June 14, 2024


Buzz The Music

New mixing plugins, effects and VST instruments out this week

In music production, plugins are software add-ons that expand the capabilities of your DAW; these could be virtual instruments and creative effects, EQ and compressors, or tools that make editing a lot more manageable.

Below is a rolling list of the new plugin releases that catch our eye, so you can keep on top of any software goodies you may have missed that could be essential to your production process. We update this rolling list on a weekly basis, so be sure to check back regularly for the latest virtual instruments, effects, mixing plugins and more.

Latest virtual instruments, effects and mixing plugins

(Last update: 14 December 2023)

PlateVerb by Solid State Logic

The SSL PlateVerb, Solid State Logic’s boutique new reverb plugin, mirrors the richness found in classic plate reverbs. Its versatile decay time spans 100 milliseconds to 3 seconds, ideal for diverse ambience.

Solid State Logic PlateVerb

Emulating the iconic plate reverb sound, it merges SSL-crafted algorithms for authentic reflections. With innovative features like Colour Adjustment, Ducking, and Freeze, it adds depth to vocals, drums, and synths, fusing vintage warmth with modern functionality and zero-latency performance.

PlateVerb costs $127/£99. Find out more at Plugin Boutique.

Noctua by UVI

UVI Noctua, developed by sound designer Venus Theory in collaboration with UVI, is a robust cinematic instrument and sound design tool. It merges hand-crafted samples with hardware synthesis and boutique effects, offering expansive soundscapes.

With a flexible 2+1 layer design, microtonal sequencers per layer, one-knob FX chains, and master bus processing, it allows deep sound manipulation. Featuring 100 presets and native 64-bit operation via Falcon or UVI Workstation, it’s a versatile, no-cost offering for cinematic sound creation and editing.

Download Noctua at UVI.

VHS Noise Generator by SampleScience

SampleScience recently released the free VHS Noise Generator, a plugin offering 26 VHS background noises sourced from vintage VCRs. Delivering nostalgic crackles, it infuses tracks with lo-fi warmth for synths, drums, vocals, and guitars.

Featuring distortion, delay, chorus, reverb, and voice modes, it enriches audio sources with its ADSR, LFO, and filter effects. Compatible with major DAWs (excluding Pro Tools) on Windows and macOS in 64-bit VST/VST3/AU formats, it’s a unique addition for retro-inspired sonic exploration. Explore or download at SampleScience.

The plugin’s free and available to download at SampleScience.

Synplant 2 by Sonic Charge

With Synplant 2, you can turn any sound into a synth sound. The plugin redefines sound design by prioritising exploration over conventional controls, fostering a unique sonic journey. Through Genopatch’s AI-driven synthesis from audio, it strikes a balance between precision and delightful surprise, all without requiring an internet connection.

The intuitive DNA Editor enhances customisation, while performance features enable versatile and organic patch creation, making it an immersive playground for sonic exploration.

Find out more at Sonic Charge.

Synthesizer Expander Module by Cherry Audio

Cherry Audio’s new – and free – Synthesizer Expander Module, a free virtual instrument plugin modeled after the classic Oberheim SEM from 1974. Created in collaboration with Mark Barton, this software replica features the SEM’s distinct 12 dB/oct state-variable filter, accurate oscillators, and modulation controls. It includes high-pass, low-pass, and bandpass filter configurations, a unison mode, and a vintage Oberheim Phasor effect. With 100 presets for Basses, Leads, and Percussion, it joins Cherry Audio’s array of free offerings, celebrating the brand’s fifth anniversary in desktop music production.

The plugin supports AU, VST, VST3, AAX, and standalone formats for Windows (7 and above) and macOS (10.13 and above), with native Apple Silicon support.

Find out more at Cherry Audio.

Nepheton 2 by D16 Group

Nepheton 2 by D16 Group, a follow-up to its renowned drum machine plugin, encapsulates the revered TR-808 essence with improved sound emulation and user interface. It features a diverse effects section, extensive factory content library, and a sequencer with Tap, Randomiser, and MIDI export.

Each drum sound offers individual EQ and compression, along with hundreds of presets for instant use, including Flam and Substep for enhanced percussion variety. The master section includes multi-band compression and a limiter with a soft-clip option. MIDI mapping and trigger outs facilitate integration into hardware setups, making Nepheton 2 a comprehensive solution for modern drum production.

Find out more at D16 Group.

Mariana by Moog

The new Moog Mariana, available as an iOS app or macOS/Windows plugin, delivers vibrant bass tones for a range of  genres. It offers layering capabilities with multiple LFOs, envelopes, Moog filters, and a robust modulation editor for precise sound sculpting. With 200 presets, built-in effects, and a resizable interface, Mariana stands out at $49 (limited offer) for the plugin and $14.99 for iOS (usual prices: $99 and $29.99, respectively).

Find out more at Moog Music.

Lofi Oddity by AberrantDSP

Aberrant DSP’s completely free Lofi Oddity plugin echoes the brand’s previous Digitalis plugin with its Corruption module for digital modulation and stutter effects. You can enter uncharted sonic spaces with Tape effects reminiscent of SketchCassette’s warm, degraded tones. You can feel the punch from the Comp section inspired by ShapeShifter. Master Mix control offers a spectrum from tasteful to abominable settings.

You can also explore Lofi Oddity’s broken soundscapes through its custom preset system with 18 illuminating factory presets.

Find out more about the free Lofi Oddity plugin via Aberrant DSP.

SSL 4K E by Solid State Logic

SSL’s 4K E plugin faithfully recreates the revered 4000E console’s essence. From transformer-balanced preamps to iconic EQ variants like the ‘gritty’ 02 Brown, rare 132 Orange, and weighty 242 Black knobs. You can delve into pinnacle dynamics, subtle saturation, and seamless integration within SSL’s 360 Plug-in Mixer ecosystem for DAW perfection.

Find out more at SSL.

How to install VST and AU plugins on Windows, Mac and iOS

If your plugin came as a .zip file, and not an installer, you may have to manually install it. Here’s how…

VST3 plugins:

  1. Unzip the plugin folder
  2. Copy the .VST file to your default plugin folder (Windows default: C:\Program Files\Common Files\VST3, Mac default: /Library/Audio/Plugins/VST)
  3. Start your DAW
  4. Rescan your plugin directory

AUv3 plugins:

  1. Download and install plugin from the App Store
  2. Insert plugin in your DAW
  3. Select the AUv3 plugin from the Audio Unit Extensions tab

Where to download freeware plugins and VSTs

Our freeware section is an excellent place to start; each month, we also compile round-ups of the best free plugins and samples to download.

The production community is full of passionate developers who’ve given away instruments, effects and other plugins as freeware. Some of our favourites include Valhalla’s Supermassive reverb, Apogee’s Soft Limit and Matt Tytel’s Helm polysynth. Remember, most developers also offer free trials for their plugins.

Are DAW stock plugins good enough?

Most major DAWs these days will come with a more-than-serviceable collection of ‘stock’ plugins for music-making: Logic Pro’s software instrument library is rich and varied; Ableton Live’s synth engines cover additive, subtractive and granular methods, and the Pro Tools suite of mixing plugins is still widely used by pro engineers.

A good producer isn’t their plugin folder, but their ability to make good decisions. Increase your knowledge: instead of buying a synth samples, learn about the fundamentals of synthesis; kick drum sounding too skinny? learn to compress properly.