Best free plug-ins this week: Spooky Meter, Creepy Piano 2 and ThrillseekerXTC

Best free plug-ins this weekHalloween is already casting a shadow on this week’s collection of free plug-ins: We’ve got a fun and scary meter and an equally menacing piano instrument. Also, a popular free exciter gets an update. Here’s Spooky Meter, Creepy Piano 2 Lite and ThrillseekerXTC MkII.

Head over to our archives for many more free plug-ins!

reFUSE Software Spooky Meter

reFUSE Software Spooky MeterHave you ever dreamt of a peak level meter that comes in the shape of a pumpkin? Well, your scariest dream just became reality. Spooky Meter by reFUSE Software features a resizable GUI in the shape of a pumpkin head. The mouth, nose and eyes of the creature get progressively brighter with signal level. The eyes also function as a peak hold. So it appears that Spooky Meter isn’t just scary, but actually quite useful. It’s only free until November 2, 2021, so get it while it lasts!

Spooky Meter is available for macOS and Windows in VST3, AU and AAX formats (64 bit).

Get Spooky Meter here

Electronik Sound Lab Creepy Piano 2 Lite

Electronik Sound Lab Creepy Piano 2 LiteElectronik Sound Lab has put together yet another collection of the creepiest, most haunted piano sounds and noises. Creepy Piano 2 Lite comes with a new interface featuring an ADSR envelope and a LFO for modulation. The included 25 multi-sampled piano presets were captured using Steinway and Yamaha pianos. The developer says that they’re great for cinematic background music, lo-fi hip hop and trap. There’s also a paid version for €20 that ups the number of presets to 75.

Creepy Piano 2 Lite is available for macOS and Windows in VST, VST3 and AU formats.

Get Creepy Piano 2 Lite here

Variety Of Sound ThrillseekerXTC mkII

Variety Of Sound ThrillseekerXTC mkIIVariety Of Sound has updated the tried-and-true ThrillseekerXTC. The psychoacoustic exciter is based on a parallel dynamic equalizer. The new version offers operating level calibration for precise gain staging. There’s also a reworked drive/mojo stage for full-bandwidth saturation. The developer says that the plug-in applies compression to improve the mid-range coherence. The original Thrillseeker has been around for a while now, and its many fans are sure to love this update.

ThrillseekerXTC mkII is a VST plug-in for Windows (32/64 bit).

Get ThrillseekerXTC mkII here

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Yum Audio: LoFi Flux Machine and Flux Light (free lo-fi plug-in)

Yum Audio LoFi Flux MachineDeveloper Yum Audio presents LoFi Flux Machine, the latest tool in its LoFi product range. As the name suggests, Flux Machine is a multi-effects plug-in which uses modulation to set your audio and instrument tracks in motion. Colorful parameters, such as instability, jitter, warble, flutter, wonky, loose, noise, and saturate kind of speak for themselves – but you have to hear them so they make complete sense. Then again, just looking at the GUI kind of makes everything sound extremely lo-fi already. There is also a slimmed-down free version of Flux Machine, called Flux Light, which is useful as a quick nostalgia injector.

Yum Audio LoFi Flux Machine

Artful degradation aside, LoFi Flux Machine should help introduce additional character and liveliness to your tracks. Several effects are available for this purpose. The Warble tool emulates analog tape warble with parameters like Warble Width, Slow, Jitter (LFO frequency), and Instability of the effect. You can also adjust the Dry / Wet mix and sync the modulations to the song tempo. In the middle of the GUI, there is a visual display of the effect.

On the far right is the Flutter effect, which you can also mix freely with the dry signal and sync it to the song. Only the following four parameters can be adjusted to determine the strength of the effect: Pristine, Flux, Wonky, and Loose. Below you can see the Saturation unit in the interface with the controls for Saturate, Noise (noise generator), Dark and Bright (a kind of equalizer), Width and Volume. You can adjust the strength of the entire effect from the Intensity fader.

Yum Audio LoFi Flux Machine

Yum Audio LoFi Flux Machine

Yum Audio LoFi Flux Light

The light version is good fun, but it only offers the Warble section. You will also have to do without the Warble Width parameter. That shouldn’t be hard to swallow, considering Flux Light is free.

Yum Aaudio LoFi Flux Light

Yum Aaudio LoFi Flux Light

Prices and dates for Yum Audio LoFi Flux Machine

Yum Audio LoFi Flux Machine is currently on sale at an introductory price of EUR 69, down from EUR 99. Owners of other Yum effects receive a special discount – check your account. Bundled with all other plug-ins, you will pay EUR 175. Meanwhile, LoFi Flux Light is currently free, instead of its regular EUR 49 price. The plug-ins work under macOS 10.11 or later and Windows 10 or later in 64-bit AU, AAX, and VST3 formats. A 14-day unlimited demo version and a PDF user manual are also available from the website.

More information about Yum Audio

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Saturator plug-in by PSP Audioware: the latest in modeled analog distortion

PSP SaturatorDeveloper PSP Audioware is known for offering terrific-sounding, fair-priced analog emulations. PSP doesn’t put out stuff often, but when it does, it’s always something to look into. The latest release is PSP Saturator, an ambitiously be-all-end-all of musical distortion for your DAW.

PSP Saturator

The new PSP plug-in takes a bit of everything that colors sounds with added harmonics. It has 8 different saturation shapes and 3 sculpting engines for low, high, or overall saturation. There are also adjustable Low and High band processing engines for band-specific saturation.

The parallel mix feature includes an intelligent phase alignment algorithm. Likewise, there are multiple metering modes for signal monitoring along with an additional control panel to fine-tune saturation and smoothing parameters. At the output stage, PSP Saturator offers three modes (off, saturation, limiting) depending on your needs. They go along the Input and Output gain controls you’d expect to find in any analog-inspired plug-in.

Finally, the audio engine offers quad-sampling for the poshest-sounding digital along with just 6 samples of internal latency. The included 200 presets ought to be enough to get you started with all that. The user interface is knobby but straight to the point, complete with realistic VU meters. I can Saturator will be another home run for PSP, even considering the distortion plug-in segment is over-saturated (excuse the cheap pun…).

PSP Saturator

PSP Saturator

Price and availability

Until November 14, you can buy PSP Saturator at an introductory discount (30% off) for USD 69. Current owners of the PSP MixPack bundle can buy PSP Saturator at an additional 70% discount (which makes 100% – y’all mean the plug-in is free?!). Likewise, a free 30-day trial mode is available from the PSP website. PSP Saturator works under Windows 7 or later / macOS 10.10 or later in 64-bit VST3, VST, AAX, and AU formats. As with all PSP plug-ins, the free iLok License Manager application handles authorization.

More information

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BLEASS Dragonfly: A new tremolo effects plug-in with dynamics

BLEASS DragonflyDeveloper BLEASS keeps bringing the goods with pleasantly innovative plug-ins. Its latest release is Dragonfly, a dynamic tremolo effects plug-in with some very interesting options. In short, the tremolo can be modulated via pitch tracking and MIDI note input, then waveshaped for added saturation. But that’s barely the gist of it – there’s more…

BLEASS Dragonfly

Dragonfly offers three choices when it comes down to modulating the tremolo effect. First, you can use the built-in pitch tracking on an input audio track or feed a sidechain input into the plug-in. Second, you can straight-up play MIDI into the effect and the tremolo will tune itself to the notes’ frequencies. Third – you can set a fixed frequency in Manual mode. In all cases, flapping butterfly wings visualise the tremolo’s workings.

There are plenty of parameters for shaping the sound of the tremolo. These include Fine (pitch offset), Factor (tremolo rate multiplier), Smooth (smoothing duration of rate variations), Stereo (set phase difference between L/R channels), Attack, Release, Mode (Simple / Wild), and Wildness (set waveshaping strength in Wild mode). These all beg to played with, rather than explained, so catch the free demo or watch the video below to get a feel for them. Finally, at the plug-in’s output stage, you can adjust Gain and Dry / Wet ratio.

Dragonfly seems to be another fresh release from BLEASS, right along the lines of Saturator, Slow Machine, and Granulizer.  I like the developer’s approach to enhancing familiar effects with clever features while maintaining usability and cross-platform compatibility. I think the French developer is certainly one to watch out for in the years ahead.

Price and availability

BLEASS Dragonfly is currently on sale for USD 19, down from USD 35. It’s available for macOS, Windows, and iOS in VST, AU, and AUv3 formats. The iOS version costs USD 4.99.

More information

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2B Filter Friend: A quick creative filter plug-in with distortion and tempo sync

2B Played Music Filter FriendDeveloper 2B Played has lined up interesting takes on creative effects with its 2B series of plug-ins. The latest addition to the collection is 2B Filter Friend, designed for quick yet pleasing filter effects. Let’s dive in.

2B Played Music Filter Friend

Filter Friend is reasonably elaborate for an effect described as ‘quick’. The plug-in features 4 filter types with cutoff and resonance controls, 5 waveforms, a distortion filter, tempo sync with 20 modes, and other quirks. You can also change the strength of applied filter waveforms and use the position option to make the effect follow the DAW playhead. While timing can be adjusted manually with the rate knob in free mode, you can also sync the filter to parts of your track using classic sync. The rate knob’s range is determined by the set tempo.

There are 4 filter types currently available in Filter Friend – Low Pass, High Pass, Band Pass, and Band Reject. There are the classic sine and saw waveforms, as well as triangle, ramp, and pulse. The plug-in also features a low cut knob and a distortion parameter. So if the audio gets too rowdy after distortion, you will be able to tame the low frequency build-up without reaching for an external EQ.

2B Played Filter Friend

All in all, Filter Friend is a fun 2B plug-in that’s sold at a very affordable price.

2B Played Music 2B Filter Friend – Price and availability

2B Filter Friend is on introductory sale, priced EUR 14.92 (excl. EU VAT) down from EUR 21.31 (excl. EU VAT). The plug-in works under Windows 7 / macOS 10.14 or later in 64-bit VST, VST3, and AU formats. No demo version is available, no user manual either. 2B deems the manual unnecessary because there are explanations for everything when you mouse-hover parameters inside the plug-in.

More information

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Deal: Get the AKAI MPC 2 software at a special 50% discount!

AKAI MPC 2 softwareManufacturer AKAI is reducing the price of its MPC 2 production software for Windows and macOS. Until November 2 2021, both versions – Standard and Premier – are being discounted by around 50% off the regular price. At this point in its evolution, MPC 2 is a full-fledged workstation which includes software instruments, samples, loops, and many ready-made sequences. MPC 2 also integrates into your DAW as a plug-in. Basically, if you wanted to try the MPC sequencer without going for the hardware, you can do that now and save a lot!

Akai MPC 2 Standard and Premier on sale

Until November 2 2021, AKAI is reducing the sales price of its flagship MPC 2 software. Both versions – Standard and Premier – are fully equipped with a sequencer, virtual synthesizers, instruments, sounds and MPC expansions (5 for Standard, 10 for Premier). Of course, you can also import your own loops and samples (with time stretching and audio warping) to make music out of. MPC 2 also connects with modern AKAI hardware, in addition to having support for Ableton Link and Bluetooth MIDI.

AKAI has been taking good care of its MPC offerings, releasing hefty updates for the MPC 2 software, its modern MPC grooveboxes (MPC One, MPC Live II, MPC X), and the Force unit. Version 2.10 added 14 AIR plugins and a ton of goodies you should be checking out.

AKAI MPC2 Price and availability

The AKAI MPC 2 software is on sale here at Thomann.de (affiliate link) at a special price of EUR 99 down from EUR 199 and EUR 149 instead of EUR 349.98. The offer is valid until November 2, 2021.

The MPC 2 software works under macOS 10.10.5 or later and Windows 8 or later – standalone, or in 64-bit AU, AAX, and VST formats. You need a free iLok account (or paid USB dongle) for authorization. A demo version and tutorial videos can be found on the AKAI website.

More information

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Roland Zentracker for Android and iOS: a recording app goes beyond the essentials

Roland ZenTrackerIt took a while, but Roland is bringing its music production vision to mobile devices with a recording app that’s unmistakably “modern Roland”. This is ZenTracker, a free app for Android and iOS devices that claims “mobile studio” functionality without the complexity. Let’s see what big R’s been up to…

Roland Zentracker

Zentracker is a multitrack recording app designed to serve as a well rounded-out “trackpad” to quickly jot down spontaneous musical ideas before they evaporate, forever. It’s a reasonably powerful app for what it is, with features like unlimited track counts, 16 integrated audio effects, editing (with reverse, time-stretch, etc), timeline automation, and 200 included loops.

Roland Cloud members are privileged to an expanded set of features which also includes stem exports, AUv3 plug-ins on iOS, 8 track effects slots, unlimited track sends, 20+ loop packs, and additional effects. Whew, that’s quite the list for a simple mobile recorder – basically, everything’s there if you need it (and a Roland Cloud subscription isn’t out of the question).

Zentracker projects can be saved on your device and shared over cloud services (Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Roland Cloud). It goes without saying that stem and track exports are prime and ready for further development on your desktop/laptop/thingamabob once you manage to pry them out of your mobile device’s obscure file system. Don’t ask, I spent like 2 hours syncing a bunch of mp3s to my iPhone yesterday and I’m still bitter as all heck.

Roland Zentracker

Things are certainly looking up for Zentracker. It looks like a very meaningful, powerful app that’s more than just the brand name it carries. I’d trust Roland to wheel out a well-designed product that’s capable, but accessible. After all, Roland made the 808 and look where are we now! Check it out and let us know what you think in the comments section!

More information

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PreSonus R65 V2 and R80 V2: New studio monitors with AMT tweeters

PreSonus R80 V2PreSonus has updated the R series studio monitors and announced the R65 V2 and R80 V2. The new monitors retain the 2-way configuration with AMT tweeters, but offer more tuning options than their predecessors. The amplifiers have also been updated.

PreSonus R65 V2 and R80 V2

Both new models use a 6.8 square inch Air Motion Transformator (AMT) driven by a Class-A/B amplifier module with 65 watts. PreSonus says that the thin folds (less than 0.01 mm) of the Kapton membrane ensure that the tweeter moves instantly, for wave cycle accurate transient reproduction.

The manufacturer also claims that the AMT design results in a wider sweet spot with focused vertical dispersion. This helps to minimize reflections from the desk, ceiling and floor, which could otherwise cause phase and coherence issues.

The R65 V2 features a 6.5-inch woofer made of custom-woven composite, while the R80 V2 is equipped with an 8-inch speaker. Both models are built around a 75-watt Class-A/B amplifier module for the low and mid frequencies, which offers plenty of headroom to ensure distortion-free, non-fatiguing performance, PreSonus says. The manufacturer also claims that the woofers offer consistent dispersion across their entire frequency range. The R65 V2 offers a frequency response of 45 Hz to 22 kHz, while the larger R80 V2 goes down to 40 Hz.

PreSonus R65 V2

PreSonus R65 V2

New adjustment options

In addition to the new amp modules, PreSonus has brought the acoustic tuning controls of the Eris lineto the R65 V2 and R80 V2. Both monitors offer low cut, mid frequency and high frequency controls. There’s also an Acoustic Space switch to compensate for the any issues caused by placing the speakers close to a wall or in a corner. With XLR, 1/4” and RCA inputs, the new R series monitors can be integrated into a wide variety of setups.

As an extra bonus, the new monitors come with the Studio Magic Suite, which includes Ableton Live Lite and a great selection of plug-ins by various developers, as well as some samples. Here’s an overview.

PreSonus R80 V2

PreSonus R80 V2

Price and availability

Both new models will be available soon. The R65 V2 is available for preorder at Thomann* for €299. The R80 V2 is €399 at Thomann*.

More information about the PreSonus R65 V2 and R80 V2

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Software and Hardware Updates for Rode Wireless GO II

If you’re a content creator then you probably already know all about the hugely successful Rode Wireless GO II. Now Rode’s new software updates and hardware accessories will extend the functionality and usability of your existing GO II setup. Here’s what’s new.

Rode Wireless GO II

You may remember that back in March Rode released the Wireless GO II. If you’re a content creator or live streamer, it’s possibly the perfect wireless mic system. Not ones to sit on their laurels, however, Rode has just released a raft of software and hardware upgrades for GO II users.

Software Updates

A new firmware update allows GO II users access to powerful new mobile tools. As a consequence and using the Rode Central Mobile App you can now gain access to advance configuration functions, without needing a desktop computer. Importantly, you can switch between the “Merged” and “Split” recording modes, regulate the volume or activate the safety channel.

Rode Central Mobile App

The new firmware update, also means you can use your Rode Wireless GO II mic system with the Rode Connect software. While it might not sound like a huge update, these additions expand the abilities of the Wireless GO II and make working in the field much easier and more versatile.

Wireless GO II with Rode Connect

Hardware Accessories

Additionally, accompanying the software updates is a range of clever hardware accessories for the Wireless Go II system. Colours 2 is an identification accessory pack that gives you four coloured windshields, cable identification rings, tags and a sticker sheet.

Obviously, it’s no coincidence that you’ll find the same colour coding as used in the Rode Connect software.

Rode Colours 2

Furthermore, Rode has given us new options for mounting the Wireless GO transmitter packs. It should be noted that Flexclip GO gives you three transmitter mount options:

  • The MagClip GO for easy mounting of the transmitter onto clothing or magnetic surfaces
  • The CrossClip, which allows the transmitter to be discreetly mounted vertically in either orientation
  • The VampireClip, which can be used to attach the transmitter to clothing or fabric using the integrated double-tooth pin

Rode Flex ClipGO

Useful Updates

I can only commend Rode on this recent raft of releases! The free software updates enhance the versatility of your existing system and, furthermore, the hardware accessories offer useful added functionality.

More Information on Rode Wireless GO II Accessories

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AKAI Force firmware 3.1 adds an abundance of new instruments and features

AKAI Force firmware 3.1AKAI has dished out a big feature update for its Force groovebox, adding 3 new instruments, 7 new insert effects, disk streaming, USB audio, and a whole bunch of good stuff. Let’s see what’s poppin’.

AKAI Force firmware 3.1

Coming to 3.1 are 3 new instruments – AIR Solina, AIR Mellotron, and WayOutWare Odyssey. These are familiar synthesizer and keyboard instruments with optional Flavor effects processing to introduce distortion, noise, flutter, and other ‘character’ effects.

The 7 insert effects include Stutter, Half Speed, Granulator, Diffuser Delay, Stereo Delay, Diode Clipper, and AIR Limiter. That’s already potent creative fodder, but there’s more – Vocal Tuner does pitch correction on the device itself, AIR Doubler fills out vocal tracks with faux double-tracking, and AIR Harmonizer generates 4-part harmonies from a single vocal. Add built-in volume, pan, delay, EQ and you can probably come up with rather competent vox!

Meanwhile, disk streaming from external storage unlocks additional room for recording and processing. You can deal with longer audio tracks, perform DJ sets, create larger sample instruments / keygroup programs, and benefit from faster loading times. Good stuff!

AKAI Force

The USB audio functionality is also a great addition with up to 32 audio tracks that can be recorded and routed between the Force and connected gear. The update is rounded off by portamento for gliding notes and percussion, pitch envelopes for samples, Sample Tail for smoothing out those dreaded pops at the start and end of samples, and as many as 10 new drum pad effects (such as Ringmod, Bitcrush, Tubedrive, and Lowpass).

Force 3.1 also adds new functionality to Buses (Submixes/Returns/Masters). The Recording, Playback and Editing of automation follows the same workflow on buses as with other tracks. Force 3.1 also expands MIDI integration with the ability to load and export MIDI files to and from FORCE. You can also assign FORCE parameters to 3rd party MIDI controllers.

Force 3.1 is available now as a free update for Force users.

More information

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