To Free or Not to Free – Plugins & Synthesizers

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Let me be very clear, I love sound design. I can sit for hours tweaking knobs just because it’s fun. I love working with hardware synthesizers and music instruments. As a personal challenge to myself, I’ve only been working on free plugins for the last couple of months.

The whole purpose of the challenge was to prove wrong those who say that, “successful producers get that perfect sound because they spend tons of money on plugins and synthesizers”.

Here’s a list of three synths that I have enjoyed working with.

Crystal

Crystal by Green Oak Software is probably my personal favourite free plugin. This semi-modular synth features both subtractive and FM synthesis. What really keeps me hooked with this synth, is the sheer number of parameters one can tweak, especially the envelopes. Crystal also provides options for wave sequencing and granular synthesis. For beginners, Crystal comes with a huge array of presets. Morphing and mutations are really good options when you are looking for some inspiration.

Dexed FM

The Yamaha DX7 was probably one of the best selling synthesizers of the 80’s and was heavily used in pop music. So if you ever need “that 80’s sound” in any of your productions, I would recommend the Dexed FM. It may be slightly complicated to master if you’re a beginner. This open source (GPL Licence v3) plug-in is constantly updated on github by Pascal Gauthier.

(Note: Do check out Pascal’s GitHub page for some really interesting stuff.)

OBXD

OBXD by Datsound, is an emulation of the legendary OBX series by Oberheim. This emulation is my personal favourite when I’m looking for thick old-school analogue sounds. It is well supported by the community so finding presets is never a problem.

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