Clean audio is typically the goal when producing music in a DAW. But distortion is often the secret ingredient that makes the mix pop.
We focused on analog distortion in our article about free saturation plugins. But now, let’s look at the best free bitcrusher VST plugins on the market.
A bitcrusher reduces the bit depth of the processed audio signal, resulting in signal degradation. It’s a very “digital” sounding distortion that works well for various mixing and sound design tasks.
Small amounts of bit reduction can make sampled drums sound more crunchy and crisp, an effect that’s reminiscent of old-school hardware drum samplers like the legendary E-mu SP-12. Of course, more bitcrushing will result in more distortion, which is suitable for creating distorted bass sounds, glitchy sound effects, etc.
If you want to get that lo-fi ‘crushed’ or ‘glitched’ tone without breaking the bank, then any of these plugins will do the trick.
Best FREE Bitcrusher VST Plugins (2023 Update)
Here is a list of the best free bitcrusher plugins right now:
- Delta Modulator
- PCM2612 Retro Decimator Unit
- Bit Loser
- BPB Dirty Spring
Krush by Tritik
Krush has been a fan favorite for a long time now. It’s one of the best free bitcrusher plugins for a bedroom producer.
This plugin is a versatile and easy-to-use audio destruction tool with bit-crushing, clipping, downsampling, and filtering abilities.
Krush also has a modulation section to customize tempo, waveforms, and depth parameters. This gives you a lot of fine-tuning capabilities.
One of its best features, however, is the user interface. The GUI is clean and intuitive at the same time. The controls are straightforward, and modulating various parameters is an easy task.
Delta Modulator by Xfer Records
If you’re looking for a simple and distraction-free bitcrusher plugin that will make your audio sound like a 90’s Nintendo game, then Delta Modulator by Xfer Records is probably your best choice.
Unlike other bitcrushers, this one is based on a signal modulation technique found in the Nintendo NES console’s delta modulation channel, which is the reason behind its unique sound.
Try using Delta Modulator on your favorite synth patch to give it a retro 8-bit feel.
Download: Delta Modulator
HomeCorrupter by Igorski
HomeCorrupter can make your audio sound like it is coming from an ancient computer with broken speakers. It does so by altering the sampling rate and bit-depth of the incoming audio signal to reduce the overall resolution of the audio.
You can further degrade the quality by reducing the ‘clock speed’ parameter, which simulates decreasing the computer clock speed (like an old PC).
Other parameters include – sample rate, bit depth, and playback rate, which can be adjusted using the corresponding sliders. Plus, these parameters can also be layered with an LFO.
We reviewed this free bitcrusher plugin last year and loved it.
MBitFun by Melda Production
MBitFun is an advanced bit-crusher effect that offers unique distortion capabilities you won’t find elsewhere.
This free bitcrusher transforms the input audio signal into limited fixed-point precision, ranging from a single bit to 16 bits per sample. So you can effectively process each bit of the audio and modify it accordingly.
MBitFun comes with many presets for you to play around with, and most of them are pretty good. But to really fall in love with MBitFun, you should experiment and fiddle around with the variety of controls here.
We checked it out back in 2015, and it’s still one of the best bitcrushers available.
PCM2612 Retro Decimator Unit by Inphonik
PCM2612 Retro Decimator Unit features a straightforward interface with a simple control scheme that’s easy to operate. The large knob at the center is hard to miss and is used to adjust the 8-bit decimation applied to the input audio signal.
The other parameters include a mono-switch, a dry/wet mix, and an output filter switch. You can use the output filter switch to choose between the digital output and the Sega Genesis circuit’s legacy line output, which gives you that much-desired ‘Crushed’ sound effect.
The PCM2612 plugin is a gem, and it’s surprisingly free! We reviewed it a year ago and loved what it offers.
Download: PCM2612 Retro Decimator Unit
TAL-Bitcrusher is just a simple bitcrusher with a sleek look and useful functions. So if you’re not looking for any fancy or advanced functionality, this will work well for you. The customizable parameters include:
- A low and high-shelf EQ.
- A dry/wet mixing knob.
- A bit-depth adjustment knob.
- A noise cross modulator.
- A sample rate knob.
Its simplicity is likely TAL-Bitcrusher’s biggest advantage compared to other freeware bitcrushers. It lets you dial in usable sounds quite quickly.
Bit Loser is not just another bitcrusher plugin that’s similar to all the others in your arsenal.
Its unique feature is the multiband processing setup. Bit Loser allows individual control over low, mid, and high bands, offering more control over how you apply the ‘digital filth’ to your audio.
In addition, the Corruptor feature introduces variability in bit crushing and sample reduction processing. A probability parameter is also included, resulting in randomized modulation of the signal.
Bit Loser also provides control over the dry signal, with each band having its own dry/wet mix slider. This makes it an excellent tool for parallel processing.
Download: Bit Loser
BPB Dirty Spring
BPB Dirty Spring is a spring reverb VST plugin with a built-in bitcrusher. The bitcrushed reverb adds a crunchy charm to your audio as soon as you apply the effect to your track.
You can adjust the decay and tone knobs to shape the reverb according to your needs. The Kick button simulates kicking a hardware spring delay and previews the spring reverb sound. There’s also a pre-delay knob that lets you achieve some cool echo/delay effects.
There are multiple bit-crushing modes at your disposal, ranging from subtle to full-blown, over-the-top distortion, and decimation. Overall, BPB Dirty Spring is convenient for adding grit and flavor to clean tracks.
Download: BPB Dirty Spring
For more freeware plugins and instruments, return to our Free VST Plugins page.