This free plugin injects your music with ambience

Image Credit: NovoNotes

Suited to all types of music production, Ambience Enhancer Lite from NovoNotes fits your sound to a particular setting or mood.

Ambience Enhancer Lite analyzes incoming audio signals and breaks them down into ambience and direct sound. By adjusting only the isolated elements, Ambience Enhancer Lite keeps the direct sound untouched and adds no reverb or artificial sounds to your mix. Whether you’re editing instruments in your next single or sound effects in your movie, this plugin can make recordings sound like they were recorded in a stadium or open field to fit your music or video style.

The interface is sleek, modern and easy to use, with three knobs to control ambience: Ambience Gain (dB), Ambience Low Pass (Hz) and Ambience Delay (ms). Sound levels are represented by the circular waves to the right.

Ambience Enhancer Lite's sleek interface
Image Credit: NovoNotes

The 17.9MB plugin is currently Mac-only, requiring macOS 11 or higher, on 64-bit Intel or Apple Silicon processors. VST3 and AU formats are included, with AAX coming soon.

Download Ambience Enhancer Lite for free here. Enter any amount (including zero) into the donation box, then click “I want this!”, then enter your email address.

NovoNotes says they are currently developing Ambience Enhancer Standard, which will cost $88. The Standard version will allow up to 24-channels instead of two (stereo), for full control over the sound field of your multi-layered, multi-dimensional mixes.

Learn, play and create chord progressions with this free online generator

Image Credit: ToneGym

Musician’s favourite online ear training site ToneGym have revamped their Chord Progression Generator, helping anyone learn and play.

ToneGym is full of music theory games to help you detect intervals, identify chords, learn scales, find the rhythm and more. Built according to voice-leading principles, their revamped Chord Progression Generator is free, fun and informative, perfect for quickly finding a chord progression for your next hit or building your skills.

Open the site and cycle through 30 essential progressions, such as Pachelbel’s Canon progression, 50s progression, Cadence progression and Happy progression. Choose a tonic, tempo and mode (harmonic or arpeggio), then turn on looping to jam along. You’ll see the keys on a keyboard or frets on a guitar light up as they are played. Login with a free account to create, play and save your own custom progressions.

Under the tool, you’ll find plenty of information to help you learn what chord progressions are, understanding roman numerals, popular chord progressions in music and much more, including links to helpful videos from third-parties.

Drop Designer is a free sample player instrument patch for Kontakt

Image Credit: Skybox Audio

Drop Designer from Skybox Audio is packed with fun multi-fx presets and quick sound shaping features to make samples your own.

Simply drag and drop your samples into Drop Designer to turn your samples into something new. With automatic mapping and syncing, your samples are always in the right key and host tempo. Manipulate the sound with Mutate XY, or use Velocity Modeling to give multi-sample feeling expression. Included with the download are 50 free samples to help get you started.

  • Pitch and Volume Detection – Smart Auto-Mapping: Instantly map samples to the most usable range while making up for missing volume
  • Velocity Modeling – Expression From A Single Sample: Turn single samples into expressive instruments with an organic multi-sampled feel
  • Fast Tweaking – Make It Yours: Finesse or mangle the original sample’s tone and timbre quickly with easy controls
  • Time Stretching and Sync – Grid Life: Keep samples in time while changing pitch and sync rhythmic loops to your host tempo
  • Inspiring FX Presets – Instant Gratification: Sauce it up quick with lots of multi-effects presets that add that drip to your drops
  • Fresh Drops – New Free Content Added All The Time: With 50 new one-shots and melodies from Hammers + Waves to get you started
The Drop Designer interface in Kontakt
Image Credit: Skybox Audio

Head to Skybox Audio and sign up to their email list for a free download of Drop Designer. You need the full version of Kontakt version 6.5.0 or higher, on macOS 10.11 or later, or Windows 7 or later, with at least 4GB of RAM and 270MB of free drive space.

MIDI Tape Recorder is a free Mac, iPhone and iPad plugin that takes a different approach towards MIDI recording

Image Credit: Uwyn

Uwyn’s new MIDI Tape Recorder records and plays back performances with the same accuracy and precision as audio recordings.

“Most modern DAWs, even at their highest resolution, still change the timing of MIDI messages to accommodate for their editing features. These changes impact the playback of your performance as MIDI messages get reordered and delayed, causing changes in how they influence sound, sometimes in very significant ways.” MIDI Tape Recorder, a free Audio Unit v3 plugin, takes a different approach to MIDI recording.

Like an audio recorder, MIDI Tape Recorder records performances exactly as you play them, accurately reproducing every nuance of your performance. The plugin ditches the note editing, quantization and individual CC tweaking of other MIDI recorders, to give you only the features you need, allowing the plugin to capture and playback expressive and dense MIDI streams, with MPE controllers and MPE MIDI plugins.

By stripping down the plugin to its essential features, MIDI Tape Recorder is also easy to use. With simple and intuitive controls, similar to a traditional four-track audio recorder, the app is fun to record, playback and loop MIDI performances. Here’s the full feature list from Uwyn.

  • Four independent tracks for recording MIDI channel voice messages
  • Sample accurate MIDI recording and playback
  • Real-time display of active recorded notes and other received messages
  • MPE support
  • Multi-level undo and redo
  • Overdub recording
  • Punch in and punch out recording for automated regional overdubbing
  • Automated storage and recall of all recordings inside the AUv3 host project
  • MIDI file import and export for the project or each individual track
  • Repeated playback with start and stop locators
  • AUv3 parameters for all controls
  • Snap to beat option for positioning playhead and start/stop locators
  • Detection of MPE configuration message (MCM) reception for each track
  • Envoy of MCM at start of play or when pressing the track’s MPE button
  • Host transport and host tempo sync
  • Clear all recordings or clear a single track
  • Crop session to new duration
  • Fully resizable UI
  • Activity indicators for MIDI input and output on each track
  • Optional tool tips for every operation
  • Optional per-track record enable, input monitoring, and mute
  • Four virtual MIDI cable inputs if the AUv3 host supports it
  • Support for AUv3 user presets if the host supports it
  • Optional routing of first virtual MIDI cable to all tracks
  • Fully open-sourced under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International, an approved Free Culture License

MIDI Tape Recorder requires an AUv3 host to function. The App Store notes that the plugin currently works in Logic Pro X on some computers, but updates are on the way. MIDI Tape Recorder is free and open-source. Find the source code on GitHub here. Help fund future updates by donating to the developer here. Full documentation and FAQs can be found on Uwyn.

TesslaSE mkII is a free analog-style saturation effect

TesslaSE mkII from Variety Of Sound brings subtle saturation and widening effects from the analog into the digital domain.

Based on the plugin from 2008, the TesslaSE mkII provides “analog goodness in subtle doses”. The 2021 remake sticks to the original by slightly colouring and polishing sounds to create depth and dimension in the stereo field, rather than changing it. Its intended use is to be used here and there where the mix demands it, not as in a single instance on a bus or master.

TesslaSE mkII introduces the warmth and organic feel of analog to your digital music for an overall consistent and vibrant mix. With the mkII, “the internal gainstaging has been reworked so that everything appears gain compensated to the outside”. The transformer/tube circuit modeling got some updates too, to appear more detailed and vibrant. All non-linear algorithms got oversampled for additional aliasing suppression.

Packed into a slick, modernized user interface, the effect is easy to operate and has a low CPU profile, meaning almost zero latency is used. Use the transformer option to obtain a fancy low-end. Further increase the stereo dimension with the DIM knob. The AIR dial controls HF harshness.

TesslaSE mkII is available in VST2 format for 32 and 64-bit Windows computers only. Find the free 12MB ZIP here, complete with an included manual with more information.

Check out BPB Dirty Spring Reverb – a fantastic free spring reverb plugin with a twist

Image Credit: Bedroom Producers Blog

Bedroom Producers Blog has released another free VST plugin, BPB Dirty Spring, for a spot-on reggae guitar sound and beyond.

All hail Bedroom Producers Blog, who have spoilt us again with another free VST plugin – this time an amazing spring reverb effect. BPB is offering the plugin as a free gift – it’s available in VST2, VST3, AU and AAX formats.

Spring reverbs are often found in guitar amplifiers. In the original hardware a coiled spring between a pickup and transducer vibrates, bouncing echoes around the unit.

The Dirty Spring Decay and Tone knobs can be adjusted until the perfect character is found. You can get echo and delay effects by using the Pre knob to change the pre-delay time, adding an instantly recognisable reggae guitar rhythm.

The BPB Dirty Spring free plugin has a bitcrusher built in – hence the “dirty” – completely changing the sound to give it an echoing crunchiness. Play around with the setting and you can go from just a touch of lo-fi crackle to an 8-bit sampler effect. We’ll let BPB demonstrate:

The plugin is a follow up to Bedroom Producers Blog’s Dirty Filter and Saturator, which are both free to download.

Thanks, BPB! Head here to download your free plugin today.

Based on the Klon Centaur, The Klone is a free overdrive pedal plugin that adds character to guitars, synths, drum machines and vocals

Image Credit: Fazertone

Based on the legendary 1994 pedal, The Klone uses machine learning and circuit analysis to replicate the complex warm sound of the original.

The Klone from Fazertone aims to accurately reproduce all the unique character and tones of complex, non-linear analog distortion. The pedal is based on the Klon Centaur from Bill Finnegan, famous for its unique “transparent” overdrive that turns into crunchy but crisp distortion when turned up.

The Klone has a similarly basic layout with GAIN, TREBLE and OUTPUT knobs, and is powered by a custom neural network inference engine, optimised to work in real time without consuming excessive CPU power. While the plugin is the perfect addition to any guitar tone stack, it’s suitable for other instruments too, such as synths, drum machines and vocals.

Bass synth dry

Bass synth wet

Guitar dry

Guitar wet

Drums dry

Drums wet

The Klone's interface showing three dials
Image Credit: Fazertone

The Klone is compatible with Intel and M1 macOS 10.14 or later and 64-bit Windows 7, 8 or 10. VST3 and AU formats are included, with AAX coming soon. The plugin is usable in all modern DAWs, except ProTools. Head here for the download, click Get for Free and enter your email address.

Mad Filter is a free analog-like filter ready to add movement and character to your electronic music

Image Credit: Rast Sound

With its simple interface, Mad Filter from Rast Sound is easy for beginners. Pros will love the dramatic sounds the filter is capable of.

Mad Filter may be the perfect plugin to add to your collection, and if not… well it’s free so who cares? The filter is great for adding some spice to your bass tracks, as well as drums and synths.

Image Credit: Rast Sound

The DRIVE/DISTORTION dial is the primary control for the plugin, adding warm, rich and sweet tones to your music. FREQUENCY, TYPE and RESONANCE knobs allow you to transition between different filter types, including low-pass, high-pass, bypass and notch to create unique movements. Trigger natural, complex LFO movements, and playful randomisation using the 2 level ‘Go Mad’ button.

Mad Filter is available in AU and VST3 formats, for 64-bit Mac and Windows computers, with at least 4GB of RAM. Currently there’s no support for AAX.

Learn to build your own compressor plugin with this free 8-hour video course

Image Credit: Programming For Musicians

SimpleMBComp from Programming For Musicians has released a free course that teaches you to code your own multi-band compressor in JUCE.

SimpleMBComp is a free “Code With Me” course from Charles Schiermeyer of Programming For Musicians, that teaches you to build a 3-band compressor with spectrum analyzer using JUCE and modern C++. JUCE is the application framework used to develop plugins such as 2RuleSynth. Charles takes you through everything from downloading and setting up JUCE and Visual Studio Community for free in Windows or Mac, to building the DSP (Digital Signal Processing) and GUI (Graphical User Interface).

The course is not recommended for beginners. A basic knowledge of C++ and music will come in handy as you’ll spend a lot of time fixing bugs and error codes. If you’re interested in learning to build plugins from scratch, try PFM’s C++ Language Fundamentals course here. It’s fairly costly but includes 30 days of 1-on-1 help.

The videos for the course are split as follows:

DSP (3hr 31min):

  • Part 1 Mac & Windows Setup 43:21
  • Part 2 Anatomy of an Audio Plugin 15:16
  • Part 3 Compressor Theory of Operation 11:08
  • Part 4 Compressor Parameters 11:32
  • Part 5 The First Compressor 14:52
  • Part 6 Creating a CompressorBand 5:30
  • Part 7 DSP Roadmap & Intro to Multiband Filtering 9:08
  • Part 8 Param Namespace 10:57
  • Part 9 Linkwitz-Riley Filters 13:49
  • Part 10 Testing the Filter 12:19
  • Part 11 Filterband Theory 4:34
  • Part 12 3-Band Filtering 9:00
  • Part 13 Inverted Allpass Filters 7:21
  • Part 14 Activating 3 Compressors 11:59
  • Part 15 Implementing Solo/Mute/Bypass 10:05
  • Part 16 Adding I/O Gain & Code Cleanup 17:11

GUI (4 hr 45 min):

  • Part 17 GUI Roadmap 5:47
  • Part 18 Placeholder Components 6:00
  • Part 19 Global Controls 21:03
  • Part 20 Rotary Slider With Labels 26:44
  • Part 21 Compressor Band Controls Pt. 1 10:02
  • Part 22 Compressor Band Controls Pt. 2 14:20
  • Part 23 Compressor Band Controls Pt. 3 12:58
  • Part 24 Band Select Functionality Pt. 1 17:17
  • Part 25 Band Select Functionality Pt. 2 9:08
  • Part 26 Separate Files Refactor 14:36
  • Part 27 Band Select Functionality Pt. 3 18:08
  • Part 28 Spectrum Analyzer Pt. 1 19:43
  • Part 29 Spectrum Analyzer Pt. 2 23:25
  • Part 30 Spectrum Analyzer Pt. 3 32:00
  • Part 31 Spectrum Analyzer Pt. 4 26:19
  • Part 32 ControlBar 19:25
  • Part 33 ColorScheme 6:59
  • Part 34 Loose Ends 1:14

SimpleMBComp comes with compiled AU/VST3 audio plugins for Windows and macOS, plus help via Slack Workspace if you get stuck. Head here to download the full course and enter FreeCodeCamp at checkout. From here you can donate as much as you’d like, or head to Programming For Musicians to purchase the $49 written tutorial, which includes access to the Scripted Git Repository. Alternatively, find the entire tutorial on YouTube here. Once you’ve completed this course, explore the rest of Programming For Musicians’ free and paid course, such as the free 5-hour course PFM:SimpleEQ, which teaches you to build a basic 3-band equalizer.

Free VST Trumpet – take your pick from these horn plugins

Check out these four virtual trumpets, available to download for free, that don’t sound like kazoos.

Looking for a free trumpet VST plugin? Aren’t we all. The trouble is, it’s notoriously hard to find software that doesn’t sound terrible.

We’ve dug around and found a few free horn VST plugins that might fit the bill and give you the good quality trumpet sound you desire, despite the fact they won’t cost you a cent.

Whether you’re after a mellow, muted sound for your lo-fi beat, bright brass to add a peal of horns to your classical music composition, a jaunty trumpet for your Afrobeat track, or a whole Latin horn section, check out these free plugin options before you part with any cash.

(As always with free plugins, it’s on you to make sure everything is safe and secure before you hit download.)

Spitfire Audio BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover

For the price of just filling in a survey you can download a huge library of 33 orchestral virtual instruments. This amazing resource was built for classical composition, that doesn’t mean you have to make orchestral music using the sounds.

It’s a trumpet sound we want, and among the free library are two trumpets, Long and Stacmo. Why not include a whole brass section in your track – with horns, four trombones and tuba included in the pack.

Usually £45, if you fill in the survey the free download will arrive in two weeks.

Check out BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover here

VSCO 2 Community Edition

With VSCO 2 CE from Versilian Studios you can start exploring the world of sampling and end up with a whole chamber orchestra in your DAW. The community edition is free and comes with 19 instruments, including trumpet.

There are many different variations that all use the VSCO 2 CE sample library, as the royalty free samples mean anyone can make their own software using the sounds. They’re all free to download, and you can explore the different options here.

Check out VSCO 2 Community Edition here

LABS Trumpet Fields

Spitfire Audio Labs virtual instruments free digital music production

If it’s atmospheric trumpet sounds you’re after, check out LABS Trumpet Fields. Provided once again by the amazing Spitfire Audio, the LABS programme is made up of free virtual instruments, an incredible collection that’s constantly being added to.

Trumpet Fields is the sound of two trumpet players performing long moody notes. There’s five different reverbs to crank up the atmosphere, and delay to make a warm, flickering sound. Perfect for creating ambient, lo-fi tracks.

Check out LABS Trumpet Fields here

DSK Brass

dsk brass free trumpet vst

A collection of 23 instruments which includes several trumpets. As well as standard trumpet there’s piccolo trumpet, staccato trumpet, trumpet swell, trumpet with cup mute and harmon mute.

Effects like flanger and delay let you play around with the sound, and there’s MIDI automation. You get other instruments, like a whole brass ensemble and saxophone sounds.

Check out DSK Brass here

Anyone come across a better free trumpet VST? Let everyone know in the comments.

Once you’ve added trumpet to your track, why not release it onto streaming services? You don’t need a record contract. With RouteNote you can upload your song to Apple Music, Spotify and all the major platforms, for free. Find out more about what we do here.