While there was a buffet of other free plug-in options this week, the stars and patch cables aligned to focus on three enticing freebies all related to modular synthesis.
It seems everyone is interested in modular synthesis these days, but still only a small fraction of electronic music producers have dived into the fray. While modular synthesis appeals widely, its caveats also include the potential large studio footprint, cost, and also the complexity of creating synthesizer patches from scratch in the original, true sense of patching signal from module to module with cables.
This week’s giveaways can help you enjoy the fruits of modular synthesis without all the disadvantages, or in the case of the Eurorack-style VCV Rack virtual modular, let you try making modular patches first in a free software realm, so you can decide whether the real deal is right for you.
Syntonica Seismic for Mac
This wave based, fully modular soft synth for Mac has an eight-node interface that lets you create original lead sounds, pads, percussion and more in an easier fashion than traditional hardware synthesizers. Get it in VST or AU formats.
Wave Alchemy SYS-100 Drums Free Sampler
Hot on the heels of its wicked Evolution drum machine (which has a nice free “slim” version available), Wave Alchemy can’t stop, won’t stop with the delicious drum sounds. The British company’s latest commercial sample pack, SYS-100 Drums, collects more than 1,500 drum and percussion sounds in 24-bit WAV format, made on the Roland System 100 semi-modular analog synth and recorded and processed through a ton of high-end gear. The full release costs £32.95 and packages the sounds Ableton Live, Battery, Halion, Kontakt, NN-XT, SFZ, and Logic EXS-24.
As always, however, Wave Alchemy lets you try before you buy with a quality free download. The free sampler of SYS-100 Drums includes 40 WAV drums and percussion hits, comprising, kicks, snares, claps, hats, cymbals and more—plenty enough to construct a good kit for an Ableton Drum Rack, Maschine, MPC, Reason’s Kong, or whatever else you use.
To download, go to the SYS-100 Drums page and click the Free Sounds link.
VCV Rack - Open-Source Virtual Modular Synth
Much respect to the community of developers behind the growing VCV Rack open-source virtual modular synthesizer platform. The software, still in v.0.5.1 at the time of this publication, re-creates a Eurorack-style modular environment with everything you need to get started building a modular rig for free. Certain big extras, like an 8-channel mixer and a sequencer package, do cost money. On top of that, a large selection of extra modules are available for free, and some third-party module developers charge for their add-ons.
Just like a physical modular rig, you’ll have to learn how to create your own patches in the traditional way, but that’s the whole point. VCV Rack makes a great entry point into the modular universe, and it doesn’t have to cost you a dime.
To hear some of what the system can do, check out the huge Switched On Rack Bandcamp playlist of music made with VCV Rack on the VCV Rack page.
Boilerplate disclaimer: Most “free stuff” that we cover here will require you to provide an email address and/or register an account.