and brass all separated into low and high sections, together with a complete percussion section with a variety of articulations.
Aperture: Cassette Symphony is available for £199/€249. Learn more on the Spitfire website.
Pilot Plugins AI MIDI generator by Mixed In Key
Mixed In Key’s new AI-powered Pilot Plugins was designed to help you generate fresh MIDI and audio files. Think of it as the drummer from Logic Pro X but for melody: you can choose from different avatars and have them generate notes for you in your chosen key, tempo and more.
Pilot Plugins launched with a range of genres under the Futurism Vol 1 collection, but the brand is expected to launch other styles of music in the near future.
Pilot Plugins Futurism Vol 1 is available now for $49.50.
Sound Particles filter Air | Music Edition
Sound Particles has launched Air | Music Edition, a free new filter effect plugin designed to simulate the increasing distance between a sound source and its listener.
Air is based on scientifically measured curves that allow you to apply distance to any sound. Air | Music Edition is a free stripped-back version of the original, which costs $69. While the original Air lets users go into more accurate details of humidity and temperature, has presets included and lets you create distances of up to 20 miles, Music Edition is optimised for music, only allowing for up to 500 feet.
Megalit synth by BLEASS
BLEASS has released its new synthesizer, Megalit, donning both monophonic and polyphonic operation, and three oscillators with 135 wavetables, providing a lot of variety for users.
The instrument marks the manufacturer’s most adventurous synthesizer to date, balancing accessibility to new users while also ensuring good sound quality with the built-in multi-band upward and downward compressor providing control over the sound’s dynamics.
Audiolens reference tool by iZotope
iZotope has unveiled Audiolens, a free desktop app which will make it easier to create music that sounds like your favourite tracks, using AI-powered assistance to adjust tonal balance, width, and dynamics.
Audiolens will seemingly integrate with iZotope’s Ozone 10 and Neutron 4 plugins, without the need to download any files, and will analyse audio from any streaming platform or audio source.
The plugin’s free to download until 22 November at izotope.com.
A-Console by Sonimus
Sonimus A-Console is a console plugin emulation of a classic American console. It’s been developed with the intention of being used on every single channel track and buss groups, the brand says. Sonimus promises “huge sound enhancement” on sound sources when using the console emulation with the characteristics of one of the most popular American hardware consoles.
Both A-Channel & A-Buss versions have now been combined, making the all-in-one plugin quicker and easier to control. “Get ready for this click-and-enhance Console Emulation!” Sonimus says.
The plugin is available for an intro price of $39 at sonimus.com.
Tangle synth by Toybox Audio
Tangle is a new set of curated blocks based on legendary Eurorack modules from the Tangle pack, with other “unique blocks for advanced synthesis and sound creation”, says the brand. It’s part of the Tangle pack, which is effectively a build-it-yourself monophonic synthesizer.
Included in this synth is a mini oscillator, the Tangle oscillator, a filter, modulation effects, delay and reverb.
Tangle a beautiful-sounding synth that certianly looks the part. Check it out and buy it for just $32 at toyboxaudio.com.
PolyMAX synth by Universal Audio
Creator of brilliant plugins that emulate classic hardware, UAD has outdone itself with the new PolyMAX synth, which it announced this week.
A “vintage‑inspired synth gives producers the sound of the golden age of analog polyphonic synthesizers”, so says UAD, with this plugin that emulates the workflows and sounds of classic synths like the Jupiters, Oberheims and Prophets.
Bill Putnam, Jr., CEO of Universal Audio, has said: “Created with our deep analog-modeling expertise, PolyMAX is inspired by these timeless sounds and fits seamlessly into any DAW‑based workflow.”
Buy PolyMAX for $199 at uaudio.com.
Oddity 3 by GForce
Oddity3 is an emulation of the ARP Odyssey synth, released in 1972. It’s been over two decades since the first version of Oddity dropped, and though it’s added a slew of features to its repertoire since, the core of the emulation is still “a faithful and accurate recreation of one of the most highly revered synths ever,” says GForce.
It already had authentic models of the original hardware’s filters, two syncable oscillators, ring modulator, AR and ADSR envelopes, and more. This time around, however, a Vintage knob lets you introduce ‘analogue-style’ imperfections to your signal.
Find out more and buy Oddity 3 for £49.99 at gforcesoftware.com.
Loopmix by Audiomodern
Audiomodern launched its Loopmix plugin this week, which is designed to offer infinite ways to slice, dice, and rearrange loops. Allowing users to slice, pitch, reverse, rearrange and remix their work in more ways than some thought possible, up to six loops can be uploaded and edited using the plugin at any one time.
Find out more about the $49 Loopmix at audiomodern.com.
Pocket Dimension by Freakshow Industries
What is the Pocket Dimension? Well, a description of the plugin effect from its product page brings up more questions than answers, but we’ve sort of figured out that’s the entire point.
The latest plugin to arrive from Freakshow Industries seems to have one foot in a Lovecraft horror story, and the other in experimental granular synthesis. It’s highly recommended that you try this one out yourself, or at least give its trailer a watch.
You can pick up the Pocket Dimension at $30, or if you’re feeling naughty, Freakshow Industries also offers the option of ‘Stealing’ the plugin (which essentially lets you pay less than its actual price tag). See the Freakshow website for more.
ShaperBox 3 update by Cableguys
If you’ve been on the fence about picking up ShaperBox, now may be a good time to add to cart. The latest version of the sound movement and mixing plugin toolkit adds a host of new features, bringing into the fold Audio Triggering, Sidechain View in VolumeShaper and a new LiquidShaper Flanger-Phaser.
On top of offering drawable LFO, nine creative effects from bitcrushers to stereo imagers, ShaperBox 3 comes with a preset browser to quickly find combinations that work with your latest track.
ShaperBox 3 is priced at €89 / $89 (usually €301 / $301) during this Black Friday period. Learn more at the Cableguys website.
Noon Toska Instrument for Kontakt
Toska is a Kontakt instrument by Noon Instruments described as a “palette of evolving, atmospheric textures created from multi-layered, imperfect performances”, says the plugin developer.
It’s an elegant thing, and looks to be brilliant for producers looking for abstract, eerie soundscapes. Choose from 83 patches of multi-layered synths, brass, strings, winds, vocals and field recordings re-recorded onto tape and cassette to form saturated, gritty textures.
You can find out more about toska and download it for an intro price of £69 at nooninstruments.com.
BPB Dirty LA – Free compressor VST plugin
BPB‘s continuing its Dirty range of free plugins with its latest offering, the Dirty LA limiting compressor.
The compressor and saturator, which is based on classic amplifiers, is “dirty” because it includes a dirt algorithm that adds a unique crunch. If you’re looking for punchy drums like Jay-Z or Beyonce, as A.J. Hall says in the video above, this can apparently bring you just that vibe. It’s also lightweight and stable, thanks to its low CPU usage.
Dirty LA is free to download at bedroomproducersblog.com.
Zumzet Lo-fi virtual instrument plugin
Zumzet is an affordable virtual instrument made by audiolatry that delivers all manner of beautiful retro sounds.
From twinkling keys to dusty pads, Zumzet looks like a seriously inspiring instrument considering the cost. It also has a fun interface with scrawled pen-like labels for each effect parameter to reflect the dusty sounds you’re hearing as you play.
Zumzet is just $9 (a free version is also available) and is available to download at audiolatry.com.
Moogerfooger S-Series by Moog
Moog has brought each and every effect pedal in the venerable Moogerfooger line into the digital domain for the very first time with the Moogerfooger S-Series plugins.
According to Moog, each virtual pedal has been “lovingly recreated to impart the same lush, distinctive tones of the original analogue circuits and can now be used in DAW-based environments.”
The pedals were first introduced by Bob Moog in 1999, but discontinued in 2018. It brought Moog’s design architecture into the pedal market with gusto, featuring signature Moog knobs and Appalachian wood side panels. They were found to work well with an astonishing range of inputs, from vocals to synths, and also featured inputs and outputs for CV.
The Moogerfooger S-series will be available for Windows and macOS at an intro pricing of $149 (Usually $249). For more information visit moogmusic.com.
BigSky Plugin by Strymon
Originally a guitar pedal which found its place in studio work, the BigSky reverb effects pedal is finally available as a plugin. Described to be a “direct port” of the original, the BigSky Plugin features all 12 reverb machines: Bloom, Cloud, Chorale, Shimmer, Magneto, Non-Linear, Reflections, Room, Hall, Plate, Spring and Swell.
The ‘Hold’ function is also present – this lets you trigger an endless reverb effect in both Infinite (engages infinite sustain) and Freeze (where you can stack unprocessed audio atop) modes.
The plugin format also means producers can finally have more than one instance of the BigSky running in their project – well you could before, but you had to buy one for each track you wanted it on. Instead, you can now run as many instances of the BigSky as your machine can handle for $199.
Learn more at the Strymon webpage.
Spectral Spacer (reverb, delay, grain reverb etc.)
We love Spacer. It’s a modular multi-effect plugin with three reverb modules, two delay modules and finalising controls like chorus, dimension, saturation and stereo effects. Spacer’s five coloured modules can give you any combination of reverb, grain reverb, simple delay, convolution and grain delay. You can switch any module on or off and stack the effects on top of each other.
It’s available for an intro price of $69. Check it out at spectral-plugins.com.
Big Muff Pi hardware plugin
We all know Big Muff, don’t we? Well, if you don’t, not to worry. It’s one of the most iconic distortion pedals on the market. used by guitarists through to 303 acid lovers alike, Big Muff can be found as a default on pedal boards, providing a distinct crunch to beats, bass or, well, whatever you fancy!
Now, Electro Harmonix, in a major move, has turned Big Muff into a plugin and built a faux hardware device along with it to give an unmatched analogue sound. A more affordable alternative to the real thing, this has all the action going on in the DAW while the physical unit simply acts as a controller.
The pedal and hardware unit comes in at $329. Check it out at ehx.com.
Superfly DSP Lost Vinyls lo-fi effect (Freeware)
Lost Vinyls is a free lo-fi effects plugin that uses “state-of-the-art distortion algorithms”, the developer says, to add an old-school vinyl tape crunch to your sounds. With a simple interface, you can control the depth of the tape effect and the rate of the flutter frequency. There’s also a Crunch button to add even more harmonic distortion. There’s also a stereo mode.
Find out more and download for free at superflydsp.com.
Acustica Audio Fire The Bus+ compressor
Acustica’s FIRE series of one-knob plugins aim to provide high quality combined with ease of use. Acustica Audio recommends users to apply this to their whole mix, with it being able to provide the ‘glue’ between tracks, meaning they can have a cohesive timbre across all of them quickly and easily.
The plugin costs $69. Find out more and check it out at acusticaaudio.com.
Sampleson Alienize cinematic sci-fi instrument
Alienize by Sampleson is a simple but strange mouse-sensitive instrument that’s suitable if you’re looking for modern alien-like soundscapes found in the likes of Arrival. Think alien invasion music and you’re there. It’s not just able to make strange background noises, however, as it does a pretty good job of creating unique bass growls for experimental dance music.
Over a fun looping animation of aliens walking through a forest, you can simply wave your mouse around to affect the sound. First, set the pedals, generators, textures and their gains at the bottom, and then affect each parameter via mouse gestures, allowing for a more natural playing experience.
Download Alienize at an intro price of $39 at sampleson.com.
Mixland STEAMDRIVER channel strip plugin
Not only does this new channel strip plugin by Mixland look like the intro screen for a weird PS1 steampunk game, the quirky visuals play a key role in this characterful tool, too. It’s a “pulverizing steampunk channel strip plugin that sounds as demented as it looks”, according to Mixland, that uses three modules, compression, distortion, and an EQ, each visually represented by the weird things on screen. A hydraulic machine press represents the compressor’s behavior and gain reduction, an electric shock chamber represents saturation, and so on.
Download and around with this strange plugin for $14.99 at mixland.io.
Cherry Audio Sines polyphonic synth
Cherry Audio‘s new Sines virtual polyphonic synth combines subtractive synthesis, additive synthesis, and FM synthesis, taking advantage of, Cherry Audio says, “diverse waveshaping to bend pure sine waveforms into infinitely variable and complex shapes and sounds”.
There are four sine-wave-only oscillators – hence the name–, a range of modulation options, and an integrated effects engine. According to the developer, Sines has a vast palette of timbres, from “sublime to sizzling”.
You can buy it for an intro price of $39 at store.cherryaudio.com.
Heavyocity FURY distortion designer
On 4 October, Heavyocity released its latest plugin, a distortion effect called FURY. It provides a range of levels of distortion, from subtle tube warmth to hard clipping, “lo-fi crush”, says Heavyocity. It is a semi-modular distortion designer with drive, distortion and tone parameters on hand, providing 700 possible module combinations.
For a limited time, Heavyocity are kicking things off with an intro price of $99, down from the original $119. Find out more at heavyocity.com.
Punk Labs OneTrick SIMIAN drum synthesizer
OneTrick SIMIAN is an open-source drum synthesizer from Punk Labs. Inspired by “hexagonal classics” like the Simmon SDS-V electronic hexagonal drum kit, it boasts a typically 80s sound. Punk Labs describe the sounds on offer as: “Thumping kicks, punchy snares, and sizzling cymbals coalesce with its clacky claves and crunchy claps. Bring saccharine synthwave sauce to your sublime soundscapes or drop indelable pewww pewww tom toms into your new nu-disco.”
It has 10 voices, 33 factory preset kits , velocity sensitive pitch, filter an damp dynamics and lo-fi EPROM for a classic cymbal sound.
Find out more and buy the OneTrick SIMIAN for $35 at punklabs.com.
UVI Augmented Orchestra 1.1 Update
UVI Augmented Orchestra is a plugin that amasses a range of orchestral sounds and lets you layer them with synths to make something nostalgic yet forward-thinking. Whatever sound you’re making, it’s going to be unique.
Now, with the 1.1 update, 100 new sounds have been added with 35 new sound sources that adopt a further focus on modern sound design.
The update is free for current users of Augmented Orchestra and $199 for first-time buyers. Find out more at UVI.net.
Artistry Audio Monolith bass engine
Monolith is an “infinite bass engine”, according to its developer Artistry Audio. It’s a Kontakt instrument that produces rumbling, floor-shaking basslines perfect for dance music or deep dramatic sounds for soundtracks. It’s got hundreds of presets to choose from made up of 85 groups of sculptable organic basses, swells, subs and other bass styles made up of synth samples.
Monolith is available right now for an intro price of $99, with it normally costing $149, and can be played on the Kontakt player. Find out more at artistryaudio.com.
Smugi filter bank with effects by Felt Instruments
Smugi is a warped take on a historic filterbank used by the likes of Stockhausen and Pierre Schaefer. Designed to let you “get your mad scientist coat out” the plugin builds in the classic sound of the Albiswerk 502, splitting signals into 12 “musical” bands and equipping each with LFOs and movement, flutter and feedback effects.
It’s also highly usable as a mixing tool, with a virtual recreation of the original’s germanium amp giving you saturation and even distortion. Listen to it at the Felt Instruments website.
Smugi is going for an intro price of £59 (usually £79) until 18 October.
Dials channel strip by AudioThing x Hainbach
If you’re looking to give your signals a distinct 1950s sound, Dials could be up your alley. The plugin is described as a “detailed digital translation” of some pretty unconventional vintage gear from YouTuber Hainbach’s studio.
The combination of a “German vacuum tube radio broadcast device” and a “heavy-duty American bandpass filter” provide the main colouration of Dials. There’s also built-in compression that’s suited to vocals. “While its roots are in the past, this is a truly modern device with an unparalleled sound. It can be used to sweeten your music or to experiment – it can even become an instrument in your hands,” reads a product description.
You can get it now at an introductory price of $49 (usually $79).
KSHMR Chain workflow streamlining tool
KSHMR Chain is a new workflow streamlining plugin made by Excite Audio in collaboration with EDM star KSHMR. It streamlines your workflow and eradicates copy and paste, the producer says. Make plugin chains, save them and apply them to multiple tracks quickly and easily.
The way it works is by having ‘leader plugins’ and ‘follower plugins’. The leader is where you test out the paramters for your desired result, and then once you’ve decided on that, you can broadcast it out to all the followers, so they have the exact same parametres. It basically solves the issue of duplicating plugin chains all the time.
Buy it for an intro price of $29 on pluginboutique.com.
Waves Spherix Dolby Atmos Compressor/Limiter Suite
Working with spatial audio? Waves has launched Spherix Immersive, an intuitive compressor and limiter plugin suite created specifically for processing audio for surround sound.
Spherix consists of a compressor and a brickwall limiter, designed to make workflows easier for producers and sound engineers working in immersive 7.1.4/7.1.2 mixing environments. It features Channel Linking and Control Linking alongside a speaker zone visualiser.
Check it out at waves.com.
Free 1960s Piano by SampleScience
This amazing and free 1960s Piano plugin by SampleScience is based on the recording of the early 60s studio/semi-grand Kawai Model 600 piano, which is warm and lovingly lo-fi. It includes a multi-LFO, four velocity layers, a room reverb and three voice modes: polyphonic, monophonic, and legato.
1960s Piano is free to download at samplescience.info.
LoopToGo looping software
LoopToGo is a software looper that’s easy to use and designed for live, off-the-cuff performances. There is a free version that’s limited to only 6 tracks while Pro allows you to loop as many tracks as you want. Simply plug in your audio, set the loop time, tempo and get looping in seconds. There are even basic ways to create a full formed track or to test out how a full track might look thanks to its automation clip features.
Take a look at LoopToGo at looptogo.com.
Free SampleScience Zither Renaissance instrument
This new free software instrument by SampleScience is made out of restored recordings of a zither. A zither is is a Chinese string instrument that has a distinctive sharp plucking sound. Recorded by Versillian Studios, the instrument is damaged, giving it an air of unique texture. Spectral repair, adaptative noise removal, and manual retuning has been applied to the audio.
Check it out and download for free at samplescience.info.
Sistema AI-powered software synth by Guk.ai
It’s becoming more common to see artificial intelligence in mixing plugins, but not as often in instruments however. Sistema is an AI-powered soft synth that generates new synth leads, pads, drums and more. All you have to do is choose an instrument category and character, and let the machine do the work.
After that, you’ll be able to tweak parameters to hone in on the sound you want. It’s available now for $10 per month, and there’s a seven-day trial for you to test it out.
Learn more at Guk.ai
ModFlorus chorus-flanger effect by Xhun Audio
Coming from the developer behind LittleOne, a software emulation of the Moog Little Phatty, ModFlorus is a hybrid effect processor that’s a lot more straight-up: it’s a chorus and flanger with simple controls and a realistic sound, thanks to advanced component simulation.
ModFlorus supports MIDI automation and comes with presets aplenty. The intro price of $9.90 (usually $39) also makes it worth considering if you’ve been seeking out a modulation effect for your arsenal.
Check out Modflorus.
Jellyfish granular synth by MiMU
The brand behind MiMU Gloves has entered the plugin market with a granular synth called Jellyfish. Specially designed with live performance in mind, Jellyfish lets you create drones, soundscapes and pulses with the ability to make dramatic audio tweaks in real time.
Simply drag-and-drop your own audio, or choose from a variety of included samples and get started. Then you can manipulate sounds with parameters for grain, as well as a number of playback options that go forward, backwards and inter-spliced.
Available now for £99, learn more at MiMU’s website.
DreamMachines by Melda
DreamMachines a big and flexible collection of sampled drum machines with convenient tools to mix, layer and further process your sound. It comes in instrument form for MSoundFactory, Melda’s own virtual instrument library in plugin form.
There are over 500 samples spanning kicks, snares, rims and claps – all of which cater a wide range of genres from EDM and hip-hop, to 80s synth pop and more. If you own MSoundFactory, you’ll find DreamMachines available as a free download. Otherwise, it’s available as a separate download (running with the free MSoundFactoryPlayer for an intro price of £17 / €19.
Learn more about DreamMachines at the Melda website.
Pockey2 Lo-Fi bitcrusher by Airwindows
The sequel to Pockey runs smoother, and refreshes the character of the fidelity crushing plugin. Now, you’re given a broader range of adjustment with sessions running in 96kHz – with the ability to frequency crush much lower.
Airwindows says of Pockey2: “Pockey2 shines when finding just the right spot to entirely transform a sound into pure lo-fi hip hop classic sampler madness. Even more than the original Pockey, this one can completely transform a sound into retro digital.”
Pockey2 is free to download at the Airwindows website.
Beat Scholar drum machine by Modalics
Taking inspiration from pizzas, Modalics has announced a tasty new drum machine called Beat Scholar. The plugin lets you slice up beats – represented by a circle – for a visually refreshing and freeing take on subdivisions.
Built-in kits and a sampler come included. Here, over 250 curated factory samples are incorporated to capture a wide range of possibilities. What’s more, each sample can be adjusted – giving users complete control over attack times, length, pitch and more.
Moog Minimoog Model D now available on MacOS
Moog has brought its revered Minimoog Model D iOS app to desktops as a plugin for major DAWs and as a standalone app. Best of all, it’s free for existing iOS owners and only $25 for new users.
Packed with 160 presets, Moog Minimoog Model D is more than just a faithful recreation of the 1970 monophonic synth. Along with four-note polyphony, the virtual recreation boasts an easy-to-use arpeggiator, a real-time loop recorder with unlimited overdubbing, a ping-pong stereo delay with tempo sync, and Bender – a “wide-range stereo time modulation effect module,” Moog says.
Download Moog Minimoog Model D App on the App Store.
ER-99 by Extralife Instruments
It’s not quite a plugin (at least without some internal routing) but Extralife’s tribute to the Roland TR-909 is worth a mention. The ER-99 is a browser-based emulation of the Roland TR-909, the iconic drum machine which is celebrated on 9 September – or 909 day – each year.
Play ER-99 at extralifeinstruments.com.
Guitarstrip by Solid State Logic
Solid State Logic’s Guitarstrip combines tube amp emulations with a channel strip with options suited for guitars, in order to get you a great sounding recording. There’s Auto-Gain, a Compressor, a 3-band EQ and a multi-mode Drive module, amongst other tone shaping features.
Guitarstrip is included in the SSL Complete subscription, which goes for $14.99 a month. You can also get it standalone for $199.
Learn more, here.
Phaser-DDL by Dusty Devices
The Ensoniq DP/4 parallel effects processor is a legendary piece of hardware heard on records by Daft Punk, Alan Braxe and Sébastien Léger. Dusty Devices’ Phaser-DDL is a cycle-accurate emulation of the unit’s unique phaser algorithm, featuring all the same controls as its hardware counterpart.
Cycle accurate emulation means that the interactions between virtual components are timed in a manner that accurately reflects the hardware version – meaning its behaviour, in theory, should be reflective of the original both sound- and feel-wise.
Phaser-DDL is available in 64-bit VST3 and AU formats at a suggested price of €24.
Learn more and hear sound demos here.
Needlepoint vinyl emulator by Unfiltered Audio
Unfiltered Audio’s take on vinyl emulation takes advantage of physical modelling rather than preset algorithms to give offer turntable-like playability – for example, you can set the ‘RPM’ freely, or tempo-sync it to your session.
Aside that, you get to sculpt sounds with parameters such as gain, age, dust, noise and, to round things off, a single-knob compressor that takes after vintage hardware samplers.
Unfiltered Audio’s Needlepoint will be available soon via Plugin Alliance (per Synth Anatomy).
Learn more, here.
Strokes sequencing workstation by Cong Burn
Strokes is a powerful MIDI sequencing workstation developed by Cong Burn, instrument rhythm explorers will want to note down this one. Said to be inspired by drummer Jaki Leibzeit of Can, Strokes lets you explore complex rhythms in musical ways.
You’ll find various sequencing modes such as euclidean, step and algorithmic rhythms on top of parameters that let you add probability to the mix, shift note pitches and loads more.
Strokes is available for £35 at congburn.co.uk.
Phosycon 2 TB-303 emulation plugin by D16 Group
D16 Group has announced the updated second edition of its Phosycon TB-303 bassline synth emulation plugin. According to the developer, it’s said to emulate 303 as a starting point but then provide so much more that hardware just can’t achieve: more state-of-the-art effects, more envelope tools and an advanced step sequencer.
The updated plugin is an upgrade from its predecessor, with a revised arpeggiator, signal chain, sequencer and a new Creative Randomizer function. It is, according to the developer, a “gateway to every 303 every made”. This is 303 in its most advanced form, surely? Go grab it for €89 today.
Learn more at d16.pl.
Quanta 2 granular synth by Audio Damage
Audio Damage announced the second version of its Quanta granular synth, packing on new features to make it a choice pick for producers wanting to get granular. Quanta 2 runs two virtual analogue oscillators and improves its granular engine with pitch detection plus note quantisation so it’s more flexible.
Aside that, users can expect a cleaner interface and a helpful right-click context menu to replace the original’s modulation matrix. Quanta 2 is available for $129, but there’s also a $70 upgrade for Quanta 1 owners with the code “QUANTA2UPGRADE”.
Learn more at audiodamage.com
August 2022: Virtual instruments, effects and mixing plugins
Mouth Play ‘vocal tract’ synth by Dylan Bastan
Bizarre, playful and all sorts of awesome, Mouth Play is a maxforlive instrument that runs on the unique shaping of a vocal tract, together with a simulated glottis (brass model) and accepts FM oscillator as a source. The variety of sounds you get is vast, covering a range of mildly disturbing timbres from breaths and animalistic screeches, to glitchy and droney. Mouth Play is offered at a suggested price of $10.
Learn more here.
IHNY 2 parallel compressor by Baby Audio
Three years on from the launch of Baby Audio’s inaugural plugin, I Heart NY, the developer has launched a follow-up to the original parallel compressor. IHNY2 boasts a complete visual overhaul but continues to drive Baby Audio’s mission to create “the hardest-hitting compressor in the industry.” A new central XY pad enables you to dial in the amount of parallel compression to your mix, as opposed to the original’s two knobs and one slider.
Until 30 September, new customers can purchase IHNY 2 for $39, while owners of the original I Heart NY can upgrade for $25. The plugin is available in VST, VST3, AU and AAX formats and is compatible with M1-equipped Macs.
Learn more here.
Dist COLDFIRE dual distortion by Arturia
Arturia’s new custom distortion tool combining a range of analogue-style and digital algorithms with modulation. There are 11 distortion types that can be applied and combined through filters A and B. These types range from “emulated tube heat” to creative “icy digital bit crush”. It includes saturation, crunch and destruction controls to provide a “near-infinite” amount of distortion possibilities, according to the French software developer.
Available at $99. Learn more here.
OctaSine (v0.8.0) free polysynth by Joakim Frostegård
The latest version of Joakim Frostegård’s free and open source OctaSine is out, bringing improved patch management, waveform visualisations and other talents to the FM synth.
An ongoing development – which shares its code on GitHub – OctaSine’s name derives its four stereo sine-wave operators. Aside that, it offers flexible routing, four multi-wave LFOs, ADSR envelopes for each voice and a white noise mode for creating percussive tones.
It runs on macOS, Windows and Linux in VST2-compatible hosts.
Learn more here.
Synth AI library for Kontakt by Sample Logic
To get this out of the way, the ‘AI’ in Synth AI refers to ‘Animated Intelligence’ – just in case you were expecting a synth that had a brain. With that out of the way, this is a massive Kontakt library with an emphasis on cinematic synths and options – so many options.
Featuring 24GB of samples across 1,074 instruments and presets, Synth AI’s smorgasbord of multi-sampled synths span analogue and digital, both modern and vintage.
Randomisation features, motion effects and a clever sequencer take these synths to the next level, and there’s lots else for media composers to love. It’s now priced at an intro pricing of $149.99 (usually $249.99) and you’ll need the full version of Kontakt to run it.
Learn more here.
Flipity phase inverter by Airwindows
Flipity is a very tiny utility plugin that helps you flip the phase of channels, and it’s also the latest free drop from the charitable musician and developer Airwindows, who has written and given away hundreds of free plugins, samples and more over the years.
In his demo for Flipity, Airwindows – who goes by Chris – also announces that he has a new album out called Welcome To Free Luna, so if you’d like to support his work, we recommend picking up a digital copy.
Learn more here.
Mercury spooky sounds library by Spitfire Audio
Spitfire Audio’s Mercury was created in collaboration with Hollywood composer Chas Smith. It brings the haunting and sinister sounds of films such as Saw, The Hunger Games and Interstellar to your DAW
Comprised of organic sounds, the plugin features 300 presets and a Sonic Experiment option which includes six warp options and the ability to toy with the sounds of different metals.
Mercury is available now for £149, here.
OCS-45 cassette simulator by Spectral Plugins
Spectral Plugins’ new OCS-45 cassette simulator takes your tracks to lo-fi land with four authentic cassette types, complete with pitch modulations, dropouts and noise.
Punks and indie-rockers looking to give DI-recorded instruments the DIY treatment (how many Portastudios are still out in the wild, really?) can also rely on OCS-45’s rich built-in distortion processor, which lets you dial in any amount of crustiness.
Get it for $15, here.
VAPoly polysynth for iOS and computers by RT Music Software
VAPoly is an eight-voice polysynth designed for iOS devices and MacOS, and it comes fleshed out with effects, automation talents and a sequencer too – not bad for those who want a powerful synth to take on-the-go.
There are two oscillators with mod options, two ADSR envelopes and both high-pass and low-pass filters. The sequencer lets you program 16-bar patterns to launch as clips – of which you can store 16 of, as well.
VAPoly works standalone or as an AuV3 plugin for mobile DAWs. Developer Ryo Togawa, who also previously released VAMono and VADrum2, is marking the launch of VAPoly with a discounted price of $9.99 (usually $14.99) until 31 August.
Cramit multiband compressor
Cramit is a multiband compressor that can be driven into distortion, channelling the aggressive compression techniques of countless dubstep and electronic producers.
It features a three-band compressor with expansion, seven different distortion algorithms with the option to add harmonics before or after compression, solo and bypass functions for specific bands and versatile controls for gain, speed, depth and dry/wet. On top of all of that, it’s completely free.
Based on the well-loved OTT from Xfer Records, which is also free, an “upwards/downwards” multi band compressor with gain controls on both its input and output, Cramit is an easy to use, rather classy-looking tone beast.
Get it here.
Rust Motor EQ by Acustica
An emulation of the legendary Motown EQs of yore populating the ‘Hitsville U.S.A.’ studio, Acustica’s Rust Motor EQ emulates the all-analogue, passive seven-band fixed EQ units that contributed to the sound of The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5 and more. It’s available now for an introductory price of €59, with a regular price of €109.
How to install plugins on Windows, Mac and iOS
If your plugin came as a .zip file, and not an installer, you may have to manually install it. Here’s how…
- Unzip the plugin folder
- Copy the .VST file to your default plugin folder (Windows default: C:\Program Files\Common Files\VST3, Mac default: /Library/Audio/Plugins/VST)
- Start your DAW
- Rescan your plugin directory
- Download and install plugin from the App Store
- Insert plugin in your DAW
- Select the AUv3 plugin from the Audio Unit Extensions tab
Where to download freeware plugins and VSTs
Our freeware section is an excellent place to start; each month, we also compile round-ups of the best free plugins and samples to download.
The production community is full of passionate developers who’ve given away instruments, effects and other plugins as freeware. Some of our favourites include Valhalla’s Supermassive reverb, Apogee’s Soft Limit and Matt Tytel’s Helm polysynth. Remember, most developers also offer free trials for their plugins.
Are DAW stock plugins good enough?
Most major DAWs these days will come with a more-than-serviceable collection of ‘stock’ plugins for music-making: Logic Pro’s software instrument library is rich and varied; Ableton Live’s synth engines cover additive, subtractive and granular methods, and the Pro Tools suite of mixing plugins is still widely used by pro engineers.
A good producer isn’t their plugin folder, but their ability to make good decisions. Increase your knowledge: instead of buying a synth samples, learn about the fundamentals of synthesis; kick drum sounding too skinny? learn to compress properly.