Updated: Oct 1
Once you reach a certain level at mixing recording sessions or beats, it doesn’t take long to realize that the stock plugins in your DAW will only get you so far when looking for that professional sound. Finding the right third-party plugins can be time consuming, frustrating and VERY expensive! After researching, networking with engineers and experimenting with various plugins and suites, we’ve found 4 FREE must have plugins that will improve your mixes and enhance your workflow dramatically! These plugins are hidden gems in the audio industry that will help take your mix game to the next level!
Thump by Metric Halo
This is a pretty sweet plugin by Metric Halo that does exactly what the name says…add thump to your tracks! Thump is an audio processor that allows you to boost, shape and tame the low-end frequencies of your audio signals. This plugin is perfect for fixing kick drums that lack bottom and for boosting the low-end presence of your bass instruments to help fill out your mix.
Thump is also great for slightly boosting the low-end harmonics in vocal tracks to add warmth and tone. Properly processing the low-end frequencies in a mix can be very tricky. Understanding how to mix low-end frequencies is the difference between being a novice and a more advanced mix engineer. With Thump in your plugin arsenal, you will be able to tone and shape the bass frequencies for a fuller and more cohesive mix.
TDR Nova by Tokyo Dawn Records
For a free plugin, this is about as good as it gets! TDR Nova is a parallel dynamic EQ. The plugin has the features of a parametric EQ in addition to having dynamic control within each frequency band; the off-spring of a EQ and a multi-band compressor! TDR Nova can be used for a wide variety of things in your mixes.
This plugin is great for fixing and taming poorly mixed 2-track instrumentals in your mix sessions. TDR Nova is also a good tool for your mix busses and masters to carve, boost and compress dense frequencies. You also have the ability for mid/side processing with this plugin. Your mix time and workflow will improve dramatically with this plugin alone. If you aren’t going to download any plugin from the list, do yourself a favor and download TDR Nova Now!
Bitter Sweet by FLUX::
Bitter Sweet is the sprinkles on the ice cream. Bitter Sweet is a dynamic transient shaper that allows you to tame or magnify the transients in your audio signals. Turning the central knob to left (Sweet), smooths out transients for a more linear tone. Turning the knob to the right (Bitter), amplifies the transients for more dynamic presence. Bitter Sweet is a tool for fixing audio signals that lack dynamic control or just lacking dynamics as a whole!
Throw this plugin on your vocal and live drum tracks to fix aggressive and weak transients. Bitter Sweet also works well as a mastering plugin for controlling the overall dynamics of your mix. Dynamic processing plays a big role in how your mix “feels”. Harsh transients can cause distortion in your mix. Audio signals lacking transient presence can make your mix sound weak and thin. It also depends on what you are looking for in your mix. Regardless of your dynamic processing scenario, Bitter Sweet is definitely the problem solver!
Slick EQ by Tokyo Dawn Records
Last and certainly not least, another freebie from Tokyo Dawn…The Slick EQ. This is personally one of our favorites at Lost Music Online. What makes Slick EQ stand apart from other equalizers is its saturation and tonality features. The free version comes equipped with three EQ models (British, German, and Soviet) along with multiple output stage settings allowing you to add more ‘flavor’ to your audio signals.
Slick EQ also has a calibration feature allowing you to mix the saturation into your tracks to your liking. This plugin is perfect for vocals and synths giving them the extra coloration they need to stand out in your mixes. Adding Slick EQ to your mastering chain will give your master a since of vibe with the right saturation settings. It’s pretty hard finding an EQ as powerful and versatile as Slick EQ and for this to be a free plugin, this one’s no brainer…download Slick EQ now!
Now there are tons of free plugins on the market capable of enhancing your mix and mastering skills, but these plugins take the cake! If you are looking for a new set of “go-to” plugins, then look no further. The plugins mentioned above are versatile and powerful enough for tackling any tasks in your mixes and masters. All of these plugins are VST, VST3, AU, and AAX compatible for both Macs and PCs. These plugins come with many features, so be sure to experiment with these plugins to understand how to work them in order to use them to their fullest potential! Happy mixing!
"MH Thump." Metric Halo, mhsecure.com/metric_halo/products/software/thump/413-thump.html.
"TDR Nova." Tokyo Dawn Record, www.tokyodawn.net/tdr-nova/.
"TDR VOS SlickEQ." Tokyo Dawn Record, www.tokyodawn.net/tdr-vos-slickeq/.
"Bitter Sweet V3." FLUX::, www.flux.audio/project/bittersweet-v3/.