SoundBytes Freebies of the Month
Produce and mix your music with best freeware tools. Tomislav Zlatic shows us what some of these treasures are and where to find them.
by Tomislav Zlatic, Nov. 2014
The holiday season is coming closer and discounts for various commercial audio tools are becoming more and more common each week. But even with so many commercial products available at discounted prices as we approach the end of the year, nothing beats downloading a fantastic sound library or a piece of software for free. And we have four amazing new freebies for you once again!
MT Power Drum Kit 2 by Manda Audio
If you produce rock music, you should definitely take a look at the MT Power Drum Kit 2 virtual instrument by Manda Audio. Originally released as a commercial product priced at $39, this high quality acoustic drum module is now available as a free download from the developer’s website
The plugin offers a standard pop/rock drum sound, which sounds great right out of the box. It will fit most rock mixes with ease and it can also be used for more aggressive music genres such as hard rock and metal. Multiple audio outputs are also supported, so the included drum samples can be processed with external effects in order to fit them into your mix perfectly.
If you’re happy with the default sound of the drum kit, you can use the built-in mixer to adjust the volume of the individual drum elements. The sounds can also be processed with the built-in compressor effect, which works surprisingly well for changing the character of the bass drum and the snare.
Perhaps the coolest feature of MT Power Drum Kit 2 is that in includes a huge collection of drum grooves and drum fills in MIDI format. These can be used inside the plugin, but they can also be exported into the host application’s sequencer and used to trigger other virtual instruments.
Please note that you will need to activate the plugin before it can be used in your host application. The activation process is completely free (further instructions available on the product page linked below).
MT Power Drum Kit 2 is available as a 32-bit and 64-bit VST and AU plugin for Windows and Mac OS X based DAW applications.
A1StereoControl by A1AUDIO
A1StereoControl is the first plugin released by Alex Hilton, who is also known under the pseudonym A1AUDIO. This fantastic freeware tool offers all the controls you may need for controlling the panning and stereo width of individual channels in your mix.
The so called “easy mode” offers all the basic panning controls, along with some useful additional buttons for flipping the phase of the processed signal, swapping the left and right stereo channels, and so on. Another cool feature available in “easy mode” is the so called “safe bass” control, which forces all audio content under a certain frequency threshold to mono.
This feature is incredibly useful for controlling the low end of your mix and making sure that there won’t be any unpleasant surprises in the bass frequencies when the project moves to the mastering stage (or if you’re sending your mix to the mastering engineer). Many electronic bass patches nowadays come with loads of chorus and stereo delay effects, so it’s a good idea to make sure that the lowest frequencies in your bass instruments are converted to mono.
The “expert mode” reveals several advanced futures for panning, including several different pan laws and slope settings. All things considered, A1StereoControl is quite probably the most useful panning tool currently available on the market.
A1StereoControl is a free 32-bit and 64-bit VST and AU plugin for Windows and Mac OS X host applications.
FilterCrusher by Audio Assault
Combining an emulated tube circuit with a pair of great sounding filters, the brand new FilterCrusher dual filter plugin by Audio Assault is a rather useful and somewhat unusual tool for sound coloration and creative sound design.
The emulated tube circuit can go anywhere between the mildest possible saturation and full overdrive. When used at reasonably low settings, FilterCrusher adds a bit of analog mojo on top and helps even out the dynamics of the processed signal. By engaging the “crush” mode, the plugin steps into distortion category, which is perfect for getting more aggressive sounding results.
The same goes for the filters, which can sound very transparent at very low settings and quite aggressive when the resonance as boosted. The low resonance setting works great for cleaning up the low end of the processed signal, whereas the higher settings can be quite useful for sound coloration purposes.
Under the hood, the plugin features the same tube modelling that is used in commercial guitar amplification software by Audio Assault. It is pretty cool to get such great sounding virtual tubes for free.
Audio Assault has recently released another interesting freeware plugin called Transient. It is a simple transient shaper tool which works great for controlling the envelope of percussive sounds. The plugin is available for free download at the Audio Assault website.
FilterCrusher is released as a 32-bit and 64-bit VST and AU plugin formats for Windows and Mac OS X based host applications.
SGA1566 by Shattered Glass Audio
Another interesting tube amplifier emulation comes from Shattered Glass Audio. Their brand new plugin named SGA1566 is definitely one of the most impressive virtual tube amplifiers in the freeware market and it is comparable to some very expensive commercial plugins in terms of sound quality.
SGA1556 is an incredibly detailed emulation of a vintage single channel tube preamp, featuring two 12AX7 tube amplification stages and a two-band Baxandall equalizer which can be placed either at the input or the output stage. The sound of the plugin comes very close to that of a real tube preamp and it works absolutely great for adding a bit of color to your recordings.
Users with less powerful computers will definitely see a high CPU hit when using this plugin, which is definitely a significant drawback. On the other hand, the developer has included an additional “Low CPU” mode which will use less CPU cycles while offering similar sounding results. Things can be improved even further performance-wise by lowering the oversampling settings.
Perhaps the best way to use a CPU-intensive plugin such as this one is to render the output inside your DAW and use the static WAV file in your mix. If you need to make any changes, turn on the plugin again, make the desired changes and repeat the process. Either way, a high-quality tube amplifier emulation similar to this one is pretty hard to find.
SGA1566 is a 32-bit and 64-bit VST and AU plugin for Windows and Mac OS X based digital audio workstations.
Tomislav Zlatic: http://bedroomproducersblog.com/