Favorite Free Plugins

Maybe you missed out on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Maybe like me, money is a little tight this time of year (read: all times of the year). Maybe you wanted to ask for plugins for Christmas but your loved ones give you the “no speak English” blank stare when you bring up anything related to music production. Never fear, I’m about to lay down my list of favorite FREE plugins, that have been making it into my mixes over the last decade or so!

Disclaimer: I use Logic Pro on a Mac, so these plugins will be slanted towards what is available in Audio Unit (AU) format. If you use VST plugins, you actually have many more free plugins available!


RoughriderRough Rider (Audio Damage)
This deceptively simple, mostly transparent compressor is always on everyone’s list of must-have freebies. I use it for parallel compression a lot on the “New York” setting.

Limiter6Limiter No 6 (Vladislav Goncharov)
I would pay decent $ for this compressor/limiter, it is so good. Vintage sound, HF limiting, mid-side processing, and a true hard limiter. It’s one of my absolute favorites.

MJUCjrMJUC Jr. (Klanghelm)
This is one of the newest additions to the Klanghelm lineup, a vintage passive-circuit bus compressor that I can easily see becoming a fast favorite. I went ahead and bought the full version.

camelcrusherCamel Crusher (Camel Audio)
One of the first plugins I ever downloaded, and I still use it all the time to give beef to a track as an aux send. Kind of a compressor-saturator. Sadly no longer available, I just found out when writing this! Great replacement free saturator and compressor can be had from Klanghelm.


SlickEQSlick EQ (Tokyo Dawn Labs)
New to the table, great little EQ with curve characteristics that change based on the country/style setting. This video gives you all the tricks.

SonEQSonEQ (Sonimus) – 32 bit ONLY
Vintage sounding Pultec -type EQ that allows you to boost and attenuate lows at once. Supplanted by non-free SonEQ Pro which I like a little less but is a good bargain. Sonimus makes great inexpensive plugins such as Satson.

Guitar Amp Sims

hybritLePou Amp Sims
These are really excellent amp sims in several styles: Hybrit, Le456, LeCto, LeGion, LeXtac. The website is a blog, so you have to dig a little to grab them, but well worth it.

AuraPlug Freetortion Pedal Sims

The site is now called Audiorammer apparently. Excellent pedal simulators: California Sun, EddieVsHeaven, Fuzz-Stone & Fuzz-Stone Germanium version, RedSkull, and Whamdrive.

BODTSE Audio Pedal Sims
These guys make a nice Rat (R47), Tube Screamer (TSE 808), and SansAmp (TSE B.O.D.) simulators.


panipulatorPanipulator (Boz Digital Labs)
Brilliant transparent stereo – mono – phase switcher. I use this to test mixes in mono, or remove one half of a stereo track.

Ambience reverbAmbience (Magnus Smartelectronix)
Really excellent reverb with a shit ton of great presets for all occasions. Meant to go right on the track, adjust wet/dry if using on an aux.

Head CrusherHead Crusher Free (Audio Assault)
This is a saturator that adds drive and beef to bass and drum tracks, try it and see what it brings to the table. Good on an aux. They have a bunch of other cool freebies too.

These aren’t all the free plugins I have, just the ones that I keep coming back to over and over. I should also mention that the most common plugins I use are the Logic Pro stock EQ and compressor. They’re “free” in the sense that they came with Logic, but not in the sense that you can download them yourself.

What are some of your favorite free plugins?

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DIY Music Twitter Chat

Microphone IconWhat’s up rockers! I wanted to let you know that I’ve taken over running the weekly Home Recording Twitter Chat and renamed it the DIY Music Twitter Chat. It’s an open forum where indie musicians can discuss the ins and outs of DIY recording, mixing, and production, and anything else that is related to the making of music outside of a professional studio. All you need to join is a Twitter account and some free time on Wednesdays at 12:30 Pacific Time, just use the hashtag #diymusicchat to  jump in!

Since the chats cover so much good info, I wanted to make sure I could save them for future reference and started archiving them on Storify. Check out the archives or come join us live!

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Mojo’s Pick of the Week – Behringer Behritone C5A Speaker

Behritone C5AThe Behringer Behritone C5A and its updated sibling, the C50A, are copies of the famed Auratone speakers, known for being so bad they’re good. They became staples in music studios after mixing and mastering engineers discovered that if they could get a track to sound good on the little brown cubes, they’d sound good anywhere.

I’d considered picking them up before but it didn’t occur to me that I really only needed one to do the job, until I read Graham Cochrane’s post on them recently on his excellent Recording Revolution website. The combination of this lo-fi speaker and mixing in mono have completely changed the way I mix.

The speaker itself is an active 30W, 5 1/4″ speaker with a 90 Hz to 17 kHz frequency response and retails for about $99US. I was happy and lucky to get mine on ebay for $65 shipped. It has XLR, 1/4″ TRS and RCA input connectors plus a gain control. I am using the 1/4″ connector with a mono > stereo adapter and run through my computer stereo out. The main trick to this speaker is to acclimate your ears by listening to songs you know well on it and hearing the difference from what you think you know. Reference tracks are a must. But mono mixing on this speaker forces you to concentrate on the midrange meat of a song, and can quickly help you to fix overlapping frequencies for better clarity.

bad speaker Logic simI went a step further and decided to simulate this speaker in the box just for fun, by creating a Logic channel strip preset with the Gain plugin set to mono, the EQ rolled off gradually below 500 Hz and above 2 Khz (a Bob Katz suggestion) and very light (1.5) compression. Running your mix through an optional channel strip like this prior to stereo out will give a good impression of how your mix will sound through a limited range mono speaker.

The speaker itself? Wonderfully crummy sounding. It’s a game-changer for me and I can already hear my mixes getting better. Definitely worthy of a Pick of the Week.

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