10 of the best free plugins for studio engineers


MIALAB-MIALAB-BORDER-NEW1. MIA Laboratories Border filter

A recent plugin that is based on a silky Butterworth filter design for cleaning up sounds. Operated with a simple hi-pass and lo-pass filter combination Border allows you to sculpt or cut sounds exactly how you need and remove unwanted frequencies from you recordings. 


15071282548082. iZotope Imager

Born from Ozone's 8, this stereo widener is a great option, and offers something a little different to the polyverse widener plugin lower down this list.  Coming complete with a vectorscope, you can easily visualise just how wide your audio is and help you make the right choices when mixing or mastering your music without falling into problems with phase alignment.


Thump_2.0.2_777x687-13. Metric Halo Thump

A great subharmonic tool for engineers that want to add weight to bass or kick recordings or thicken up percussion. Thump is an envelope driven, percussive sub-harmonic synthesiser that tracks the pitch and dynamics of the audio input, then uses this information to control it's oscillators. Oompf on tap!


TBPROAudio-Isol8-free-vst-au-plug-in-427691-edited4.  TBProAudio Isol8

Here's a useful tool for engineers to have for mixing and mastering. Dividing the frequency range into five separate bands, you can solo each band and plus split the incoming signal into different monitor modes of left, right, stereo or mid and side. It's deigned mainly for the master buss, but it's just as useful on drum and guitar groups or stacks of vocal edits.


Snapshot-plugin-pro-tools-expert-338450-edited5. Snapshot

Today, any modern engineer has to take care of studios that are a hybrid of hardware and software and although recalling projects in the software world has never been easier, matching that with outboard kit or vintage instruments can end up being a folder full of mobile phone snaps and a pain to organise. This is where Snapshot comes in, neatly organising your hardware recall settings right inside your DAW. Even if you only have one bit of outboard kit, you're going to want this.


Quick-Haas-Venn-Audio-VST-726507-edited6. Quick Haas

As long as it's applied to stereo material this neat little plugin can apply a much more realistic panning effect using psychoacoustic modelling and the 'Haas' effect. Small delays lead to a much more accurate panning and this video demonstrates this beautifully if you slip on a pair of headphones. Useful for music production, but also great for those engineers and producers working in broadcast, film or game sound.


bx_subfilter-01bx_subfilter-017. Brainworx bx_subfilter

Brainworx offer a few free plugins that do a their job extremely well, you may have seen the bx_cleansweep filter on our Free Software Friday posts before. Here, the red faced bx_subfilter will clean up deep mud. Borrowed from the filter section of the bx_subsynth, the clever low end filtering is a great way for engineers to clean up low end mush.


span-large10248. Voxengo Span

Pretty much the best freeware real-time visualiser you can get right now, and a complete no brainer for making sure your masters are in the right shape. Check for problem frequencies and choose from a pile of spectrum analyzer preferences and metering modes. 


Polyverse_wider9. Polyverse Wider

A recent release designed by super-trance group Infected Mushroom but proves ultra-useful to any genre where you're looking to add some width. Simple to use but loaded with a really nice all pass and comb filtering algorithm, meaning it will not leave horrible artefacts when converting mono signals into super-wide stereo ones


Proximity_Tokyo_dawn_vladg_sound-471724-edited10. Tokyo Dawn Labs Proximity

Proximity is an useful free plugin for recording engineers, producers and post-production and sound for TV and Film professionals. It's a psychoacoustic tool that can redefine the proximity of microphones post-recording, enabling you to correct and alter things such as phase, stereo placement and more and also tighten up sounds by altering perceived recording proximity. Layer multiple instances of this plugin on your inserts to correct, then modify till your recordings are just right. There's a great video demonstrating all of this


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