Free Software Friday is our regular Friday feature here at the dBs blog. We dig the depths of the music production and media webosphere and discover what downloadable plugin freebies are worth double clicking each week.
With the start of the new academic year just weeks away, we thought we'd do things differently this week and compile some of our staff's favourite bits of free software that they regularly use in both their teaching and personal work.
1. SPEAR - Michael Klingbeil
"One of my favourite bits of free software, and often missed, is SPEAR, which stands for the catchy 'Sinusoidal Partial Editing Analysis and Resynthesis'.
"It's a great, free standalone audio analyser which can be used to remove and manipulate sound on a spectral level. It's made by the talented Michael Klingbeil and can be downloaded for various operating systems on his site."
2. Channel4 - Airwindows
Recommended by Olly Thompson, Head of Curriculum at dBs Sound & Music Institute
"A really nice piece of free software I've used a fair bit is Channel4, (originally just Channel but now in its fourth incarnation) by Airwindows.
"Check out the video below and you'll hear how it can be great for adding some analog overdrive emulation to anything you like. There are familiar console types such as Neve, SSL and API settings available to try, all offering a subtly different tone. It's very a simple to look at and operate, but can yield some excellent distortion-based separation within a mix. Be warned though, you'll want to use it sparingly, as levels get pretty hot pretty fast!"
3. Cecilia - Ajax Sound Studio
"It would be a close call between PaulStretch, SPEAR and Cecilia from Ajax Sound Studio, but for the ‘ear-bending sonics’ I really rate Cecilia; it creates very original results.
"Cecilia is ideal for sculpting audio with regard to manipulating textures in a coherent way, such as morphing from one sound to another, or extracting harmonic characteristics. One of my favourite features is the automation patterning, which is probably unique to this developer. It has the look, feel and accessibility of a premium software product - but it's free!"
4. StereoTool v3 - Flux
“Phase is a key factor in creating a good mix, so being aware of any phase issues in your mix is very important. Gone are the days when you needed an expensive outboard phase scope on the meter bridge of your analogue console.
"Now there are a plethora of Phase Scope plugins available that you can sit right in your DAW. However, after Avid removed the standard Phase Scope from their Pro Tools software, some of us we were left searching for a plugin that would do a similar job.
“Not only does Flux's Stereo Tool replace the Phase Scope's Phase Correlation Meter and Vectorscope display, but it also features a number of useful Gain and Phase Tools, as well as a PPM meter making it invaluable of the stereo mix bus.”
5. Rough Rider 3 - Audio Damage
"Audio Damage's Rough Rider is an essential freebie! Great for really smashing signals or using in parallel. I especially like using it to add more bite and punch to drums. One of the other lecturers at dBs who used to work at Abbey Road, tells me that Brian Eno is also a fan of the plugin too!
"Another plugin not to be missed from the Audio Damage camp is the FuzzPlus3."
6. Luftikus EQ
Recommended by Nick Lawson, Online Coordinator at dBs Sound & Music Institute
"Luftikus is a really nice fixed band EQ modelled on vintage hardware and seems inspired by the high-end Maag EQs.
"Its 'High Boost' function is great for sounds that are in need of some top end air at 20k or even 40k - great for using on your master channel. It's really simple to use and provides a good alternative if you're bored of your native EQ plugins."
Interested in production, plugins and sound engineering? Why not take a look at our hugely popular music production and sound engineering courses?