It’s Tax Time for Americans—that dreaded or beloved (depending on your situation) deadline where you either scheme over all the (usually musical) stuff you’re going to buy with your refund or despair over how broke you’re going to be for the near future. If you’re like me most years, you’ll be e-filing your return at 11:55pm on the extended deadline of Tuesday, April 18, trying to put off the inevitable for as long as possible. However, you probably already know your fortunate or unfortunate fate. So quality free stuff is never more welcome for those who have Uncle Sam to pay.
Luckily for them, some well-timed downloads showed up this week: a high-end subbass filtering/shaping plug-in for all major formats, and some interesting and unique Instrument and Effect Devices for Ableton Live Users.
Brainworx bx_subfilter Plugin
Plugin Alliance puts out the kind of plug-ins that convince long-time analog mix engineers to work in the box, and Brainworx is one of its most respected and prolific brands. As great as some of Brainworx’s super deluxe Mid/Side processing plug-ins can be, you also gotta love the simplicity and fast results of the new bx_subfilter plug-in, now available for free (registering an account with Plugin Alliance required).
The bx_subfilter essentially represents the Filter section of the bx_subsynth ($149), and it specializes in punching up and muddying down any low-end sources like kick drums and bass tracks. If you ever have trouble with sub-100Hz frequencies in your mixes, give this one a try. Its main controls line up a Tight Punch resonant highpass filter that handles unwanted bass rumble followed serially by a Low End bandpass filter that lets you dial in the right frequency for some extra punch. There are more audio examples on the bx_subsynth product page.
Ableton Live Session and Simpler Instruments from Kenny Segal
In a new Ableton blog feature, hip-hop producer and moving picture composer Kenny Segal explains how his recording sessions are really hangout sessions where he and his friends jam loosely and then Segal uses the recordings as sample material for his productions. This free Afternoon Hangs Live Session includes all the raw audio recorded from one of those sessions, as well as Segal’s final arranged track.
Also, make sure to scroll to the bottom of the linked article to find Segal’s free One Thing Ableton Live instruments. They are some devices Segal made using a technique he described as “sampling the space between notes” to add grit and atmosphere to tracks.
AfroDJMac’s 150th and 151st Free Ableton Live Packs
Ableton Certified Trainer AfroDJMac (Brian Funk) has been so busy giving stuff away that I can’t even keep up. Early this week he dropped his staggering 150th free Ableton Live Pack: Waterfall Instruments. Its a collection of Live 9 Instrument devices that he made from field recordings in Norway and Croatia. The six instruments include drums, bass, organ, plucks, and white noise—enough for you to build your own pastoral soundtrack for Nordic wood elves, forest fairies, and spirit animals. In the long-form video below, Funk walks us through how he made the instruments and demos their sounds.
However, the fun doesn’t stop there. Another Ableton wiz, Animus, appeared on Funk’s latest podcast and agreed to provide a free Live 9 Audio Effect Rack called Dynamic Panning that can concurrently compress and expand both sides of the stereo field for some excellent workflow mixing tricks. For this 151st free Ableton Live Pack, Funk also added his own Stereo Rhythmic Gating device for more L/R processing. It has various tremolo and gating effects you can apply to both sides of the stereo field.
AfroDJMac’s giveaway Live Packs are 100% free donationware, but you can also get one big Zip file of all the packs for $10 or $5 if you get it by April 16. You have a finski to spare from that tax return, right?