Rewind: Our favourite free software releases of 2021

It's been another year of excellent new releases in the world of free software, but these five plugins really stood out amongst the rest.

Free plugins can often be more harm than good as we greedily fill our DAW with more tools than we could possibly need. That being said, there have been a number of plugins that have immediately clicked for us and had a real positive effect on our creativity - and we wanted to share those with you! 

Let's free up some HD space…

1. Vital Wavetable Synthesiser

Free Software Friday - Vital Wavetable Synthesiser (Featured Image)

Vital was something of a smash-hit of this year and we're not surprised. The free wavetable synth is a phenomenal tool that - and we're not exaggerating here - stands toe to toe with Serum in terms of its functionality, design and usability. 

Though it does come with different paid tiers, the free version of Vital is a force to be reckoned with and comes equipped with 75 presets and 25 wavetables. 

It's a joy to use and one that's perfect for all manner of productions and genres. 


2. Ujam Finisher Micro

UJAM Finisher Micro (Featured Image)

Regardless of what creative hurdles your current tune is facing, we're feel pretty confident when we say that Ujam's Finisher Micro will break you out of the rut.

Finisher Micro is all about simplicity and instant results. Rather than spending hours in sub-menus tweaking your sound, this plugin presents you with a series of different FX presets that add entirely new dimensions to your audio. Some of the changes can be quite subtle, while others transformative; but each time we used it we could feel new ideas sparking in our head.


3. Orchestral Tools SINEfactory

Orchestral Tools SINEfactory - Free Instrument Packs

For the longest time, we would always point firmly towards Spitfire Audio when anyone asked for free, high-quality instrument plugins, but at the beginning of the year Orchestral Tools put their hat in the ring with SINEfactory. 

Originally launching with three instruments; studio percussion, string ensemble and grand piano, SINEfactory now boasts 7 different instrument packs to choose from, each of which boasts the same level of quality that their paid libraries do. 

Much like Spitfire Audio's LABS, SINEfactory requires it's own launcher to host the different instruments but everything is free to use, and Orchestral Tools are releasing new additions all the time. 



Free Software Friday - Chair EXC!TE SNARE DRUM (Featured Image)

We're living in a world where the quantity and variety of high-quality sample libraries boggles the mind. While EXC!TE only focusses on one aspect of the kit, we had an infinitely more enjoyable time crafting our own snare sounds than repurposing a sample. 

There are just six parameters to control in order to shape your snare, which are split into two categories; 'excitation' and 'resonator'. These controls give you a surprising level of flexibility and the physical modelling can help simulate characteristics like snare rattle. 


5. Baby Audio - Magic Dice

Free Software Friday - BabyAudio Magic Dice (Featured Image)

Similar in vein to the Ujam Finisher Micro, the Magic Dice is a one-knob atmosphere generator based on Baby Audio's Spaced Out plugin. 

The results are completely random when applied to your audio. You might create a huge soundscape, rhythmic modulation or a reversed reverb - or something else entirely. The beauty of Magic Dice is that randomness and allowing yourself to follow wherever it leads. 


Looking for more great pieces of free software? Check out our archive here.

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