They say the best things in life are free. That may not be totally true for the music producer but there are quite a few, and for me indispensable, free music software that are available on the internet for free download.
Yes, there may be some junk software out there that you can download that may not sound very good, lock up your computer, or even worse…but I want to tell you about a few pieces of software that I have been using for years and I would be crying if I would not have them at my disposal anymore in my producing arsenal.
The first piece of software that I want to introduce you to is Audacity, a free audio editor that I use on every single track I produce in order to finalize the levels of my audio and to create nice and easy fade-outs at the end. Yes, Audacity is feature-packed with plug in effects and all kinds of tools and of course, if you like them, use them. But for me, a simple-to-use audio editor to check your final tracks on is a nice tool to have. Audacity also converts your WAV or AIFF tracks into MP3 if you wish.
Audacity is available for just about any OS and you can download it from here: Audacity
Now let’s explore some free VST plugins! My next indispensable tool for production is the mdA electric piano plug-in. It has been around for many years and I have been using it since the days of Mac OS9. It has a sweet sound that lies right in between the classic Rhodes Piano and the electronic version of that sound that we all know and love from the Yamaha DX synths. In one word: SWEET!!
Since I produce a lot of jazzy chill-out and lounge tracks, this piano is a staple in my production arsenal. Since it has been around forever, it is as stable as can be and of course, it’s available for Mac and PC. And that brings me to one of the things I don’t like about free software and especially free plug-ins. A large majority of these plug-ins are only available for PC. If you have a Mac, you are out of luck. So, I would encourage developers not to forget us Mac guys and port your plugins for the Mac as well. But then, you can’t look a gift horse into the mouth, so maybe I should not complain.
But wait….there’s more: mdA makes many more cool plugins. There’s also an acoustic piano plug-in. It does not have any bells and whistles and a lot of settings but the thing it is supposed to do, it does very well: to give you the sound of an acoustic piano. The last time I looked, my 80,0000 Steinway Grand Piano did not have any settings either. So, if you are looking for a nice authentic-sounding acoustic piano, the mdA acoustic piano plug-in may just be the ticket.
But wait…there’s still more: mdA also makes a bundle of simple production plugins that you can download for free. There’s everything there from an amp simulator to an echo box and many of these plug-ins that come in that plug-in bundle are very useful. And again, these simple plug-ins are all very stable and they have never locked up my system.
And here’s one last instrument plugin that I simply love. You will hear it on quite a few of my productions and even during my live shows, that typical sound is always there in my music: The plug-in is called the Cheeze Machine. No, it does not provide you with cheesy snacks between sessions but with the typical sound of the classic Solina String Ensemble. The Solina was one of the first electronic instruments that attempted to re-create the sounds of a string orchestra electronically. This was before the age of samplers. And of course, it did not sound very convincing, hence the term Cheeze Machine. However, combined with a phaser, the thing had a very spacey, Pink-floyd type sound. And Pink Floyd actually used the Solina on several songs.
So, in short, the Cheeze Machine will not replace your Sampled String Library but it will take you back to the Psychedelic days of yesteryear with a unique sound that I just personally love. And of course, the plug-in is rock solid and available for PC and Mac. And did I mention free?
Check out our Free Downloads section for some awesome free plugins and audio software.
About The Author
Alan Steward is a Producer, Engineer, and Musician with over 30 years of experience in the music business. He worked with Grammy-winning artists from the Temptations to the Baha Men. His music has been used in TV shows and feature films. He is also well-known as a producer of loops for music production and owns a recording studio in Germany.