Bedroom Producers Blog announces the BPB Awards 2022 winners. We asked our newsletter subscribers to vote for their favorite free audio software released this year, and here are the results.
Before we continue, let’s take a quick look back at what 2022 had to offer to music producers on a budget.
The State Of Free Audio Software In 2022
As a website that covers free VST plugins with 2009, we can say with absolute certainty that 2022 was a standout year. We have noticed a surge in both the quantity and quality of free audio software released this year.
Considering the abundance of freeware releases and limited-time freebie deals, music producers were able to add new software to their studios on a daily basis in 2022. From virtual instruments to digital audio workstations and tools for mixing music, there was no lack of new software gear for bedroom producers.
You can find all of 2022’s freeware by visiting our Software News archive. There are over a hundred freebies waiting for you there, ranging from titles by major companies like Waves Audio and IK Multimedia to hidden gems released by indie developers.
Bedroom Producers Blog joined the party by releasing three freeware plugins in 2022: BPB Dirty LA, BPB Dirty Filter Plus, and BPB 64. You can download them for free and add them to your DAW if you haven’t done so already.
BPB Awards 2022 – The Best FREE Audio Software Of 2022
For the first time in history, we asked Bedroom Producers Blog newsletter subscribers to vote for their favorite free audio software of the year. This will become a tradition going forward, so be sure to join our newsletter so that you can vote next year.
We received hundreds of votes, and the results weren’t too surprising (with a couple of exceptions).
The best free audio effect of 2022, according to your votes, was Deelay by Sixth Sample. This versatile delay plugin packs a variety of features in a surprisingly intuitive interface, something that is obviously appreciated by a large number of music producers.
DISCLAIMER: BPB Dirty LA received the most votes in this category, but we took that result with a grain of salt since most of those votes were probably cast as a token of support from our readers. So, we moved BPB Dirty LA to tenth place to keep things as fair as possible.
The best free standalone software of 2022 is the COSMOS sample manager by Waves Audio. We weren’t expecting a sample manager to rank so high, but there’s obviously a need for software that will help organize the countless gigabytes of free samples we keep on our hard drives.
The best paid audio software that became freeware in 2022 is the Kilohearts Essentials bundle. This unique collection of simple-yet-capable plugins is now available at no cost.
And now, let’s look and the best-ranked software in all categories. Keep reading to learn more about each of the highest-ranked freebies.
Best FREE Audio Effects of 2022
These were your favorite free effects released in 2022:
- Deelay by Sixth Sample
- RO-GOLD by Black Rooster Audio
- Pitch Drift by BABY Audio
- T-Puncher FREE by Techivation
- Flux Mini 2 by Caelum Audio
- Xtressor NUKE by Kiive Audio
- FrankCS by Analog Obsession
- Dual Delay by Kilohearts
- AmpliTube TONEX CS by IK Multimedia
- BPB Dirty LA by Bedroom Producers Blog*
* We moved BPB Dirty LA down to the #10 spot to keep the contest fair.
Best FREE Virtual Instruments of 2022
These were your favorite free instruments released in 2022:
- Usynth DRIVE by UJAM and Modo Bass 2 CS by IK Multimedia
- Modo Drum CS by IK Multimedia
- Monolit by BLEASS and Lo-Fi Keys by Clark Audio
- Cardinal by KX Studio
- PECS by Full Bucket Music
- Mel-Lofi by Audiolatry
- Monster Synth by MonsterDAW
- ML Drums Free by ML Sound Lab and 1960s Piano by SampleScience
- Oi, Grandad! by Modular Samples
- AAS Sample Player by GAS Therapy
Again, the results aren’t very surprising.
Usynth DRIVE is an excellent virtual instrument for electronic music producers, and Modo Bass 2 CS is a fantastic bass guitar plugin. These two plugins received exactly the same number of votes, which is why they share the number one spot on this year’s list of free audio software.
Another highly-ranked entry this year was Modo Drum CS, an excellent drum plugin that uses physical modeling instead of samples to create drum sounds.
We expected Monster Synth by MonsterDAW to rank a bit higher, as it offers a bucketload of synth sounds in an easy-to-use package. That said, long download times probably caused it to receive fewer votes than we expected.
AAS Sample Player by GAS Therapy made it into the top 10, despite (or exactly because) being the most simple drum sampler you can imagine. It seems that music producers still appreciate plugins that are quick and easy to use.
Best FREE Standalone Software of 2022
This was your favorite free standalone software in 2022:
- COSMOS by Waves Audio
- Waveform 12 by Tracktion Corporation
- Krotos Studio by Krotos
- Pro Tools – Intro by Avid
- Explorer by Sound Particles
COSMOS is the clear winner in the standalone software category. It received 36.5% of your votes, so it’s clear that Waves Audio created an excellent freebie here. The fact that the Explorer audio file manager is also ranked in the top five goes to show that music producers appreciate tools that help organize large sound libraries.
Avid’s new Pro Tools – Intro seems to be gaining some traction, too. It will be interesting to see if it becomes a more capable freeware music production platform in the years to come.
The Best Paid Audio Software That Became FREE in 2022
Lastly, we have a category for commercial software that became freeware in 2022. These were your favorites:
- Kilohearts Essentials by Kilohearts
- BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover by Spitfire Audio
- Legacy plugins by Toneboosters
- Legacy plugins by Audio Damage
- V-Station by Novation
Kilohearts Essentials received over a third of your votes, making it a clear winner in the ex-paid software category. Kilohearts covered all bases with this exceptional software bundle, making it a must-download for music producers who appreciate simple yet effective audio software.
BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover was technically free in the past, but it required you to fill out a survey in order to access the free download (and you still had to wait 30 days or so before downloading it). However, it became completely free in 2022, and our readers seem to love that change.
The other two legacy freeware bundles, one from Toneboosters and the other one from Audio Damage, are also worth your attention. These old plugins are now discontinued, but you can download and use them for free.
Best FREE Audio Software of 2022
Before you go, here’s an overview of the best audio software according to your votes. Read the mini-reviews below, and follow the links for more info about each entry.
We hope you enjoyed BPB Awards 2022. Thank you all for voting, reading, and sharing this article.
Deelay by Sixth Sample
Deelay is a versatile delay effect for macOS and Windows, developed by Sixth Sample.
For a freeware delay plugin, Deelay has quite a bit to offer. Controls for ducking, diffusion, and stereo spread are available for placing the wet signal wherever you’d like in the stereo field.
The delay line can be saturated and distorted quite heavily, and there are a pair of filters for cleaning up any pesky resonances. Multiple modes of distortion allow Deelay to go from smooth analog saturation to broken digital aliasing with just a few twists.
Sixth Sample’s freeware plugin is a stellar delay that sits well in the mix. It can emulate the function of a few iconic hardware delay units. With some coaxing, it can even conjure up the sounds of early digital reverbs.
Deelay is a highly flexible effect and one that stacks up well against even some of the paid offerings on the market currently.
RO-GOLD by Black Rooster Audio
A wonderfully lush and expensive-sounding plate reverb, RO-GOLD is an emulation of the venerable EMT-140, but one fitted with a 24k gold plate. Controls are minimal but dampening and a low cut are present. The pre-delay parameter is also a welcome addition to the feature set.
While RO-GOLD is sparse on controls, it is not sparse at all on sound. This is a lush, warm reverb that sounds fantastic on all sorts of material. It works especially well for vocals, with the smooth tail wrapping around the vocal lines with utter ease. Rhythm guitar and snares are equally well-suited for RO-Gold’s lush vintage character.
RO-GOLD is a true workhorse of a reverb packed in a deceptively compact-looking interface. If you’re looking for a simple yet rich-sounding reverb unit, here’s one that you’d be remiss to go without. It is comparable to paid reverbs in the same vein, but you certainly can’t argue with the price.
Pitch Drift by Baby Audio
Analog imperfection is very much in vogue, and Pitch Drift by BABY Audio delivers the basic lo-fi principles with zero fuss.
There isn’t a lot to behold on Pitch Drift, which is based on the modulation parameters from BABY Audio’s paid Super VHS. Subtly placed on a channel, it makes for some intrigue and movement in otherwise static elements.
Modulation can be placed to utter extremes, so smaller doses will probably suit most audio tracks. Whether you’re making lo-fi hip-hop or vaporwave, there seems to be a use case for Pitch Drift in a lot of creative applications.
One of our favorite uses for it is on string pads, with similar settings to what you’d dial in on a Roland Juno of some variety. It gives that cheap cassette flair without needing to go track down old stock tapes or making sure the tape heads are working on a modified Walkman.
T-Puncher by Techivation
Free transient designers can be a bit hard to come by, but T-Puncher FREE provides a simple and easy-to-read interface to dial in the punchiness of your tracks.
The main Punchiness dial in the center of the interface is T-Puncher’s primary control. Turning it to the right will beef up the attack transient, and turning to the left reduces its snap in the mix.
The single central control is a blessing for quick decisions and can certainly be of use when you’re looking to add a little body to a flabby kick or snare. T-Puncher FREE works well on keys as well. It adds a percussive type of depth you’d spend a good while dialing in with a compressor.
The metering is clear and easy to read. Also, the input and output sliders allow you to gain-match the output, so the increased punchiness isn’t overwhelming a mix.
T-Puncher FREE may lack the versatility of its paid counterpart, but it certainly doesn’t lack usability.
Xtressor Nuke by Kiive Audio
A slimmed-down version of Kiive’s superlative Xtressor, the free Xtressor Nuke plugin only has one compression setting.
If you’re looking to destroy things with extreme compression, look no further. Xtressor Nuke does so with utter aplomb while offering automatic gain compensation so things don’t get too crazy.
Controls are simple, with a center toggle enabling three different release times. The input and output knobs are gain compensated by default, and cranking the input will apply more compression to the signal. 16x oversampling is available for those looking to keep their signal free of aliasing, and you thankfully can run it in parallel thanks to the inclusion of a dry/wet dial.
The Distressor is a versatile compressor coveted in studios around the world for its chameleon-like character. For the low cost of free, you can have a slice of that with Xtressor Nuke. It works well for crushing drums, overheads, and vocals while still sounding great.
Flux Mini 2 by Caelum Audio
Flux Mini 2 is one of those special plugins that can run from simple utility to absolute insanity with just a few simple adjustments to the envelopes.
Caelum Audio’s fresh modulation effect has a lot to like. The interface is clear and elegant. It takes MIDI input to trigger the curves, which also can just run on the DAW’s transport.
Flux Mini 2 is a slimmed-down version of Caelum’s premium Flux Pro plugin. The freeware version’s chosen effects are only capable of filtering, but there is quite a bit that can be done with just a modest filter.
The envelope curves can be used to modulate the filter’s cutoff, resonance, amplitude, and even just the wet/dry mix. It’s heavily reminiscent of Cableguy’s FilterShaper, but not quite as in-depth.
Flux Mini 2 is wonderful for adding motion and excitement to harmonic passages, but it works just as well for working a pseudo-sidechain triggered by a ghost kick.
Usynth DRIVE by UJAM
Usynth DRIVE is a quick and easy synth source for electronic music producers. There is quite a bit of synthesis power behind Usynth DRIVE’s engine, but only a few parameters are readily available for users to access.
The presets available in Usynth DRIVE skew towards sounds you might pick for modern house music production. Exciting leads, lush pads, and groovy basses lurk in the presets, and it serves as a great intro to the UJAM instrument line.
Usynth DRIVE will provide plenty of inspiration to producers looking for production-ready synth sounds. If you have a music idea in your head and no time to design a synth preset from scratch, Usynth DRIVE is probably the first virtual instrument you will load in your DAW.
The sequencer is surprisingly flexible, and it is always a treat to have the option to randomize settings. The included delay and reverb gel well with the sounds of the synth. The finisher module acts as additional multi-effects unit and lends additional flavor to the included presets.
Modo Bass 2 CS by IK Multimedia
Modo Bass made quite a splash for those seeking to have realistic and flexible electric bass in their productions. The most recent Custom Shop edition, Modo Bass 2 CS, builds on the great framework and allows users to take advantage of a modeled 60s P-Bass.
Where Modo Bass 2 CS separates itself from other instruments in the same vein is IK’s approach to physical modeling. There aren’t any samples to speak of in Modo Bass, and this makes the instrument incredibly flexible and easy to edit. Multiple play styles can be selected, with users able to choose from fingerstyle, picking, and slapping.
Customization goes even further with materials like the string, pickup, and hand position easily customized for finer tuning of the sound. It sounds great as a direct input device, but gets some surprisingly thick grunt when coupled together with a bass amp sim.
Modo Bass 2 CS is a highly versatile virtual bass instrument that will find a home in any music producer’s bass arsenal.
MODO Drum 1.5 CS by IK Multimedia
There are plenty of drum romplers, both free and paid, but very few drum suites that physically model the attributes of an acoustic drum kit. MODO Drum CS only has one kit available for free, but it is still a highly flexible piece of drum software.
The standard studio kit provided in MODO Drum CS is well suited for quite a bit of material. While it might not be the ideal solution for a bespoke jazz ensemble or your blackened death metal solo project, it fits the bill for many other genres. The flexibility of adjusting individual pieces of the kit can’t be understated, and the changes are made in real-time.
MODO Drum 1.5 CS packs plenty of drum firepower into a slimmed-down and completely free package.
COSMOS by Waves Audio
Sample management can be a pain, and premium sample management software might be out of reach for bedroom producers. COSMOS by Waves provides plenty of audio file management functionality for a price you can’t argue with.
COSMOS scans all available samples in the directories you point it at and then auto-detects and loads tags for each sample individually for you to browse and search. If you’ve been tearing your hair out while trying to find that perfect snare for a house composition, COSMOS might be worth a look.
COSMOS is not subject to the constraints of the Waves Update Plan, and it is an easy-to-use utility that helps with speeding up certain aspects of the music production workflow.
Waveform 12 Free by Tracktion
Waveform has been around in some shape or form for quite some time now, and the latest version of Tracktion’s freeware DAW is not lacking in features.
Waveform 12 Free is capable of loading VST2, VST3, and AU plugin formats and just recently received a user interface overhaul.
Also present in the latest free version is a new file browser and a completely rewritten audio engine meant to reduce CPU overhead. There are a handful of free mixing utilities and effects included as well. It might not be as fully featured as Cakewalk by Bandlab, but it is Mac-compatible and provides a wonderful change of pace if you’re getting tired of your current environment.
Krotos Studio by Krotos
The stated mission of Krotos Studio is to provide a utility to create cinematic soundscapes with minimal effort.
Users can select ambiances and blend between sonic layers with the cleverly implemented X/Y pads. Krotos Studio might not prove essential for basic music production purposes, but it is a quick and easy utility for providing some much-needed ambiance for an aspiring filmmaker or sound designer.
Of special note is the autoplay feature, which records the entire performance without needing to automate or set up recording chains. Krotos is planning future development for Studio over the coming years, and it will be a massive boon to load user samples in eventual updates.
Legacy plugins by ToneBoosters
ToneBoosters is a bit of an unsung hero of the plugin world. Their recent freeing over their legacy plugins provides a ton of still usable audio production tools to the thrifty.
The usual suspects are here with dynamics and equalization well accounted for. Also present are previous versions of fan favorites like the lauded Reelbus or Ferox.
There is a little something here for everyone in the ToneBoosters legacy bundle. Some of the more creative effects, like Time Machine, make for a welcome addition of digital grit and grime. There are also effects intended for use on the human voice, wild multi-effects encompassing delays and filters, and utilities for manipulating mid/side information.
There is a ton to dig into here, and it’s all free with zero caveats. You might not get the latest and greatest UI, but it’s hard to beat a mastering limiter with true peak capabilities for the price of nothing.
Legacy plugins by Audio Damage
Audio Damage shocked the plugin world by unleashing a slew of effects for free. These offerings skew very much towards the creative side of music production and sound design, and even some instruments are present. If you’re after grungy digital reverbs, glitchy buffer effects, or even drum machines, look no further.
The real downside is Mac users are left out of the fun, with many of these not being compatible with more recent OS revisions or even Silicon. Windows users can rejoice at the veritable treasure chest bestowed upon them.
There is a little something here for everyone, but do check out Ratshack Reverb and ADVerb, two of our favorites that aren’t your typical room or plate reverb algorithms.
For more free audio software, visit our Free VST Plugins page.