You don’t have to spend a ton of money on plugins for your DAW, There’s some really good ones you can start using right now, for FREE
You don’t have to spend a ton of money on plugins for your DAW, there’s plenty of high-quality affordable plugins available. There’s even some really good ones you can start using right now, for FREE.
Before you go downloading plugins it’s worth checking what is already included in your DAW. Most of the big DAWs ship with a decent array of instruments and processors. If you’re using a “lite” version, the type you would get bundled with hardware, then there may only be a limited selection included
The largest selection of high quality, reliable plugins I have found on the internet is at Plugin Boutique. There’s more than 200 free instruments, effects and studio tools.
There’s too many to go through them all, here is a selection of some of the most popular.
Powerful sample workstation including exclusive content provided by Loopmasters
TAL – Vocoder
Emulation of an 80’s style vocoder. Ideal for getting that Daft Punk sound.
Slam Pup – Dynamic Processor
A great little 2 knob processor that adds tube drive emulation and gritty compression.
I’ve been using Native Instruments Komplete since 2004 and it still plays a major role in my studio. The latest full version costs around £1000 but Native Instruments are offering a free starter version, Komplete Start that includes 18 instruments and effects. In total there’s over 2,000 customizable sounds – drums and percussion, bass, acoustic instruments, synths, pads and atmospheres, effects, and more.
Included in Komplete Start:
Synths – TRK-01 BASS, MIKRO PRISM, LAZERBASS, CARBON 2, SPACE DRONE, NEWSCOOL, BLOCKS BASE
Sampled Instruments – PLAY SERIES SELECTION, KINETIC TREATS, EXPANSIONS SELECTION, WORLD, BAND, SYNTH, VINTAGE, URBAN BEATS
Effects – SUPERCHARGER, GUITAR RIG 6 PLAYER
Also includes – KONTAKT 6 PLAYER, REAKTOR 6 PLAYER, KOMPLETE KONTROL
Native Instruments also have a few other plugins available for free aside from Komplete Start.
Spitfire Audio Labs
Similar to Komplete Start, Spitfire Labs is a bundle of plugins and sound libraries. Spitfire Audio specialise in orchestral and cinematic sounds and Labs gives you everything you need to make that style of music.
There’s around 30 libraries available in Labs including a great Hammered Dulcimer, Hand Bells, Soft Piano and a Wurli. You can demo the sounds from the Labs page before downloading.
There are lots of other free plugins around but the 3 collections listed here are more than enough for any beginner to get started.