It’s common knowledge that high-end analog audio equipment adds that “special something” to the sound. And for those who like keeping things ITB, there’s already a range of costly software emulations available, like the famous URS Saturation for example.
But thanks to some seriously talented and generous developers, we can actually get pretty close to those high-end results without spending a dime. I’ve decided to include all popular saturation methods in one article, so if you’re looking for a good free analog tape, tube, or mixing console saturation VST plugin emulation, you’re definitely in the right place!
Follow the links for screenshots & download info:
- 1-Time by Reign Design (Mac)
- AcquaVox by Acustica (Mac, Windows)
- Channel2 by Airwindows (Mac)
- Clip Shifter by LVC-Audio (Windows)
- FerricTDS by Variety Of Sound (Windows)
- GreaseTube by TbT (Windows)
- Green Eugene by Audio Teknikk (Windows)
- JS Magneto by JS plugins (Windows)
- MGA Softclamp by Michael Gruhn Audio (Windows)
- NastyVCS by Variety Of Sound (Windows)
- Nebula3 Free Bundle by Acustica (Mac, Windows)
- PreAMP TGR-18 by TbT (Windows)
- R2R-FREE by CDSoundMaster (Mac, Windows)
- RubyTube by Silverspike (Windows)
- Saturation Knob by Softube (Mac)
- Saturator by Jeff Rippe (Windows)
- Saturn Console Emu by Terry West (Windows)
- TAL-Tube by Togu Audio Line (Mac, Windows)
- TapeHead Medium by Massey Plugins (Mac)
- TesslaPRO mkII by Variety Of Sound (Windows)
- TSClip by signaldust (Windows)
- Tube Amp by Voxengo (Mac, Windows)
- TubeDriver by Nick Crow (Windows)
- Vintage Tube Warmer/Maximizer by Hotto Engineering (Mac)
- X-Tube by Xenium Audio (Windows)
As always, you are welcome to suggest your own favorites in the comments section below (in case I’ve missed any). I’m always open for suggestions, but I also try only to include the best freeware plugins in bpb Freeware Studio articles.
If I had to pick only one plugin from the above list, it would certainly be FerricTDS by Variety Of Sound. This plugin is without a doubt my #1 freeware saturation tool, it emulates the analog tape saturation perfectly and is incredibly CPU effective. Note that you will get more saturation by overdriving the input (when that VU meter needle hits the red). Perfect treatment for sampled TR-808 drums!
Make sure not to miss Nebula3 Free either, it’s something I always add to my tracks in the post-mix stage. Also, don’t forget to download the extra freebie libraries for Nebula3 Free! Click here, here, and here for some of those extra Nebula3 freebies.