This weeks collection of free plug-ins includes a free multi-effect for guitar, an update for the popular Brandulator sequenced effect and a fun stereo tool. Here’s Pedalboard, Brandulator 2.0 and Blumlein Haas.
As always, you can find many more free plug-ins in our archives.
Lostin70s Live Pedalboard
We’ve featured several of Lostin70s’ free amp simulations before, including ToneDeluxe v2, Modern Deluxe and Bass Deluxe. But what if you need more sonic flexibility than an amp can offer on its own? Good news: the developer has just released a free virtual pedalboard. It offers six slots, which you can fill with a wide range of effects from distortion and overdrive to modulation to delay, reverb and compressor. Here’s your free virtual guitar studio!
Live Pedalboard is available for Windows and macOS in VST, VST3 and AU formats.
Brandulator has been around for a while, but the developer has just released a major update. Like the previous version, Brandulator 2 is a ‘complex sound processor’ that delivers effects like trance gates, vocoder, wah, comb-filter and modulation. Brandulator splits the input signal into three channels, each of which offers 16 steps of processing with their own volume and pan controls. You can turn static notes into all sorts of effects and intriguing rhythms.
This is a simple stereo effect based on the stereophonic/binaural research by Helmut Haas and Alan Blumlein. It lets you turn a mono signal into stereo by applying a very short delay to one channel. The delay time is adjustable from 1 to 13 milliseconds. There’s also an M/S slider for mid/side processing, and a dry/wet control for setting the strength of the effect. A great way to create a stereo illusion and control the directionality of your tracks – and it’s free!
Blumlein Haas is available as a VST/VST3 plug-in for Windows (64 bit only).
Fender just launched the Mustang Micro headphone amplifier to carve itself out a slice of the micro amp market. The Mustang Micro is designed to make playing and practising your guitar simple, fun and something you can do just about anywhere. I took this little tone mosnter for a spin; here are my impressions and what I think it could do for your guitar playing.
First Look: Fender Mustang Micro
Fender kindly sent me out the new Mustang Micro to try out. This little headphone amp has been with me for a couple of weeks, enough time to get a clear idea of its strengths. The setup is super simple. You charge up the unit using the included USB C to standard USB cable, by using a regular USB charger (not included). Then you plug the Mustang Micro straight into your guitar’s output jack and plug in your favourite set of wired headphones. That’s it: super simple, no messing around with annoying apps, menus or software add ons. It’s literally just plug in and go.
You should get around 4 hours of playing time from a single charge, so plenty of time for you to get playing.
Fender Mustang Micro headphone amp
Plug in and go
The whole ‘plug in and go’ idea appeals to me a lot. I just want to play my guitar! I hate having to work out how to get apps on smartphones to recognise interfaces, deal with latency and endless menus. I can do tech till I’m blue in the face, I really can. But when I’m trying to work out a new song I want to be unencumbered by all the hassle. For me, that’s a huge plus point for the Mustang Micro. It’s one I appreciated again and again whilst using it.
Fender Mustang Micro. What’s in the box?
Simple = Win
The big volume dial on the front of the unit is easy to grip and allows you to dial in the output to taste. Then it’s time to start pushing some buttons! The four controls on the side allow you to choose amp models, adjust the EQ with 5 different settings, choose an effect and finally adjust that effect in a similar manner to the EQ. The package comes with a little card to tell you what LED colour light represents which amp or effect, but to be honest I just followed my ears and it all turned out fine.
Amps & Effects
The Mustang Micro has 12 amp models, along with 12 effect combinations. The amps cover models inspired by (of course) classic Fender amps, but some tones in the style of Marshall, Bogner, Mesa and EVH amps are available, too. The Fender amp models include a ’65 Twin Reverb, ’57 Twin and a ’65 Deluxe Reverb and I found them, fun to play through.
The effects include some great reverbs, modulations and stereo delays, all well chosen to cover a lot of musical styles. You’re getting Hall and Spring reverbs, various modulation effects including chorus, harmonic tremolo, vibrato and flanger combined with reverb, plus tape, slapback and a stereo 2290 delay with reverb. Fender have prioritised simplicity of use, which is a massive win. I was happy just to set the overall volume and tweak as I played. Another huge bonus is that even whilst using single-coil pickups and P90s paired with heavy gain sound, the Mustang Micro was nice and quiet, with no hiss or fuss.
Fender Mustang Micro Amps and Effects card
In the ’90s I has a silver Korg Pandora headphone amp – that thing buzzed and hissed in my ear for years! The Mustang Micro, in contrast, was a welcome and present surprise. I’ve owned loads of headphone amps, from the ancient H&K Cream Machine and RockMan units in the 80s, all the way through to smartphone-enabled apps using interface adapters. The Mustang Micro is way more user friendly than any of those.
Hands up: who hates headphone and guitar cables hanging around as you play? They always seem to be getting in my way. The Mustang Micro avoids a lot of this, as it goes straight into the output socket. No need for a guitar cable! I found it worked fine on many different guitars, with no issues. And because it plugs straight into your guitar, you can easily push your headphone cable behind you when you are playing, so it doesn’t interfere with your picking hand.
There’s a bit of wireless connectivity, too, with Bluetooth to let you stream audio from a device so you can play along to your favourite songs and backing tracks. I found this super easy to get up and running with my band demos streaming from my iPhone to the Micro Mustang. Within minutes I was jamming out some new solo ideas. It also has built-in audio/video sync, so latency wasn’t a problem either.
Recording into DAW
The on-board USB port turns it into a recording interface, so it’s it super useful for musicians on the move. I was up and running on my Mac in Logic Pro X within seconds of plugging in the Mustang Micro. It ran hassle-free with super low latency.
If you are in the market for a good quality practise companion for your gig bag, then the Fender Mustang Micro has you covered. On paper, I would probably have passed the Fender Mustang Micro by. But having spent some time getting familiar with it, I would go out and buy one in a heartbeat. I really loved the simplicity and the excellent sound quality. Overall, I could see myself using one every day. A thumbs up from me, all round!
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Cherry Audio brings the ARP 2500 to Voltage Modular with VM2500 Collection. The bundle contains 21 modules based on the vintage modular system.
ARP continues to be a rich resource of desirable vintage sounds. The ARP 2500 modular synth is one of the rarest and has been brought to life recently by Behringer and their 2500 range of hardware Eurorack modules. Cherry Audio, in collaboration with Mark Barton from MRB Labs, has brought them into the software environment of Voltage Modular.
It will be interesting to see how they’ve tackled the conversion from a very unique matrix-based patching system to a Eurorack format of using patch cables. With the Behringer 2500 the work was done by Rob Keeble of AMSynths who had been working on the idea for many years.
Cherry Audio says that they’ve recreated all 18 of the original modules in “perfect detail” and added an oscilloscope, spring reverb and mixer. “We’ve eliminated the matrix-switch I/O scheme and replaced all connections with standard CV jacks, and added bi-polar CV attenuators to all modulation inputs for full compatibility with all Voltage Modular modules.” What’s important is that with synth designer Mark Barton they capture the classic sound of this legendary machine.
The VM2500 Collection is available now for $49. You’ll need Voltage Modular to run them and the Nucleus bundle is available for Windows and macOS completely free of charge. That’s a done deal I think.
The bundle comes with a bunch of presets to get you started and those are essential because old vintage modular is not always that easy to understand. However, one of the problems I have with software modular is that you have a choice of never-ending modules which can get a bit overwhelming. I would have liked Cherry Audio to include a few presets of standard ARP 2500 systems (if there is such a thing) so you could work within the constraints of a common collection of modules. There’s nothing to stop you doing this yourself of course but a bit of help from the experts would be appreciated.
Want to try it for yourself? Get the free Voltage Modular Nucleus version and you can have a 7-day trial of the VM2500 modules. Go and see what you think.
SampleScience offers Rusty Piano, a freeware virtual piano in 64-bit VST plugin format for macOS and Windows. Rusty Piano is compatible with Windows 8.1/10 and macOS El Capitan to Mojave. Unfortunately, it’s not compatible with macOS Catalina or higher. This plugin looks to be right up my street, and I rarely pass up the opportunity […]
Manufacturer RODE has cooked up a serious upgrade for its NT-USB Mini microphone’s capabilities in the form of RODE Connect. The free Windows and macOS software offers the ability to connect up to four of the USD 99 NT-USB Mini microphones to a single computer for recording, podcasting, and streaming.
RODE Connect software for NT-USB Mini
RODE Connect combines recording, routing, mixing, and streaming in a way that pretty much recreates the experience from the manufacturer’s RODECaster Pro hardware unit. The user interface is streamlined and reasonably intuitive, made to simplify what used to be the daunting tasks of routing and mixing audio between several apps and input devices to record or stream without issues like latency and echo.
RODE Connect screenshot
Notably, RODE Connect lets you tap into the NT-USB microphone’s previously unannounced signal processing abilities, including noise gate, compressor, and APHEX Aural Exciter and Big Bottom effects emulations for that radio announcer sound. RODE somehow kept these a secret from the microphone’s last-year announcement until now.
A virtual device channel lets you setup chat and video calls applications like Zoom to get audio input from the microphone and route their audio output back into RODE Connect. Mix-minus is automatically applied to the virtual channels to remove echo and feedback. No more figuring out signal routing! Additionally, advanced settings in RODE Connect make it possible to send the application audio to external devices like speakers, interfaces, and recorders. So you won’t be tied to the microphone’s headphone output for monitoring.
While the app doesn’t offer audio editing, it does facilitate single and multi-track recording. The results can be exported in .mp3 and .wav formats at sample rates up to 48kHz. Plenty enough to take the recordings into a DAW for post-processing. Additionally, the app supports exports optimized for individual streaming platforms. The optimization includes file format and appropriate loudness in LuFS, so you might be able to get by without doing mastering for loudness at all.
Likewise, streamers will benefit from dedicated output controls for streaming apps like OBS and Xsplit. I’m really impressed with how well RODE learned its target customers and catered to their needs! With the software, the unassuming USD 99 NT-USB mic becomes a content creation powerhouse.
RODE Connect is free and available now as a standalone app for computers running macOS 10.13 or later and Windows 10 1803 or later. The software is only compatible with the RODE NT-USB Mini microphone. You can buy the microphone from RODE dealers worldwide, such as Thomann.de (affiliate link).
Developer KINDZAudio introduced DDpressor, a 4-band dynamics processing plug-in with some interesting frequency split options. Notably, you can define three frequency crossover points yourself and choose from four filter algorithms to control their “sharpness”.
As a dynamics processor with four bands, DDpressor can serve as a compressor, limiter, expander, and gate. You can precisely define three crossover frequencies and choose four filter algorithms – 1Pole, Butterworth, Chebyshev, and Chebyshev 2. These are all going to sound a little different, so there’s room for critical listening and experimenting.
Each band has various dynamics processing parameters to adjust. In addition to Threshold, Knee, Ratio, Attack and Release controls, you will also find a frequency-selective sidechain with adjustable filter quality, as well as external sidechain input. There are also input and output signal level controls, along with peak meters for each band. While there is no parameter link, holding down the right mouse button and adjusting a parameter anywhere changes the corresponding parameter for the other bands.
Above the bands, there are global controls for Look Ahead, Mix, Input and Output Gain, and Clip. So there’s a built-in clipper if you want that. The user interface is stripped of eye candy, clear and to the point. You can get quite involved with this processor so some more metering options wouldn’t have hurt. But you can always use external metering plug-ins. As a final touch, you can save presets and choose them from a drop-down menu. All in all, DDpressor is quite the workhorse, especially if you need purely corrective instead of ‘character’ processing. It will probably do really good handling dynamics on your master bus.
Price and availability
KINDZAudio DDpressor is available in VST, VST 3, and AU plug-in formats for macOS and Windows computers. You can find a free demo version on the developer’s website. The price is EUR 50.
Stone Voices releases Brandulator 2.0, a freeware multi-mode effect in 64-bit VST2 and VST3 plugin formats for digital audio workstations on Windows. Brandulator 2.0 is a complex sound processor that allows you to combine multiple effects in many interesting ways. The plugin takes the original signal and splits it into 16 steps/intervals based on the […]
In celebration of the company’s 10th anniversary, AudioThing is currently offering generous discounts on all of its products. They’ve also introduced a new plug-in: AudioThing Things Tilt is a tilt equalizer for quick adjustments to your tracks. And you can get it for less than 10 Euros or even for free during the promotion – that’s what they call a no-brainer!
AudioThing Things Tilt
AudioThing has expanded its Things series with Things Tilt, a tilt EQ effect. And it’s a steal: in celebration of the company’s anniversary, Things Tilt is now available for just €9.
A tilting EQ lets you adjust the high and low frequencies of an audio signal simultaneously. When you turn the tilt knob, the highs are boosted while the lows are attenuated, or the other way around. It’s a quick way to balance out the frequency content of any signal. You can adjust the tilt frequency (the boundary between highs and lows) using the cutoff knob.
What’s especially interesting is that Things Tilt offers a mid/side mode. This means that you can apply the effect specifically to the sides or the center of the stereo image, thereby affecting the stereo width. Give the high frequencies at the left and right edges of your mix a boost, or cut down the highs and boost the lows in the center. At the end of the signal path, you can activate a soft clip option to keep the levels in check.
Price, compatibility and anniversary deals
In celebration of the company’s anniversary, AudioThing is currently offering generous discounts on all of its products until April 30, 2021. Things Tilt is now available for an introductory price of just €9. You can also get the plug-in at Plugin Boutique*. And if you buy any other AudioThing plug-in during the anniversary sale, or have previously bought Things Texture or Things Motor, you get Things Tilt for free!
The plug-in runs on macOS 10.9 or higher and Windows 7 or higher in AU, VST, VST3 and AAX formats (64 bit).
Plugin Alliance and Brainworx have released bx_limiter True Peak. Designed from the ground up as a true peak limiter, Brainworx says that bx_limiter TP lets you achieve the desired loudness without introducing distortion through inter-sample peaks.
Plugin Alliance Brainworx bx_limiter True Peak
According to Brainworx, the new mastering limiter plug-in was created to overcome the shortcomings of other true peak limiters. The company says that unlike most other true peak limiters, bx_limiter True Peak was designed from scratch to avoid problems like an unstable low end, distorted stereo imaging, washed-out transients and other artifacts.
To achieve this, bx_limiter True Peak relies on ‘Selective Oversampling’ technology. It uses oversampling only where it improves the signal and avoids it where it might diminish the sound quality. Together with an advanced look-ahead design and high speed, the limiter delivers a tighter, more accurate low-end and better stereo imaging than the competition, Brainworx promises.
In addition to the essential controls of a limiter (gain, ceiling, release), bx_limiter True Peak offers integrated low and high pass filters and the proprietary ‘XL’ saturation algorithm. There’s also a ‘Foundation’ filter, which lets you dial in the desired amount of “heft, weight, tightness, or clarity”, according to Brainworx.
Next to the traditional level and gain reduction meters, you’ll find a customizable loudness meter that helps to hit a specific loudness target. There’s also a correlation meter for keeping an eye on phase coherence. And you can monitor the center, sides and L/R channels separately (including solo in place).
I think that bx_limiter TP is a very promising new option for a true peak limiter plug-in. If it sounds as good as the developer claims, it’ll quickly make its way into many mastering engineers’ plug-in folders.
Price and compatibility
Plugin Alliance Brainworx bx_limiter True Peak is now available for an introductory price of $249.99. The regular price will be $299. It’s also included in the Plugin Alliance Mega, Mix & Master, Essential and Brainworx bundles at no extra cost. A free 14-day trial version is available from the developer’s website.
The plug-in requires macOS 10.9 through 11.0.1 or Windows 7 through 10. It comes in VST, VST3, AU, AAX DSP and AAX Native formats.
Thinking about buying a new microphone for podcasting, streaming or vocal recording? Here’s your chance to grab some essential software for free! Buy any mic from this list at Thomann.de, and you’ll receive a copy of the iZotope RX 8 Elements audio restoration software for free. But hurry up: this deal expires May 17.
Buy a microphone and get iZotope RX 8 Elements for free
Are you in the market for a new vocal mic? Or do you want to step up your podcasting or streaming game with a new, higher-quality microphone? You’re in for a treat! For a limited time, you’ll receive a copy of iZotope RX 8 Elements for free when you buy any mic from the list below at Thomann.de.
iZotope RX 8 Elements includes everything you need to clean up and improve your voice recordings for a professional, high-quality sound. Its features came straight from iZotope’s acclaimed RX 8 audio restoration suite. You can reduce background noise and hum, remove clicks and pops and fix clipping issues in case the recording level was set too high. RX Elements also includes an audio editor with spectral editing, which is great for identifying problematic frequencies and surgically removing them. Say goodbye to noisy, distorted voice recordings!
iZotope RX 8 Elements
The list of eligible mics includes some tried-and-true classics, such as the AKG C214 condenser microphone or the dynamic Shure SM7B, a favorite for podcasting and live streaming. Other options include the Aston Microphones Origin, Lewitt LCT 440 PURE and Electro-Voice RE320.
If you record at your desk, a USB microphone such as the Shure MV 7, Rode NT-USB or Apogee HypeMiC is a great choice, as it eliminates the need for an audio interface. Just connect the mic to your computer and you’re good to go.
Deal: Buy one of these microphones and get free software
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