5 Powerful Free Plugins from Reverb Digital

[Editor's Note: The third choice on this list, the CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier, is no longer being offered on Reverb Digital for free. It can now be purchased for $59.]

The timing couldn’t be better for modern musicians to enhance their workflows by embracing plugins. Talented developers are introducing essential and esoteric new plugins every day and releasing them for free.

While the torrent of useful free plugins out there is impressive, the sheer volume may intimidate new users. But intrepid plugin gurus should feel empowered – not staggered – by the expanded production methods enabled by the thriving plugin culture.

Reverb Digital is here to help you navigate the plugin galaxy with our series of curated guides to the best free instrument and effect plugins. Small in file size but massive in musical potential, each plugin you download is a new possibility for your production. We put together a list of five free plugins – including versatile software synths and vintage-themed signal processors – available now for download. Our helpful guide beams the tools you’ll need to create interesting new sounds, record complete songs and fine-tune final mixes right on your computer.


1. Dexed DX

Pay tribute to the synth sounds of the ‘80s with the Dexed DX instrument plugin by Digital Suburban – a versatile software synthesizer that accurately emulates the sound engine of one of the most popular digital synthesizer keyboards of all time, the Yamaha DX7.

This modern software take on a stone-cold hardware classic creates its voices by blending multiple sound frequencies and turning them into bold brass chords, sizzling string leads, and clangorous bell hits. The plugin’s extensive interface enables you to modulate sounds by adjusting control knobs that correspond to complex algorithms for creating digital audio.

Create sounds from the Dexed DX via the clickable keyboard in the interface, or play it externally by hooking up a MIDI controller to your DAW to recreate iconic synth sounds made famous on records by artists including The Crystal Method, Kraftwerk and Elton John.


2. OB-Xd

Analog purists, please take note: the OB-Xd by DiscoDSP is an instrument plugin that accurately emulates the toasty tones of the iconic Oberheim OB-X keyboard synthesizer in your DAW.

Turn the filter and LFO knobs in the plugin interface – which resembles the control panel built on the original Oberheim hardware synth – to control the the color and movement of synth sounds on your track. Play the plugin with your MIDI controller to achieve the synth sounds of Depeche Mode and Rush without the price and upkeep commanded by a vintage hardware synth.

The OB-Xd plugin puts its own stamp on the original synth’s sound by implementing a continuous blendable multimode filter, which is just what you need to precisely dial-in synth tones that are perfect for prog-rock leads or lush ambient pads.


3. CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier

You can apply tube-like compression to your digital tracks with the meticulously developed CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier by Cakewalk.

This colorful effect plugin faithfully recreates the revered Teletronix LA-2A hardware compressor in your DAW. The CA-2A plugin is powered by an efficient digital compression engine that’s capable of up to 40dB of smooth gain reduction and simple side-chain compression all with zero latency, which means no unintentional frequencies intrude on your track.

Quickly adjust and fine-tune your track’s overall sonic impact by using the plugin’s clean three-knob interface, which pays homage to the front panel of an actual Teletronix rackmount compressor.


4. Neutrino

The Neutrino spectral-shaping effect plugin by iZotope enables you to brighten the timbres of individual instruments on your track by isolating and amplifying specific frequencies in your mix. The Neutrino targets sounds in your mix and brings them to the front in a way that standard EQ and compression can’t do alone.

The plugin’s unique “intelligent analyzer” listens to an incoming audio signal and brings balance to the sound of individual instruments in your mix by applying dynamic-processing across the overall frequency spectrum of your track. This means you can quickly dial and adjust brilliant high frequencies – or rumbling low end – on your track with the plugin’s simple two-knob interface.

If you prefer instant results, just click one of the four preset buttons to make voice, drum, guitar and bass recordings stand out boldly on your track.


5. InstaLooper

If you want a wildly original hybrid of a multi-FX processor and a sequencer that can be manipulated during live performances, check out the InstaLooper by AudioBlast. This fascinating effect plugin applies phasing, stereo panning and bitcrusher distortion to four separate channels that you operate via clickable controls in the plugin interface.

Each channel can be independently looped, modulated and reversed on the fly, resulting in tightly controlled sequences or totally unpredictable effect chains. Complete randomization is under your control with this plugin.

The speed of each channel in the plugin is adjustable, which means you can instantly fabricate complicated polyrhythms on your track just by turning a knob in the plugin’s interface left or right. The InstaLooper helps you create uniquely bizarre and sublime-sounding sequences that you always imagined but could never express – until now.

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