Best free plug-ins this week: PREDD, Deep Jupiter and LABS Electric Guitars

Best free plug-ins this weekThis week’s collection of the best free plug-ins brings you a vintage mic preamp, classic synth bass sounds and some otherworldly electric guitars. Here’s PREDD, Deep Jupiter and LABS Electric Guitars.

You’ll find many more free plug-ins in our archives.

Analog Obsession PREDD

Analog Obsession PREDDOnly a couple of weeks after dBComp, Analog Obsession is back with PREDD, a vintage mic preamp and DI emulation. In addition to a mic/DI switch and main voltage gain control, the plug-in offers a -20 dB PAD, sweepable high pass filter (20 to 180 Hz), phase invert switch and variable HF boost (up to 10 dB). There’s also a fine gain knob for fine adjustments of ±5 dB, and an output level control. The voltage gain and fine gain controls are fully gain compensated.

PREDD is available for macOS and Windows in VST, VST3 and AU formats.

Get PREDD here

Sample Science Deep Jupiter

Sample Science Deep JupiterDeep Jupiter is a bass sound module featuring samples of a famous 1980s synth – you can probably guess which one. The developer says that it works well for synthwave, chillwave, retrowave and synthpop, whatever the difference may be. You can choose from three voice modes (poly, mono and legato). There’s a volume envelope and assignable LFO for modulation, as well as a filter and a reverb effect. You can never have enough bass sounds, and if you’re looking for classic 80s vibes, this one is worth a try.

Deep Jupiter runs on macOS (El Capitan to Mojave; Catalina and up not supported) and Windows 8.1 or higher in VST and AU formats.

Get Deep Jupiter here

Spitfire Audio LABS Electric Guitars

Spitfire Audio LABS Electric GuitarsIt’s been a while since we’ve covered a release from Spitfire’s awesome free LABS series, so it’s about time. The latest release brings you a collection of classic electric guitar sounds suitable for a range of styles. The library contains plucks, sustained notes and strumming rhythms. It’s all accessed through Spitfire’s LABS player plug-in. You’ll need to create a user account and download Spitfire’s library manager to download and activate the library. Be sure to check out the other LABS releases, as well.

LABS Electric Guitar requires macOS 10.10 or higher (M1 supported) or Windows 7 or higher (64 bit). It’s available in VST, VST3, AU and AAX formats.

Get LABS Electric Guitars here

Video

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MIA Labs 925 Compressor MK2: Physical modelling plug-in gets a revamp

MIA Labs 925 compressor MK2 featuredThe original 925 compressor by MIA Labs is a niche but well-loved compressor plug-in that tried something different for a change. MIA designed it using physical modelling principles and liberal inspiration from coveted vintage units. The concept has reached its second development milestone with the release of 925 Compressor MK2. Here’s more about the changes and upgrades applied to the 925.

MIA Labs 925 Compressor MK2

Something very characteristic of the 925 comp’s design is that the sidechain detection circuit is based on a basic analog envelope detector which results in a lively dynamic response.

The high detection speed lets the compressor follow the actual waveform instead of just the envelope. Along with the logarithmic gain reduction, this produces more natural-sounding compression and contributes to the 925 compressor’s versatility. The plug-in is suitable for both track and bus compression, including mastering applications. Additionally, the 925 compressor has a variable knee response to really slam transient-heavy sounds like percussion and rock vocals.

For 925 MK2, MIA Labs introduced Slope / Ratio mode selection which completely changes the compression character and dynamic response. The Damping control is new to 925 MK2, enabling greater control and shaping of the output signal’s envelope. Additional improvements include improved CPU performance, new sidechain filtering and band compression options, Dry/Wet mix control, and resizable user interface.

MIA Labs 925 Compressor MK2

MIA Labs 925 Compressor MK2

Price and availability

925 compressor MK2 is on an introductory sale for EUR 39, down from EUR 129. It’s a free upgrade for owners of the original 925 comp. A free 14-day trial version is available as well. The plug-in works under Windows 7 or later and macOS 10.7 or later in 64-bit AAX, AU, and VST3 formats. An iLok account (free) or USB dongle (paid) is required for authorization. The plug-in ships with 29 presets as starting points for a variety of use cases.

More information

Samples

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The new Dell XPS Desktop: Bigger, better, BEAST

The Dell XPS Desktop workstation.Meet the Dell XPS Desktop, a redesigned powerhouse for demanding Windows users. The XPS line has always been synonymous with performance and this desktop PC is no different, providing an unparalleled level of compatibility with the latest hardware in a larger design footprint. For those seeking to configure or build their own studio workstation, this is certainly both a formidable and a viable option as purchasing high-end components individually can be costly. Available later this fall, Dell’s new XPS Desktop offers an enormous amount of potential performance, let’s see what sets it apart.

The Dell XPS Desktop is a larger format workhorse

When it comes to hardware support, the XPS Desktop is almost in a league of its own. Capable of running GDDR5 memory modules, which apparently offer a massive 530% increase in clock speeds and 5th generation PCIe GPUs. Making a sustainable purchase with upgradability and longevity is certainly a priority when buying a studio PC, but is it quiet enough? Being 42% larger than the previous model, the XPS Desktop certainly has plenty of room for thermal efficiency, with the ability to now house three 120mm fans and liquid cooling systems. The mod-friendly chassis also offers screwdriver-free upgrades, so it’s certainly genuine geek-approved.

Dell XPS 8950 Desktop Liquid Cooling interior photo

Dell XPS 8950 Desktop with liquid cooling

Currently, the Dell XPS Desktop can support up to a 12th-gen Intel Core i9K processor, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090, and AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT GPUs. With hardware specs like that, you’ll certainly be keeping up with the Joneses, Jenners, and whoever else. We can only wait and see how Thread Director within Windows 11 will harness the performance of machines like these in a DAW environment. The starting price is $919.99, but this is hardly an indicator of what the cost will be once properly configured into a fully armed and operational battle station.

More about the XPS Desktop

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Soundpaint: Ultra-Deep Sampled Instrument platform

SoundpaintSoundpaint is a new source of deep-sampled instruments that claim to offer unheard levels of realism and unparalleled authentic content. It launches with a free Steinway grand piano – let’s check it out.

Soundpaint

Produced by sample library makers 8DIO who is probably best known for providing the content for the Sequential Prophet X hybrid synthesizer. Soundpaint has been in development for 8 years with the aim to come up with a way to make sample-based instruments as perfectly authentic as possible.

Soundpaint goes to great lengths to assure us that these are painstakingly sampled instruments, exclusively recorded, expertly programmed and contain no software emulations or sample modelling – this is about how something realistically sounds.

They talk about real-time rendering and specifically around velocity layers. We typically deal with 128 layers of velocity when playing with MIDI and so that’s usually the limit of dynamic resolution. But Soundpaint says that they are MIDI 2.0 ready and support the full 65,536 layers of 16-bit velocity. They achieve this using velocity morphing where new velocity samples are derived from morphing between the layers. Their special algorithm allows Soundpaint to render those sounds in real-time.

Free Piano

And how does it sound? Beautiful, mesmerising, intriguingly, dynamically, soulfully good. This is a lovely piano. The Soundpaint sound engine software is completely free, and to get you going it comes with a free 1928 Steinway Grand Piano.

The piano has 32 preset programs that you can drop into the main window and they load up impressively quickly. Soundpaint has 4 parts, each one can hold an instrument although most of the programs use up more than 1 part. Programs are made by combining parts, adding effects and then applying modifications via the two “Racks”.

Soundpaint likes to morph and one of the main features is the ability of 2 parts to morph between each other. You can select the direction of travel so that one part is being morphed by the settings and functions of the other part.

Effects

Effects, on the other hand, are analog models and feature quite a range of interesting vintage and modern modulations, delays, reverbs and distortions. As you wander through the Piano programs you get a sense of how interesting and transformative these are.

Soundpaint

Soundpaint

Library

Along with the free Piano, there is a range of instruments available upon release. So far they’ve sampled a Jupiter 8, a TR-808 drum machine, some Brass, 1975 Gibson guitar and a Palindrome. There are also some sound effects and cinematic emotions. All of them are reasonably priced and you can get the whole bundle for $300.

Impressive

Soundpaint is impressive. The sound quality of the piano at least is excellent and the potential available within the 4-part engine, the synth-syle modulations and creative effects is vast and weighty. The interface is clear and relatively easy to navigate even without some kind of manual, or at least I can’t find one. There are plenty of tutorials though.

The only disappointment is that with a name so invoking as Soundpaint the interface is really very dull and uninspiring. It’s a bit weird because their marketing is very colourful and exciting. Anyway, get yourself the Piano, it’s free and you won’t regret it.

More information from Soundpaint

Video

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LANDR All Access Pass: online everything audio platform lets loose for $10 a month

LANDR All Access PassOnline music platform LANDR doubles down on its aspirations of growing a complete system for creating and releasing music. The service has introduced the All Access Pass, a subscription offering that hands you the keys to the store, including music production, mastering, distribution, and remote collaboration. There’s a free trial to road test the package before you pay. Let’s see what’s inside.

LANDR All-Access Pass

LANDR believes that audio creators may have been held back by “prescribed music production methods and unnecessarily technical tools and services.” In other words, the firm wants to take the complexity and confusion out of music making. The new All Access Pass is a step in this direction; their aim is to give you a service that connects all the dots between creation and release.

Key points of interest in the LANDR toolset offered by the subscription are the LANDR Samples library, which offers access to royalty-free sample banks and fresh weekly content that’s exclusive to the platform. The million+ available samples are all tagged by moods, charts, and artist packs for easy discovery.

Next in line is LANDR’s own Synapse AI-powered online mastering engine. With over 20 million tracks mastered, it’s become a reliable means of finalising a track in a near-instant. With that out of the way, LANDR Distribution places new releases on Spotify, Apple Music, and over 150 streaming platforms and stores. Tracks are live and available in about 2 days after submission. Artists get to keep 100% of royalties earned, while track monetization features offer ways to earn on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Analytics and monitoring tools are provided as well, along with the planning of pre-save campaigns.

Finally, the LANDR Sessions plug-in hosts up to 17 video collaborators in a single session while streaming high-quality audio directly from each participant’s DAW.

That’s already a solid line-up, but whatever else team LANDR comes up with next will be added to the All Access Pass at no additional cost.

Price and availability

The LANDR All Access Pass subscription will be available starting at $9.99 for the first 6 months and $14.99 monthly for the rest of the year.

More information

Video

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The Best Halloween Deals: Scarily big savings and frightening freebies!

Best Halloween Deals 2021It’s Halloween and manufacturers across the audio and music industries are lining up to provide tempting deals on effects, synths, samples and other software. Some are also offering some cool freebies to download and enjoy. 2021 seems to be the biggest year for Halloween deals so far, with many major software manufacturers jumping on the bandwagon this year. Grab yourself a nice shiny new toy to compose or produce some music!

Most of these offers end on 1 or 2 November – check for details in each web store to make sure the offer applies to your chosen product.

Run across a Halloween Deal we haven’t got on our list? Let us know in the comments below.

Maker Product/Deal Link
Beatskillz Up to 88% off instruments and effects Deal
Black Rooster V-PRE 73 Halloween Limited Edition! Deal
Brian Funk Free Halloween Theremin for Ableton Live 11 #208" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Free Download
D16 Group 40% off till 2 Nov Deal
Digital Brain 50% off with code HALLOWEEN21 Deal
G-Sonique Up to 50% off instruments and sounds Deal
Glitchtones Free Scare Tactics sound pack Free Download
HorNet 60% off plug-ins, 30% off bundles Deal
IK Multimedia Free Orange Dual Terror for Amplitube 5 users Download
iZotope Neoverb for €79, with free Punish Lite Deal
Kilohearts Not a Halloween sale, but what the heck, they’re really nice Deal
Loot Audio 71% off Spooky Bundle Plug-ins Deal
MNTRA Kymera dark sounds VSTi at 75% off Deal
Nembrini 70% off desktop, 50% off mobile Deal
Nutty Traxx Halloween Soundset Sale with code HALLOWEEN Deal
Producer Spot Trapoween Bundle Deal
Refuse Software Free Spooky Volume Meter Free Download
Softube Black November Warm-up Sale till 31 October Deal
Sonible 35% off all plug-in bundles Deal
Soundiron Up to 52% off instruments Deal
Sound Particles Up to 60% off everything Deal
Soundspot Trick or Treat Bundle: 7 plugins for €7.46 Deal
Ugritone 50% off drum instruments with code HALLOWEEN50 Deal
United Plug-ins Spooky Bundle: 4 plugins 476 € 139 € Deal
W.A.Production Halloween Flash Sale Deal
Wrongtools Free Trapeze Organ Halloween Giveaway Free Download


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Acustica Audio’s new Gainstation 2 is a distortion plug-in sequel in 3 parts

Acustica Audio Gainstation 2You know the Acustica Audio drill: the developer finds ultra-rare gear, samples its very soul, and pours the results into plug-ins that showcase dynamic convolution’s potential to the fullest.

Gainstation is Acustica’s titular distortion plug-in, based on choice hardware modded by Mike Dean (bigshot rap/hip-hop producer). For its sequel, Acustica cooked up no less than five major improvements and dished out a pair of plug-ins (Boost & VSM) which bring various Gainstation 2 features to the one-knob plug-in format.

Acustica Audio Gainstation 2

The sequel adds the following features to those of its predecessor:

  • Enhanced Pultec-style EQ with added mid-range and AIR frequency choices.
  • New Texture circuits to introduce additional harmonic content to material in need of livening up.
  • New Texture circuit emulations: O (Orange) for added bass and low-mid saturation, B (Black) for high-mid and high frequency boosts, and OB (Orange + Black) which makes both run in serial.
  • Upgrade to the Core 17 audio engine
  • Additional optimizations and graphic user interface improvements

These aside, Gainstation is still a distortion processor comprised of five different sections. The preamp section includes preamp harmonic distortion which you dial in by increasing or decreasing input gain. The Pultec-style EQ section comprises two bands – BASS++ and AIR++ – as well as 4 preamp emulations (again dialed in via input trim). The Spread control lets you widen or shorten the stereo image without affecting the ‘mid’ part of the spectrum – only the sides. There are also four Clipper modes with several routing configurations to explore.

Acustica Audio Gainstation 2

Acustica Audio Gainstation 2

Gainstation 2 Boost

This one-knob plug-in applies a fixed Gainstation 2 Pultec EQ setting (60Hz BASS++, 10kHz AIR++, and preamp distortion) to your audio tracks. The amount of EQ can be adjusted from the Boost knob.

Acustica Audio Gainstation 2 Boost

Acustica Audio Gainstation 2 Boost

Gainstation 2 VSM

The VSM one-knob plug-in implements the Texture circuit from Gainstation 2, complete with the three circuit emulations (O, B, O+B). The amount is adjusted from the Texture knob.

Acustica Audio Gainstation 2 VSM

Acustica Audio Gainstation 2 VSM

Price and availability

All Gainstation 2 plug-ins are available from the Acustica Audio website at introductory prices (good for the 4 weeks ahead):

  • Gainstation 2 is sold for EUR 112, down from EUR 149.
  • Gainstation 2 Boost and VSM are sold for EUR 49 each, down from EUR 65 each.

The plug-ins are available in 64-bit VST, AU, and AAX formats for Windows 10 and macOS 10.9 (or later). Acustica’s free Aquarius plug-in manager application handles installation and licensing.

More information on Acustica Audio

Gainstation 2 Video

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Arturia Microfreak firmware update 4.0: User wavetables, new presets and more

Arturia Microfreak 4.0 updateArturia has released the firmware update 4.0 for the Microfreak. The hybrid synthesizer gets a new WaveUser engine that lets you import your own wavetables and samples. Other news include faster encoders, new presets and more.

Arturia Microfreak 4.0 update

With the latest update, the Arturia Microfreak becomes even more versatile. The biggest news is the new WaveUser engine. It allows you to import your own wavetables, WAV and AIFF files via the MIDI Control Center software. These can then be tweaked using the table, position and bit depth controls. The addition of user wavetables is awesome news and will make the already very versatile Microfreak even more capable. To showcase the new feature, the update also includes 64 new presets.

But there’s more. If you thought the encoders of the oscillator section were too slow, you’ll be delighted to hear that Arturia has implemented a faster scrolling speed, which can be activated in the global settings. Holding down shift reverts back to the slower speed. That’s a great idea that lets you reach the desired setting quickly, while still letting you make fine adjustments if needed.

The unison and chord modes can now be used in combination with the sequencer. According to Arturia, every note that Microfream plays now reflects whether it’s in unison or chord mode. All you need to do is activate the sequencer while in unison or chord mode.

Prices and info

The version 4.0 update is available for all owners of the Microfreak as a free download.

The Arturia Microfreak is available at Thomann* for €329.

More information about Arturia

Video

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Korg Opsix 2.0: The FM synth gets an update with new features and new presets

Korg Opsix 2.0 UpdateKorg has released the 2.0 update for the Opsix FM synthesizer. The new OS introduces a new operator mode, new oscillator waveforms and some other new features. It also comes with a bunch of new presets.

Korg Opsix 2.0 update

After releasing updates for the Wavestate and Modwave earlier this year, Korg is now following up with a new OS for the Opsix FM synth. And while the improvements aren’t as groudbreaking as on the other two synths (which both received sample import capabilities), the Opsix does get a couple of cool new features that should greatly expand the sonic possibilities.

To start with, Opsix OS 2.0 comes with a new operator mode named EFFECT. In this mode, the oscillator signal and input signal are fed into one of ten effects. Choices include Peaking EQ, Shelving EQ, Phaser, Short Delay, Comb Filter, Distortion, Drive, Decimator, Waveshaper, and Punch. The Waveshaper is especially interesting, as it includes no less than 60 shaping tables for creative mangling of waves.

The list of available oscillator waveforms has also been expanded and now includes Pink and Blue Noise. This means that you now have even more sonic building blocks to choose from, in addition to the original Opsix’s list of waveforms (which already expanded on the concept of FM by including saw, square and a bunch of other waves in addition to the traditional sine wave).

Even though the Opsix’s keyboard doesn’t support aftertouch, Korg has implemented a couple of new features for aftertouch data supplied via MIDI. It can now be used as a control source for LFOs, EGs and the Virtual Patch. Also, it’s now possible to record and play back aftertouch data using the motion sequencer.

To showcase the new capabilities, the update comes with 100 additional presets, bringing the total to 350.

Price and compatibility

The Korg Opsix 2.0 update is available as a free download for all owners of the Opsix. It comes in the form of a little update utility for Windows or macOS.

The Korg Opsix FM synthesizer is available at Thomann* for €689.

More information

Video

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25 Years of Native Instruments: get a free instrument and gear in limited colors!

Native Instruments 25 Year AnniversaryNative Instruments has kept the bar rolling for 25 years straight, leading and following the music tech space with equal prowess. If it wasn’t for NI, production software and hardware probably wouldn’t be where it is today. Yes, NI isn’t quite as astonishingly innovative as it once was (though it’s no slouch) and it sure is taking its sweet time working out how to place and evolve its vast software catalog in the subscription realm.

Regardless, I’m sure the wait will be worthwhile. Native Instruments is a household name with products I personally love and enjoy. I’m sure everyone into music production (electronic music, in particular) has their NI sentiments and stories to share. Me, my first proper venture in production was buying KOMPLETE 10, an S25 mK1 controller (which I still find astonishing and regret selling), and a used Maschine MK1 – then going to producer town. I ended up with a dodgy industrial rap record that, unfortunately, only its creator can really comprehend. But that record had to come out of me at the time, no matter in what shape or form. Five years later, I feel the same urge to create, but the game plan is a lot different.

In the meantime, the Berlin household is celebrating the delightful occasion with a limited selection of choice KOMPLETE, MASCHINE, and TRAKTOR hardware in Vapor Gray and Ultraviolet finishes. Check them out below and hurry up if you like what you see, because these are “strictly limited”:

Additionally, NI released a rad-looking instrument for its free Kontakt Player software – Twenty Five. The aptly named gift is a “time capsule” of sounds taken from 25 years of NI product history. You can mix and match sounds from the likes of Generator, Absynth, Massive, and Kontakt classics for a throwback like no other. NI is also having a production contest over at Metapop, the NI creator community – check it out here.

NI Twenty Five

NI Twenty Five: free instrument

More information

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