Best free plug-ins this week: SuperflyDSP, Synsonics-V and Essentials Kick

Free plug-ins 08/02This week’s collection of the best free plug-ins brings you a bundle of four free modulation effects, an emulation of the obscure Mattel Synsonics drum synth from 1981 and an all-in-one kick drum enhancer. Here’s SuperflyDSP, Synsonics-V and Essentials Kick.

As always, head over to our huge archives for many more free plug-ins.


SuperflyDSP plug-insI had planned to include these four free plug-ins by SuperflyDSP in last week’s collection, but their website was down at that time. It’s back up now, which means that you should waste no time and download these four freebies, which include an auto-wah, a phaser, a tremolo and a chorus. All four plug-ins share the same design language and feature simple, but clear controls. It’s a great collection of four essential modulation effects, and it’s completely free.

The SuperflyDSP plug-ins are available for Windows, macOS and Linux in VST3 and AU formats.

Get the SuperflyDSP plug-ins here

Digital Systemic Emulations Synsonics-V

Digital Systemic Emulations Synsonics-VThe fact that it came from Mattel, otherwise known for barbie dolls and action figures, put the Synsonics squarely in the toy category when it came out in 1981. But the weird drum synth with four pads did have some surprisingly useful sounds and became known as the “poor man’s Simmons”. Digital Systemic Emulations has emulated the Synsonics for this free plug-in, and even made the sounds editable (which wasn’t possible on Mattel’s version). Get that early 80s retro vibe going!

Synsonics-V is available for Windows and macOS in VST and AU formats.

Get Synsonics-V here

KSHMR Essentials Kick

KSHMR Essentials KickDJ and producer KSHMR has released this free plug-in pulled from the KSHMR Essentials suite. It’s a kick drum enhancer armed with a bunch of one-knob processors for beefing up your bass drum sounds. You can shape the frequencies with the sub, mid and air modules, control the transients, add multi-band compression with the pressure module and apply saturation with the tape module. Looks like a quick and easy way to get that bass drum sound just right.

KSHMR Essentials Kick is available for Windows and macOS in VST3, AU and AAX formats.

Get KSHMR Essentials Kick here


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The best studio monitors under EUR 500 per pair: Our top 7 budget speakers

Best Studio Monitors For under EUR 500 Yamaha JBL PreSonus Kali ADAM IKWith affordable audio interfaces and DAWs going free or low-cost, what may be missing from your setup is a pair of decent studio monitors. In this article, we will give you plenty of options for active studio monitors priced below EUR 500 per pair. This way, you can get your audio monitoring sorted without breaking the proverbial bank!

The best studio monitors under EUR 500 per pair

What a good studio monitor does is help you make the right decisions when recording, mixing, and mastering. As monitors do not color the sound in any tangible ways and offer a honest representation of what your audio really sounds like, the result will comfortably translate across a wide range of audio playback setups – speakers, mobile devices, PA systems, and so on.

Making the right choice depends on the limits of your room as well as personal taste. The smaller your studio room, the smaller your monitors should be in order to have their sound unaltered by room modes and reflections. As for personal taste, a choice of shapes and colors is there so that your monitors look and feel right.

One more thing – if you shop through the affiliate links here, Gearnews will be credited with a small amount. This helps us immensely. Also, if you believe a certain model should be included or does not belong on this list, feel free to write to us in the comments section below! And now to our recommendations:

Presonus Eris E5

Presonus Eris E5

A pair of Presonus Eris E5 studio monitors can be yours for as low as EUR 209. In addition to XLR, jack, and RCA inputs, the E5 offers some adjustments on the back panel to tailor the sound to your room. You may also have a look at the Eris E5 XT, which offers a slightly extended bass reproduction and a wider ‘sweet spot’ for listening.

IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitor

IK Multimedia iLoud Micro

The IK Multimedia iLoud Micro monitors punch above their size, thanks to some DSP magic on IK Multimedia’s part. Equally great as studio monitors and computer/laptop playback speakers, they connect over RCA and Bluetooth and offer a flat frequency response with impressive bass output.

Kali Audio LP-6

Kali Audio LP 6

Formed by former JBL personel, Kali Audio offer very good monitors at quite reasonable prices. The LP-6 is a very convincing model with proper value for money – great sound, decent bass, and wide sweet spot. Additionally, there are RCA, XLR, and jack inputs on the rear panel. Finally, there are switches to compensate for deficiencies in the frequency response.



The first-generation JBLs earned their praise as some of the best and true-sounding studio monitors in their price range. The MKII versions improve bass reproduction, frequency response, and stereo width. Our choice would be the 6-inch 306P MKII, but if 5-inch woofers are sufficient, you can easily go with the 305P MKII* and save some cash. Likewise, if you have the room to spare, the 308P MKII* offers an 8-inch woofer. All three sizes have XLR and jack connections as well as basic room adaptation options.

ADAM Audio T5V

Adam Audio T5V

The T5V features Adam’s Accelerated Ribbon Tweeters for better high frequency reproduction. The rest of the configuration is on point as well, given the price. Room adjustment options, XLR/RCA inputs, and a classic Adam Audio look and feel. A pair will set you back just EUR 310, which is insane for the reproduction quality you’re getting here.

KRK Rokit RP7 G4

KRK Rokit RP7 G4

With their yellow membranes, KRK monitors cannot be mistaken for anything else. Spanning four generations, the Rokit series offer enhanced DSP-controlled room correction options with a display providing feedback, preset functionality, and app support. Due to the extended bass response, Rokits are favorites among electronic music producers. Bear in mind, though, that the cheaper RP5 G4* also pack a punch and sound very balanced across the frequency range.

Yamaha HS 7

Yamaha HS7

The Yamaha HS series is about neutral and forward-sounding speakers with very good bass reproduction and affordable price. The HS7 is an excellent choice for less than EUR 400 a pair, but a few more euros will sort you out with the big and bold-sounding HS 8*  and its 8-inch woofer. Inputs include XLR and jack, and there are some basic room adaptation options. The link here is to the limited Matched Pair version.


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Microsoft Surface for Music Production: Surface Book 3 or Surface Go 2?

Microsoft Surface Book 3 and Surface Go 2So you need a new workhorse for mobile music production and you’ve decided to look beyond from Apple’s Mac OS. While the Surface Book 3 pulses with premium power the Surface Go 2 can offer some surprisingly music-friendly stability at a more affordable price point. Which one would make for an awesome DAW platform?

A Surface for every occasion

Microsoft’s laptop game has matured into an attractive lineup of touch-screen hybrids. By the time the Surface Book arrived the Surface Pro had already worked out most of the kinks in the combined touch/keyboard/trackpad workflow. I’ve been a Surface Pro user since version 3 (now on version 7) and I can tell you the ease of use and smoothness of transition between input protocols is superb. With any other laptop or MacBook I find I am confined to a chair and pushed into a singular way of working. With a Surface you can circle it, dodge in and out, walk past with a coffee and tap something, sit down and type, stand up and finger flick. Regular laptops drive me nuts.

Along with the Surface Pro we now have the Surface Laptop, Surface Pro X, Surface Studio, Surface Hub and the forthcoming Surface Duo and Surface Neo. But the focus of this article are the two latest models which define the top and bottom of the range – the flagship Surface Book 3 and the entry-level Surface Go 2.

Surface Book 3

The Surface Book has now reached its third generation and harbours a 10th generation Intel Quad-Core i5 or i7 processor. The 13.5″ or 15″ screen is gorgeous at 3000 x 2000 or 3240 x 2160 resolution respectively running on a Nvidia GTX 1650 4GB or 1660Ti 6GB when attached to the base and drops to the Intel Iris Plus when you pull the screen off via the awesome detachment mechanism. You can opt for 8, 16 or 32GB of memory and 256, 512 or 1TB of storage. Prices start at £1599.

Microsoft Surface Book 3

It’s a stunningly made laptop that looks good and feels great and has a respectable amount of power for all your computing needs combined with a ridiculously long battery life. But is it any good for music production?

Surface Go 2

I got hold of the original Surface Go when it made it to the UK last year and it’s a fabulous little machine. The version 2 ups the processor to an Intel Gold Processor 4425Y or 8th Generation M3. and increases the screen size just a tad to accommodate a more common 1920 x 1280 resolution and aspect ratio. Otherwise the choices of 4 or 8GB of memory and 64 or 128GB of storage remains the same. Prices start at £399.

Microsoft Surface Go 2

Microsoft Surface Go 2

Can you run any music software on such a little device?

Running music software

Right, this is where assumptions and reality have a hard time matching up to one another. The assumption is that if you have a nicely powerful processor then you’ll be able to run masses of plug-ins and instruments and have a lovely time making music. The reality is that laptops are not built with audio production in mind. It’s certainly true that processor speed is your friend in terms of plug-in counts and complex software instruments but that power does not determine the ability for any given laptop to successfully run music software at low, playable latencies.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Buy a powerful laptop and you may well be able to run Ableton Live, Pro Tools, Studio One etc. without any bother. What I am saying is that processor power is no guarantee of a glitch-free music-making experience. The problem comes down to the way the processors work. Mobile processors are designed to save power as much and as often as possible. They clock down as soon as they’re able and only clock back up when the load increases. This clocking or SpeedStepping can cause havoc with realtime audio playback. It can cause spurts of audio glitches or sudden drops in power when a temperature threshold is reached and your plug-in heavy project collapses.

Processor Power

There are ways around these issues that are to do with High-Performance power profiles and disabling the turbo mode. But what alarms me about the Surface Book 3 is that its base processor speed is only 1.3GHz. It can turbo boost up to an extraordinary 3.9GHz which is awesome for any computing task that doesn’t rely on low latency realtime audio. But for audio applications that means there is 2.6GHz of floating power that can’t be reliably fixed to the task of running your DAW. If you turn off turbo mode to get a reliable, stable processor you find yourself with a very expensive Quad Core laptop running at 1.3GHz.

This is where the Surface Go 2 comes in. The Gold Processor 4425Y runs at a steady 1.7GHz. There’s no turbo mode, there’s no clocking up or down and no thermal threshold. The Surface Go 2 will always be able to run the same number of plug-ins and virtual instruments every time you turn it on. There’s no audio glitching, no drops in performance it’s as steady as a rock. Of course the potential of the Surface Book 3 is enormous compared to the Surface Go 2 but what good is potential if your audio is glitching playing a single instrument?

You must be joking?

I wish I was. I should stress that I haven’t tested the Surface Book 3 and so I’m only going on my experience with the Surface platform and other laptops so far. I’ve been testing the Surface Pro generations for music production since version 3. I also reviewed the original Surface Book and Surface Go. Every time it’s slightly different but I’ve always found the right tweaks to get decent performance out of it for music production. This nearly always means turning off turbo mode. This wasn’t a major problem when the stock speed was 2.6GHz so you were only losing a few GHz for the sake of stability. What will happen with the Surface Book 3 is unclear until someone tests it out with music software – you won’t know until you try because no amount of computer-based benchmarks or reviews will tell you anything about glitch-free low-latency audio performance.

By way of example I reviewed the Asus Zenbook Pro Duo UX581GV laptop for Sound On Sound magazine recently. It has extraordinary desktop-level processing power. It would not play a single virtual instrument without glitches in the audio until I turned off the turbo mode. In comparison when I reviewed the original Surface Go with its paltry 1.6GHz processor it ran decent numbers of virtual instruments and plug-ins right out of the box and you could keep on loading it up until it maxed out whereas with more powerful Surfaces you rarely get above 70% CPU before the glitching begins.

Here’s a clip of the Zenbook glitching. The problem was exacerbated by using the touch-screen at the same time but it would glitch all by itself.

Meanwhile here’s my review of the original Surface Go from last year:

What now?

We are at a critical time. The method by which I was disabling the turbo mode in Surface products has been squashed by the Windows 10 May 2020 update (2004). They don’t actually like you messing about with power profiles. I’m reliably informed that there is another way to do it but none of my Surface Pros have updated to the new version yet and so I can’t test it out. Hopefully, we can tweak this new Windows 10 update into something helpful. I also hope that we can find stability in the Surface Book 3 because in every other respect it’s an awesome laptop. But we won’t know until I get the opportunity to try it out.

But don’t despair. If you want a cool and reliable little music-making platform then spend £529 on the 4425Y, 8GB, 128GB version of the Surface Go 2. Oh and don’t buy the M3 version as that has a turbo mode too!

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Baby Audio Parallel Aggressor: Spank and Heat your audio!

Baby Audio Parallel AggressorDeveloper Baby Audio is gaining steam with its modern, thought-through plug-ins. Super VHS, for example, degrades your audio in a nostalgic and vibey way. Magic Switch is a free chorus based on Super VHS, while Comeback Kid is an unorthodox delay. Now, Baby Audio is throwing its hat into parallel processing again. It has followed up its I Heart NY parallel compressor with a new plug-in called Parallel Aggressor – a compressor, filter and saturator!

Baby Audio Parallel Aggressor

Parallel processing is about processing copies of a track individually, rather than piling up all your effects onto a single track. The heavily processed individual tracks are blended with the dry original to form a cohesive, good-sounding whole. The technique works on all kinds of audio, including drum buses, individual tracks and entire mixes.

Parallel Aggressor splits audio in three ways. First comes the dry track. A second copy is run through the Spank compressor, which features four modes – Extra Punch, Extra Smack, Sidechain Filter, and Mono. A third copy goes into the Heat saturator module, which also has four styles – Extra Hot, Tone, HP Filter, LP Filter.

At the end, the three tracks are blended between each other using the provided mixer. Each track can be soloed to hear exactly what the processing is doing. Tracks are also automatically gain-matched to the input signal so you can make your decisions easier.

Baby Audio Parallel Aggressor - 2

As a final touch, Parallel Aggressor has three color schemes for its interface in addition to 25 presets done by name producers that are friends with the developers. All in all, a spankin’ hot release!

Price and availability

Parallel Aggressor is on sale for USD 29 until August 30. The regular price will be USD 49. The plug-in is available in VST, VST3, AU, and AAX formats for Windows and macOS computers. A free demo version is available on the website.

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Deal: Grab Pigments 2 and other Arturia software at 50% off!

Arturia saleCelebrating 20 years in the music tech biz, Arturia started off with an exclusive package containing its flagship software releases. But the French are not stopping there! Arturia launched a sale on all its software products, offering them at 50% off!

Arturia 20 Year Anniversary Sale

The Sound Explorers Collection is excellent value, indeed! But it’s a physical product that is acquired from Arturia’s dealers. If you want to get your hands on Arturia’s synths and effects right away, now is a great time to hit up the webshop. The sale covers all synthesizers from Arturia’s V-Collection 7, all effects from the manufacturer’s Effects You Will Actually Use collection, and the Pigments 2 hybrid software synth.


As mentioned, all 50% off discounts are found in Arturia’s webshop. Additionally, the software synthesizer Pigments 2 is also available at Thomann at the special price of EUR 99, down from the regular EUR 199.



The sale runs until August 12, 2020. Arturia’s plug-ins run on macOS 10.11 or higher and Windows 7 or higher. They are available in VST, VST3, AU and AAX formats for 64-bit systems. They also support the Native Kontrol Standard, which means they come pre-mapped for Native Instruments’ Machine and Komplete Kontrol MIDI controllers. Trial versions and PDF user manuals for all products can be downloaded free of cost.

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OSC/PILOT: deadmau5’s performance controller is now available to everyone

OSC/PILOTOSC/PILOT is a performance software that lets you design your own customized control surfaces for MIDI and OSC-compatible applications. Used by deadmau5 for his live shows since 2013, OSC/PILOT is now officially available to everyone.

OSC/PILOT control system

Many electronic live acts rely on software such as Ableton Live or Bitwig Studio. But the user interfaces of most DAWs are still primarily designed for use with a mouse and keyboard in the studio. On stage, the last thing you want to do is fiddle with tiny on-screen buttons and sliders. Off-the-shelf MIDI controllers can provide some relief, but they have a fixed set of controls that cannot change as your needs evolve. What if you could create your very own control surface that offers exactly what you need, and adapts as your requirements change?

OSC/PILOT is a customizable control surface for touch screens. The software lets you build your own performance interface for DAWs like Ableton Live and Bitwig Studio. It also works with visual applications, including Resolume and VDMX. According to the developer, OSC/PILOT has been in development since 2013 and has been used and refined since that time by no other than electronic artist deadmau5.



The drag&drop interface lets you create sliders, buttons, button matrices, rotary knobs and other controllers, and arrange them any way you like. You can then configure them to send MIDI or OSC data to DAWs, other music software and visual applications. The software can also receive OSC data for visual feedback within the UI.

OSC/PILOT supports multi-touch displays. It also lets you set up multiple workspaces in one project, so you could have dedicated control pages for different software applications or tracks, for example.

If you’re a musical or visual artist who performs live using MIDI- or OSC-controllable software, OSC/PILOT looks like a great way to set up your own control surfaces tailored to your needs.

Price and compatibility

OSC/PILOT is now available for USD 49.99. You can also download a free trial version, which is fully functional except that it cannot load or save projects.

The software runs on Windows 8.1 and 10. As of now, there’s no word whether the developer plans to release a Mac version in the future.

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Steinberg releases VST 3.7 SDK with many feature enhancements

Steinberg VST 3.7 SDKSteinberg has released the VST 3.7 Software Developer Kit (SDK). The new version brings several new features to the plug-in development toolkit, including a VST3 Project Generator and support for the development of plug-ins for ARM-based Macs.

Steinberg VST 3.7 SDK

While this isn’t the release of VST4, the VST 3.7 SDK does bring several enhancements to the SDK interface. This should make it easier for developers to make the most of the platform and adapt their plug-ins to modern standards and technologies.

According to Steinberg, the VST 3.7 SDK allows for new levels of integration between VST 3 hosts and plug-ins. One notable enhancement is the VST 3 Project Generator, which facilitates the entry into the world of VST plug-in development. The Project Generator lets users create a VST plug-in project with just a few clicks, which can then be taken to Xcode or Visual Studio and used as the code skeleton.

The new version also brings MIDI 2.0 compatibility to the SDK. Steinberg says that the MIDI 2.0 standard is already supported by VST 3, but the new SDK comes with enhanced documentation on how to implement it. Let’s hope that this means that more plug-ins will support MIDI 2.0 in the near future.

In light of Apple’s announcement to transition its entire line-up to ARM processors over the next two years, Steinberg has also added ARM support to the VST 3.7 SDK. The company says that this lets developers create plug-ins that are compatible with the new ‘Apple Silicon’ chips.

Finally, the VST SDK documentation has been enhanced and is now accessible online. According to Steinberg, it provides detailed information on how to develop plug-ins, including tutorials for beginners and advanced developers.

While this is by no means a revolution in the world of VST, the new SDK and documentation could lead to the development of many new plug-ins. It’s especially good to hear that ARM support has been added, as it helps plug-in developers prepare for the transition.


The Steinberg VST 3.7 SDK can be used under free license and is available for download on the Steinberg website.

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Sequential Pro 3 synthesizer gets Wavetables created by you

Sequential Pro 3 Wavetable GeneratorThe Sequential Pro 3 is a delicious multi-filter mono and 3-voice paraphonic synth that features 2 analogue VCOs and a Wavetable oscillator and they’ve just opened up that third digital oscillator to user-created wavetables.

Pro 3 Wavetables

Sequential has released a new web-based Wavetable Generator utility that allows users to convert up to 16 single-cycle waveforms into a Pro 3 compatible wavetable. These can be loaded into any of the 32 user wavetable slots on the synth.

These user-wavetables are generated as Sys-Ex files and can be shared and loaded on other Pro 3 synths. All you need to do is update your Pro 3 with the free 1.1 firmware and you’re good to go.

“How do you make an awesome-sounding hybrid synth even better? By letting users import their own wavetables,” said Sequential founder Dave Smith: “It opens up a lot of new sonic territory for the Pro 3. We hope users get crazy with it.” Sequential chose to provide the utility as a web app for easy access and broad support. Added Smith: “We wanted to make getting custom waves into the Pro 3 as simple as possible. Ease of use is always a big priority on our synths.”

Still no sign of that new synthesizer Dave said he was working on back in April.

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Surge FREE Synthesizer Plugin Gets An EPIC Update

Surge Synthesizer

Surge Synth Team updated the Surge synthesizer plugin (VST3) to v1.7.0 with hundreds of new features and a brand new user interface design. Surge is a versatile hybrid virtual synthesizer in the VST3 plugin format for digital audio workstations on Windows, macOS, and Linux. It was initially priced at €99 before being discontinued in the […]

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Best Sample Packs This Week: Vintage drums, orchestral samples, epic science fiction sounds

The Best New Sample Packages This WeekThe best sample packs this week include a trio of drum bundles with vintage vibes, a well-rounded group of samples for Serum and Sylenth1, multi-sampled orchestral sounds, and sci-fi sounds from the 70s and 80s for the TAL-U-No-LX Roland Juno emulation.

Musical Sampling Vibe Drums BundleMusical Sampling Vibe Drums Bundle sample pack cover art

This is a sample pack of three drum kits that each bring a distinctive vibe all their own. All three kits were recorded at Hey Hey Studios in Georgia. Penny is a tight kit that conjures the classic sounds of the 60s and 70s. The drums were covered with dampening materials to reduce decay and sustain and were recorded with period-correct vintage microphones and equipment. Ruby is a little more modern sounding and great for rock, and Jolene is a perfect fit for country, pop, and indie. These particular drum samples really breathe while avoiding the “plastic” sound of many similar packs. Works for Windows and Mac Kontakt versions 4 through 6 in VST/3, AU, and AAX formats.

W.A. Production Future Bass Shadow

Inspired by the sounds of such renowned artists as The Chainsmokers, San Holo, and Flume, Bass Shadow provides audio/midi samples as well as 5 construction kits elements. The sounds include pads, leads, drums, chord progressions, and 25 presets for Serum and Sylenth1 applications. There are also synth, bass, one shots, risers with pitch modulation, and percussive elements like acoustic drums, cymbals, and percussion instruments and 25 included effects. All sounds are royalty free, and the pack includes a lot of value at just $19.90.

More information and pricing

Sample Logic Symphonic AI

Sample Logic Symphonic AI sample pack GUI

Developed in the Kontakt engine in tandem with Red Room Audio, this pack combines multi-sampled orchestral sounds with digital synthesis, the combination of which can create new sounds altogether. The application is 13GB across 938 instruments and presets, and the MIDI patterns can be dragged and dropped into the DAW. The tagging system makes it easy to navigate the large number of presets in order to speed up your workflow. It works with Windows and Mac in Kontakt 5.8.1 and higher in VST, AU, AAX, and standalone formats. It is currently on sale for $249.99, down from $500.

ZenSound Gaela

Gaela is a collection of 128 epic sounds for the TAL-U-No-LX Roland Juno emulation from Togu Audio Line. It includes sounds with a 70s and 80s science fiction feel, but with modern twists. These include bass sounds and loops, pads, leads, keys, percussion. The entire bundle is available until July 23rd for just $18, and there is also a free demo version.

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