It’s been quite a while since I’ve added new entries to our directory of freeware VST plugins. Well, the standstill ends today. This article features a list of the best free chorus effects in VST and AU plugin formats for Windows and Mac-based digital audio workstations, and it marks the revival of our free VST directory, which will be updated with the latest and greatest freeware tools in the weeks to come.
I’ve picked only the very best of the best chorus effects for this list, and you’re welcome to leave your own suggestions in the comments section below if you think that the list should be updated with another plugin or even multiple plugins. Your support has been incredible so far, dear readers, and you guys have often sent me links to various brilliant freeware plugins that I’ve never seen or heard of before. Thanks for all the comments and suggestions so far, it really means a lot!
Azurite by Distorque (Windows)
If you asked me to recommend a single chorus plugin, which I think is the absolute best choice in this category, then Azurite would definitely be my pick. The plugin is incredibly versatile, and it manages to offer a broad palette of possible settings without being too complicated to use.
The included factory presets cover a wide range of chorus effect types, ranging from subtle chorusing, which is suitable for use on guitars or vocals to some crazy modulation stuff, and even some short slap-back delays. You can use the factory presets as the starting point for your own settings, but they’re all entirely usable, and I’m sure that merely browsing through presets and finding the right one will do the job most of the time.
To sum it up, Azurite is my favorite free chorus effect in the world. Why? Because it’s a real modulation workhorse (loads of possible settings) with an incredibly simple workflow. The CPU hit is relatively low, and I’ve never had any instability issues with the plugin. The developer Distorque also offers a nice range of virtual guitar distortion pedals, so check out the rest of their site while visiting to grab your free copy of Azurite.
Mac OS will be disappointed by the fact that the plugin is Windows only, but on the bright side, it does support both 32-bit and 64-bit DAW applications on Windows. Our next entry is Mac-compatible, though, and it’s one of the best freeware plugins released so far in 2014!
Download: Azurite (32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin format for Windows)
+ Versatile modulation effect
+ Amazing sound
– No Mac version available
Multiply by Acon Digital (Win & Mac)
Winner of the recently held KVR Developer Challenge 2014 contest, the brilliant Multiply plugin by Acon Digital is a modern chorus effect that uses phase randomizing filters on each of the six voices to avoid unwanted comb filter effects. The plugin includes a simple equalizer for controlling the frequency response of the processed audio signal, as well as a pre-delay section, which can be used to create echo effects.
The interface is absolutely brilliant, it looks spotless, and it’s easy to grasp right away. One of my favorite features of the plugin is the A/B testing switch, which makes it possible to test different settings against each other without running multiple instances of the plugin on the same channel.
Most importantly, the plugin is capable of producing some great sounding chorus effect. It works fantastic on electric pianos and guitars. However, I’ve also found that it can work very well for fattening up lead vocals without smudging them or making them sound artificial.
Download: Multiply (32-bit & 64-bit VST/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows & Mac)
+ Great sound
+ Clean modern-looking GUI
– Not as versatile as Azurite
Blue Cat’s Chorus by Blue Cat Audio (Win & Mac)
Those in search of a super simple and great-sounding freeware chorus shouldn’t look further than Blue Cat’s Chorus. The plugin has been around for almost a decade as part of Blue Cat Audio’s freeware suite. Still, it’s continuously updated and improved to stay compatible with modern-day systems.
The official product page describes Blue Cat’s Chorus as a vintage chorus effect, but I wouldn’t necessarily limit it to the vintage category. While it’s capable of achieving that retro chorus sound, Blue Cat Chorus can also sound nice and modern with the right settings.
The plugin offers Windows and Mac support and is available in almost too many different plugin formats to count. One thing is for sure – you won’t have any compatibility issues with this little chorus unit. The plugin GUI is also fully editable, with loads of free skins available on the developer’s website. Here’s a free skin package designed by satYatunes.
Download: Blue Cat’s Chorus (32-bit & 64-bit VST/AU/AAX/RTAS/DX plugin for Win & Mac)
+ Vintage flavored chorus
+ Fully cross-platform
– Lacks any advanced features
Magic Switch by BABY Audio (Win & Mac)
Magic Switch is a lo-fi chorus effect inspired by the classic analog ‘one-button’ chorus FX modules that were built into synthesizers back in the 80s. It is based on the same set of algorithms used for the “Magic” button in BABY Audio’s popular Super VHS plugin. The plugin instantly delivers that washed out and slightly out-of-tune chorusing effect reminiscent of 80s synth music.
If you’re inspired by the sounds of 80s movie themes, VHS tapes, and vintage music gear in general, the free Magic Switch chorus by Baby Audio is a must-have. It delivers the wobbly, dark, and intentionally unstable chorus sound that we’ve all grown to love while listening to 80s music. For a similar but more strictly modeled plugin, check out the excellent TAL-Chorus-LX by Togu Audio Line. It emulates the characteristics of the iconic Juno-60 chorus.
Download: Magic Switch (32-bit & 64-bit VST/AU/AAX plugin for Win & Mac)
+ 80s retro chorus
+ Easy to use
– No way to fine-tine the effect
Extended List (Alphabetical Order)
CH4D by Jovan Koncar (Windows) is an interesting four-voice chorus effect that uses an advanced LFO to modulate each delayed voice to achieve natural-sounding results. A worthy pick for Windows users who are looking for an easy to use chorus tool.
Dust Bucket by signaldust (Windows) is a bucket brigade type chorus effect. The developer’s goal (signaldust also has this brilliant freeware room reverb plugin called Tila, which is included in our round-up of free reverb effects) was to create a clean chorus effect, without any additional non-linear behavior. The plugin can also do some other modulation effects, such as flanger. It’s definitely worth a look if you’re looking for a clean chorus effect. However, keep in mind that the CPU hit is a tad bit high. Thanks to our reader Duckett for suggesting Dust Bucket in the comments section below!
Orange Chorus by One Small Clue (Windows) is the true successor of the legendary Classic Chorus by Kjaerhus Audio, one of my long time favorite chorus effects. Based on a similar streamlined architecture, Orange Chorus offers a great balance between great sound and fast workflow.
TAL-Chorus-LX by Togu Audio Line (Mac, Windows) is essentially the chorus module from Togu Audio Line’s brilliant Roland JUNO-60 analog synthesizer emulation called TAL-U-NO-LX. According to the audio comparison, which you can listen to on SoundCloud, the plugin sounds almost identical to the real thing. Featuring only three knobs and two buttons, this lovely vintage chorus is the most straightforward plugin on the list. I often use it to add a bit of movement and stereo width to synthesizer patches. Scroll all the way the product page to grab the previous version of the plugin, which, in my opinion, sounds even more beautiful than the new one.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading our list of freeware chorus effects! Our regular visitors have probably noticed that the layout of this article is a bit different when compared to our older free VST articles. Do you like the new format with three of my favorite picks on top and the rest listed below? Let me know what you think, and once again, thanks for reading BPB!