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A closeup image of our API 1608 console at dBs Bristol
Chris MackinFeb 16, 2023 3:46:39 PM6 min read

9 fantastic free plugins for mixing and mastering music

Nail your tracks with some of our favourite free plugins for mixing and mastering engineers. 

1. Analog Obsession LALA

FSF - Analog Obsession LALA (Featured Image)

Download Analog Obsession LALA

We'll start by saying this isn't going to be the only time you'll see Analog Obsession on this list, but the LALA is perhaps the most widely renowned release in their catalogue. 

Based on Universal Audio's LA-2A compressor, the LALA manages to capture the original's iconic warm compression. Gain and Peak Reduction are the main parameters available to you with the LALA, just like the original LA-2A, but Analog Obsession has also added some extra features including a filter sidechain, external sidechain and mix knob.

LALA is available to download for both Windows and macOS (32 / 64-bit, VST/VST3/AU) for free via the link below. Analog Obsession has a large catalogue of free plugins - some which we'll be covering further down this page - which are available through Patreon, so if you want to give back you can subscribe for $5 a month. 

2. TDR Molotok

TDR Molotok UI-Dec-15-2022-05-27-15-7179-PM

Download TDR Molotok

The TDR Molotok is inspired by one of the most infamous free plugins available; the 2011 Molot compressor by VladGSound. The Molot was an original creation, but one that drew upon the sonic character of vintage hardware. The idiosyncrasies of hardware are still deep-rooted in TDR's Molotok, making it incredibly flexible with whatever you throw at it.

Vocals can be refined; guitars and basses can be invigorated with life and some punch, but much like the Molot, this plugin really shines when used on drums and percussion. Crisp and punchy hits are a breeze, or you can decimate your loops into dust. 

Despite its clear influence from the VladG Molot, the most notable departure is in the interface which has been completely redesigned and comes with a host of workflow improvements. You now have a bypass switch, can A/B test, resize the UI (from 100% to 150%), adjust the refresh rate and take advantage of the preset manager.

TDR Molotok is available to download for free on both Windows and macOS (VST/VST3/AU/AAX, 32-bit, 64-bit). 

3. OTT by Xfer Records

OTT Xfer

Download OTT

Xfer are well known for making quality plugins and have often been at the forefront of designing unique plugins that can heavily influence genres with cutting-edge sound design and production techniques. 

OTT is a plugin that lives up to its name, offering upward compression bringing up to +36dB to quiet sounds while smoothing out using downward compression in a multi-band capacity. It's aimed at people looking for that really pumped, hyped sound and works great on club music bringing up those quieter sizzle frequencies in a mix. Be careful how you use it and make sure to spend some time learning the controls and you will get some fantastic results. 

OTT is available for Windows and macOS (AAX).

4. UJAM Finisher Micro

uja,m Finisher Micro

Download ujam Finisher Micro

Finisher Micro is a tool designed for adding a final magic sprinkle onto your productions before calling it a day, and the results induced many a giddy smile in our team. 

Typically, you'd find yourself setting up a chain of effects and automation to transform your audio. With Finisher Micro, it's as simple as picking a preset and turning to knob to see what happens. The effects is immediate and fluctuates based on how hard you dial in the levels, allowing you to add just a tinge or completely alter your original audio. It's a wonderful sound design tool and one that can produce an array of sounds that inspire entirely new ideas! 

Finisher Micro is free for Windows, macOS and Linux (VST, AU, AAX / 64-bit only) and can be downloaded using the link below. Please note that you are required to create an account and subscribe to their newsletter to download the plugin.

5. Analog Obsession Frank v2

Free Software Friday - Analog Obsession FRANK v2 (Featured Image)

Download Frank v2

FRANK takes the best frequencies from some of hardware's most beloved EQs (Helios, Pultec, API, and Neve) and throws them into the mix with one another. In FRANK v2 you'll be able to get hands on with: 

  • H-Type Low Cut @50Hz (Helios)
  • P-Type Boost/Atten @60Hz (Pultec)
  • A-Type Mid Band @1.6kHz (API)
  • N-Type High Shelf @12kHz (Pultec)
  • P-Type High Atten @20kHz (Neve)

Version 2 brings a swath of improvements to FRANK including gain compensated custom line amp and 4X oversampling, plus a redesigned circuit and DSP - making it less CPU hungry - a revamped GUI and more. 

FRANK v2 is available for Windows (VST/VST3) and macOS (VST/VST3/AU).

6. Youlean Loudness Meter 2

Free Software Friday - Youlean Loudness Meter 2 Free (Featured Image)

Download Youlean Loudness Meter 2

Loudness Meter 2 comes with a selection of channel configurations and presets for different streaming platforms. Mono, stereo, 5.1 and 7.1 are all available in the free version, but Dolby Atmos is a pro-only feature. Similarly, you'll have access to a selection of presets for film, TV and gaming, but online streaming presets for things like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube etc. are pro-only.  

But let's get onto the more important topic of what the free version does have. It's been rigorously tested and so provides an incredibly accurate on the true perceived loudness of your audio. 

The analysis of your audio is broken down into six different readouts: Loudness, Integrated Loudness, True Peak, Loudness Range, Dynamic Range, Peak-Loudness Ratio. These metrics give a detailed and accurate view of your mix, which when paired with being able to review the history of the loudness graph and identify problem areas allow for greater control and understanding of your mix. 

Loudness Meter 2 Free is available for Windows 7 or newer , macOS 10.9 or later (APP, VST2, VST3, AU, AAX, 32/64-bit).

7. Analog Obsession Specomp

Free Software Friday - Analog Obsession Specomp (Featured Image)

Download Analog Obsession Specomp

Based on the SSL S-Type Console, Specomp is an emulation of the compressor found on that desk and we're pleased to say that it continues to meet the high standards we've come to expect from Analog Obsession. 

Adding a wonderful warmth and analog saturation, the Specomp performs exactly as you'd want and is a great way to achieve a classic hardware sound without needing the real article or even paying for one of the paid digital emulations from someone like Waves. 

Specomp is available for Windows and macOS (VST/VST3/AU). 

8. Voxengo SPAN

Voxengo SPAN

Download Voxengo SPAN

Few free plugins can boast the same universal love as Voxengo's spectral analyser, SPAN. The word 'essential' gets bandied around a lot in this types of features - we're just as guilty as the next person - but this is essential. 

Perhaps it's best selling point is multi-track spectrum analysis, but SPAN is invaluable in so many ways; it consumes next to no CPU, has an incredibly fast refresh rate, is resizable and features a great zoom feature for when you're getting into the nitty gritty. 

Though it's long been a hallmark amongst free plugins, Voxengo have been continually updating SPAN over the years, and is a big reason why it remains so popular. 

SPAN is available for Windows and macOS (VST/VST3/AU/AAX). 

9. Softube Saturation Knob

Softube Saturation Knob

Download Softube Saturation Knob

Considered to be one of the essential - see we did it again! - freeware plugins to add to your collection, Softube's Saturation Knob is an excellent and inexpensive way to add grit, shimmer and chaos to your productions.

Using the plugin is a snap, and features three different modes, Keep High, Neutral and Keep Low, to create a range of characterful distortions. Not only usable as an insert in your DAW, Saturation Knob can also be used as a module in Softube's Eurorack Modular platform and is NKS-ready, so Native Instruments users can use both hardware and software to get the most out of it. 

Saturation Knob is compatible with Windows and macOS (VST/VST3/AU/AAX). 

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