The 6 Best Freeware Creative Effects

A1 Audio A1TriggerGate – Sequenced rhythmic gate processor


Disillusioned with a lack of suitable plug-ins, developer Alex Hilton started to build his own. A1 TriggerGate is a rhythmic gate audio processor that can be used to get the popular effects heard in dubstep, house and other electronic music.

There’s a variable onboard step sequencer, where each beat consists of four steps, or three in triplet mode, and each step has a volume fader. There are integrated effects, too: low-pass filter, drive/distortion and echo/delay to keep things interesting. These don’t have tons of controls, but sound great. Although highly programmable, the effect also has a randomiser for punching in new settings instantly.
W: – Platform: Mac, PC

SineVibes Zap – Audio-controlled synthesiser


This unusual plug-in for the Mac is a mini synth that is controlled by audio that you route into it. Beginning with an envelope follower that tracks the peaks of the signal, it applies this to the frequency of a monophonic oscillator.

There are three oscillator waveform modes (pure sine, ring mod sine and phase mod sine), and Zap turns any sound source into dynamically generated basses, bleeps, blips, sweeps or glitches. In a similar way that VJ software makes graphics respond to the characteristics of incoming audio, so Zap does it with synthesised sound. It’s a quick way to beef up beats with auto-generated synth elements.
W: – Platform: Mac

Acon Digital Multiply – Phase Randomising Chorus


This chorus effect has a phase randomising filter that avoids unwanted comb filter effects. The plug-in can simulate up to six additional voices, and the pitch and loudness can be tweaked. You also get an EQ and a pre-delay section.

There’s good workflow, and you get undo and redo capabilities, A/B of setups and a preset manager. It comes in VST or AAX formats for Windows and VST, AAX or AU on the Mac, in 32- or 64-bit versions, with support for 96kHz sample rates and mono or stereo processing. Audio examples are available on the website.
W: – Platform: Mac, PC

TAL Chorus LX- Juno-60 Chorus Module


This is about as simple as effects get, but still sounds great. Taken from the chorus section of a larger virtual instrument, it has the characteristics of the chorus section of the classic Roland Juno 60 synth.

With two different modes, you also get a dry/wet control, a volume knob and a stereo width control to change the amount of separation the effect introduces. AAX format is supported on Mac and Windows, as well as VST on both and AU on the Mac. Chorus isn’t just the cheesy effect heard on synths in the 70s and 80s, but can also subtly add warmth and colouration to everything from drums to vocals.
W: – Platform: Mac, PC

Camel Audio CamelCrusher – Colouring multi-effect


Although Camel Audio has been bought by Apple, some of its free plug-ins are still available to download online. CamelCrusher takes some of the processing technology from the company’s other multi-effects and puts it into a simple free effect.

You get two distortion types: a warm, analogue modeled resonant low-pass filter, a very easy to use compressor with a ‘phat’ mode and a MIDI learn function, as well as a bunch of presets and a randomiser for instant inspiration. CamelCrusher is perfect for fattening up drums, vocals, synths and practically anything else, with its distinctive beefy sound.
W:– Platform: Mac, PC

Sinevibes Atom – Tempo-synced Modulating Filter


Atom is a filter, but one focused on dynamic, tempo-sync’d modulation. With five different resonant filter types, each with three slope settings, you also get two modulators with multiple waveforms that run at rates from 1/128 note to 16 bars. There’s a chaos function that randomises the amplitude of each modulator cycle and a lag switch to smooth out the waveform curves.

It also has an unusual interface, with simple graphics, rather than the kind of GUI you might be used to. With an advanced transport sync algorithm and support for tempo and time signature automation, it’s a great way to get rhythmic filtering into your music.
W: – Platform: iOS


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