Best freeware of the month: August 2021

Our freeware round-up for August includes a selection of tools to help manipulate, smooth and mangle your audio, plus a tasty, multi-sampled violin.

It’s always nice when you uncover some useful or creative tools while scouring the internet, and it’s even nicer when they turn out to be free!

We’ve rounded up a handful of this month’s free releases for you to check out, covering a mix of processors, mixing plug-ins and composition tools.

Jon V Audio – Firecomp 1

Jon V Audio - Firecomp 1

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We’ve probably all got multiple compressor plug-ins in our toolboxes, but this one still piqued our interest with its considered design and transparent sound. The innovative digital envelope detection algorithm allows lower distortion than a typical peak compressor, and it has a zero-latency mode and true zero (same-sample) attack time. There’s also a musical sounding, dual parallel release stage, no phase shift, easy side-chain options and a low CPU hit. All in all, it’s pretty impressive for such a simple-looking plug-in.

Adam Monroe Music – Adam Monroe’s Tremolo

Adam Monroe Music - Adam Monroe’s Tremolo

Adam Monroe has updated his highly effective Tremolo plug-in to include new waveforms. The GUI shows separate controls for amplitude tremolo and stereo panning, allowing you to adjust their speed and depth and blend using a wet/dry dial. There are more traditional square, triangle and saw waveforms alongside experimental Assassin, Ghost, Jaggy, Distorted and Mountain shapes. As a nice touch, you can also change the sample rate, which can slow down or speed up the tremolo sound.

The Centre for Haptic Audio Interaction Research – EXC!TE SNARE DRUM

The Centre for Haptic Audio Interaction Research - EXC!TE SNARE DRUM

Although it may not have the snappiest company name, this superb free snare drum plug-in uses physical modelling to provide an ultra-realistic snare sound. Incoming MIDI notes will trigger an in-built exciter with sliders to control the tip hardness and rimshot parameters. This then feeds into a waveguide resonator algorithm for the pitched, body part of the sound, where you can change the drumhead tuning, snares tension and hit position. There’s also an adjustable, bell-shaped probability curve for the MIDI-triggered values for adding variation and realism.

mididope – Ghostwriter

mididope - Ghostwriter

  • Mac & PC
  • Device for Ableton Live 9.7+ (also requires Max for Live)
  • Contact mididope
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If you’re looking for a way to spice up a pedestrian MIDI riff in Ableton Live, then this free M4L Device might be just the ticket. Ghostwriter generates short random ghost notes around the held MIDI notes in your pattern to add some extra groove and interest. There are settings to adjust quantisation, playing time and velocity, and you can also add swing and change the octave of the additional notes. It goes without saying, but you’ll need a copy of Ableton and Max for Live to run this one.

UnplugRed – VU

UnplugRed - VU

We’ve all got used to looking at the standard volume meters in our DAWs, but sometimes you can get a better sense of how your audio is performing with a classic VU meter. This simple but effective plug-in has an attractive, scalable interface, plus stereo and mono modes and a peak LED light. It uses true RMS metering with a custom meter ballistic simulation, and you can adjust the reaction speed and nominal operation level to fine-tune how it operates.

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