SoundBytes Freebies Of The Month – Sept. 2014
Mix and produce your tunes with best freeware tools. Tomislav Zlatic shows us what some of these treasures are and where to find them.
By Tomislav Zlatic, Sept. 2014
Dear readers, now that the summer is behind us, it’s time to spend some quality time in the studio and use those happy summertime memories as inspiration for new songs. Since we know for a fact that it’s nice to start the new season with some fresh tools, we’ve prepared another list of free goodies which you can to add even more power to your studio!
Ministepper by WOK
WOK is well known for releasing minimalistic and streamlined VST plugins which are designed for handling a single task without any redundant features and unnecessary clutter. His latest freebie release is a neat little MIDI step sequencer in VST plugin format, which follows the same proven concept of clean, bloat free design.
The central part of the Ministepper interface is occupied by the eight-step sequencer, with velocity, gate length and mute parameters for each step. In addition to that, the plugin supports different play directions, as well as on-the-fly tweaking of sequence length, which can be quite useful in live performance scenarios.
Additional features include sequence transpose via incoming MIDI notes and chord playback. Of course, the plugin syncs to the host tempo automatically and the time signature can be chosen manually. All things considered, this is a pretty awesome step sequencer for the price, whereas users who need more than eight steps may consider purchasing the commercial sixteen-step version of the plugin.
Perhaps the only drawback is the fact that the plugin is available for use exclusively on the 32-bit Windows platform. This may change soon, though, because WOK has started releasing experimental versions of his plugins for Mac OS X, as well as for 64-bit Windows.
CH4D by J1000
Jovan Koncar has recently released CH4D, a simple freeware chorus effect which works very well for achieving that classic “ensemble” type of effect. The chorus sounds particularly nice when used on vocals, although we’ve also had good results when processing guitar tracks with CH4D. Same goes for synthesized leads, which sound fatter and wider when processed with this neat little chorus unit.
CH4D features four stereo delay taps and a pair of resonant filters. In order to achieve a more natural sound, the developer has implemented a low frequency oscillator which modulates the pitch of the four voices. The plugin is incredibly easy to use and all the on-screen parameters are clearly labeled and easy to understand.
CH4D is available as a 32-bit VST plugin for Windows based digital audio workstations, made with SynthEdit.
Solo Viola Lite by Northern Scoring Tools
We know how expensive orchestral sample libraries can be and that’s why it’s so great when some generous sound design company releases an orchestral instrument pack for free download. The latest free instrument of this type is Solo Viola Lite, which is a great-sounding free viola sample library for Native Instruments Kontakt.
Northern Scoring Tools have built a highly usable viola sample library, featuring true legato performance and two whole octaves of sampled sounds. The performance sounds very natural and it’s hard to spot any artificial sounding tones when playing the instrument.
Solo Viola Lite requires the full version of NI Kontakt 4.2.4 or higher. A Facebook account is required in order to receive the download link.
Ace by Shattered Glass Audio
In the last five years or so, we’ve seen an influx of fantastic sounding guitar amplifier emulations which were being released for free by talented plugin developers such as LePou and Ignite Amps.
Although we have more than a couple of dozens of freeware guitar amplifiers to choose from, the reality is that most of these freeware amplifiers were designed for use in metal music and that good sounding clean amps are a bit harder to find.
Shattered Glass Audio has appeared on the scene with Ace, a freeware emulation of the Fender Champ tube amplifier from the 1950s. The amp sounds surprisingly well on cleaner settings, with a nice round tone and great dynamics. You can really hear how the amp reacts to your playing style, as if you’re playing your guitar through a real tube amplifier.
Even if you own commercial software such as Guitar Rig or Amplitube, you should still give this one a try, especially if you play classic rock or indie music. The sound of this little virtual amplifier really caught us by surprise, especially considering the fact that it’s the first ever release by Shattered Glass Audio. We’re looking forward to seeing what they’ll come up with next!
ACE is released as a 32-bit and 64-bit VST and AU plugin formats for Windows and Mac OS X based host applications.
White Noise SFX by Elias Pettersen
Good free sound FX collections are a bit hard to find, however a talented young sound designer and music producer from Norway called Elias Pettersen has done a brilliant job with his free White Noise SFX sample collection.
His intention was to build the ultimate collection of sound effects which are made with white noise as the sound source and he’s done a pretty good job with it. The library contains a wide range of tension builder type of sounds, risers, swooshes, and sidechained background textures for use in house and techno music. All included sounds are synced to 128 BPM.
The download pack also includes SFZ mappings and a handy Kontakt 5 instrument based on the samples from the library.
KVR Developer Challenge 2014
Before we finish this month’s edition on the freebies column, we’d like to draw your attention to the KVR Developer Challenge 2014 which ended two weeks ago. KVRDC is an annual contest organized by KVR Audio, in which talented software developers and sound designers from all around the word participate with their original free-to-download audio tools.
This year’s winner is Multiply by Acon Digital, an advanced chorus unit featuring a unique phase randomizing filter which serves the purpose of eliminating unpleasant comb filter effects.
Some of our other favorites from this year’s edition of the contest are the Lokomotiv virtual analogue synthesizer which was developed by Archetype Instruments and the absolutely fantastic Nova-67P dynamic equalizer by Vladislav Goncharov, which is probably the first of its kind in the freeware world.
Visit the official KVRDC 2014 page to get the download links: http://www.kvraudio.com/kvr-developer-challenge/2014/
Tomislav Zlatic: http://bedroomproducersblog.com/