Free DAW Software
One of the great things about recording your own music is you have access to a lot of free software. You can spend a small fortune in recording software. If you want to record your own music and experiment using your computer to do this then you found the right place. This section will give you a list of free software that you can use to get started. Check out the recording sections and the mixing sections of this site to get a general knowledge of the process. If you are an independent musician on a tight budget you will find this free software list handy. This is only a small portion of what is out there.
This is software I have personally tested and used. When used correctly this software will definitely improve the quality of your recorded music. Your computer becomes your very own recording studio. With a good computer and the proper software you will have more technology at your finger tips than Van Halen had when he recorded music in the 1980’s
So lets start off with a free DAW software list. DAW is an acronym for Digital Audio Workstation, and in this case it is a reference to the main software platform you use to record your music. These free DAW versions have some limitations, but if you want to record your music without spending a lot of cash they will work.
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Maybe you purchased a DAW that only has a few features like one of the entry-level cakewalk programs, or one of the entry-level Cubase or Pro Tools applications. If that is the case then you have limited features. If you spent $100.00 or less for your recording software then you can add to the features of these DAW applications simply by adding plugins. There are a lot of free plugins on the market that will help you get the most out of your recordings. While plugins come in different formats, most of the free ones are in VST format.
Because of this a lot of DAWs these days allow you to use VST and VSTi Plug-in Formats. The good thing about VST is the fact that there is an entire on-line community that makes VST plug-ins, and there are several free ones out there that are amazing. Some Companies introduce free versions of a plugin to entice you into buying some of their other products. If you have one of the free DAW applications then chances are you don’t have a whole lot of plugins to choose from.
Back when Cakewalk released Sonar 5 it had a brand new feature. It was able to record in 64 bit audio. This meant that the application could access other cores on the computer’s processor. It was the first DAW that was able to do this. As processors evolved they moved away from the 32 bit single core architecture and now we have processors with multiple cores and hyper threading. Software needed to adjust to take advantage of the new processing power. Sonar 5 was the first DAW to do this. Other DAW applications soon followed.
64 bit verses 32 bit
Because of this some 32 bit VST plug-ins were rewritten for 64 bit as well. Cakewalk has something called Bit Bridge which allows some 32 bit plug-ins to be played in 64 bit versions of Sonar. Not all 32 bit plug-ins will play using the Bit Bridge feature. When you do a custom install cakewalk will tell you which of their plug-ins no longer work in 64 bit and cakewalk also allows you to install a 32 bit version of their DAW program.
The advantage of 64 bit is beyond the scope of this topic. But it is important to point out that now some plugins have a 64 bit version and a 32 bit version. Some older 32 bit plugins will not work in 64 bit. All of the DAWs now come in a 32 and a 64 bit version.
As you look for plugins to expand your DAW capabilities be sure to look for the proper bit version of the plug-in for the DAW you have installed. Okay, where do I go to get free Plugins? Good question! Let’s begin our free plugin quest. The following are my all-time favorite free plugins. These plugins are fully functional. Just click the links below
Requirements to make this list
All the plugins listed here must be fully functional with no limitations. They can be freeware or lite versions of programs with even more features added after you purchase the plugin. Every plugin is downloaded and tested before it makes the list. If you know of any plugins that should be added to this list contact me and send a link via the about section and I will review it for the list. This list is updated on a regular basis and it is meant as a reference for musicians everywhere.
No plugins are stored on this site. They are all downloaded from the developer’s official website. If the plugin is removed from their website it is removed from this list. It is important to support the developer of the plugin if you use it. A small donation would be nice, or you could upgrade from your free version and obtain extra features in the process. You can also support the developer by visiting their website.
There are literally thousands of VST plugins. Many of these plugins have the same features. How many reverb units does one need anyway? So to find the absolute best plugins I searched countless sites that gave reviews of plugins. Many of these sites also rank the best plugins and they give awards. I chose the top plugins for the last 4 years. I have used all the plugins in this list at one time or another and I have tested every one.
This list of plugins also represents my favorite all time freeware plugin collection. As a result I don’t include every plugin that is made or won an award. If it makes this section of the website it means I recommend the plugin and find it useful. I hope you find these plugins useful and hopefully the lists of free plugins found in this section will fill your tool box.
Make Your Own Plugin
There is a lot that goes into developing a plugin. If you want to experiment and make a few synths on your own then you may want to experiment with the synth edit software. Not only will you be able to build some synth plugins, but you will also learn what goes into developing a plugin. The links below explain the process of building different kinds of plugins.