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Your Recommended Free PC Software

For anything relating to music-making on Windows computers, with lots of FAQs. Moderated by Martin Walker.

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Your Recommended Free PC Software

Postby Martin Walker » Tue May 09, 2006 4:03 pm

OK. Given that people ask so regularly for quality free plugins, softsynths, and utilities on the PC Music forum, I thought it might be useful to gather together some recommendations into a single sticky thread that stays put where everyone can find it.

It would be really helpful if anyone who posts here provides the Product Name, Developer's Name, Clickable Link, and Why it's good.

It would also be helpful to describe what type of software it is in the title of your post.

Let's turn this into a useful resource, and try to avoid requests and arguments ;)

Over to you!

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MIDI Utilities

Postby Martin Walker » Tue May 09, 2006 4:15 pm

To start the ball rolling, here are some MIDI utilities I've found to be really useful:

MIDIOX, written by Jamie O'Connell and Jerry Jorgenrud, is a classic general-purpose MIDI utility available from that I've used for years for examining MIDI data when tracking down problems, as a sysex dump to/from various synths, and to change incoming MIDI data into something else.

MIDI FISH, written by Shawn Hargreaves, is an elegant MIDI data translator that also helps modify incoming data, but has elegant in/out MIDI data meters so you can see how your data is being changed - great when tweaking velocity curves! You can download it at

MIDI Test is a handy utility for seeing how good the timing of your MIDI interface is, using a MIDI loopback cable. Written by Evert van der Poll, and available from, it's a real eye-opener when you see how latency and jitter figures vary between products.

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Re: Your Recommended Free PC Software

Postby SuperMasita » Tue May 09, 2006 5:17 pm

I like the VSTs from GVST:

    I use almost all of this:

    GBand - Band-pass filter.
    GChorus - Chorus effect.
    GClip - Wave-shaping signal clipper.
    GComp - Compressor.
    GComp2 - Compressor.
    GDelay - Delay effect.
    GDuckDly - Ducking delay effect.
    GFader - Signal gain (-100 to 0 dB).
    GGain - Signal gain (-12 to 12 dB).
    GGate - Gate.
    GGrain - Granular resynthesis.
    GHi - High-pass filter.
    GLow - Low-pass filter.
    GMax - Limiter.
    GMulti - Multi-band compressor and stereo enhancer.
    GNormal - Noise generator for avoiding denormal problems.
    GRevDly - Reverse delay effect.
    GSnap - Pitch-correction.
    GTune - Chromatic tuner.

    I specially like GSnap (Pitch-correction), cause its easy to use (u can control it via midi) and I think it sounds good.

    If u visit the website, u can download them all as a zip file ;)

    They also have VST Instruments, but i never used them...

A handy VST is Monomaker from DestroyFX : Very useful to check your how your mixes sound in mono.
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Re: Your Recommended Free PC Software

Postby Smithee » Tue May 09, 2006 8:35 pm

Here's some of what I use reguarly, all free and all VST plugins

SIR - Free convolution reverb about which everything there is to be said has already been said! Of course you'll need some impulse responses and my favourites are those from Echo Chamber (site is German, click here for the Google translated version), Voxengo and Noisevault has some gems too.
Also, make sure to check out the 3 free impulses from Waves at and the very excellent Pure Space response that was on the November 2005 DVD002.
Download SIR

Greenoak Crystal - Quite possibly the king of free synths, here's what they say:
'Crystal is a semi-modular software synthesizer featuring both subtractive synthesis and frequency modulation (FM) synthesis. It offers abundant modulation control with over 90 parameters which may be modulated, multi-stage envelopes with graphical editors, extensive tempo sync of envelopes/lforates/delay times, built-in effects for chorus/flanging/comb filtering/echoes, and a band splitter for effects processing by frequency band. Not only that, Crystal has wave sequencing, granular synthesis, program morphing, MIDI learn, and imports soundfonts. The musical applications for Crystal are literally boundless.'
Greenoak Crystal Download

Elemental Audio Inspector - An excellent free analysis/metering tool it includes RMS, peak and phase meters, a specturm analyser and much more.
Elemental Audio Inspector Download

4Front Piano, ePiano & Rhode - These plugins sound good if not excellent, but their real value comes in their lack of hit on resources. I find these modules great for practice and composition where loading up a 30GB Ivory library isn't practical or desireable :D .
4Front Downloads

SimulAnalog Guitar Suite - A set of stompboxes and amp sims, these are all about the sound. There's no fancy GUI, but these are great for the guitarist on the cheap.
SimulAnalog Guitar Suite Download

Voxengo Plugin Suite - These are great little plugin problem solvers including sample delay/latency delay plugins and a Mid/Side decoder. There's also a nice EQ and good standalone samplerate convertor.
Voxengo Downloads

One last heads up, NuGen Audio are offering a beta of their plugin Visualizer for free as long as it's in beta. It's another metering plugin which includes:
  • Spectrum Analyser
  • Stereo Analyser
  • Spectrogram
  • Stereo Spectrogram
  • Vectorscope
  • Peak Level Meter
  • RMS Level Meter

So snap it up quick - download it here.
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Re: Your Recommended Free PC Software

Postby silvester » Thu May 11, 2006 10:59 am

This is a great page for dub style sound effects.All of these work well and have good analog emulation.
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Video Capture and Processing

Postby Humf » Fri May 12, 2006 7:12 pm

Essential if you work music to picture:
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Audio Editor

Postby lemoore » Fri May 12, 2006 11:20 pm

Audacity, a free audio editor..
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Re: Your Recommended Free PC Software

Postby Gary. P » Tue May 16, 2006 10:45 am

Mad tracker has a page of Free VST plug in synths. My particular favourite is called Cheeze Machine which is great at producing classic string ensemble sounds and also has a great gate mask effect which lets you create some truly excellent tones.

This takes you straight to the Cheeze Machine – Try it you’ll love it.
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Multitrack Recording & Mixing package

Postby Neil Wilkes » Tue May 16, 2006 2:35 pm

What about the KRISTAL Audio engine?
It can record & mix at up to 32/192 resolution and is free.
* 16 audio tracks
* 32 Bit floating point audio engine
* 44.1 to 192 kHz sample rate
* 3-band parametric EQ &
* 2 VST insert slots per channel
* 3 VST master effect slots
* ASIO low latency audio driver support
* 4 KRISTAL PlugIn slots
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Re: Your Recommended Free PC Software

Postby Armadillo » Tue May 16, 2006 9:22 pm

This is all VST plugins.

page is in japanese... but just look for download. And remember to download the additional banks as the factory bank sucks quite a bit.

and a much better skin

Classic series from Kjaerhus audio is some really great free fx:

LFX-1310 - multi fx unit from Luxonix
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Re: Your Recommended Free PC Software

Postby Mr. Heath » Thu May 18, 2006 4:43 pm

Reaper - Rapid Environment for Audio Prototyping and Efficient Recording
Developed by Cockos Inc. (Justin Frankel ex.Nullsoft legend)

Why it's good:
The developers listen to what is ask for in the forums and then actually do something about it.
Its a free 1mb download and takes a fraction of the time to start up compared to Sonar, Cubase, Logic and Audition.
Its dead easy to start using: simply drag and drop one of many kinds of files in to edit existing material, or insert a track and arm it for recording. No complex project or definitions to set up.
Lots of editing facilities: split, resize, fade/crossfade, pitch shift, timestretch, copy/paste and loop media items with ease. Ripple editing is available, too. (this is an awesome feature)
Unrivaled routing capabilities: send tracks to any number of other tracks or hardware outputs, with lots of options (pre-fx, post-fx, independent faders, mono or stereo). Not interested in advanced routing? You don't have to use it (and it certainly won't get in the way.)
Powerful recording options (supports pre-fx, post-fx recording, can record mixed output of multiple tracks, etc), supports switching record inputs/modes on the fly, input monitoring options (including tape-style auto input monitoring mode), supports auto-punch-in/punch-out, and more. If you want. Otherwise, it just behaves as you would expect.
Support for MIDI files, recording MIDI, and VSTi/DXi softsynths. MIDI can be integrated and mixed with audio.
User arrangeable user interface with color themes: make REAPER look how you want it to look (don't just settle for the default theme, check some of the bundled themes), and arrange (or hide) elements of the user interface to suit your needs.
Support for consolidating track edits and rendering track stems, to enable easy export for other applications.
And so much more with new features being added practically daily, just check out the change log!

It has made my copy of Sonar LE practically obselete! :D

Stop reading this and go and give it a go. You won't regret it!
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Re: Your Recommended Free PC Software

Postby pumpkin » Thu May 18, 2006 5:28 pm

BuzComp Free series
GranComp - comp/limiter
GranComp3 - 3 band comp/limiter
Buz - fuzz/distortion
OctBUZ - fuzz/distortion w/octaver (up & down)
BuzMaxi & VintageMaxi - limiters

specifically: PhaseBug, BugPass & MonstaChorus

WWAYM NWEQ Parametric EQ

TLs Pocket Limiter & Saturated Driver

Ndzeit TubeBaby tube amp/distortion

NDC Trem+ tremolo/panner

Spinner LE rotary effect
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Re: Your Recommended Free PC Software

Postby Francois R » Sat May 27, 2006 8:12 pm

MIDI OX is great but sometimes doesn't work with some synths when sending sysex files, for example, it doesn't work with the Waldorf Q.

Another useful utility is Bome SendSX, very simple but effective. Grab the beta version which fixes a few bugs.
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Re: Your Recommended Free PC Software

Postby Matt Downing » Sun May 28, 2006 11:17 am

EAC (Exact Audio Copy) for ripping CDs

FreeverbToo - A nice easy front end to the original Freeverb, which I still find very useful.

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Re: Your Recommended Free PC Software

Postby jalapeno » Tue May 30, 2006 3:48 pm

TapeIT - great little tool for recoding VST outputs (especially if you're got killer lick in a piece of demo software ;))
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