Hello and goodbye, cheapskates. This will be my final Free Stuff column for the foreseeable future. It’s been a pleasure to point out the wealth of quality free software and sounds that musicians and producers can find that may keep some of their liquid currency in their bank accounts and if at all possible, keep them out of credit card debt.
If there’s a single most important piece of advice I can give to Electronic Musician readers, it is not a production or songwriting tip.
As someone who has been through an extended period of gear lust and overspending, I cannot recommend enough to not go into debt when purchasing music gear. You can accomplish more than you know with a limited setup, used gear, etc. Even if you have the money without needing to go into debt, don’t buy anything you don’t need or that you won’t use.
And when you do pay for gear, take extra time to save and purchase quality over quantity or instead of the budget option that’s not made as well or isn’t what you’d really rather have. Buy less, but buy the best. Obviously, I’m not talking about saving for a U87 mic instead of buying an SM57. But you’ll be better off in the end by paying more for gear that’s made to last and gives you better results than settling for something that will break down or something that is just not as inspiring or fulfilling as the better option.
So when you’re feeling that inevitable itch to try out something new in your music, consider trying a free plug-in synthesizer, sound pack, etc., before spending money that may not be in your best interest to spend.
Lucky for us, there’s bunch of new free stuff for this week from Ableton, Spitfire Audio, AudioKit and others. For when you need more, why not bookmark this article on the 60 best free VST plug-ins from the blog at LANDR, where they recently announced free licensing of cover songs (if you use LANDR for the song’s digital distribution).
Yours in frugality,
AudioKit Synth One for iPad
After releasing a beta version earlier, the collaborative development effort of the AudioKit group has finished its public release of Synth One. AudioKit set out to create the best free iPad synth available—no in-app purchases or extra features behind a pay wall. Just join the email list to unlock 80 extra presets for a total of more than 300.
The open-source Synth One is absolutely awesome. It’s a hybrid VA/FM polyphonic synth with five oscillators, two assignable LFOs, two touch-editable envelopes, low/high/band-pass filters, arpeggiator, 16-step sequencer, effects, favoriting and sharing for presets, two X/Y touchpads, dozens of tuning options, and Audiobus 3/IAA support.
Maybe best of all, it sounds as good as most of the $25 iPad synths out there. Get to the iTunes app store now and maybe show AudioKit some love on their merch page, because they are continuing to develop great features for Synth One. Soon it will support Ableton Link syncing, MPE MIDI for using with hardware like the 5D Roli controllers, and Audio Unit v3, so you can use Synth One as a plug-in inside hosts like GarageBand and iMPC2.
Internet Co. MS EQ Comp Plug-in
What a world we live in when a decade ago mid-side (MS) processing was mostly the domain of specialty boutique processors, and now you can get it for a free download. The Internet Co.—not the actual owner of the Internet—has released its MS EQ Comp VST plug-in for Mac or Windows as a free download.
MS processors take a stereo track and process its center-panned and side-panned portions separately. MS EQ Comp has 3-band EQ and compressor sections for both the Center and Sides portion of a stereo track. You can set the panning position of the Center and the Sides to your liking.
Spitfire Labs Drums
Simply stated, Spitfire Audio has risen to the top of the food chain of sample library producers. Their virtual instruments are some of the most used among professional composers. The company’s free series, Spitfire Labs, has been possibly the greatest revelation in musical giveaways for 2018.
The third Spitfire Labs title, Drums, is out now: 400+ MB of acoustic drums recorded on top-of-the-line gear by drummer Oliver Waton and engineer Stanley Gabriel for Spitfire back in 2012. You will not regret getting into the Spitfire Labs mini-ecosystem that includes a software installer and bare bones VI plug-in for any DAW.
Ableton Blog: SKRS Shockout Pack
In a recent Ableton blog post, the secretive Canadian group Seekersinternational (SKRS) discussed their inspirations, production process, and love of sampling. As a cherry on top, SKRS produced a 15-sample collection of Sequential Circuits Pro-One laser sound effects. They layered together several samples from the monophonic Pro-One and then processed them with Ableton Live’s onboard effects for each final WAV.
Function Loops Summer 2018 Sampler
This British soundware shop has been a friend to the frugal over quite a few years, reliably putting out multiple free samplers per year that pull selections from its many commercial titles that pinpoint all genres of dance music.
Function Loops Summer 2018 sampler includes more than 600 stems, loops, one-shots, presets, MIDI files, and FX risers and sweeps. It totals more than 2.3 GB of unzipped material across two download links.
Function Loops summer 2018 sale code:
Ghosthack Foley Samples and Sound FX
Another mainstay in free stuff, Germany’s Ghosthack is back with a download of free 24-bit WAV Foley and sound effects samples. These 50 samples comprise found-sound fodder from real world and experimental sound effects—royalty free for your electronic tracks and moving picture scores.
I promised in the headline tons of samples, so if the above is not enough, don’t forget about the Sounds.com and Landr Samples destinations, both of which have added quality free collections in the last week and constantly update their offerings.
Boilerplate disclaimer: Most “free stuff” that we cover here will require you to provide an email address and/or register an account.