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This free VST plugins roundup features a music production suite, vinyl simulator, multi-modulation effect, virtual acoustic drum instrument, and an SSL-style EQ.

Free VST Plugins

Each month we search the web for some of the music industry’s most essential freeware instrument and effect plugins. This list of free VST plugin downloads offers five modern tools for your arsenal. No need to spend a dime or waste time trawling the internet.

1. Native Instruments | KOMPLETE START

KOMPLETE START is a music production suite that offers a selection of instruments, effects, utilities, loops, and samples. This free bundle includes seven synthesizers, nine sampler instruments, and two effects. It also comes with KOMPLETE KONTROL, KONTAKT 6 PLAYER, and REAKTOR 6 PLAYER to play all the instruments. In addition, you get over 2,000 studio-quality sounds!

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2. iZotope | Vinyl

Vinyl simulates the dust, scratches, crackling, warp, and mechanical noise of record players. It’s a great lo-fi plugin for music production! Vinyl also lets you control each nostalgic element independently, giving you all the vintage turntable sounds you love.

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3. Imaginando | DLYM

DLYM is a free ‘Delay Modulator’ plugin that produces flanger and chorus style effects. This versatile modulation tool is capable of creating anything from subtle flanging and phasing effects to extreme choruses and out-of-tune effects. It also sports an elegant user interface that makes it easy to control.

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4. Steven Slate Drums | SSD5 FREE

SSD5 FREE is the freeware version of Steven Slate Drums flagship SSD5 virtual acoustic drum plugin. While SSD5 FREE is a lightweight version of SSD5, it still packs a punch. The main limitation is that it only comes with a single sampled acoustic drum kit. Other than that, SSD5 FREE is virtually identical to the full version of SSD5. It rocks all the same features to craft slammin’ acoustic drums!

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5. Variety of Sound | BootEQ mkII

BootEQ is an SSL-style equalizer and pre-amp simulator. It features four parametric EQ bands, musical sounding EQ curves, and modeled pre-amp simulation. BoostEQ is a great EQ plugin for adding classic EQ coloration to tracks or full mixes.

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The post 5 Free VST Plugins: July 2019 appeared first on Icon Collective Music Production School.

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What are the best channel strip plugins? This ICON Picks roundup features ten popular channel strip plugins that offer versatile features and excellent sound quality.

What Are Channel Strip Plugins?

Channel strip plugins combine a variety of mixing effects within a single interface. These versatile plugins are extremely useful mixing and analysis tools.

Many channel strip plugins emulate actual channels on iconic analog mixing consoles. There are also modular channel strip plugins that provide essential mixing effects and modern features not available on classic channel strips.

Channel strip plugins also speed up your mixing workflow. The ability to perform quick adjustments in one place makes mixing fast and intuitive. Channel strip plugins are also more affordable and less CPU intensive. Instead of buying several individual effects, you can buy one plugin that includes multiple effects.

This guide lists ten popular channel strip plugins that offer versatile features and excellent sound quality.

1. Slate Digital | Virtual Mix Rack

Create custom channel strips with analog modeled plugins from Slate Digital’s Virtual Mix Rack 2.0. Choose from a range of vintage modeled EQs, compressors, enhancers, filters, preamps, mixing consoles, and more. All faithful emulations of iconic hardware processors!

You can also mix efficiently by having your entire processing chain in one convenient window. Load up to eight modules at once into VMR. The drag and drop modules make it easy to build and save your channel strips. You can also switch between eight customizable channel strip configurations using VMR’s Dream Strips. In addition, the modules are highly CPU efficient, which means you’ll have more processing power during mixdown.

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2. Soundtoys | Soundtoys 5 Effect Rack

Soundtoys 5 brings together the company’s entire range of audio effects into one powerful collection. It includes all 21 Soundtoys plugins. Choose from a variety of analog inspired delay units, EQs, compressors, saturators, filters, modulation effects, and more.

The Soundtoys Effect Rack is also the centerpiece of Soundtoys 5. It turns this collection of plugins into a creative multi-effects system. Easily create and recall custom configurations using some of the music industries most revered plugins.

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3. iZotope | Neutron 3

iZotope Neutron 3 is a modern channel strip plugin with innovative mixing and analysis tools. It includes eight drag and drop modules. Mix with an intelligent Equalizer, two multiband Compressors, a multiband Exciter, a multiband Transient Shaper, a Gate, a True Peak Limiter, and more.

Neutron 3 also has innovative technology not available on other channel strips. Get to an optimal starting point in your mixes with the Track Assistant. Use the Tonal Balance Control to analyze and optimize your mix. Identify frequency collisions across tracks with the Masking Meter. There’s a ton more this versatile plugin can do that no other plugin can!

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4. Waves | Scheps Omni Channel

Waves partnered with Grammy-winning mixer Andrew Scheps (Adele, Jay Z, Metallica) to design this channel strip. The Scheps Omni Channel features five drag and drop modules you can use in any order. Scheps helped design the modules based on years of go-to processor combinations. The result gives you a diverse selection of classic hardware emulations and innovative modules with modern features.

Moreover, the Scheps Omni Channel offers a variety of analog-style saturators, compressors, EQs, a de-esser, gate, and more. You can also load an extra Waves plugin anywhere in the channel strip.

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5. Brainworx | bx_console Series

The bx_console series includes emulations of three legendary analog mixing consoles. Each channel strip plugin offers authentic analog modeling with additional modern features. The three models include:

Brainworx bx_console SSL 4000 G – Captures the legendary sound of the British Solid State Logic 4000 G series console. It also includes modern features not found on the original console.

Brainworx bx_console SSL 4000 E – Captures the legendary sound of the British Solid State Logic 4000 E series console. It also includes modern features not found on the original console.

Brainworx bx_console N – A faithful emulation of the rare and coveted Neve VXS console. It also includes modern features not found on the original console.

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6. Softube | Summit Audio Grand Channel

The Grand Channel combines analog emulations of the Summit Audio EQF-100 Full Range Equalizer and the TLA-100A Compressor. You get a warm and smooth tone sculpting equalizer and a rich sounding compressor.

This versatile channel strip will cover a large part of your mixing needs. It’s simple design also makes it easy to dial in. You can even reverse the order of effects with a single switch. The plugin also includes parallel compression, saturation, and low-cut filtering.

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7. McDSP | 6060 Ultimate Module Collection

The 6060 Ultimate Module Collection contains more processing tools than any module-based plugin. It includes over 30 modules for EQ, compression, saturation, distortion, specialized filtering, dynamic range expansion, gating, and more. Custom modules include bass optimized biasing to maximize the low end, transformer-based tone shaping circuits for high-end shine, tape simulation, de-essing, and more. This bad boy has it all! Additional modules are also already in the works.

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8. Universal Audio | API Vision Channel Strip

API’s Vision Console is a legendary analog mixing console introduced in 2003. UA’s faithful emulation captures the same tone, punch, and personality as the classic API desks that have tracked the biggest records of the past 40-plus years.

Transform your DAW into a high-end analog console. The API Vision Channel Strip plugin brings a modern workflow to the classic API sound. It’s complete with five API modules – the 212L Preamp, 215L Cut Filters, 550L EQ, 225L Compressor/Limiter, and the 235L Gate/Expander. It also features UA’s Unison Technology for Apollo to capture the sound and behavior of sought-after tube and solid-state designs.

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9. iZotope | Nectar 3

Nectar 3 brings a sophisticated set of tools designed for vocal production. Address every part of your vocal chain and get professional-sounding vocals with minimal effort.

Nectar 3 also ushers in a new era of mixing vocals. It features seven drag and drop effect modules, automatic preset detection settings, modern workflows, inter-plugin communication, beautiful visualizations, and more.

In addition, Nectar 3 includes Melodyne 4 essential and iZotope RX Breath Control. Use Melodyne 4 to perform surgical pitch corrective work. And RX Breath Control to detect and suppress breaths in vocal recordings.

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10. Universal Audio | Neve 88RS Channel Strip

Introduced in 2001, the Neve 88 Series is another renowned analog mixing console. Neve’s premier analog console is famous for its depth, airiness, and clarity.

Create a modern Neve analog console in your DAW. UA’s emulation of this modern masterpiece comes complete with its famous mic/line preamp, cut filters, dynamics, four-band EQ, and post-fader output amplifier. It also features UA’s Unison Technology for Apollo to capture the sound and behavior of sought-after tube and solid-state designs.

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The post Icon Picks: 10 Best Channel Strip Plugins appeared first on Icon Collective Music Production School.

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This free VST plugins roundup features a rare piano emulation, a unique tonal shaper, a midi randomizer, a distortion effect, and a virtual analog synth.

Free VST Plugins

Each month we search the web for some of the music industry’s most essential freeware instrument and effect plugins. This list of free VST plugin downloads offers five modern tools for your arsenal. No need to spend a dime or waste time trawling the internet.

1. Tarabia Distortion | Distortion Effect

Tarabia Distortion is a free distortion plugin. It has two flavors: Tarabia formula (hard distortion), and Yamaha 80’s synth (soft distortion). It works great at adding character, body, and grit. Try it on Kicks, Snares, or Bass!

Download

2. Electrix EP | Rare Electric Piano

Electrix EP is a recreation of the rare and famous Hohner Electra Piano T used by Led Zeppelin in “Stairway to Heaven.” This iconic 70’s piano has a sound between a Rhodes and a Wurlitzer. It delivers a nice vintage dirty vibe that sounds great. Try layering it with other instruments to create a fuller sound with character!

Download

3. n0t0miz0r | Randomiser Effect

N0t0miz0r is a free randomizer plugin that generates randomized midi notes. It’s an excellent tool for creating ideas on the fly. It’s also a nice alternative if you do not have a sequencer. However, it’s only available for Windows PC.

Download

4. Helm | Virtual Analog Synthesizer

Helm is a fully loaded polyphonic synthesizer. It features dual oscillators, 12 waveforms, 7 filter types, several modulation sources, and more. It also sports a step sequencer, an arpeggiator, and a host of effects. This synth packs a lot for a freeware instrument!

Download

5. HoRNet Angle | Tone Shaper Tool

HoRNet Angle is a free tonal shaping tool based on the “Tilt EQ” concept. This special kind of equalizer is designed for gental tonal shaping. The plugin also features an analog amp emulation that adds harmonics, auto gain, and peak meters.

A “Tilt EQ” does not provide frequency or Q control. It increases or decreases high and low frequencies around a fixed point. This simple action allows you to apply gentle tonal shaping with little effort. It works great at correcting the frequency balance of a mix.

Download

The post 5 Free VST Plugins: June 2019 appeared first on Icon Collective Music Production School.

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This free VST plugins roundup features a virtual analog synth, Pultec modeled EQs, an analog-style filter, a clipping-style limiter, and a modulation filter.

Free VST Plugins

Each month we search the web for some of the music industry’s most essential freeware instrument and effect plugins. This list of free VST plugin downloads offers five modern tools for your arsenal. No need to spend a dime or waste time trawling the internet.

1. Podolski | Virtual Analog Synthesizer

Podolski is a straightforward, CPU-efficient virtual analog synthesizer by u-he. It features one oscillator, one multimode filter, one envelope, and an arpeggiator/sequencer. Podolski also comes loaded with over 520 factory presets. It’s simple and effective. Create high quality sounds with ease without having to learn complex features!

Download

2. PTEq-X | Analog Modeled EQs

The PTEq-X by Ignite Amps is an emulation of three legendary EQ models created by Pultec over 60 years ago. Pultec EQs are widely renowned for their unique character. The PTEq-X aims to capture all the characteristics of the original Pultec hardware. Plus, all three models have additional features to increase their versatility.

Download

3. Flower Child Filter | Analog-Style Filter

Flower Child Filter is a boutique analog-style filter by Soundemote. This versatile filter has a clean and resonant sound. There is also a switch for an aggressive growling version. In addition, it features a responsive oscilloscope view, envelope followers, tube distortion, a chaos knob, and more.

Download

4. ClipShifter | Clipping-Style Limiter

ClipShifter is a wave-shaping plugin by LVC Audio. It functions like a clipping-style limiter. The clipping distortion ranges from hard, brickwall-style clipping, to softer saturation with compression. It also features controls for the Clip Shape (hard to soft) and harmonics (even and odd order). Plus, it has selectable meters to visualize the treated audio. Moreover, this clipper is useful in all mixing stages. Try distorting basses and drums, maximizing mix buses, or warming-up full mixes.

Download

5. TAL-Filter-2 | Modulation Filter

TAL-Filter-2 is a host synced filter with different filter types, panorama, and volume modulation features. This creative filter is useful for making rhythmic filter effects. For example, use volume modulation to create tremolo or gate effects. Or, panorama modulation to auto-pan your percussion, hats, pads, and other sounds.

Download

The post 5 Free VST Plugins: May 2019 appeared first on Icon Collective Music Production School.

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What are the best audio interfaces? This Icon Picks roundup features ten pro sounding audio interfaces under $1,000. It also offers buying tips and considerations.

Photo by Focusrite Why Audio Interfaces are Important

An audio interface is an essential piece of gear for any music recording studio or mobile musician. However, there are a variety of high-quality studio interfaces available. It can become overwhelming weighing the differences between options and knowing which features best fits your needs. There are different input and output configurations, connection types, formats, and other options to consider.

To help narrow down the extensive selection, we rounded up ten pro sounding audio interfaces. This buyers guide will help you choose the best audio interface for an affordable price.

What is an Audio Interface?

An audio interface is the hub of a modern recording studio. It connects your studio monitors, headphones, microphones, instruments, and other gear to your computer. They also provide high-resolution audio A/D and D/A conversion for music production and DJing.

For example, an audio interface converts analog signals from a microphone or instrument into digital audio signals your computer can process. This audio conversion also performs the same process in reverse. Digital audio signals from your computer convert into analog signals heard through your studio monitors or headphones.

Many audio interfaces also provide preamps, metering, and other features for recording or tracking audio.

Features to Consider When Buying an Audio Interface

Understanding how audio interfaces work, and the various features will help you make an informed buying decision.

Input/Output (I/O)

The number of inputs and outputs you need depends on your set up. For example, at least two balanced line outputs are necessary to connect studio monitors. If you DJ with a computer, consider an audio interface with four line outputs. Two outputs that connect to the house sound system, and two outputs to cue songs. The number of inputs also depends on how many devices you want to connect and record simultaneously.

Common Audio Interface I/O:

  • XLR Inputs for Microphones – Most mic inputs also have a +48v switch that applies “phantom” power to condenser microphones. Some interfaces also include microphone preamps that boost the signal, add clarity, and inject character.
  • Line Input – 1/4″ input to plug in instruments, effects processors, or a mixing board.
  • Instrument-Level Input (Hi-Z) – 1/4″ input to plug in a guitar or bass.
  • Combo Inputs – Combines a 1/4″ TRS and XLR input to connect either a microphone or instrument.
  • Headphone Jack – 1/4″ stereo output to connect headphones.
  • Line Outputs – 1/4″ balanced outputs to connect powered studio monitors. Additional line outputs can also connect effects processors and other outboard gear.
  • MIDI Input and Output – Connect MIDI keyboards, drum machines, controllers, and other instruments that transmit/receive MIDI data.
  • Digital Inputs and Outputs – S/PDIF or ADAT ports to connect expanders, effects processors, and outboard gear with digital I/O.
Audio Interface Type
  • Desktop – Perfect for a small project studio. Desktop interfaces offer essential features and fewer I/O’s for basic setups. Some are also bus powered, which makes them ideal for mobile use.
  • Rackmount – Designed to fit into an audio equipment rack. Rackmount interfaces offer more I/O’s and signal routing flexibility. However, they are less accessible than desktop interfaces.
  • Mobile – Designed for mobile use. Mobile interfaces are compact, have limited I/O’s, and offer simple controls.
Computer Connection Type

Choose an audio interface compatible with your computer’s data ports. Connect your computer to the interface with USB, USB-C, Thunderbolt, Firewire, PCIe or Ethernet.

Audio Latency

Latency is also an important consideration if you work with multiple plugins and high tracks counts. Latency is a delay caused by the time it takes audio to pass from the audio interface through your DAW and then back out. It takes time to convert and process the audio. Faster connection types will give you better performance.

Bit Depth and Sample Rate

The sample rate and bit depth define sound quality and resolution.

  • Sample Rate – The number of samples per second in a piece of audio. It describes sound detail. Sample rates range from 44.1 kHz to 192 kHz. 192kHz will give you the highest resolution.
  • Bit Depth – Describes the dynamic amplitude range. 24-bit recording is the pro-audio standard today. This bit depth will give you a higher level of fidelity while eliminating most noise.
Additional Considerations

Other features to look for are metering and included software packages. Newer audio interfaces also integrate software control and onboard DSP for mixing. Digital signal processing (DSP) provides integrated software mixers, audio effects, and monitoring. This technology reduces latency and CPU load.

1. Universal Audio | Apollo Twin MkII DUO

Apollo Twin MkII is a 10-in/6-out desktop Thunderbolt audio interface. It packs console functionality into a compact desktop unit. The new redesign brings two Unison enabled mic preamps and next-generation audio conversion used in their flagship Apollo interfaces. You also get access to the full range of UA’s DSP Powered Plugins. Mix with authentic analog emulations of iconic vintage recording gear!

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2. Focusrite | Scarlett 2i4 (2nd Generation)

The Scarlett 2i4 is a compact 2-in/4-out USB audio interface. This second-generation Scarlett brings new upgrades. It features super-low latency, improved sample rates, enhanced sound quality, and more. Also, the industrial redesign gives you metal volume controls, and a sleeker red metal chassis built to go anywhere.

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3. Audient | iD14

The Audient iD14 is a compact 10-in/4-out desktop USB audio interface. It sports two Class A mic preamps, Burr-Brown converter technology, console-style monitor control, and a JFET direct input. Also onboard is Audient’s ScrollControl mode. This virtual scroll wheel gives you control over compatible parameters within your DAW. Moreover, it delivers the high-quality sound of a large console in a compact desktop unit.

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4. RME | Babyface Pro

The Babyface Pro is a portable 12-in/12-out USB audio interface. This road-ready interface offers a low-profile aluminum casing, two high-quality mic preamps, two analog XLR outs, hi-Z, and lo-Z 1/4″ inputs, ADAT/SPDIF I/O, a MIDI port, and two separate headphone outputs. Also included is RME’s TotalMix FX software mixer, which gives you access to audio effects and routing. This unit is pricey, but it’s also possibly the best mobile interface on the market!

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5. Native Instruments | Komplete Audio 2

KOMPLETE AUDIO 2 is a new USB audio interface designed for the studio or the stage. This compact desktop interface is worth considering for those on a budget. It’s lightweight, affordable, and offers essential connections. The KOMPLETE AUDIO 2 also comes with Native Instruments’ Maschine Essentials, Komplete Start, the Monark synth, an effects suite, and Ableton Live 10 Lite.

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6. Apogee | Element 24

The Element 24 is a streamlined 10-in/12-out desktop Thunderbolt audio interface. It features two front-panel combo inputs, two rear-panel balanced XLR outputs, a stereo headphone out, and word clock I/O. Two of Apogee’s world-class mic preamps are also onboard, with selectable phantom power. Moreover, it comes with Apogee’s Element Control software. You can control the interface from your Mac or wirelessly with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

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7. IK Multimedia | AXE I/O

The AXE I/O is a compact 2-in/5-out desktop USB audio interface. Its design and features focus on recording guitarists. But it also works excellent for any music production set up. This versatile interface also has controller capabilities not found on other audio interfaces. Moreover, the AXE I/O is a fully-featured audio interface. It offers innovative features, tonal shaping controls, a variety of instrument input circuits, amp functions, a built-in tuner, and more. It also comes with AmpliTube 4 Deluxe software suite, T-RackS, and Ableton Live Lite.

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8. PreSonus | Studio 26c

The Studio 26c is a portable 2-in/4-out desktop USB-C audio interface. It’s ideal for DJs, mobile musicians, and electronic musicians. It features mic/line/instrument inputs, DC-coupled line outputs, MIDI I/O, and a Cue Mix A/B button for DJ’s. The Studio 26c also comes with PreSonus’ award-winning Studio One Artist music production software.

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9. Behringer | U-Phoria UMC404HD

The U-Phoria UMC404HD is an affordable 4-in/4-out desktop USB audio interface. This rugged interface is perfect for the studio or the stage. First, it incorporates MIDAS designed mic preamps. MIDAS has a long history of innovation and leadership in the world of audio mixing consoles. Second, it’s impact-resistant metal chassis, and Monitor A/B source select for DJ-style cueing makes it ideal for the road. Last, the U-Phoria UMC404HD comes with audio recording, editing, and podcasting software. It also includes 150 instrument/effect plugins.

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10. Steinberg | UR-RT2

The UR-RT2 is a compact 4-in/2-out desktop USB audio interface. First, it gives you legendary Neve sound in a budget-friendly interface. The switchable Rupert Neve Designs transformers on the front inputs deliver a musical sound with rich harmonics. This feature is beneficial for vocals, acoustic guitar, and other instruments with an expressive dynamic range. It also offers studio-quality sound and a variety of I/O options for mobile musicians.

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Honorable Mentions

There is a lot of excellent audio interfaces on the market. It makes it hard to narrow down the top ten. Below are ten more affordable audio interfaces worth considering:

1. Universal Audio Arrow
2. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Generation)
3. Focusrite Clarett 4Pre
4. Apogee Duet
5. Audient iD4
6. Audient Sono
7. IK Multimedia iRig Pro Duo
8. Arturia AudioFuse
9. Steinberg UR22mkII
10. MOTU UltraLite-mk4

The post Icon Picks: 10 Best Audio Interfaces Under $1,000 appeared first on Icon Collective Music Production School.

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What are the best synth plugins? This ICON Picks roundup features ten popular virtual synthesizer instruments that deliver big on sound and features.

What Are the Best Synth Plugins?

It is an exciting time to be a music producer. Virtual instruments continue to evolve in impressive ways. Many modern software synthesizers offer unique features that create and shape sounds like never before.

However, choosing the best synth plugins is difficult. There are several excellent synth plugins that offer immersive features and amazing sound. Picking the best synth for your needs is also a personal choice. You’ll want to look for something that fits your workflow and is capable of creating sounds that work with your music. There’s also a learning curve to consider. Do you want to spend a week learning a new synth or making music?

Moreover, music producers and sound designers commonly have multiple synths for different jobs. For example, many music producers have a dedicated synth for leads, basses, pads, etc. That’s because many synths have features and character better suited for certain sounds.

This guide lists ten popular synth plugins that offer excellent sound sculpting features and quality sound.

1. Xfer | Serum

Serum is an innovative wavetable synthesizer from Xfer Records. Former ICON Instructor and Serum’s lead developer Steve Duda has successfully created a “dream synthesizer.” Serum delivers high-quality sound, an immersive feature set, and unmatched sound sculpting possibilities. Moreover, you can create, import, edit, morph, and modulate wavetables with its workflow-oriented interface. Serum also features 10 effects, drag-and-drop routing, and a heap of presets.

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2. u-he | Diva

Diva is a modeled analog synthesizer from u-he. This rich-sounding synth captures the sound and features of iconic hardware synthesizers. Diva’s modular design features a selection of analog modeled oscillators, filters, and envelopes. Moreover, you can recreate an old favorite or mix-and-match modules to design a unique hybrid. This synth delivers authentic analog sound!

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3. Spectrasonics | Omnisphere 2

Omnisphere 2 is a full-featured synthesizer from Spectrasonics. This versatile synth plugin combines several types of synthesis with a massive amount of sound-sculpting options.

Omnisphere 2 offers over 500 oscillator waveforms, 57 effects, morphing wavetables, new granular synthesis, an innovative browser, and over 14,000 sounds. It also features a crazy amount of modulation options, filtering, complex patch-layering, multiple arpeggiators, and so much more. In addition, you can import audio files and manipulate them in creative ways to create something new and unique!

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4. Native Instruments | Massive

Massive is a wavetable synthesizer from Native Instruments. It’s an awesome synth for basses and leads. This versatile synth also has a hybrid digital-analog design. It features several modulation options, drag-and-drop routing, morphing step sequencers, 17 effects, and more. As the name suggests, this OG synth brings a massive sound!

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5. LennarDigital | Sylenth1

Sylenth1 is a virtual analog synthesizer from LennarDigital. This flexible synth has been a long-time favorite in the music industry. It does a fantastic job at creating huge, lush supersaw chords, pads, and leads.

Sylenth1 features 4 unison oscillators, analog sounding filters, several modulation options, an arpeggiator, and 7 effects. With 512 voices and 32 filters, Sylenth1 delivers big on sound! It’s also one of the easiest synths to use.

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6. Native Instruments | Kontakt

Kontakt is an industry-leading sampler from Native Instruments. This diverse sampler brings you a universe of sampled instruments. There are over 600 licensed instruments from other manufacturers that run in Kontakt. You can play any instrument or sound imaginable with Kontakt.

Moreover, Kontakt comes loaded with a huge library of realistic sounding sampled instruments. There are also instruments that combine wavetable synthesis with sampled content. It also sports several effects, extensive sound design options, and hardware integration. In addition, Kontakt offers creator tools that enable you to design custom instruments.

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7. Reveal Sound | Spire

Spire is a polyphonic synthesizer from Reveal Sound. This versatile synth combines multiple forms of digital synthesis with classic analog synthesis techniques. It also delivers big on sound and usability.

Spire features 4 multimode polymorphing oscillators, advanced modulation options, multimode filters, 6 effects, and over 900 factory presets. It also offers a step sequencer and an arpeggiator.

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8. Future Audio Workshop | Circle2

Circle2 is a wavetable synthesizer from Future Audio Workshop. This full-featured synth focuses on streamlined workflow and creativity. Moreover, its modular design shows every control in one window. There are no submenus, multiple windows, or hidden controls.

Circle2 also makes modulation fast and easy. It offers an extensive amount of modulation options using drag-and-drop color-coded circles. You can create unique sounds with minimal effort. Circle2 also features a new morphing synthesis, 110 wavetables, several effects, and a Smart Browser loaded with over 300 sounds. In addition, it offers a step sequencer, an arpeggiator, Native Instruments NKS Support, and more.

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9. Vengeance Sound | VPS Avenger

VPS Avenger is a hybrid synthesizer from Vengeance Sound. This versatile synth has 1,000 oscillators, tons of smart, modern features, and a growing library.

VPS Avenger is a ‘Power Synth’ that delivers big time. It unites analog, sample-based, and wavetable synthesis. It also features an immersive set of modulation options, 30 effects, 47 filter types, and over 950 presets. Also onboard is a drum sequencer, arpeggiator, step sequencer, a guitar player/chord detection module, a wavetable editor, and much more. It’s nutty how much this beast brings!

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10. u-he | Hive

Hive is a virtual analog synthesizer from u-he. It’s another flexible synth that aims at streamlining workflow and modern sound design. Hive also comes packed with features. It sports 4 oscillators, 2 multimode filters, 7 effects, an arpeggiator, and a step sequencer. Moreover, Hive offers a modulation matrix, drag-and-drop routing, wavetable editing, XY control, 2,700 presets, and a ton more.

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Honorable Mentions

There are a lot of excellent synth plugins on the market. It makes it hard to narrow down the top ten. Below are ten more synth plugins worth considering:

1. Twin 2 by FabFilter
2. Iris 2 by iZotope
3. Zebra2 by u-he
4. FM8 by Native Instruments
5. Nexus by reFX
6. SubBoomBass 2 by Rob Papen
7. Strobe2 by FXpansion
8. Trilian by Spectrasonics
9. Reaktor 6 by Native Instruments
10. SynthMaster by KV331 Audio

The post Icon Picks: 10 Best Synth Plugins appeared first on Icon Collective Music Production School.

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This free VST plugins roundup features a modular synth, distortion effect, multi-modulation effect, a virtual instrument library, and a Juno-60 inspired chorus.

Free VST Plugins

Each month we search the web for some of the music industry’s most essential freeware instrument and effect plugins. This list of free VST plugin downloads offers five modern tools for your arsenal. No need to spend a dime or waste time trawling the internet.

1. VCV Rack | Virtual Modular Synthesizer

Dip your toes into the world of modular syntheses for free. VCV Rack gives you an entire simulated Eurorack on your computer. This open-source virtual modular synthesizer also has a growing library of free modules. However, VCV Rack is a standalone instrument. You’ll also need the free VeeSeeVSTRack software to use VCV Rack as a VST plugin.

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2. Temper | Digital Distortion

Temper is a modern digital distortion plugin featuring a rich saturation stage and unique phase distortion. Use the variable saturation curve to add warmth and edge to your sound. The phase distortion brings character and clarity to your mix. Temper also features a simple resonant lowpass filter and a feedback path to drive the intensity of the tone.

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3. Flutterbird | Volume and Pitch Modulation

Flutterbird is a free modulation VST plugin for adding pitch and volume fluctuation to incoming audio. Use it for traditional wow/flutter effects or for more chaotic, extreme modulation. Flutterbird features four separate oscillators with adjustable speeds that can be mapped to either pitch or volume.

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4. LABS | Virtual Instrument Libraries

The LABS series of instrument plugins offer a line of free sound libraries. They all feature simplified controls such as sliders for expression and dynamics, and a big knob you can customize to your workflow. The growing list of expansion libraries includes Peel Guitar, Frozen Strings, Synth Pads, Choir, Electric Piano, and several others.

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5. TAL-Chorus-LX | Chorus Effect

TAL-Chorus-LX is a free chorus VST plugin. It models the chorus circuit on Roland’s iconic Juno-60 synthesizer. This simple effect features two modes, Dry/Wet control, and a Volume knob. Use it to add rich chorus and stereo width to your sounds.

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The post 5 Free VST Plugins: March 2019 appeared first on Icon Collective Music Production School.

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This EDM news roundup features a selection of new music gear and announcements from Ableton, Korg, Moog, Arturia, Akai, Elektron, NI, Waves, and more.

Music Industry News

ICON Collective’s music news roundup is your source for the latest music technology, industry news, gear reviews, artist interviews, events, and more.

Ableton Live 10.1 Is Coming Soon!
https://youtu.be/TY5UuK6T7R0Video can’t be loaded: Ableton Live 10.1: What’s New (https://youtu.be/TY5UuK6T7R0)

The latest update to Live adds user wavetables, new devices, workflow upgrades and much more. The update will also be free for all Live 10 owners. Check out what’s new!

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Moog’s Sirin Synth Is Now Available

Moog announced that their new Sirin synthesizer is available worldwide. Sirin is an updated version of the Moog Minitaur. Its major feature is two iconic analog Taurus Bass oscillators modified to play leads. Siren also comes with a software editor to dial in sounds from your DAW.

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Native Instruments Introduces Two New Audio Interfaces

KOMPLETE AUDIO 1 and AUDIO 2 are a pair of new audio interfaces designed for the studio or the stage. Both interfaces also come with Native Instrument’s Maschine Essentials, Komplete Start, the Monark synth, an effects suite, and Ableton Live 10 Lite.

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minilogue xd is Moog’s Next-Generation Analog Synth

minilogue xd is Moog’s new four-voice poly analog synth. This latest version expands the original minilogue sound and capabilities. It adds a digital multi-engine, upgraded effects, a powered-up sequencer, micro-tuning functionality, and more.

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Hooke Wireless Binaural Recording Headphones

Hooke Verse is the first wireless in-ear binaural microphones. Record your music in 3D audio with binaural microphones in each earbud. These innovative recording wireless headphones also feature noise-isolating drivers and an inline analog to digital converter.

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KRK Steps Up Their Studio Monitor Game with the ROKIT 5 G4

The ROKIT 5 G4 is KRK’s next-generation studio monitors. They feature Kevlar drivers powered by a Class D amp and a built-in brickwall limiter. They also have an optimized high-frequency waveguide, DSP that will maximize your acoustic environment with room correction, an LCD visual EQ, and more.

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MicroFreak Is an Experimental Hybrid Synth

Arturia’s new MicroFreak synth is for the curious musician. It combines wavetable and digital oscillators with analog filters. It also features a unique poly-aftertouch flat keyboard and adds controlled randomness to sequences.

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ElectroSpit ESX-1 Is the World’s First Tubless Talkbox
https://vimeo.com/271522048Video can’t be loaded: “Future Funk Talkbox” ElectroSpit x Native Instruments x Sounds.com (https://vimeo.com/271522048)

ElectroSpit’s ESX-1 is a tubless talkbox that’s lightweight and portable. Wear it around your neck and control the sound with a phone or controller loaded with your favorite synth.

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Control Sounds with a Ring

The Wave ring by Genki Instruments is a wearable MIDI controller. Wave’s three different motions control parameters by moving your hands. You can click the buttons to send commands such as play, stop or record. Also, tap any surface to trigger a note or sample.

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Create Sample Libraries with SampleRobot

SampleRobot 6 is an all-in-one toolbox for sampling. Create a sample pack of any instrument with a push of a button. The full process is automated. SampleRobot sends Midi notes/program changes, records the audio, truncates samples, and finds appropriate loop points. It also maps the recordings so you can play the instrument in your favorite sampler.

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Arturia Announced New AudioFuse Interfaces

Arturia announced three new additions to their AudioFuse interface line. The line now includes the AudioFuse, AudioFuse Studio, and AudioFuse 8Pre. Arturia says the interfaces “fuse the superior sound of high-end analog studio consoles with the flexibility of a solid mobile interface.”

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Specdrums Lets You Turn Color Into Music
https://youtu.be/3916TgLt2v8Video can’t be loaded: Specdrums by Sphero (https://youtu.be/3916TgLt2v8)

Specdrums are app-enabled rings that turn colors into music with a simple tap. Connect to the Specdrums MIX app and tap anything to create and mix sounds, beats, and loops.

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Elektron Releases Their New Model:Samples Groovebox

Model:Samples is a six-track compact groovebox. It features velocity-sensitive pads, a sequencer, a multimode filter, assignable LFOs, send effects, and 1GB of storage. It also comes loaded with 300 high-quality sounds from Splice.com.

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Synthwatch Is the World’s First Wristwatch Synth

Synthwatch is wearable synthesizer watch. It features seven monophonic keys and 200 sounds. It’s also wireless and works alongside an iOS app with a built-in sequencer. Moreover, you can plug it into a speaker system. However, Audioweld is still raising funds for the project on Kickstarter.

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Technics Reveals New SL-1200 MK7 Turntable

Technics has unveiled their first turntable aimed at DJs since the SL-1200 MK6 launched in 2007. The new design features a reverse function and motor control that benefits scratch DJs.

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Korg Introduces Volca Modular

Volca Modular is the latest addition to Korg’s Volca line. This semi-modular analog synthesizer makes modular synthesis more accessible and understandable. It features eight modules, 50 patch points, digital effects, and a sequencer.

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Korg Introduces an Updated Version of Their Kross Keyboard

At the 2019 NAMM Show, Korg introduced an updated version of their Kross keyboard. The Kross 2 series sports a new look, updated sound library focused on EDM, and loads more.

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Mix up to 64 Tracks from the Same Plugin
https://youtu.be/fiXAhqqmd_kVideo can’t be loaded: CLA MixHub Explained – Tutorial with Chris Lord-Alge (https://youtu.be/fiXAhqqmd_k)

The CLA MixHub by Waves enables you to mix up to 64 tracks from the same plugin window. This analog modeled channel strip aims to make it easier to mix your whole song in context. Waves also clams CLA MixHub is the first Multitrack plugin.

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Get Expressive with ContinuuMini

The ContinuuMini Fingerboard is the latest expressive keyboard instrument by Haken Audio. It has an internal sound engine with multiple synthesis types. This means you can use it as a standalone synth or a controller to expressively control other instruments.

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AKAI Releases MPC 2.4 Update

AKAI Professional has released MPC 2.4, an update for the MPC X, MPC Live and MPC Software 2. It brings 28 AIR Music Technology Effects, the Mother Ducker sidechain processor, and several workflow enhancements.

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The post Latest Music News and Technology: February 2019 appeared first on Icon Collective Music Production School.

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Ableton Live 10 was already impressive. The Live 10.1 update makes it even better! Check out the exciting new devices, features, and improvements coming in Live 10.1.

https://youtu.be/TY5UuK6T7R0Video can’t be loaded: Ableton Live 10.1: What’s New (https://youtu.be/TY5UuK6T7R0)
What’s New in Live 10.1?

Ableton Live 10.1 brings significant improvements, feature enhancements, device additions, and more.

The Live 10.1 update also expands the possibilities for making and shaping sound. It improves key features for editing and finalizing music. Moreover, the update will be free for all Live 10 owners. Check out what’s new!

New Devices

Live 10.1 adds two new Audio Effects: Channel EQ and Delay.

Channel EQ: A flexible EQ with curves and gain ranges suitable for a variety of audio material. The shape of the filters also adapt to the control settings to provide better musical results.

Delay: Combines Simple Delay and Ping Pong Delay. It also adds feature upgrades. In addition, the Jump, Fade-In, and Pitch controls are now accessible from the front panel.

Highly-Requested Features

Live 10.1 brings significant improvements fans have been asking for, and Ableton came through!

VST3 Support

THIS IS HUGE! Live 10.1 now supports VST3 plugins.

Track Freezing with Sidechains

FINALLY! You can now freeze tracks that have sidechain routing.

New Automation Features

You can now choose from a selection of automation shapes from the context menu!

https://youtu.be/BSMY4ktBqQUVideo can’t be loaded: Ableton Live: Insert Automation Shapes (https://youtu.be/BSMY4ktBqQU)

You’ll also have the ability to stretch and skew automation shapes. Moreover, you can enter numerical values for precise adjustments.

https://youtu.be/PxqqvG-WoWEVideo can’t be loaded: Ableton Live: Automation Transform (https://youtu.be/PxqqvG-WoWE)

Free-hand drawing in Draw Mode is much smoother. It creates fewer breakpoints and detects curved movements. In addition, you can reduce the number of breakpoints using the new “Simplify Envelope” command. Curve-like moves are also simplified into C- or S-shapes.

https://youtu.be/D_8WIrwMlX8Video can’t be loaded: Ableton Live: Drawing Automation Curves (https://youtu.be/D_8WIrwMlX8)

It’s also easier to access clip modulation in Session View. Toggle between showing automation and modulation in Session View clips. All modulation also has its own distinctive color.

https://youtu.be/cfwpK9OTPAAVideo can’t be loaded: Ableton Live: Automation and Modulation Access (https://youtu.be/cfwpK9OTPAA)
User Wavetables

You can now import your wavetables or samples into the Wavetable instrument. Simply drag and drop a sample into the Osc 1 or Osc 2 display!

https://youtu.be/fGgzG9m-Rw4Video can’t be loaded: Ableton Live: User Wavetables (https://youtu.be/fGgzG9m-Rw4)
Export Return and Master Effects

You now have the option to export single tracks and groups with return and master effects applied.

Zoom and Scroll Improvements

Switch between detailed views and big-picture editing faster. Live 10.1 adds streamlined keyboard shortcuts, pinch zooming on compatible computers, a resizable Arrangement Overview window, and more.

New Keyboard Shortcuts

H-key

  • Pressing the ‘H’ key in Arrangement View will equally distribute your tracks across the available screen height
  • Pressing the ‘H’ key in the Detail View will vertically fit the region that has notes
  • There is a MIDI mappable height button next to the Arrangement Overview

W-key

  • Pressing the ‘W’ key in Arrangement View will fit the whole song into view
  • Pressing the ‘W’ key in the Detail View will horizontally fit the “audible range”
  • There is a MIDI mappable width button next to the Arrangement Overview

Z/X-key

  • Pressing the ‘Z’ key in Arrangement View will zoom your selection and make it fit the available screen space
  • Pressing the ‘X’ key in Arrangement View will zoom out to the prior zoomed state.
  • Zooming in and out using the ‘Z’ and ‘X’ keys also work in the MIDI Editor

+/- Keys

  • Pressing Option (on Mac) or Alt (on Windows) and the ‘+’ or ‘-‘ keys in Arrangement View will change track height
  • Pressing Option (on Mac) or Alt (on Windows) and the ‘+’ or ‘-‘ keys in the Detail View will change the height of Automation lanes

F-Key

  • Pressing the ‘F’ key while in Automation Mode temporarily show Clip fades

S-Key

  • Pressing the ‘S’ key in Session and Arrangement View is now used to solo tracks

U-Key

  • Pressing the ‘U’ key in the Arrangement View unfolds selected tracks
  • Pressing the Option/Alt + ‘U’ key in the Arrangement View will unfold all tracks of the same type

Cursor Keys

  • When moving through the Arrangement with the cursor keys, the view scrolls to keep the selected track visible
More on Live 10.1

To see all the changes coming in Ableton Live 10.1, read the beta release notes.

Learn Music Production with Ableton Live

Learn the art of music production and sound design with Ableton Live. ICON’s complete Online Music Production course offers an immersive learning experience.

Our extensive music production courses guide you through the fundamentals of music making while learning to master Ableton Live. Gain essential knowledge and advance your craft while developing your signature sound using the industry’s most innovative software.

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The post Ableton Live 10.1 Is Even Better for Making Music! appeared first on Icon Collective Music Production School.

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This free VST plugins roundup features a stereo widener, loudness meter, parametric EQ combined with a compressor, transient shaper, and a compressor inspired by the iconic LA-2A.

Free VST Plugins

Each month we search the web for some of the music industry’s most essential freeware instrument and effect plugins. This list of free VST plugin downloads offers five modern tools for your arsenal. No need to spend a dime or waste time trawling the internet.

1. Infected Mushroom | Wider

WIDER: How It Works - YouTube

Wider is a free stereo width plugin. Give any mono signal expanded stereo width or enhance the stereo image of your mix. It can also increase the stereo image of a mono signal up to 200% without compromising the phase between the sides!

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2. Youlean | Loudness Meter 2

Youlean Loudness Meter 2 - VST, AU and AAX plugin - YouTube

Loudness Meter helps you find the true perceived loudness of your audio and prepares it for TV or streaming services release. This full-featured metering plugin provides various metering graphs. You can inspect audio dynamics, LUFS, true peak, and loudness range. It also offers loudness presets for a variety of streaming services.

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3. vladg/sound | Nova-67P

Nova-67P (KVR Developers Challenge DC14 submission) - YouTube

Nova-67P is a parallel parametric equalizer plugin combined with a compressor. It features a five-band parallel equalizer with auto-gain, high-pass and low-pass filters, and a multiband compressor. The Nova-67P also provides real-time spectrum analysis and external side-chain support.

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4. Sonic Anomaly | Transpire

Transpire by Sonic Anomaly - YouTube

Transpire is a free transient shaper plugin. It can enhance or dampen the initial attack and sustain of any sound. Moreover, it works excellent on drums and percussion!

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5. Sonic Anomaly | S.LA.X

Slax by Sonic Anomaly - YouTube

S.LA.X is a free retro compressor inspired by the iconic LA-2A. It has an aggressive and dark character. Moreover, it sounds great on vocals, drums, bass, and acoustic guitars!

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The post 5 Free VST Plugins: February 2019 appeared first on Icon Collective Music Production School.

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