Freeware 2017: The Best Freeware Real Instruments

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Longing for that authentic sound? Check out our round up of the best freeware real instruments. If you fancy recording a track using nothing but freeware then read our feature and see how you can do it.

The Best Freeware Real Instruments

UVI Workstation – Multitimbral Instrument Host



Best Freeware Instruments


There are a couple of players that we simply have to include in every freeware roundup’s ‘real’ section. Essentially, they are adverts for paid-for collections, but they’re by big companies who tend to a) be good at making plug-ins and b) be generous with their demo sounds.

So UVI‘s is first. The company makes great sound libraries hosted in this free player,but you also get a few free demo instruments like an electric piano, strings, drums, guitar and bass. With built-in effects and the option to run in standalone mode, there’s enough here to warrant the download and for it to be ranked as one of the best freeware real instruments

W: uvi.net
Platform: Mac, PC

Kontakt Player Free – Multitimbral VI Host



Best Freeware Instruments


Another of the big gun’s free players that we simply have to include in this roundup is Native Instruments’ Kontakt Player. This is probably used more than any other piece of music software, as it hosts not only NI’s wares but those of many other companies.

The free Player version will run Kontakt Factory Selection, which is a mighty 650MB free download and contains 13 instruments from NI’s Band, six from World, 12 from Synth, 13 from Vintage and six lots of Urban Beats. That adds up to an impressive 50 freeware real instruments. You really can’t afford not to have them…

W: native-instruments.com/en/products/komplete
Platform: Mac, PC

BigTick Ticky Clav – Hohner Clavinet Emulator



Best Freeware Instruments


One of the few single instruments we’ve brought over from last year, if only to highlight Big Tick’s range of freeware plug-ins, which is now available if you register at its site and which includes this and Cheeze Machine, which is a great string instrument – 32-bit only, but well worth the download.

Ticky Clav on the other hand, emulates a Hohner Clavinet, using a physical modelling synth engine that emulates the string vibration and the pickups specifically from the Clavinet Model C. The ‘click’ is the key click that was such a big part of the characterful sound of the original. There’s also a built-in wah effect and selectable manual and auto-wah.

W: www.bigtickaudio.com
Platform: Mac, PC

Versilian Upright Piano – Piano Plug-In



Best Freeware Instruments


By now, you’ll have probably realised that most of our ‘real’ instrument plug-in developers have lots of freebies available, so with this particular list, while we’re focusing on a particular plug-in from said developer, we’re also introducing their ranges, too. And so it is with Versilian.

The upright piano is a great little freebie – an emulation of the kind of upright piano you might have at home – and very good it is, too. You may also be interested in the free harp from the same company, or indeed a complete orchestra plug-in that features 14 instruments. We haven’t tried them all, but the piano is great – try out the others if you have the drive space.

W: vis.versilstudios.net/upright-1.html
Platform: Mac, PC

4Front R-piano – Electric-Piano Emulator



Best Freeware Instruments


4Front has been doing freeware for donkey’s years now and have a range of simple plug-ins, some so simple that they have absolutely no parameters to adjust – the standard electric piano, for example, just plays one sound. The Rhodes-based R-piano, however, has a lot to adjust and is all the better for it.

You get Dynamic and Drive sliders to enable you to get to the heart of the Rhodes sound, but there are also controls for Q, Release, Decay, Cutoff and Ambience, and an onboard reverb effect with its own pop-up parameters to adjust.

In short, there’s a lot of variation to be had from one solitary piano type, along with preset locations to save your results. So, another simple but
good-sounding plug-in.

W: yohng.com/software/rpiano.html
Platform: Mac, PC

Alan Vista Cymbalistic – Cymbal Percussion



Best Freeware Instruments


Yes, arguably this could have been included in the drums section, but it does actually lack drums, concentrating as it does on cymbals, and lots of them. They – a hi-hat, ride, four crashes and two Chinese cymbals – are sampled and mapped across eight channels and four stereo outputs.

There are useful volume, pan and release controls per channel and an overall Dynamic dial. If it sounds simple, it is, which is part of its charm (and indeed a lot of Alan’s other VSTs – see the website for more).

It is a very specific plug-in and at 190MB, quite a large download – but it does encourage you to play and experiment with a little top-end percussion, an oft-undervalued way of lifting a song.

W: alanvista.com/cymbalistic
Platform: Mac, PC

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